The Best Light Source is Sunshine

Most people think that the more equipment they have, the better. However, I’m quite the opposite. I find that carrying around heavy lights, flashes and reflectors is a pain. The best light source is sunshine, in my opinion.

I would like to share with you some words of advice that will help you take advantage of that big giant reflector up there. With a little luck, you will begin to appreciate the natural light much more whether you hate carrying around big equipment or not.

The sun is distinct

One of the things I appreciate about the sun is that it’s always different. While it may seem like quite the challenge to have a very unpredictable source of light, I really like that every shoot, every photo, every day is special and one of a kind. It would be impossible to recreate the exact lighting I had one day. There are some days when everything works absolutely perfect and I appreciate them completely.

Take notice on how the light looks on the face of your subject

The Best Light Source is Sunshine

Many beginner photographers take photos with very harsh shadows and lights on the faces. This is because in most cases they don’t really pay attention to the subject but on the background. This can be a huge issue if you try to take photos in very bright sunlight, such as early afternoon or midday.

Sunlight is a great source of light but you do have to put a little effort into it and position what you’re trying to take a picture of just right.

Try backlighting

Take a shot with the sun behind your subject. This is my favorite technique because if the sun is behind the subject and facing you it will make it glow. However, there are some things you need to be aware of when attempting to shoot this way.

Use the backlight at any time of the day

You will get different results when shooting when the sun is in various positions. It’s a great way to shoot when the light is very powerful as it will soften the shadows and light on the face of your subject.

Move around when shooting

The Best Light Source is Sunshine

The differences in the angles can have a great impact on the image. I personally enjoy having the sun behind the subject but relatively to the side. If you shoot when the sun is directly in front of you, it’s possible to get flares inside the lens and this will ruin the subject. Make sure you experiment to see what actually works for you.

Manipulate the light by using bushes, trunks, poles etc.

You can get amazing soft bokeh when the sun is right behind bushes or trees. This will filter the light so it won’t be as harsh and you’ll get soft, warm lighting. Positioning yourself behind a pole or a tree will remove some glare and harshness from your lens. You don’t have to take a shot of the pole or tree, you just have to use it with your lighting.

Be careful what you’re wearing

As a photographer, it’s better to use white or light tops and to avoid wearing very bright colors. While you may think it doesn’t matter what the photographer is wearing, the fact is that the sun can reflect from your clothes, casting colors on the subject that you don’t want.

Use your body and the subject’s body to work with sunlight

You could position yourself in such a way that the sun is behind your subject, so the subject can filter the sunlight and also reduce the glare inside the lens. This technique can also produce a starburst effect or a glow. If you feel that you’re getting way too much glare inside the lens, hold your hand to the side of the lens to cut down the amount of sunlight going into your camera.

Experiment with sunlight directly on the subject

The Best Light Source is Sunshine

There are advantages to this technique, such as being able to include the sky in your image. When you use backlight, the sky will most likely be blurry because you will need to focus on the exposure of your subject. It’s true that adding sky in post-processing is pretty easy, but when you take a shot with the sunlight right behind you, facing the subject, you can capture both.

Be aware that it’s pretty difficult for the subject not to squint in direct sunlight

If you shoot on a very bright day, you may be forced to position your subjects in such a way so that they look away from the sunlight. Many are sensitive to bright lights, which means that you probably won’t be able to shoot with front lighting except if the sun is almost set.

Use sunlight when shooting portraits

The Best Light Source is Sunshine

When the sun is almost set or the sunlight is soft you can position your subject so that the light is falling from the side. This will allow you to capture great portraits.

Watch how the light falls

I constantly find myself analyzing how the light falls on the faces of people I talk with. I analyze how the shadows fall during different hours of the day. I constantly study the light and always take shots in my head.

Images source: 1, 2, 3, 4

Camera Exposure Guide: Everything you Need to Know

There is something called “the exposure triangle” that you must be aware of in order to completely have control over your digital camera exposure.

These three elements are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. These three elements are responsible for the exposure of an image. If you change one of these elements, you will affect the others. This basically means that you won’t be able to fixate on just one of these settings and completely ignore the other ones.

