Best Smartphone Cameras and Photography Tips for Smartphone Photography

Best Smartphone Cameras

Read on to find out the Best Smartphone Cameras for Smartphone Photography

If you are passionate about photography but do not have financial possibilities to invest in expensive, professional devices, don’t lose enthusiasm and go check your pocket. Not for money, though, but for your smartphone! You can still take amazing photos by using your smartphone camera in a more productive way.  Stay with me to discover which are the best smartphone cameras in 2015 and how you can upgrade your smartphone photography experience.

Top 3 Best Smartphone Cameras

First, let’s have a look at which are the three best smartphone cameras as generally reviewed by users and by myself.


1. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

According to DxOMark, first place for best cameras goes to Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The qualities that make this device the most versatile for smartphone photography include a fast autofocus, good exposure, and a nice white balance in all outdoor conditions. One slight mark against this smartphone revolves around the fine detail when shooting in bright light.

Natural light is essential for a good composition with a realistic color effect. However, in low light, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is not the greatest for smartphone photography.


2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1

Some of you may consider the iPhone 6 Plus as the second best smartphone for photography. I chose the Panasonic Lumix DMC – CM1 for the physical photographic experience that it offers. It’s photos really resemble higher end, traditional digital cameras. This smartphone seems to have been made especially for photography lovers. Its design really makes sense for photographic purposes. There’s a metal ring around the lens that allows you to manually adjust settings. There’s the 1-inch image sensor too, which enables beautiful, detailed photos.

iPhone 6 plus camera

3. iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Plus is quite an expensive alternative to the first two options already mentioned. The primary reason why I chose it is because of the popularity surrounding its camera. One of its greatest features is its fast face-detection autofocus. Also, it makes quite a decent job under low light. What can I add? Image stabilization is another plus.

5 Photography Tips for Smartphone Photography

It is interesting to notice how technological developments influence our day-to-day photographic practices. I am not among those who believe smartphones revolutionize photography, but I must confess it is much more comfortable to use my smartphone for quick snaps than my DSLR camera. Why not profit, then, from all it has to offer?

Do You Think Smartphones Will Replace Small Digital Cameras?

The advantage of using a smartphone camera in comparison with, let’s pejoratively say, old-fashioned cameras is that you can almost instantly share your image captures. For a more skillful experience and impressive smartphone photography, you should follow the next easy five tips.

1. Explore your Smartphone Camera

First, you need to know your camera. Experiment with options, check settings and effects, see how resolution and brightness can vary and play with the focus shooting modes. Smartphone cameras allow you to take pictures in macro mode.

Most important settings usually refer to light and balance. For quality photos you can adjust ISO and set the white balance.

Just like in the case of professional photography, light is crucial for the sharpness of your snaps, so try to take pictures in bright light.

selfie stick smartphone photography

2. Use a Tripod, Monopod/ Selfie stick or Grip Accessory

If you want to make smartphone photography sharper, use a tripod. To find out more about how using a tripod influences your photographic practice, read our article on what to consider when choosing this kind of tool.

For smartphone photographic use, I would recommend using a monopod or a grip accessory. The latter are especially designed to fit any device and provide stabilization. They can also be attached to tripods, or you can set your phone on a table or any other solid surface if you wish to take a break, and play around while enjoying a meal or a drink.

3. Panoramas

You wouldn’t believe that your smartphone camera can capture amazing panoramic pictures, but yes, your smartphone is panorama-capable! My third tip goes hand in hand with the second one. To take the best panoramic snaps you need to avoid movement as much as possible.

If you do not have a tripod or a grip accessory don’t panic. Use walls or any solid objects around where you can keep your camera in position.

Another magic trick for taking panoramas with your smartphone is pay close attention to horizontal straight lines in your photos. Make sure your shots are aligned perfectly.

4. To Flash or Not to Flash?

Try not to use flash. If possible, take shots in daylight, but if there is not enough natural light, it is better to adjust the ISO level than to rely on your flash.

