As we roll into another joyous (and tasty) holiday season, we’re ecstatic about sharing our latest how-to by one of our very favorite food bloggers and writers, Brooke MacLay! Brooke is the master chef and mom extraordinaire behind Cheeky Kitchen, and she’s also a word wizard for us here at SmugMug. She whipped up a delicious behind-the-scenes look at how she juggles her deadlines, shopping, baking, styling and her hungry kids to produce some of the most scrumptious-looking photos in a timely manner.
Bloopers most certainly included.
Read the full writeup over on our education site, and start taking your food photos to the next level this holiday season!
Next in our holiday print lab series are our neighbors just over the hill: Bay Photo. As the first pro-only lab that we introduced at SmugMug, Bay Photo has earned the trust of pro SmugMug photographers since January 2009. Remember that anyone with a Portfolio and Business account can set your own prices and sell all kinds of print products direct from your SmugMug galleries. At Bay Photo, your clients can order Photo Extras like mats, frames and more. Perfect for making a little extra money this holiday season!
Today we’re getting the inside scoop about ThinWraps, one of Bay Photo’s most lightweight mounting options. If you’ve never seen or ordered one for yourself, this is your chance to see just how these special prints are made.
Where does Bay Photo find its inspiration?
We listen to our customers! Our customers are professional photographers and creative artists and we get amazing ideas from them. We do what we can but some ideas are just too unique to add to the line up. We also listen to our employees. Our team members have a ton of experience in their specific area of production. They come up with awesome ideas for how to modify an existing product or for completely new ones. Again we wish we could implement more of the ideas that come from our team members.
What do Bay Photo employees think?
They take pride in producing a product that is of a higher quality than what can be found elsewhere. We make products for professionals and we don’t skimp, often doing by hand what other production facilities may use machines to do. We have true artisans in the lab who refuse to put out an inferior product under the Bay Photo name. Plus, it’s fun!!
How did ThinWraps get their start?
ThinWraps actually have a very interesting beginning. The idea came about one night, late at night, when Larry, the owner, and Polo, one of our production department leaders, were making sample books for our trade show booth. We wanted to show all the different materials we could offer on our books, but didn’t want to use regular swatches and didn’t have the space to have a book of every type of material, so we decided to make the front covers only and mount them on the wall of the booth. When they were prepping the different materials they wrapped one of our photowrap covers, added a block to the back and a light bulb went off! Why not wrap prints on board add a mount block and hang that on the wall? It makes a unique, beautiful finished product ready to hang right out of the box and very contemporary looking.
Once we put it into our ordering system we knew ThinWraps were really a great idea because soon customers were asking for more options and sizes and competitors were starting to offer them too. Our original ThinWraps were the same as what you can order now, but we have added more options; Glossy and Satin laminate over lustre or metallic photopaper or canvas all wrapped around a board and finished with a nice back and your option of a mount block or an easel. You can also choose the original ThinWrap or a padded SoftTop ThinWrap!
Why would you recommend pro photographers give ThinWraps a try?
It is a clean looking product and is very easy for the end customer. It’s ready to hang on the wall right out of the shipping box. No framing or additional service needed. It’s contemporary looking piece and that is playful enough for a kids room or professional enough for an office.
How would you recommend keeping ThinWraps looking great?
The ThinWrap is very versatile and is well finished to last a long time. Like any photographic product it should not be put in direct sunlight, but it is also a product that can put up with a little bit more abuse; if the kids have sticky fingers, the laminate protects the image and can be cleaned off! Our favorite ThinWrap option combo is the metallic paper with satin laminate. It has the awesome metallic sheen without the glossiness which adds depth and a touch of something special to just about any image!
Thanks again to Bay Photo for this detailed look at an innovative product we love! Once again, if you’ve never before turned your images into beautiful prints at SmugMug, you’re missing out. You can easily turn your favorite photos into prints and gifts by opening any gallery and clicking the Add to Cart button. If you’ve disabled printing to visitors, the button will read “Owner Buy.” See how to print at SmugMug.
It’s that time again, happy SmugMuggers! Here’s a quick update on what we’ve updated and fixed over the last few weeks.
Choose Where to Search
This is just what the doctor ordered for all you folks who want to cordon off your viewers’ searches to a specific portion of your site. Now when you click the settings you can choose exactly which folders and galleries get searched using the input in this field.
So, for example, if you took several galleries’ worth of photos on an epic world vacation 2013, fans who are looking for photos of “elephants” in India won’t dig up photos of elephants from your local zoo. Keep in mind that the regular search tips apply, so be sure you’re up to speed.