Camera Exposure Guide

Here are some metaphors that will help you better understand the exposure triangle:

A lot of people illustrate the connection between the Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO using numerous metaphors to help us better understand how to get great exposure. However, like many metaphors, these aren’t perfect and are mainly for demonstrative purposes.

Sunbaking

One metaphor a friend shared with me is to look at the exposure on your digital camera like getting your skin tanned.

A suntan is something I always wanted when I was a kid, however I have very sensitive skin and this wasn’t something I could achieve. When I went into the sun all I did was get very burnt.

The ISO rating can be compared to your skin. Some individuals may be more sensitive than others.

The shutter speed is compared to the time you spend in the sun. If you spend a lot of time out in the sun, you will increase your chances of getting tanned. On the other hand, if you spend way too much time in the sun you end up being overexposed.

The aperture is the sunscreen you apply on your skin in this metaphor. Depending on the strength of the sunscreen, it blocks the sun at various levels. If you put on a very strong sunscreen you will reduce the amount of light coming through. This will help even the most sensitive person stay a lot longer out in the sun. If you decrease your aperture you can decrease the ISO and slow the shutter speed down.

The Window

Look at your camera as if it were a window with shutters that close and open.

The size of the window is represented by the aperture. If the window is bigger, the more light it will let in and the room will be brighter.

The amount of time the shutters are open is the shutter speed. If you live them open for a long time, a lot of light will get through.

Put yourself in a room and imagine you’re wearing sunglasses. You are desensitized to the light coming in because of the sunglasses. This is how a low ISO setting works.

You can increase the light in a room in numerous ways. You can let the shutters open for a longer period of time by decreasing the shutter speed, you could take off the sunglasses you’re wearing by making the ISO larger and you can make the window bigger by increasing the aperture.

While this isn’t the perfect metaphor to explain things, it does get the job done.

The Garden Hose

If you’re confused about aperture, ISO, shutter speed and whatnot than you can use this analogy that will help you better understand all those confusing notions.

Just think about the garden hose you use to put water in a bucket.

The aperture is the diameter of your garden hose. If you have a garden hose with a large diameter, more water will go through it.

The shutter speed is the amount you let the tap open. The more you leave the tap running, the more water will go through the garden hose.

ISO is the speed of the water flow. More water goes through the hose if the speed of the water is faster.

Exposure is the amount of water you have collected into your bucket.

Bring the settings together

It takes serious practice to master digital camera exposure. It’s a very fine art that makes even the most advanced photographers experiment with their settings on the go. You should always be aware of the fact that if you change one of these settings you will have an impact on other aspects of your image, not only the exposure.

For example: if you change the aperture you will change the depth of field, if you change the shutter speed you will affect the way motion is shot and if you change the ISO you will change the amount of grain on your image.

One of the good things about digital cameras is that you can experiment a lot until you learn how exposure actually works. You can shoot as many images as you want for free and digital cameras have settings not only for Manual mode and Auto mode but for semi-auto modes such as shutter priority and aperture priority that will let you change one or two of the elements found in the exposure triangle and the camera will do the rest for you.

Here is a very brief explanation of what these three separate things actually mean:

What is ISO?

ISO, in digital photography, measures the image sensor’s sensitivity to light. The principles are the same as in traditional photography. To make your camera less sensitive to light and to have finer grain on your photos you will have to lower the ISO number.

What is aperture?

To put it in very simple terms: The opening in your lens is called aperture.

A hole inside your camera opens up when you press the shutter button so that the image sensor can see what you’re trying to get a shot of. The size of the hole opening inside depends on how you set the aperture. If the hole is smaller, the less light gets in, if it’s bigger, more light will reach the image sensor.

What is shutter speed?

The amount of time the shutter remains open depends on your shutter speed settings. Shutter speed, in digital photography, is the amount of time the image sensor “looks” at what you’re taking a photo of.

So there you have it. This was our camera exposure guide. We really hope it was helpful and wish you the best of luck with your photography.

Image source: 1

Creative Photo Ideas for Spring 2015

Here are some awesome creative photo ideas for you to try along with the necessary tips to achieve the looks and style in these photos. These are very useful for both professional photographers and amateur ones who want to have a little fun with some beautiful shots.