Night photography apps are a great choice for low light photos. One of the best for iPhone users is NightCap Pro, while for Android you can try out Camera FV-5 Lite or Night Camera.

 Get ready to take some memorable sky shots!


5. Edit Your Smartphone Photography

What could possibly be the final step to amazing photographic results? Editing, of course. To edit photos taken on your smartphone, you can either download editing apps, or work as with digital photography, on your PC. But why use a computer software, when your smartphone can handle this for you?

Editor apps and programs have similar functions. Most common are crop, rotate, removing red eye, and of course all the filters and effects people like to use. Android users crazy about innovative effects can try out Bonefire Photo Editor, while for iSO there’s Adobe Photoshop Touch which brings more creative possibilities to your iPhone.

For panoramic pictures, you can also try out a few apps. For iOS I would recommend Cycloramic, and for Android Photaf Panorama would be a great choice.

Did you like this article? Do you have any preferences when it comes to smartphone cameras and apps? Feel free to leave a comment. You can adventure into testing the video capacity of your smartphone too and let us know how it goes. Until next time, take smartsnaps and have a great photography time!

Image sources1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Useful Golden Hour Photography Tips

Regardless of the type of photography you choose, the golden hour will add magic to your shots. I hope this article will inspire you to go outdoors and capture this unique moment with enthusiasm. Try out one or more of the photographic techniques listed below and let us know how it went.

Wonder what the golden hour means? Also known as the magic hour in photography, this unique moment in time has no definite duration. All we know is that it occurs a few minutes after sunrise and before sunset. Check the times of sunrise and sunset in your area and make sure you are not late. Let the sun charm you!

Golden Hour Landscape Photography Tips

Here’s how you can benefit from the golden hour for astonishing landscape shots:

1. Control Light, Enhance Colors, and Profit from the Reduced Contrast

Golden Hour photography

The greatest factors that affect the quality of landscape photographs are light conditions. But don’t worry! The golden hour is a photographer’s best friend.

During these particular moments of the day the colors you can capture are softer and more pronounced, but diffused at the same time. In terms of color temperatures, they are warmer, which means are more red/yellow toned because the daylight is redder compared to when the sun in high in the sky.

As regards contrast, the golden hour is also preferred by landscape photographers because the contrast is naturally reduced, so highlights are less likely to be overexposed.

2. Experiment with Backlighting into Your Pictures

Sun plays an important role in golden hour photography as it adds more dimension to the scenes you shoot. When the sun is low at the horizon everything into your image will look more dramatic. The light is less harsh than in plain daylight and shadows are less dark.

Now is the perfect moment to easily capture sun flares and add a spectacular effect to your landscape photos.

3. Play with Settings

Whether you have a professional device or a semi-professional DSLR, manual settings are essential. For stunning effects use a wide aperture and make sure you don’t overexpose your pictures. You can adjust ISO depending on how much light you work with (the lower the better) and set your exposure time under 1/8000ths of a second. Try the macro function as well to take some sharp amazing close-up snaps.

Golden Hour Photography

Golden Hour Urban Photography

Technically, the tips for landscape photography apply for urban photography too. But I hope city lover photographers will find these a few more tips useful:

1. Finding the Perfect Perspective

When it comes to urban photography as compared to landscape photography you add a special character into the story: the city with its streets, lights and diverse architectural styles. If you are looking for impressive, powerful shots during sunset, the city will offer you numberless favorable perspectives.

Whether you choose a wide angle or more focused detail, pay careful attention to lines and shapes as they are very important elements of the photographical composition. Each and every line has an impact on the viewer.

2. The Role of Shadows: Capturing Dynamic Scenes

The city during the golden hour is ideal for adding a dynamic effect to your shots. Shadows and silhouettes play a vital role. For astonishing results, try to take multiple shots and observe how light changes as the sun moves and how this affects the atmosphere you want to create.