Tip: This new setting applies to the Search Box content block ONLY, and not to the search box that appears in your site header. That one will continue to search only the page that you’re currently viewing.
NEW AdSense Content Block
We’ve never forced SmugMug customers to display ads on their site, but we do have a fair number of business customers who wanted the ability to display paid ads to their own viewers. Due to popular demand, Power, Portfolio and Business accounts now have the ability to add Google Adsense units to any page on your site using the new AdSense content block.
You can add up to three of these blocks to any page, but please refer to your AdSense Terms of Service for specific information about what you should and shouldn’t do. Enjoy!
Filenames in Organizer
You gave us a lot of feedback about those thumbnails you’re seeing in your site-wide Organizer, and how you wanted to be able to see the filenames for each and every one. It was one of those “Why didn’t we think of that?” moments, so now we’ve added in a toggle for your organizing pleasure.
Find it in the upper right corner of the browsing pane of your Organizer.
Two Slideshow Improvements
Thanks to your feedback on our forums, we’ve added a randomization option to your Slideshow content block, found under the “Display” tab of the block settings. So now you don’t have to decide which photo gets seen first.
We also brought back edge-to-edge, full screen slideshow displays. This applies to the big slideshow that appears after you hit the “full screen” button in any gallery style as well as the Slideshow content block. Note that this applies only if you have Originals enabled in the photos’ gallery settings and if your Original photo resolution is large enough to stretch across the screen. We also won’t stretch (AKA distort) images to fit screens, so you may still see some letterboxing if your image isn’t the perfect shape.
Last but never least, here are our top picks from the mix of other fixes:
- Added back “Sharpening” settings for Power User accounts.
- Properly updated the preview URL when you click Hide Owner.
- Fixed stuttering video playback in some public galleries.
- Photos in passworded galleries with external linking “Off” will display properly when collected and used as featured photos.
- Gallery privacy levels (unlisted, private, passworded) are shown in all gallery picker windows.
Till next time. Keep the feedback coming!
Photos by Michael Bonocore Photography
As we approach the high point of the summer season, we hope that all of you out there are making the most of the long hours and the beautiful light!
But the idea of “traveling with camera” falls somewhere between throwing a point-and-shoot into your suitcase and being hired to cover the Four Seasons’ grand opening. So how do you pack without going overboard, or avoid leaving critical stuff at home?
Travel Podcast with Michael Bonocore
Since so many of us live to take photos, we thought it’d be a good time to sit down and talk with one of our most exuberant and well-journeyed friends, Michael Bonocore, about the art of travel. You’ve probably already seen him on Google+, our forums or at a live event, but he also spends his time around the world guiding others to better photos and better giving through The Giving Lens.
In our podcast, he tells us more about his travels and how to balance being on the road with having the gear you need. Learn about:
- What specific things should photographers think about when planning their next adventure?
- Do you really need insurance?
- Is it terrible to put your camera in checked baggage?
- Besides the camera, what is the most important thing you should take?
- What are the best ways to keep photos organized while you’re not at home?
Have a listen now on iTunes and start preparing for your next adventure. Safe travels, and don’t forget to capture and share your summer memories!
We’re halfway through this orbit around the sun and to those of us in the northern hemisphere, that means it’s time to grab your towel and hit the beach. In the spirit of the ocean, we browsed through Scubazoo‘s incredible collection of underwater photos and videos and were taken aback by the magical beauty of life beneath the waves. How does Scubazoo do it, and what kind of gear does it take? What’s the market for underwater photography? Scubazoo photographer Jason Isley graciously shared a look at how they get that incredible footage.
All photos by Scubazoo
So, who and what exactly is Scubazoo?
Scubazoo is a video production, location management and publication company based in Borneo. Over the past 15 years Scubazoo has managed locations for more than 125 hours of programming within SE Asia for international broadcast. Scubazoo’s cameramen have filmed on upwards of 150 programs from natural history blockbusters such as BBC’s LIFE and Human Planet to hit reality shows like Survivor & The Amazing Race. The Publication department has a number of world class photographers working on various assignments throughout the year and a great editorial team in the office. Scubazoo have provided images to hundreds of magazines and books and have also published several high-quality coffee table books, selling over 200,000 copies internationally.
As a serious photographer as well as a serious diver, what’s in your kit bag? What does a professional setup for underwater photography look like?