Shoot a daring fashion photo

Creative Photo Ideas

Seeing how winter is coming to an end, why not try to lift up everybody’s spirits by shooting a very vibrant and colorful image. This is a great technique used by Dan Comaniciu, a fashion photographer.

He says that you don’t have to make your model wear very brightly colored clothes or use a colorful backdrop, as it is quite easy to edit the whole picture in Photoshop.

Tips

Even though it’s very easy to edit the photos‘ colors in Photoshop, it helps to have the right lighting when taking the picture. The photographer used two Hensel lights along with strip soft boxes on the sides of his subject, at around 90 degree angles. This gives the subject a very special almost sculptural feel.

It’s very important to light your backdrop uniformly. Comaniciu made use of two flash lights, shot with the same levels through his soft boxes, pointed at the backdrop.

Creative Photo Ideas – Shoot Macro Photos

Creative Photo Ideas

Explore the miniature world that surrounds you. Macro photography lets you be creative and capture very beautiful images without leaving the comfort of your home.

There are a lot of subjects you can shoot by using macro photography. You may choose to go more traditional and shoot nature and flowers, or you may wish to use more abstract angles and shoot a regular object such as a spoon. Shooting water drops hitting a surface seems to work pretty well too.

There are some rules you must follow when shooting macro photography, though. To capture a great image you will need a macro lens with a ratio aspect of 1:1. However, if you don’t own something like this, you can improvise and connect an extension tube to whatever standard lens you have.

The aperture setting is one of the most important aspects when it comes to macro photography.

Because of the very close proximity in which you take your shot, the depth of field looks to be very low, even when you close the aperture.

A great technique used in macro photography is to take more shots with different exposures and different focus points and edit them all together to form a single sharp image.

Tips for the Creative Photo Ideas

You will need a tripod because you will be forced to shoot using a very narrow aperture setting.

You might want to use an additional light to make your subject look great. LED panels are a very easy and fast solution.

To end up with very sharp images make use of the Liveview feature and switch the setting of focus to manual. Make sure your focal point is very sharp before taking the shot.

Shoot people on the go

Creative Photo Ideas

Taking digital photography shots of random people on the street may seem a little challenging, but busy centers are filled with great opportunities to shoot great images of people on the go.

Photographer Adam Hinton made a trip to Tokyo to work on a personal project.

He said that his initial intention was to photograph people on the streets of Tokyo on their way to work. He wanted to make a purely esthetic project with no social commentary whatsoever. However, Adam did say after starting the project that people who are on their way to work often look focused, serious and very tired.

He shot the images by standing in the center of the busiest street in Tokyo in the morning rush. He took shots of every person who walked through a beam of light that he spotted in the crowd.

Tips

The photographer advises everyone not to be gimmicky in their approaches. You should avoid signs or humor and look at the subject aesthetically to understand what statement you’re making.

Don’t carry a lot of things with you as you will want to stay very light when shooting in a large crowd.

Shoot your local wildlife

Creative Photo Ideas

You don’t have to travel to Africa to get great shots of wildlife and Jamie Hall proves this with his amazing photographs.

He said he wanted to shoot deer in an urban location to stand out of the crowd and he went in different parks and woods in cities where deer usually were hiding. The photographer said that you must study their movements as they are creatures of habit. After studying them you will be able to predict where the animals will go.

He said that even though deer are going in urban environments they’re still very nervy animals and you won’t be able to get too close to them. You must really be aware of the creature’s habits to get great shots of the animal.

Tips

Do some research in order to find out where your local wildlife can be found.

Jamie said that in most shots he used shutter speeds of 1/30 seconds to 3 seconds. This means that you will have to take shots of the animal while it’s standing perfectly still.

Shoot a creative abstract

Creative Photo Ideas

You won’t have to travel very far to find some amazing shapes, patterns and textures in man-made environments and natural ones.

Mark Mason shoots what he refers to as threatened things, temporary things and hopelessly out of the way objects.

He explains that the textures, colors and shapes of an object are vessels such as words in a poem that helps him explain what he feels at the moment he’s taking the shot.

The image is shot in an auto graveyard close to Route 66. He chose not to photograph the rusty cars and instead captured fascinating textures and patterns in the metal of those cars.