 Golden Hour Portrait Photography

Portraits can greatly benefit from the magic hour as well. In portrait photography it is crucial to balance lighting across the subject’s face. That is why harsh lighting in the middle day is undesirable and photographers need special equipment to fill in strong shadows. Here’s what you should do to capture stunning golden hour portraits:

1. Play with Shadows and Rim Lighting

First, you can experiment with facing your models into and out of the shade for diverse and remarkable results. For instance, glowing effects such as rim lighting can be achieved naturally, by using the sun’s light as a foreground instrument.

Second, to capture the dreamy effect of light during the magic hour you can switch on a wide aperture.

2. Catch the Light in Your Subject’s Eyes

Make your subjects look more expressive by locking the focus on them and blurring the foreground. This will add depth and power to your pictures. Golden hour portraits have the power to steal smiles.

Golden Hour Wedding Photography


Wedding photographers have all the reasons to shoot during the golden hour. What other moment of the day can help you take breathtaking photographs for such romantic events?

Your artistic approach to wedding photography plays an essential role, but more important is your technical skill as the light will do all the necessary artistic tricks.

What I love at magic hour wedding photography is that particular golden feeling dim light adds to it. In order to achieve this warm, dreamy effect, place your subjects in front of the sun.

But if variety is your target, you can try both front lighting and back lighting. Make your subjects face the sun and you will get more pronounced colors and expressions.

Image sources:, pixabay

8 Urban Photography Tips for Urban Landscape Photographers

Hong Kong Urban Photography by Thomas Birke 254534524

Many photographers do not go head first into the wild jungle of concrete urban photography in metropolitan environments have to offer, simply because there is so much information going on out there that you it is quite hard to focus on something. However, there are some brave photographers that are not afraid of the challenge so if you are among them, here are some great tips which may help you out with your urban landscape photography.

Given the fact that you either do not have a lot to work with or quite the opposite, you have too much, you need to get creative. All the rules that apply in general photography, apply for urban landscape photographers as well so make sure you know everything about focal points, exposure, ISO and light before you embark on the trip of an urban landscape photographer.

1. Avoid Areas with Billboards

When talking about urban photography, the average person immediately thinks about portrait photography. You can see these huge billboards with portraits everywhere and they take up so much space that you cannot see anything that is happening beside them. If you want to be a true urban landscape photographer, focus on the word landscape. Try finding areas where you can mix together different architecture styles, where you see buildings blending with the color of the sky or where you find buildings which simply work well together. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

2. Be Careful Gear-wise

You will most likely have to have more than one lens when going outside to take some great photographs. Choose a wide angle and a zoom lens for urban photography. The wide angle adds depth of field and is great for capturing the big picture while the longer focal length allows you to capture details.

3. Choose a Theme

It is easier to accomplish a goal if you have one from the beginning. Of course you can be spontaneous and just go out and start taking pictures but if you have a theme in mind, it is going to be easier to focus on the small things as well. When you search for something specific, you will also notice what happens around it.


4. Find Mirrors

Many modern buildings choose reflective materials as their outside surface so why not take advantage of that? Think on those beautiful landscape photographs which show a scene reflected in water, you can have that in an urban environment as well, by using buildings instead of water.

5. Find the Best Angle

Given the fact that buildings usually have lots of lines you can work with, be careful when it comes to your shooting angle. A photograph with no sense of perspective is something you want to avoid at all cost. If possible, try taking photographs of buildings or city streets from a level that allows you to create a good looking perspective. If you want to shoot a building from bottom to top, be careful that the edge lines of your photograph are parallel with the edge lines of the building; otherwise you will end up with a distorted perspective.

Urban Photography

6. Shoot at Different Moments of the Day

You will be surprised on how urban photography of random objects, street scenes or buildings can turn out during different moments of the day. Try going out one day in the morning, capture some photographs of your favorite building, coffee shop or street. Come back and take the same photographs in the afternoon and during the night and see how light influences not only your photographs but also the subjects of your photography.