It’s not advisable to try and change lenses underwater so, in order to handle macro and wide angle subjects I might encounter, I usually take two setups down with me. For the macro setup I use a Nikon D700 with an AF-Micro Nikkor 60mm f2.8 or an AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D. The wide angle kit consists of a Nikon D800 DSLR with a Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 and a Nikon AF 16mm f/2.8 D Fisheye. Both cameras are housed in Nauticam underwater housings. These give me access to every control on the camera and are rated to 100m. Each housing will have two strobes connected by a fibre optic cable and attached with ultralight arms. I use the Inon Z-240′s as they are light and extremely portable and I also usually carry lots of other gadgets like snoots, flourescent filters, wet diopters etc. If I can, I’ll employ a local dive guide to help spot critters and carry the extra setup.
All the usual scuba gear is used – a tank, weight belt, buoyancy compensation device (BCD) and regulator and also wetsuits to extend my bottom time. Even in tropical waters it can get a little chilly!
What has been your most frightening underwater encounter?
During my filming days I filmed the sardine run in South Africa which is basically a massive feeding frenzy including dolphins, sharks, seals etc and that was a certainly a little hairy. However, the most frightening encounter must be the one with a 4.5m salt water crocodile that literally walked all over me underwater.
Which came first, diving or photography?
I didn’t start diving until I was 25 so the photography certainly came first. When I was 15 I use to play with my father’s camera kit and tried to photograph birds in the garden.
Are there any other underwater projects you’ve worked on?
I have worked on many assignments shooting amazing creatures in different exotic locations, however the project that seems to have gained the largest following must be the miniature people series I started back in 2011. The project is based on a futuristic scenario where the planet is completely underwater and the people are living and breathing underwater, I use miniature people to create scenes with the marine life.
Out of all the places you’ve been, what wins the prize as your most exotic locale?
I’m based in SE Asia which is about as exotic as it gets, however I have certainly been based in some extremely remote locations for long periods of time which can definitely effect your sanity. Myself and one of my colleagues lived in a remote village in Indonesia and spent everyday sat opposite each other under the beating sun in a tiny dug-out canoe for three weeks tracking leatherback turtles.
The coldest location was Newfoundland and Hudson Bay in Canada looking for Beluga whales, that trip really confirmed I am not a big fan of cold water diving!
There’s a ton of life under the seas. What is your favorite subject?
Sharks are definitely high up on the list, however you certainly get more of an encounter with dolphins and whales as they appear to be interested in you sometimes. I don’t have a specific favourite subject as I like diversity and think it improves your photography to change subjects and try different styles.
Who are Scubazoo’s customers?
Scubazoo have two large online libraries, one for video and one for photography and we also have regular agents that we provide our images to. I also write articles for dive, adventure and travel magazines but we are really trying to expand our publications department and publish a couple of books each year. One of the books currently in production is for a large resort company and we are shooting all the wildlife and landscapes around their resorts throughout South East Asia.
What kind of equipment, training, workshops, locations, etc., would you recommend to people looking to test the waters, so to speak, in underwater photography?
I would strongly suggest a course with one of the leading underwater photographers that operate locally wherever you’re based. It will rapidly improve your technique. Underwater photography equipment can be quite expensive because you need all the extras to house the camera and underwater strobes, etc. You may want to consider looking for a 2nd hand set-up to start with. There are some great underwater photography sites with plenty of people giving advice and also selling old kits that you can use to get started.
With that, we hope that all of you get your opportunity to take great photos wherever you end up on holiday. Stay safe in the waves, and check out our Photography Perspectives series if you’re looking for some light beach reading!
You’re a photographer who’s oh-so-ready to make money. We hear ya. But if you’ve gotten every hair in place and you’ve still not seen that “Cha-Ching!” email, here are a few possible reasons why you’ve not been getting bites.
1. No Buy Button
Is it there? This is possibly one of the most dire but easiest flubs to fix. Maybe you disabled this or applied a Quick Setting that hid the Buy button from your galleries, but if you don’t switch it back on you’ll never sell a single print. So be sure to check your galleries and if it’s missing, enable printing in your Gallery Settings. Easy peasy!
2. No Pricing
We hate asking this, but… you DID set up your pro pricing, right? With Pricelists it’s really easy to set a pro markup on just the products you want, then apply that pricing to any or all galleries across your site. But if you forget to do this, you won’t make a dime.
Tip: If you don’t want to think about this ever again, check the “Make this my default pricelist” at the top right and we’ll automagically apply this pricelist to all current and new galleries on your site.
Also, are you charging enough? It may seem counter-intuitive, but we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your prices high and charging what you’re worth. In short: Don’t be cheap.
3. Nasty RCP Message
We’re all about protecting your photos and making sure that you have peace of mind when putting your best work on the web. But there are ways to use them, and then there are better ways to use them. We’re here to show you the latter.