Tips

For the image, he used a Canon EOS-3 with 135mm f/2 lens.

He doesn’t recall the exposure he used but says he mounted the camera on a tripod so most likely he used f/5.6 because that metal was flat.

It’s very important to have great lighting when taking the shot. Mark says he was standing in the shadow of a trailer but the dirt on the metal reflected the light coming from the sun evenly.

So there you have it. This was our list of some creative photo ideas for you to try this March.

Images source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

How to Make a Starburst Effect for Your Photographs

When taking a photo in light sources such as the sun, you may see that your images have a special quality on the light. This unique quality is called a starburst effect. You can use this effect to create a brilliant focal point on your image.

This kind of effect is not only limited to sunlight. You can create such an effect using a variety of light sources like headlights, reflected lights and street lamps. Additionally, the effect can be added in digital photography using certain effects. This effect works especially well at night because the numerous lights in the urban landscape can be used to create a starburst effect.

What causes a Starburst Effect?

If a light source is brighter than the rest of the environment the effect is much more noticeable. This source of light may be the sun during daytime and pretty much every light during nighttime. However, a starburst entails much more than this.

The short explanation is that an aperture that is smaller will amplify the rays coming from a light a lot more than a wide aperture. The blades will make angles a lot stronger in small apertures which is why the camera’s sensor picks up the effect. The aperture is rounder when you shoot wide open which gives the sensor a softer source of light.

Check out the differences between this starburst photography shot with small aperture and wide aperture:

Starburst Effect

The above image was shot with a small aperture (f/16) and it is a great example of how to make a starburst effect. The rays of light are very pronounced and this creates a more dramatic focal point.

Starburst Effect

In comparison, the above photo was shot with a wide aperture (f/1.8) with the wheat grass in focus. The sun is a lot softer in contrast with the first photo.

Because you use a small aperture to create a starburst effect, your starburst images should be really well focused. To get the sharpest possible photo, lock the focus on the main subject to make your focal point very sharp.

How to Make a Starburst Effect at Nighttime

Starburst Effect

This effect isn’t limited to daytime. You can create the effect using rays of light when you shoot at night also. You can take starburst images that have a lot of small starbursts which will add a lot more interest to a boring photograph, as seen in the photo with the bridge. Make sure to use a longer exposure when you shoot photos at night, because if you don’t you might end up with a photograph that’s blurry or/and underexposed.

Turn off any “vibration reduction” or “image stabilization” features when using a tripod. These functions are practical only when you shoot images with the camera in your hands and these features can actually damage a photo if you use a tripod.

Reflected light

Because any light source can create this effect, this is also the case of reflected light. This is commonly used in macro photography. Small drops on plants can reflect the sunlight which will create a tiny starburst in your image.

Starburst Effect

In the photo above you can notice that the starburst effect is a great focal point and turns an otherwise typical macro image into a beautiful and unique photo.

Carefully Consider Shooting at f/32

You may be persuaded to go below an f/16 aperture when reading all these wonderful things about the effect. However, if you are worried about the resolution, sharpness and the image quality you may want to reconsider.

If you push things too far, shooting with a very small aperture can actually damage your images. Customarily, lenses have a sweet spot at around f/8 to f/11 and this is where they are the sharpest. Adjusting your aperture smaller or wider than this may damage the overall quality of the photo. This is more obvious when you use a smaller aperture (f/16 or more) than when you use a wider aperture.

How you use and how far you go with the aperture is entirely up to you and what you think a good image is. In my personal opinion, I would not go any lower than f/16 unless I absolutely have to. There are a lot of wonderful photographs taken beyond an f/16 aperture, for instance the image with the drop of water was shot at f/20. You can clearly notice that the photo has a somewhat reduced clarity, but the beautiful effect overshadows the minor imperfections. You should experiment on your own with numerous apertures to find out what is acceptable to you.

Images source: flickr.com, lightstalking.com

5 Online Photography Portfolio Mistakes to Avoid

Curious to know if you’re at fault for one of these common online photography portfolio mistakes? Read on – about loading time, the importance of contact information, the vital presence of passion, and plenty more errors that many otherwise skilled and professional photographers can succumb to. Bear them in mind, when you work on articulating a coherent online presence and business is sure to freely flow in.