7. Use Contrasts

If you want to attract the human eye into a certain point of your photography, you need to use contrasts. This also works if you want to make a statement or make a certain idea known, through your photography. By using contrasts, you can make people see a whole new part of their city, one that they may not be even aware of. For example, if you want to attract people’s attention on how much garbage they produce daily, try capturing pictures of overfilled trash cans around your town and of people ignoring it.

If you want to see how urban environments blend it with nature, try finding the perfect angle from where you can shoot a building blending in with the sky. See how the building changes depending on the color of the sky (this works amazing with buildings with a reflective surface). There are countless of ways to make people see what you want them to see by using contrasts.


8. Do not Focus on People

Whether it is you intention or not, if you shoot a picture of an urban landscape and it happens to have people in it, the focal point will automatically be set on the people. That it is just how the human mind works. You need to choose what exactly you want: an urban landscape blurred out by the people or simply an urban landscape photograph. An urban landscape photograph means that you will have to exclude people from it.

Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips

You can never be too cautious when it comes to taking photographs in nature, but you should not let cautiousness get in the way of you and your perfect shot. Try mixing both of them and achieve perfection when it comes to wildlife and nature photography.

There are many things you should consider before putting on your backpack, grabbing your camera and just march into your backyard. To come to your aid and help you out on your journey to being a great photographer, here are 8 great tips on wildlife and nature photography.

1. Pick a theme or a topic

wildlife and nature photography

Image credits

You can choose different seasons, a certain color or even a category of animals such as insects, mammals or birds. It is important to have a certain theme or topic already figured out before actually starting shooting everything, everywhere because this way you have something to focus on and you are more likely to accomplish a goal if you actually have one. Moreover, by shooting a lot of pictures of the same object, animal or category of either objects or animals, you can find which pictures are better, under what conditions and you can actually try finding out what is the influence behind the pictures that are better.

2. Know your camera and what it can do

I cannot stress enough on this subject. It is hugely important to know what your camera is capable of, sometimes even before actually purchasing it. There is much more to photography than simply point and shoot and there are a lot of functions and features that you should know abut such as ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Shutter Speed, Macro and so on. Learn how you can use all the feature your camera has into your own benefit.

3. Dress for the occasion

Try finding out where you want to go after you have decided what you are going to shoot. This is important because you have to be prepared for any type of weather conditions. Do you need hiking boots and a rain coat or flip flops and sun-block? These are all factors that can influence your photographs and photography skills so you should definitely take them into consideration.

4. A tripod is your best friend

If you want to shoot landscapes without having to worry about blurry pictures due to shaky hands, you should consider bringing a tripod – especially if you are going with the raincoat rather than the sun-block. A tripod and the perfect filter are a badass combination which can easily make an average quality picture look a hundred times better. However, if you are going for wildlife shooting, a tripod might not come in that handy since you have to be part of an animal’s environment if you want great pictures.

5. Be part of the animal’s environment

wildlife and nature photography

Image credits

It is settled – if you want great wildlife pictures you must not be afraid of getting your hands dirty. You cannot expect an animal to stay still while you take 100+ pictures of it and then try to pick the best ones. Let’s face it, you often get only one chance to a perfect shot, so you have to make the best of it.

If you see an interesting animal you want to shoot, before grabbing your camera and make a 2 foot leap to it, think. What is the animal doing? Is it feeding, running for its life or just chilling around? Is there any way you can get closer without scaring it off? Is the animal dangerous for you or your gear? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself before putting you or your camera in danger.

6. Focus points

wildlife and nature photography

One thing many people involved in the artistic field do not know is the fact that a central focus point can be tiring to the human eye. In order to obtain photographs which are aesthetically pleasing to the eye you have to check out the rule of thirds. For this rule, you need four lines.

Two of these lines divide your photograph into equal thirds – length wise while the other two divide it into equal thirds width – wise. You will obtain four intersection points between these lines and by focusing your subject in one or two of those points, you will reach perfection when it comes to focus.

7. Zoom in and get close

A good quality optical zoom on your camera is definitely very useful, especially when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. You do not always get the chance to get as close as you would want to a certain animal or flower, so your zoom might prove to be the best tool you have.

