No matter where you are in your photography, there’s always something you could do better, even for us! So why not work out a New Year’s Resolution to help yourself improve? It might not be the classic ‘diet and exercise’ but let’s be honest, these will be a lot more fun!
Photography New Year’s Resolutions!
The biggest and easiest resolution to put to work is taking more photos! The more you take the more you practice. While the whole 10,000 hours thing is bunk, time spent practicing is huge! Remember that there’s no set number to hit, just improve and take more photos than you did last year and you’ll succeed on this resolution. Nice!
There’s also a ‘bigger picture’ way to approach shooting more. Not just quantity of photos, but the number of days, the number of shoots, those are a way to shoot more. Taking photos more often is a great goal.
Ok, this might sound a little backwards but for some photogs, this is absolutely the right move. Have you ever gone through your photos to find the right shot and had to move through hundreds of rapid-fire shots? It’s ok, we’ve all been there. The idea behind this resolution is to practice mindfulness and be very deliberate with your shots. Slowing down your work, focusing on the image you’re making in the moment might not lead to the best shots, but it will absolutely lead to better shots – every time.
If you find yourself walking a line between shooting more while shooting less you’re going to be training yourself to be more efficient and hone your eye.
Open yourself up to new photography techniques! This will keep your skillset expanding and help you avoid getting stuck in a creative rut. If you only shoot landscapes out on the hiking trails, try focusing on your fellow hikers and take some portraits. You can even take to learning the ins and outs of other cameras to help master new skills.
When you begin experimenting with new options (digital vs film, night photography etc. editing techniques) you’ll unlock a whole new world of possibilities and creativity.
Create a Project Piece
This is a lot like a resolution but in a more defined, specific space. Creating a photo project might look like any number of different things, from shooting photos all of a single theme to taking a photo every day at the same time, or anything in between. Creating and finishing a photo project is a good way for you to define a goal and have a finished thing at the end of it. Often when photographers are just getting started they take their photos, do some editing, and then kind of don’t know what to do with all of the finished pieces. By establishing a project you can focus your work towards creating this defined goal and when you’re done you’ll have a sense of accomplishment in addition to a bunch of killer photos.
These are just some potential photo-based New Year’s Resolutions you could pick up. Chances are if you’re serious about this craft you already have some ideas about what you personally could do better. Take those, treat them like a hard goal like losing ten pounds or whatever, and work at it. By doing things with intention, you’re going to get real results. Your photos will improve, your skills will expand, and you’ll be happier with your work. Next time on the blog we’re going to give some examples of great photo ops for Albuquerque photogs, so come on back then!
Last month we gave a bunch of tips to beginner photographers. This time we’re stepping even further back and addressing the very basics, our very own Photography 101 class! There’s a lot that goes into the subject matter so we’re going to do our best to dive into the basics, give a little bit of history, and cover some foundational pieces: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
Think of it as our holiday gift to you!
A Brief History of the Camera
No college course would be complete without a little bit of a historical context. It might not be the most fun part of learning photography but it’s of note regardless! Don’t worry, we’ll get to the good stuff soon enough!
Photography, and more specifically cameras, have a long, long history. There were ancient precursor tech like the camera obscura dating back to ancient China or the pinhole camera made by Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham around 1000 C.E.
These technologies were the beginning in a long line of advancement through the centuries. French inventor and photography pioneer Nicéphore Niépce, took what we’d consider the first photograph from nature in the early 1800s, elsewhere inventors were developing techniques based on light and film. The past 200 years have been a whirlwind of photographic advancement.
The long and short of it is this: photography is all about light! Keep reading, you’ll see what we mean…
Photography 101 – Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO
The three most basic, fundamental components of photography are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Understanding what they are, how to use them, will give you the foundational knowledge you need to start taking pictures seriously. Remember anyone can point and shoot, but a photographer knows their tools and how to accomplish greatness with them!
But first, exposure.
Exposure is the amount of light that reaches the film or camera sensor. It determines how bright or dark the photos turn out. As you might imagine, that’s crucial to good photography. Two of the topics mentioned previously actually effect the exposure, aperture and shutter speed. The third, ISO, does affect brightness of the images, but doesn’t affect light reaching the film or sensor. That might sound a little confusing but as we go over the three elements it’ll become clearer.
Shutter speed is pretty easy to understand – it’s the amount of time your camera uses to take a photo. It could be 1/100 of a second, 1/10, up to 30 seconds and beyond – some folks have custom cameras that take decades to take a single photo – that’s not what we’re after here but it’s wild to see! The point is there is quite the range in shutter speeds out there.
Now, why do shutter speeds matter?