Your contact info is not crystal clear

Let’s not beat around the bush about this one – one of the most frequently encountered online photography portfolio mistakes. If your contact information is not literally plastered on each and every single page of your website, portfolio included, then you’re definitely doing something wrong. Think about it: how else are you supposed to attract new business, if your potential clients don’t know how they could reach you? And, no, putting your contact information up on the first page is often not enough since, contrary to what you may think, most visitors to your website don’t start their visit with the main page.

You’re all business and no fun

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We get it: your job is photographing weddings. Or commercial products. Or architecture. But do you actually like what you shoot? Are you passionate about your job, your subjects, and the stories you convey visually? Another one of those dreaded online photography portfolio mistakes that we often run into is that photographers all too often focus on coming across as professional and don’t manage to convince us, their audience, that they’re actually passionate about what they shoot – be it weddings, clothes, or luncheon meats.

You don’t know your audience

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Be honest to yourself: in the day and age of SEO and Google Analytics supremacy, even your grandma would probably be able to take one look at the traffic data your website provides and understand the audience’s profile and needs. Your online photography portfolio needs to speak to actual people. What kind of monitor are they likely to have? What’s their age? Where do they live? What pages do they interact with and how? Are they more likely to browse your site off a PC or a mobile device, like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone? You need to know all these things and make sure your website design responds to them.

You avoid words

Yes, your main occupation is working with images – but you need to remember that one of the biggest online photography portfolio mistakes is to not include any words whatsoever on your page. On the Internet, words are your friend. Not only do they help with SEO, but they also enable you, the artist, to tell a more complete story. If your work ends up featured in a magazine or on a website, chances are your words are going to follow it there. And, most importantly, your potential clients will get a better shot at understanding how you work and what drives you.

The loading time is through the roof

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The one biggest pet peeve, for people who browse photo-heavy websites is a long loading time. A recent buyer survey from Photo Shelter has revealed that absolutely no one likes to be kept waiting around, until the pictures on a website have finished loading. We’re talking load times that need to be far lower than even one second. Otherwise, your visitors are going to perceive a break in the pace at which they’re used to browsing – and simply head elsewhere. There are plenty of website optimization tricks to help speed up loading time, including pre-loading a part of the images, as visitors browse, and so on. Don’t let such a seemingly small issue drag the quality of your whole website down.

Making the Most of Your Wedding Portrait Photos: 3 Trends in 2014

As many artists will tell you, wedding portrait photos are an art in and of themselves. They are very important to the clients, of course, and can also greatly enrich your portfolio and enhance its overall value. That’s why, for today’s post, we’re taking a look at three trends that have been dictating the rules for this segment over the past months. They’ve been confirmed enough for us to assume that they’ll also be around until the end of the year; so, pay heed and make sure you’re doing everything right, in order to make the most of your wedding portrait photos.

1. Posed shots are the past

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It’s not just wedding portrait photos that have become more dynamic and focused on storytelling. In fact, as seasoned family or pet photographers will confirm, the entire niche of photographic portraiture has become far more focused on natural settings and dynamism. Most photographers nowadays choose to photograph their clients in natural outdoor environments, thus lending an air of freshness and vivacity to their shots. It also helps place the subjects in a setting they love, since this will help them feel far more relaxed in front of the camera.

Another trend, which only comes to complete the above, is that of wedding portrait photos that could easily pass for photojournalism. What does this mean, in terms of actual images? It means that both the photographer and the clients take on a more candid approach. The end images are more natural and raw, less processed, more creative, and with a more ‘in the moment’ feel to them than ever before. Since photojournalism is all about spontaneity and capturing a good story within an instant, it goes without saying that the photos created like this are far more unique, fun for everyone involved and creative.