Another great tip which can prove useful especially if you cannot zoom in as much as you would want is using a pair of binoculars. Simply put your camera lens at one of the eyepieces and allow your camera to focus before taking the picture. Moreover, if you spin your binoculars, you have instant macro lens. Do not expect a high quality but it is certainly better than using your digital zoom.

8. All about light

Flowers collage

There is something called “the golden hour” when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. This “hour” which can sometimes actually be hours is the period of time around sunrise or sunset, when light appears golden because of the atmosphere. Some photographers even say that this is the only time you should take wildlife photographs since in the middle of the day, your camera will most likely struggle with the bright spots and different shadows. However, there is something beautiful about photographs even if they are not taken during the golden periods of time if you know how to take advantage of the light.

Avoid taking pictures directly into sunlight as you will not be able to understand anything of that picture. Instead, try finding some shade and make the most out of all the natural light you have at hand. Try using the sun as if you would use a reflector and find sources that can reflect sunlight, such as water or even wet leaves. Take some time and study the environment to see how and where light is reflected before considering taking the perfect shot.

What other tips or techniques do you use for your wildlife or nature photographs?

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.


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.


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.

Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star

Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star3

Animals are the most genuine models a photographer could ever dream of. You know when you have problems relaxing and someone just comes out of the blue whispering: Just be. Nothing more. It’s that easy. Well it seems that animals are the absolute masters of presence or gurus of our perceived present. They can always do that, no matter the circumstances. However, trust me on this one: if you get to be in control of photographing an animal, you’ll become a true star! You’ll become widely appreciated, just like you’ve always dreamed of. No one will ever doubt your talents again. Because this is no piece of cake.

Let’s walk through the reasons why this is a praiseworthy deed. First of all, despite this obvious communication barrier, animals are better than humans. Why is that?

1.     Animals Are No Hypocrites

Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star4

They are always themselves. Despite the fact that this actually means that they are never in the mood for photos, once you get the chance to immortalize something, it cannot be anything but genuine. Animals express their feelings and their moods without restraints. They don’t strive to be cute, they just are. They don’t strive to be fearful, they just are. What you see is what you get – no games played, no half measures, no fake smiles.

2.     Animals Don’t Care About Appearance

Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star2

Not caring about how you look today means no useless obstacles, no secondary thoughts, no brakes, just sheer freedom and excitement. So go for it! Immortalize the instant, cease the moment and send emails to employers afterwards. That’s why everybody is so impressed by cute photos with furry creatures. They are authentic!

3.     Animals Don’t Care About What Others Think

Why Photographing An Animal Will Make You a Star5

Caring about exterior opinions usually refers to humans, not their animal friends. Parasite thoughts kill both freedom and creativity. And non-human models seem to have guessed that somehow, because no second thoughts interfere once they decide to start posing like there’s no tomorrow. They are relaxed, they are focused on what matters when magic happens – their own state of consciousness, and they simply mind their own business after all. And how fascinating that is!

4.     Animals Are Giving And Sincere

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It goes without saying that there’s a special connection between humans and their animal models. Well at least with some of them. When it comes to the less friendly species, one should just hide in the bushes and hunt the moment. That’s the only way. Therefore I’d strongly advise you to start by immortalizing the species that live among humans, just to get used to the vibe. What I’m trying to convince you of is the fact that you should start your training in this way.

Unfortunately people are wearing masks all the time. In other words, whenever you photograph them they are likely to be wearing at least three. If you want to get an honest vibe, start with your pet. For instance, let’s take a photograph showing a man and a dog. The dog in the first place, and not the man, would always draw one’s attention. It’s a simple fact of life. Animals can just exist, can just relax, and can just enjoy a moment, a meal or a sip of water without any further complications. For us humans things are always so abstract, so multi-layered, so blurry, so bring, so old, so confusing. That’s why photos of the animal kingdom are so successful; because they are authentic, and powerful, and they can say so many things using a totally different language than ours. So take your camera, make a simple plan or just start chasing your dog. Photographing an animal will make you a star! Just get off the right foot and trust me on this one, will you?