Shutter Speed Affects Exposure
The first is that shutter speed affects the amount of light let in. A longer shutter speed lets in more light, while a faster shutter speed lets in a fraction. As an example, if you took a photo outside during the day with a 30 second shutter speed you are going to get a photo that is just completely white. Meanwhile, a photo taken at night with a lightning fast shutter speed will be completely dark. Balancing shutter speed with the available light is crucial
Shutter Speed and Motion Blur
Shutter speed also plays with motion blur in the photos. The longer the shutter speed, the more potential there is for movement in the photo. A person walking by, a bush blowing in the breeze. This movement is then captured in the photo as a blur as the shutter wasn’t fast enough to catch it in a single place.
Aperture is the hole or lens that light passes through, like the pupil in your eye. On cameras it is measured (and expressed) in f-numbers, like this: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 and so on, showing the size of the lens opening. On a camera it’s made up of several blades that all can move and shift to create a smaller or larger aperture. Again, it helps to draw a comparison to the pupil here because like your eyes, the aperture functions the same. The pupils of your eyes dilate to let in more light, helping you to see more things in the dark. When it’s light out you don’t need so much light to be let in so your pupils get smaller. The aperture on your camera serves the same function, to help control the light.
Remember – Aperture is written as a fraction so f/2 (for f 1/2) is bigger than f/16 (or f 1/16)
The basics of aperture is this: the larger the aperture, the more light you let in, the brighter your photo.
By manipulating your shutter speed and aperture you can control the exact amount of light you want to let into your photos, controlling the exposure.
Aperture can also influence depth of fields and more, but for now we’ll stop there.
ISO brightens your photos but it isn’t about controlling or manipulating the light reaching the camera sensor. Instead, it brightens the photo after the sensor has been exposed to the light.
Raising the ISO can help when you have no other way of brightening the picture. If your aperture is as wide as you want it and the shutter speed can’t go any longer without filling it full of motion blur, raising your ISO might do the trick. However this should always be done carefully because the more you pump up the ISO the more grain (or noise) will show up in the photo.
The ISO scale is pretty straight forward, the higher the number the brighter it goes. The main tiers are ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400. For most cameras the ‘base’ ISO is 100, though there are outliers.
Here is a whole great piece on just ISO if you’re interested (they have plenty more useful photography content as well!)
Putting it All Together
And of course, just reading about aperture, ISO, shuter speeds, and exposure isn’t enough to master it. Like all skills, you have to get out there and put the hours in. Practice, practice, practice. Experiment with your camera, understand the elements and settings and take great photos! Now it’s time to determine what settings you’re going to use and take some photos!
Mind the Motion
Are you going to be shooting a subject in motion or still? Identifying this will help you decide on what your shutter speed should be set at. If you’re going to be taking photos of wildlife or of a sports exhibition, you’ll want the shutter speed fast lest you end up with a blur. If you’ve got a still tree you have your eye on, feel free to slow the shutter speed down.
Find Your Exposure
Balance your aperture and shutter speeds to find the exact amount of exposure you’re looking for. Pay attention to the ambient light present in your shooting environment. If there’s lamps, the sun, candles, or any other sources of bright light you’ll want to adjust your settings to reflect that.
Now, take a few shots! How do they look? Begin to experiment with the aperture and shutter speed, engage the ISO. Through trial and error you’ll start to better understand what it means to take photos with intention. See what we mean when we say it’s all about light? These first few steps into the world of photography will all be about controlling the light and exposure in your shots.
After that you can start learning the more advanced processes, experimenting with lenses, understanding composition and more. But for now, for photography 101, simply start to understand the light.
That’ll do it for us this month on the Frank Frost photography blog. Happy Holidays to everyone and we’ll see you in 2021!
Last time on the blog we divvied out some nuggets of wisdom for photog beginners. As we set about writing them all down, well it turned out we had a whole lot more to offer than we realized! So without much preamble let’s get into even more photo tips for the fledgling photographer!
Move Your Feet
In the immortal words of Danish Pop Duo Junior, Senior, “Everybody, move your feet and feel united, oh-oh-oh.” Though, instead of feeling united, you’ll take better pictures! Think of your body as tripod or a part of the camera. When you take your photos in the same stance, standing straight up, arms bringing your camera to your eye, you are going to be getting pictures with the same angle, the same space.
So how do you spice things up? Move around! Crouch low, climb over things, get high above the subject, lay on the ground. Moving around will change the size and position of your subject. It will add variety to your portfolio as opposed to hundreds of photos of the subject dead center in the frame taken from eye level.
Flash On, Flash Off
This piggy backs a bit on a tip we mentioned last time about knowing light. For most everyone, the first answer to a too dark environment is the flash on their camera. But, flashes aren’t just for the dark!