2. Pricing goes up with experience

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Given today’s rather harsh economic climate, many wedding photographers are reluctant to increase the pricing of their services overall – and of their portrait sessions in particular. However, as seasoned pros will tell you, this is not necessarily a good approach. After all, if you’re investing in your business, it’s only natural to expect the prices to match your level of experience. What’s more, portrait photography can even be regarded as a separate niche within the wedding photography segment. It requires specialized equipment and technical skills. If you’re committed to creating ever better wedding portrait photos, you’re probably also investing in this. Classes, lenses, accessories and other investments should be reflected in your pricing options. What’s more, as you continue to grow your wedding photography business, it’s probably also a good idea to book more clients – in the long run, this increasing roster of customers will also act as an argument in your favor, when it comes to asking for higher fees.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of the print

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Sure, everyone is online these days: wedding portrait photos garner impressive amounts of likes on Facebook, they’re shared by your clients over Instagram, and maybe even featured on Pinterest. But the problem is that they all too often end up forgotten on a CD or DVD somewhere. To help your wedding portrait photos enjoy a longer lifespan, but also to help increase your business, you should perhaps try offering a special print as a bonus to your clients, thus encouraging them to print more photos.

Also, one clear 2014 trend is experimenting with print materials. Canvas is very popular at the moment, but there are so many options the list is virtually endless. Some photographers over shadow boxes, others print on glass or wood, while others are experimenting with artwork products like metal and acrylic.

5 Ways to Deal with Bad Wedding Photos

It’s another one of those photographers’ nightmares that everyone has to deal with, sooner or later in their career. It usually tends to happen to beginner wedding photographers: you shoot the wedding, spend tons of time editing the pictures, then, one day, you get the dreaded call. The client hates your work. They are disappointed with it. They may even ask for their money back. What do you do? How do you deal with bad wedding photos? Here are 5 tips from actual wedding photographers, with enough experience in their portfolios to be speaking with the best of intentions.

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1. Don’t dwell

This is the most important step in learning how to deal with bad wedding photos, unless you want to end up too scared to ever pick up a camera again. The past is in the past and you can’t reshoot a wedding. You can analyze what went wrong, enlist the aid of a very skilled photo editor and try to do as much damage control as possible. However, at the end of the day, all you can do is learn from your mistakes (as everyone does) and move forward.

2. Analyze & acknowledge

Perhaps the conditions in which you shot the wedding were harsh. Perhaps you lack the experience to handle the weather, the light, the temper tantrums thrown by the wedding party, or anything else. Maybe your compositions are bad. Try to pinpoint the causes, in order to deal with bad wedding photos. Understand what went wrong, but make sure to be as objective and detached as possible. It’s actually a good idea to sit down with said ruined set and a trusted fellow photographer and ask for their opinion. A second call could be what you need, in order to prevent you from doubting your professional abilities altogether.

3. Pay up… or not

Sometimes, when you are forced to deal with bad wedding photos, you must simply understand that some clients are out to get their money back. Nothing you say or do will feel like compensation enough for them, before you pay up. You can comply to any other request they make, edit and re-edit the photos until you turn blue in the face – they want their money back and that’s final. At this point, your options are those listed in the contract you signed with them. If the client has just cause to ask for their money back, both legally and ethically, there is little you can do but pay up. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be bullied away from your money.

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4. Get a second shooter, be a second shooter

The best way to learn wedding photography is by being a second shooter. Wedding photography pros recommend second shooting weddings for at least a year, before you attempt to go it on your own, as the main wedding photographer. Similarly, if you’re starting out as a main wedding photographer, it’s almost mandatory to enlist the aid of a second shooter you can trust. At the end of the day, they can make a world of difference, in terms of client satisfaction.

5. Trust your instinct

Lastly, the main takeaway, when you have to deal with bad wedding photos, is that you should always trust your gut when it comes to taking on a gig. If you feel you lack the experience and/or are worried the responsibility is too much for you to handle, find a gracious way to say no. You should never let a client pressure you into a booking, because chances are at the end of the day no one’s going to walk away happy – not you, nor the client.

How to Relocate Your Wedding Photography Business in 3 Steps

No one’s saying they’re easy steps, but we’re saying it’s definitely feasible to relocate your wedding photography business. Now, if you’re interested in wedding photography and the business aspects of this field, you already know that the issue of location is very important. It’s relevant for a wedding photographer’s digital marketing efforts (think location searches), for acquiring new business leads, for building a brand identity and for raising brand awareness. As such, with location being so inextricably connected with the very nature of the wedding photography business, how does one successfully transition from one location to another – without killing the business in the process? Check out our three helpful tips below, with input from real-life photographers.