How to Reduce Your Photo Post-Production Time in 3 Simple Steps

reduce-your-photo-post-production-timeA career in wedding photography doesn’t have to mean a you only do one job, i.e. shoot weddings. Of course, perhaps your business strategy is that of a one-person army, a single-engine machine. That is, you shoot and edit your own photos, without the aid of an assistant or second shooter. However, perhaps your current level of career development has brought you to a less stable position and you alternate between post-production work in the studio, second shooting with various main photographers, and running your own photography operation. The advantage of doing all these things is that you develop a lot of diverse and useful skills, not the least important of which is that of knowing how to reduce your photo post-production time. We’ll tell you all about it today – though the truth is that it all boils down to a single strategy: knowing how to shoot like an editor.

1) Tell your clients’ story

As a wedding photographer, what’s your main goal? Putting together a portfolio of photos that look amazing on your blog, that have a ton of editorial appeal, that could, after all is said and done, end up in a wedding magazine? Or do you rather want to please your clients? Ideally, you should strike a balance between the two goals, but, at the end of the day, your clients are always the most important members of your audience as a photographer. They’re the ones whose needs you want to satisfy and whose story you want to tell. And they won’t always care as much as you do about super-edited photos with editorial value. They’ll want the candid smiles and the group photos, so focus on those if you want to keep them happy and reduce your photo post-production time.

2) Shoot for film

In the day and age of digital photography supremacy, it’s all too easy to overshoot. When there’s a 16GB memory card inside your camera, you might find yourself unable to stop shooting – but ending the event with tens of thousands of photos on your camera won’t help reduce your photo post-production time. Instead of falling into this entrapment, try to shoot with the eye of an editor. Try to think ahead and anticipate the necessary edits with each photo you take. You don’t want to be stuck in the studio for days, culling out your photos before you get to do anything else. The general rule of thumb here is to forget that the camera you hold in your hands is digital – think of it as an old-school film camera with no more than 36 exposures on a roll of film. This might just teach you to appreciate each shot and determine you to try and make it count.

3) Let your mistakes teach you

Irrespective of whether you work with an editor or edit all your own photos, you can always learn from your mistakes, especially if you want to reduce your photo post-production time. If you do work with an editor, try to spend some time with them as they work on your photos (and, ideally, on the work of other photographers, too). Perhaps you chose to use a 50mm lens in a small, crowded space and ended up with pictures that had to be massively cropped, in order for the guests’ expressions to become visible. Perhaps you selected an exposure time that worked for one part of the photo, but completely obliterated the side of it that would have actually been relevant. Until you shoot (and then shoot some more), it’s going to be difficult for you to understand what techniques and methods work in which particular contexts – but when you do, do pay heed to your errors.

The Brief Guide to Golden Light Wedding Photos

They don’t call the golden hour ‘the magic hour’ for no reason. There’s a certain soft, joyous quality to images taken in that kind of light that makes it ideal for the most wonderful portraits, be they for glam shoots or wedding shoots – or just about any other type of photography that involves human subjects. Of course, there’s something to be said about shooting in window light, shade, backlight, and even in direct sunlight. But there’s nothing quite like shooting portraits at magic hour, which is why today we bring you our very own version of a quick guide to golden light wedding photos. There is simply no match for it, neither in terms of artificial lighting or post-production. You can’t replicate it no matter how hard you try and how many filters and actions you try. So let’s delve right into it, then:

The unmatched qualities of golden light wedding photos

Christina McNeillSoftness

The thing about golden light wedding photos is that they can actually be taken with the subjects staring straight into the sun without so much of a squint. Light at that time of day is softer because it takes a longer time to reach the surface of the Earth, as it has more distance to travel across the universe.