Flashes are useful for seemingly well lit, outdoor shots too! There’s a term, ‘fill flash’ that goes more into it but essentially this flash in an otherwise well lit environment will ‘fill’ in the shadows on the subject. It’s surprising what even a soft flash of light can do to enhance a photo. Try it out a few times on your own and compare the results! Soon enough you’ll develop an eye for when you need to use it and when ya don’t.
Back-Up Your Work
Here’s a big one nobody thinks to mention, BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS! No one thinks their harddrive is going to die on them until it does and if it happens with all of your work on it the nightmare of lost progress, lost experience, and lost product it brings is not something you want to deal with. Seriously, right now, download all of your photos to an external hard drive. Done? Ok phew. Now make a habit of it!
Try Something New
Once you feel like you have an understanding of composition, light, when to use a flash, moving your feet and repositioning the camera it’s time to try something new! Whether it’s using a new lens, trying out drone photography, or shooting video. Go to a brand new location to shoot landscapes. Any change or new experience is going to bring a wealth of perspective and new ideas to your photography.
Meet Other Photographers
Finally, get out there (maybe not literally right now(thanks COVID)) and meet other photographers! Hit up forums, find clubs or groups. Half the fun of getting into a new hobby or skill is learning it and sharing the experience with others. Thankfully, the best way to get better is to share information, experience, and tips with other photographers so grouping up is a twofer! It’s especially helpful when they’re in your area because they will A) know the best local spots for some beautiful shots and B) have settings and ideas for your environment, light, time of day, etc.
Alright that’ll wrap up tip month here on Frank Frost! If you’re a beginner photog try out these past 11 tips and you’ll see your skills grow in no time. The biggest tip of all? Practice, practice, practice. If you’re in the market for professional photography, work headshots, or family photos don’t hesitate to give us a call! Our studio is ready for you!
With the powerful tools in our pockets, everyone has the chance to be a photographer! As technology advanced we went from large single-use bulbs and stands to a dedicated portable handheld camera, and now to combining the elements of photography into our telephones – along with a whole bunch of other features! Anyways, the point is this: everyone can take photos, so we want to give some basic tips to help you take the best photos you can!
Note about tools: These tips will work with any kind photography, so while the camera power in your phone might be lacking, these tips will still help you produce your best work yet!
Photo Tips for the Beginner Photog
Use What You Have
This follows off our previous note about tools. If you’re just getting started into photography, don’t spend a ton of money on new tools, lenses, etc. Those things will help you take better photos, but it’s enough to master the basics first. So start with your phone, your old digital camera. Even the finest painters started with pencils and paper.
Work with Your Composition
Taking good photos means taking photos intentionally. It’s knowing what makes for a good photo as opposed to a bad one. Here are some basics:
Don’t cut off important parts of the subject with the frame
Keep the horizons level
Get rid of distracting elements
Look for a sense of balance, a sense of simplicity
The Rule of Thirds
While we’re talking about composition, a big piece of making an aesthetically pleasing photo involves following the rule of thirds. There’s a lot out there written about this so we’ll keep it brief here. The idea is that an image should be divided into 9 equal parts, using two lines vertically and two lines horizontally that break up the image into thirds. The subject or interesting elements of the photo should be along these imagined lines and where they intersect. Many cameras (and most phones) have this feature that will impose a grid layout over your screen as you layout the shot, don’t hesitate to use it, it’s not cheating! Take a few shots minding the rule of thirds and see how it compares. Chances are you’ll find it makes for more captivating photos.
Look to the Light
Light is, without a doubt, the single most important piece of photography. If your pictures have good light, you’re already half way to having a good photo! Haha, ok, maybe not halfway but seriously, you can’t discount how big of an influence lighting has. Photos lacking in light well end up bland, discolored, or so muted they lose all detail.
You want to try and balance the light’s intensity between the background and the subject. The easiest way to do this is to look at the softness and direction of the light. If it’s too bright you can end up with bad shadows, for instance. Lighting from certain angles can also be unflattering, ruining the effect you’re after.
If you’re shooting photos handheld the most likely hurdle you need to overcome is that there isn’t enough light. Use a flash or reposition to get more light on the subject. If you are lucky enough to be working in a studio, moving the light source is easier than waiting for the sun to rise further so you got that going for ya!
Look at Your Old Photos
Just like any creative or skill endeavor, there’s plenty you can do when you’re not out shooting to improve! The biggest thing? Look at your previous work. What do you like about the photo? What don’t you like? Why is that? Recognize what you did to create that photo you like and replicate it. Refine your skill. There might be certain settings that really sing to you, or ones you absolutely hate the way the photo turned out. With these thoughts in your mind, the next time you set up a shot you’ll remember “This is the way I want to lay it out to get that.”