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1. Future-proof your business for location changes

This is one step to start working on as much ahead of the time when you actually relocate your wedding photography business as possible. Your plan should be to target global audiences, even before your physical move. If you do this successfully, you will have already built a bit of a reputation for yourself, by the time the move comes around. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But in the digital age of social networking, it’s not that difficult either. Update your website and/or blog regularly, announce your upcoming move via social media profiles and keep your online presence pleasant and likeable. The Internet basically works as a global market place, so drumming up a bit of hype before you relocate will allow you to step forward with that much more confidence.

2. Get to know your new market

This second step in your plan to relocate your wedding photography business is all about pricing. The thing about different markets is that… well, they are different, in terms of pricing, client expectations, and requirements. Get a feel of the market by gauging the experiences of local photographers. They’ll give you a fairly accurate and comprehensive idea on what to expect. Should you stay at the wedding until the very last guest has left? Are your current prices too high for a different market? Yes, bear in mind that you might have to lower your prices in order to penetrate a whole new market; however, it’s important to know what the local expectations are, as you don’t want to go too low. Once you get there, your mission will be to get as many weddings booked in as short a timeframe as possible. Since most weddings are booked for about a year in advance, you will probably have to sacrifice making a profit in the beginning, in order to build a locally relevant portfolio. If you play your cards right, though, this will only be temporary – so grin and bear it. It’s definitely worth it!

3. Network, network, network

The third and final step in your efforts to relocate your wedding photography business is also probably the most difficult one to complete. That’s because the effort of networking needs to be sustained and ongoing, in order for them to be efficient. Not to mention that having like-minded peers as friends in a new market is good for your mental health. It will make you focused, accountable for your work, and will also provide a regular dose of inspiration. A word of advice, though: you might be tempted to follow the big names, the big shots, the big leaguers in your new market. Don’t. Keep an eye on them, to stay in the loop, but spend most of your energy building genuine connections with people you respect and look up to. In the long-run, that’s where your support system and life-long friendships will come from. Also, chances are that’s where your referrals and gig leads will come from, too.

3 Updates on Social Media Tools for Wedding Photographers

We’ve written about social media tools for photographers before, but here are some fresh updates for you, for summer 2014. The wedding season is upon us and we bet you’ll come out at the other end with some great new material to showcase all over the Internet. Check out our three tips, which will hopefully help you make the most of your work, in terms of branding and exposure.

Wow them with pictures

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These social media tools for wedding photographers have been hyped endlessly already, but this is one tip that bears repeating: you need to put your content out there on Pinterest and its wedding-focused ‘little sister’, Lover.ly. You can target your audience very accurately through these websites and bring traffic back to your website and blog. However, you will need to optimize your pictures, add credits to each image, and make sure your name is included in the file title. This tiny personal branding effort will go a long way in the long run. Pro tip: you will need to be relatively active, especially in the beginning, since these sites are already teeming with great content from your direct competition. Find a way to create content that stands out, such as color-themed boards, wedding guides in pictures, etc.

Follow the right crowd

Since we’re on the topic of social media tools for wedding photographers, we have to acknowledge that there can’t be any talk of social media without connecting, following, and accruing followers. Connecting with the right crowd can be a daunting prospect, especially for an up-and-coming photographer who doesn’t have much exposure. However, if you keep a blog, a website, or at least maintain a social media presence, you might want to get bold about it and reach out to some of the big names out there in the online wedding business. There are a few blogs and websites that we would recommend anytime, like Green Wedding Shoes, Bridal Musings, and Style Me Pretty.

What makes these blogs and websites great? For one thing, they are among the most important sources of images shared via Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. For another, their numbers of followers are impressive to say the least. But, most importantly, they consistently feature great quality content – which is exactly what made them massive to begin with. If you can get them to showcase some of your wedding photography work, you can count on being credited and in seeing a traffic spike on your own website. And if your outreach efforts turn out to be less successful than you’d hoped, you can always promote your work on these websites via paid advertising. It tends to run cheaper than the standard promotional fees on Facebook and Google.