Another quality that’s unique to golden light wedding photos is the temperature of the light. In somewhat more technical terms, at magic hour the blue wavelengths of light particles are more scattered, which is why there are more reds and yellows in its makeup. This will make your wedding portrait subjects look almost golden – sort of naturally tanned-like.


Magic hour is essentially that time of day right before sunset, which means the sun has descended lower in the sky. This low angle will effortlessly add depth to your photos. Since your subjects will have longer, softer shades at that time of the day, the pictures will look more dynamic and more profound, in terms of depth-of-field. Golden light wedding photos simply look like more accurate 2D representations of this three-dimensional world.

When to take perfect golden light wedding photos

golden-light-wedding-photos02The ‘magic hour’ is actually about two hours each day: one right after sunrise and one immediately before sunset. The span of time you have at your disposal also varies according to where on Earth you live or the place to which you’ve traveled for the photo shoot. The rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the Equator, the shorter the golden hour is going to be. Seasons also extend or shorten the magic hour (with less natural sunlight in the colder season, it goes without saying that there’s going to be less golden light then). And, of course, the weather also plays a major role in how much time you get for taking golden light wedding photos. Clouds in the sky are not a good sign, if you’re going for that warm, soft vibe of magic hour portraits – though they can work wonders for achieving sharper shadows and a more dramatic quality to your pictures. In the case of weddings, the golden hour will usually catch you right after dinner or during the meal, so try to inform your clients of this in advance, so you can sneak out into the great outdoors with them for a few beautiful portraits.

How to shoot golden light wedding photosgolden-light-wedding-photos03

There are lots of great options in this sense, since golden light is so permissive. You can have your subject directly facing the light, or you can get a warm glow with backlit portraits. In this second scenario, you can also try to obtain a rim of light outlining the silhouettes of your subject, which will make it stand out from the background and appear aglow. You can also try to obtain a flare, which will differ greatly from one specific aperture to the next, from one lens to the other – try to find the best kind of effect for your subjects. And, of course, golden light allows for a ton of experimentation, so just go out and have fun with it!

How to Choose a Makeup Artist for Wedding Photography

Choose-a-Makeup-Artist-for-Wedding-PhotographyPortraiture and wedding photography are definitely the two photo niches in which you can’t possibly do without the presence of a professional Makeup Artist (or MUA). Now, the problem with knowing how to choose a makeup artist for wedding photography is similar to finding a good photog for a wedding. Just like anyone with a camera believes they can pull off a great wedding shoot, so anyone with a makeup palette is convinced they know all about professional makeup. Hint: they don’t. If you want to see great results and happy clients, you need a pro MUA, and here’s how you go about finding and hiring one:

1. Go to Model Mayhem

Aspiring pro photographers, who dabble in either portraiture, fashion photography, fine art, wedding photography or anything that has to do with setting up a setting that also involves people, need to know Model Mayhem. This is a great platform for finding models and MUAs, irrespective of your skill and experience level. If you’re just starting out, you can help the MUA build their own portfolio, while you also improve yours, through TFP (trading for pictures) instead of paying them for the work. If you’re a more experienced photog, seeking to improve their business, choose a makeup artist for wedding photography who’s worked with a modeling agency. Try to find someone who is not only like-minded, but similarly experienced.

2. Choose a makeup artist for wedding photography who is great

While there’s no such thing as the perfect MUA, a great wedding photography makeup artist does need to tick off a few qualities on a checklist. Here are some things to look for in an MUA:

–          Punctuality. Nothing spells professionalism (or lack thereof) more in this business than respecting meeting times and deadlines.

–          People skills. If you want to choose a makeup artist for wedding photography in particular, then you need to look for someone who understands they’re not working with professional models. They’re working with real-life, nervous, often stressed out couples to-be.

–          A flair for branding. And not just their own. The best MUAs are both adaptable and pour their own vision into each shoot. This means that they understand and respect your own brand of wedding photography, while also pitching in their flair and skills.