Listen, getting better isn’t worth it if you’re not enjoying yourself! So get out there and experiment. Shoot different photos and styles. Try out a ton of different options, settings, styles. Relax and enjoy it! Your best photos are going to come when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, not rushing to get it done.
When it comes to what to wear for headshots, you’d be forgiven if you thought “What to wear for headshots? Well, that’s easy, it doesn’t matter just don’t wear a hat!” After all, aside from your head what else would show up? Well, isn’t that special – but’s it wrong! It’s okay, you’re not a photographer, you’re not expected to know! This time on the Frank Frost blog we’re going to go over what a headshot is precisely and what to wear for your headshots!
What Are Headshots?
You might have heard headshots and portraits used interchangeably for the upcoming office photoshoot and while there is some overlap, these are different. Think of it like a squares and rectangle situation. Not all rectangles are squares, but all squares are rectangles. Similarly, headshots are a type of portrait, but not all portraits are headshots.
More specifically, headshots are a photo, tightly cropped focusing on the face from the shoulders up. The subject is camera aware (meaning looking towards the camera, typically right into the lens.
Headshots are particularly important for actors, models, and those in similar industries. It’s how they can get their face out there. But they don’t have to be reserved for thespians! Anybody can benefit from a well done headshot! But what to wear for them!?
What Color To Wear for Headshots
Any color can work, if your photographer is set up for it. To make any color work right you need to light it properly and have a background ready to balance it out.
But some colors definitely capture better! Wearing a dark black or bright white can mess with the color and make you appear washed out, so avoid that. Any color that is close to your skin tone can also make it more difficult for the camera to pick out features.
What About Patterns?
Let’s put it to bed quickly – patterns aren’t the best idea, for a number of reasons. For one a pattern that is too ‘loud’ can make for a distracting headshot. Patterns can also make a photo feel more dated, faster. Stick to solid colors or very subdued patterns if you want your headshots to last awhile.
How About Styles?
When it comes to tops, look for crew, boat or narrow v-necks are always flattering and lay right. Sometimes collars have a tendency not to work exactly right and can make the final headshot look a little off so avoiding them is easiest. If you typically wear a jacket for your work take a jacket or two to have options but don’t feel you need one to be professional! Make sure your clothes fit well beforehand (a general rule of thumb is a little snug is better than loose) so try them on a few days before the photos are being taken to ensure they fit exactly as you’d like.
For general guidance on what not to wear:
Too low necklines
Too high necklines like turtlenecks
Busy or trendy patterns (again they’ll photo poorly and date the photo faster)
shiny fabrics like silk or satin.
short sleeves or sleeveless styles*
*unless you’ve got strong arms you’re wanting to show off!
How About Accessories?
In general, less is more. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Here are some tips for specific types:
Stud earrings are best, especially simple pearls or stones.
Hoops and dangling earrings can interfere with your hair and get lost in your portrait.
Remember the focus is on your face and you want as little to distract from it as possible so big jewelry, large hoops, or unique pieces might draw the eye away from your face and ruin the intention of the headshot. If big jewelry is your style, don’t fret, there are ways to make it work!
The big thing is to make sure your clothes fit right. Especially for jackets and collared shirts. While wearing it, look for gaps at the back of your neck. You don’t want it too tight, however, or else you risk a bit of a bulge of neck over the collar and it will look… not so good on camera. If you’ve never had your clothes tailored before now is a great time to give it a try! It’s surprisingly inexpensive and will give your fit the exact right look.
Know what style you’re going for and whether you need a tie, a sport coat or a suit coat. If you’re wearing a tie you can wear either a suit or sport coat but if you’re opting for a no-tie look you should only wear a sport coat. Button down collars rarely lay just right in photos so unless it’s a deliberate style choice of yours best to avoid them.
What About Glasses?
Glasses can be tricky! If you’re not careful the lenses can produce a glare that blocks out your eyes in the photo – and that’s no good! If you’re able, give your glasses a non-glare coating otherwise you can use a set of lens-less frames. They’ll photograph fine and are true to your look. If you forget and there ends up being a glare don’t sweat it too much. Photographers should be able to remove the glare in post-production.
Some Final Tips
Don’t wear your headshot wardrobe in your car. Car seats, driving, heat, seat belts – all of these can mean wrinkled clothes for the photos. Instead bring the wardrobe clean and pressed on hangars and change specifically for the photos.
Speaking of clean and pressed, make sure your clothes are just that. Take them to a tailor to get them sized exactly right for you, whatever you need to make sure your clothes are looking pristine for your photos.
Bring a few options! Since you really only need to worry about the waist and above for your headshot, bring a few different shirts, jackets to get the best photos for you!
Want a few more ideas? Check out our Business and Headshot page for some example headshots and see what others are wearing and what looks good to you.