Pay for promotion

The debate on the efficiency of Facebook advertising continues to rage on. Some believe that the decrease in organic reach that the social network has imposed on its users will spell the site’s demise. They argue that Twitter and YouTube are still keeping social media promotion free – and they don’t seem to be losing market share; quite the contrary! On the other hand, another faction believes that Facebook is entirely right to capitalize on its paid advertising potential. After all, they say, “if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product”.

Debates aside, investing in Facebook ads might be one of the social media tools for wedding photographers to consider, if you want to increase your reach and score new sales leads. Yes, it can be expensive, but it’s also easy to refine, in order to reach very specific targets in the audience. You’ll probably need some expertise with CPC and CPM ad campaigns, as well as with SEO and keyword research. Experiment with the keywords that connect with your particular photographic niche, target people in your area, and also target audiences connected with some of the major wedding-focused websites we mentioned above. Throw in a sweet deal or discount for your first clients and you’re all set!

The Lowdown: What Are the Setup Costs of a Photography Startup?

Are you really a professional photographer, or are you a passionate amateur – but one who’s ultimately pretending to be a pro? Often enough, the one differentiator between pros and amateurs is working up the courage to start a legal photography business. It’s not enough to have a camera, website, Facebook page, and a couple of gigs here and there (either for money, or for ‘exposure’). The one essential ingredient you need is to take your photography business seriously – because, until you do, no one else is going to take it seriously either. Now, of course, before you decide on the matter, it’s only normal to want to figure out the setup costs of a photography startup. That’s where we come in, with today’s blog post: a rundown of all the major costs you are likely to face, in your quest to open a new photo biz.

The gear setup costs of a photography startupsetup-costs-for-a-photography-startup01

·         Cameras

Make no mistake, you’re going to need at least two of them, in order to be prepared to deal with camera malfunctions. The pros’ best recommendation for wedding photographers is the Nikon D610 ($2,000 a piece) – you’re going to need two bodies, sans the lens included in the full kit.

·         Lenses

One of the most important investments, in terms of setup costs of a photography startup, is that into lenses. Here’s the kit that the pros recommend: Nikon 35mm f/2.0 ($350), Nikon 50mm f/1.8 ($299), Nikon 85mm f/1.8 ($499) and the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 ($2,400). About that last lens: yes, it is expensive, but it’s absolutely essential for wedding photogs who often shoot in low light conditions, such as churches.

·         Other gear

A couple of flashes are mandatory and, if you go for the Nikon D610, you might want to opt for two Nikon SB-700 flashes ($329 a pop). Additionally, the rest of the accoutrements: camera bags, memory cards, stands for lights, flash triggers, reflectors, etc. Be prepared to spend at least $500 on them (though $1,000 sounds like a more realistic amount).

Business setup costs

setup-costs-for-a-photography-startup02Let’s get down to the pure business setup costs of a photography startup now. First off, you’re going to have to pay $125 for incorporating your business. Then, you’re going to want to have that business insured, for roughly $600. The services of an accountant will cost you about $300 per year, and a money and client manager to keep track of your finances will add an extra $130, let’s say, to the total tally. A showcase of product samples can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000.

Then comes the issue of legal fees – you’re going to want your contracts to be completely in order. Ideally, you should seek out a lawyer with previous experience in the field of photography, or one who’s a photographer themselves. Hourly fees are about $400 to $2,000, but you can also purchase ready-made contracts online ($55 to $450) and have your lawyer review them.

Computer & online costs

As far as IT and tech setup costs for photography startups go, you know that there’s no way you can survive without an iMac, and that’s at least $1,299 right there. Then, you will want to invest in a color calibration tool for your screen, a couple of backup hard drives, and licenses to use Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop suites. All in all, these items are going to cost you an extra $450, with the amendment that software licenses need to be renewed each year. And since we’re on the topic of yearly costs, also add yearly hosting and domain name costs for your website (about $70/year), plus a website theme (a good one shouldn’t cost more than $50).

Of course, you might want to invest in some training and business streamlining tools, such as a pricing guide workbook ($150 to $250), a marketing course (about $800), a sales guide ($250). These are optional, but, chances are, they will help you make a lot more money faster, once you invest. So, once you draw the line, expect to put in about $15,000 in your wedding photography business right from the get-go. How does this amount sound for you?