3. Gauge your chemistry with your MUA of choice

In fact, let’s take the above pointer one step further: as you work with more MUAs, find a few of them (three or four, let’s say), with whom you’ve got chemistry. Chemistry, in this case, can be defined as similar work ethics, similar creative visions, and respect for each other’s skill and experience. It also has a lot to do with basic human interaction: if the two of you generally get along and can share a few laughs, then you have yourself a winner. We can’t possibly stress how important this is. The last thing you want is a meltdown between you and an MUA during an (already charged) wedding shoot.

4. Create a money-making wedding photography team

As you evolve and your wedding photography business progresses, make sure to stay as consistent as possible, in terms of how you choose a makeup artist for wedding photography. Work with the same people as often as you can, if you’ve found some who meet your standards and the above criteria. Have a go-to list of MUAs that you know you can rely on and book for shoots. This way, you can have the comfort of knowing what to expect, in terms of makeup, so you can go ahead and focus on your share of the work.

Create Great Wedding Cinemagraphs in 15 Steps


Image via PhotoJojo

What are cinemagraphs, you ask? Why, what a question! Essentially, they’re Graphics Interchange Format files, better known as .gifs. You’ve seen them all over your favorite entertainment websites online and you can even make them with nothing more than your smartphone these days, since, of course, there’s an app for that. However, there’s also a professional way to create great wedding cinemagraphs that will bring those unforgettable moments to life.

How to create great wedding cinemagraphs: A checklist

You’re going to need a camera that shoots video, a tripod, a video editing program and one version or another of Adobe Photoshop. And, of course, props, a model or several, and, most importantly, ideas for cinemagraphs.

#1. Plan out your scene. Shoot for subtle motions, moments and movements. In contrast, the rest of your scene should look great when still. Finally, aim for something that looks good when looped.

#2. Set up the camera as solidly as you can on its tripod and shoot away. You need 10 to 20 seconds of video tops.

#3. Make sure you’re shooting in the right format for Photoshop, i.e. either MOV or AVI.

#4. Import your video into Photoshop. You’re going to import the frames of the video into layers, and while more layers make for a smoother animation, anything above 100 layers is probably too much to work with.

#5. Check out the video frames, now imported into separate layers. Make sure you have all the layers you need.

#6. Go to Windows/Animation, to see the layers as actual frames in an animation. Play the animation to identify the moment you are going to be animating next.

#7. Once you’ve found the frames that display the portion you want to see animated. Bear in mind that some of the smoothness of the end .gif is going to be lost after you’ve deleted some of the layers, so choose them wisely.

#8. Choose your Alpha layer. That’s going to be the one layer that stays unchanged in the end .gif. duplicate it and place it over the other layers in the Layers window.

#9. Next, start creating movement in order to actually create great wedding cinemagraphs. This means that you need to start editing the Alpha layer with the aid of vector masks. These masks will effectively do away with the elements that are still in the Alpha layer, but that you want animated in the final version.

#10. Test out the animation, after you’re done masking the portions you want animated. Set the animation to loop Forever, then press play. Make note of any further edits you need to make, so as to make the movement as smooth as possible.

#11. Make sure your loop is smooth. There are several ways in which you can achieve this. One is by adding the Alpha layer plus the very first animation layer, right after the very last layer in the animation. Simply duplicate the last layer, then change what layers appear in it in the Layer window. For more complex animations, you’re going to want to loop some very specific frames in your Animation, that will help make the motion transition smoother.

#12. Color your .gif. .gif files unfortunately can’t hold as much color information as regular pictures, so you’re going to want to use an effect that works well with less data. You can either use a preset Photoshop action for a specific color effect, or colorize all the layers with a specific Photoshop mask.

#13. Save your final .gif in a resolution that’s suited for the web, i.e. not very large. You’re going to want your clients to show it off online and you’re also likely to showcase it in your portfolio. The typical resolution is 72 pixels/inch.

#14. Save the PSD project of the cinemagraph, then Save for Web & Devices.

#15. Enjoy the fact that you now know how to create great wedding cinemagraphs and don’t forget to show off your work!