Like your Right-Click Protection message: It’s there to foil right-clickers looking for an easy download, but most photographers just put a boilerplate copyright message, or a threat. Instead of slapping your customers, try to guide them to your Buy button for a profit-making purchase. You’ll look competent AND helpful all at the same time. Fix it under the “Photos” line in your Easy Customizer.
4. Originals On
So many SmugMug users use their galleries to share photos with friends and family. But as a Pro, being that generous may not be so good for business. Originals (and full-res downloads) are on by default, but it’s a quick fix to change this. Just remember to do it!
Open up your gallery settings and look for the Security & Privacy option. Set the radio button to anything smaller than Originals (like XLarge), and to check, log out and take a breeze through your galleries. You’ll always see a Save Photo option when you’re logged in as the owner, but you shouldn’t see it when you’re viewing your site as a guest.
5. Zero Marketing
Ah, the feeling of sweet success on the morning you unveil your website! But wait… did you share the link?
Like relationships, you’ve got to put a little effort in to get something back. So be sure to enter in your keywords, captions, meta description and meta keywords to be sure you get picked up in search engines. Also share the link to your site with friends, Facebook and anywhere else you go online. After all, you can’t make sales if nobody knows you exist.
6. Password Foibles
Many clients want their event galleries locked down with a viewing password, and, yeah, we understand privacy. But our Support Heroes hear from more people than we’d expect that get hit with this one. We hear from confused clients, curious pros who expected instant sales, but the culprit is usually that the password never got shared! So if you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest wedding gallery and your inbox is a ghost town, think back to whether or not you’ve completed this vital step.
The lesson? Don’t forget to share your viewing passwords with the people that matter most. Since passwords are cAsE sEnSiTiVe we recommend copying and pasting what you type in your gallery settings right into your emails.
7. You Launched Yesterday
It’s possible to find overnight success on the web, but patience is still a virtue. You can plug in every keyword and meta description properly, shared with your Facebook fans and distributed your business cards to shops across town, but you’ll still have to wait to see the effect. It takes time for Google to do its work, and for tongues to wag.
So instead of stressing out, grab your camera, keep on shooting and work on honing your craft. Your soon-to-be clients will only love you more.
- How to create and apply Quick Settings
- Gallery Settings: Your key to almost everything
- What’s Visitor View and why do I care?
- Stop slapping your customers with a good Right-Click Protection message
- How easy is the Easy Customizer?
- Save Photos for site owners
- The Great Pricing Hoax
- The art of getting a link to share
- Warning! Sharing photos will make you lots of money
- SEO and SmugMug
- A privacy cheat sheet
- Publish to Facebook from your SmugMug galleries
- SEO made easy on SmugMug
Have you ever wondered how to get your photos picked up by ad agencies? How does a photographer get their foot in the door? These are questions many of us have thought about before, since photography (and ads) are everywhere we look.
You’re in luck. Our community angel, Rocky Bowles, sat down with pro photographer and Chief Creative Officer Alan Shapiro to talk a bit about what exactly goes on behind closed doors. A big deal, considering guys like him are the decision-makers and are technically responsible for every client in the agency.
If you want to impress the bigwigs, wouldn’t you want to know:
- What types of photos Creative Officers are looking for?
- How to get your photos in front of them?
- Where photographers can go to hear about opportunities for their phots?
- What’s customary, what’s expected, and what sort of things make you look like a n00b?
- How much creative control the photographer gets?
Download and listen to the podcast now! It’s 30 minutes that may change the way you look at ads forever.
Photos by Alan Shapiro Photography
Next in our short series of posts from Dallas Nagata White’s amazing team is Katharine Schuette, a recent university graduate and model extraordinaire. Her perspective is the final corner of our fashion shoot trifecta. What’s it like to be a professional model in the industry? Is it everything we envision it to be? Here’s what she had to say!
What is your story? How did you get into the modeling industry?
Modeling just happened to me, I didn’t seek it out. One weekend while walking to Waikiki beach, I picked up a local fashion magazine. The back page featured a raffle for a free haircut – and as a college student, I found this offer enticing. I won the raffle (I was probably the only person that responded), and when I picked up the gift certificate, the editor asked if I’d ever thought about modeling. Although I’d vaguely recognized my own bone structure in those of the models in advertisements, I never really gave it much thought. Especially since I live about five thousand miles away from New York, and am in the exact opposite time zone as Paris. I didn’t know at the time that Honolulu has a small but thriving fashion scene.
The editor set me up with a few test shoots with local photographers, and helped me shop around for agencies. My career unfolded from there, and in 2011 I had the opportunity to work with Wilhelmina LA, so I left Hawaii for awhile and tried my luck in the big leagues. I’m winding down now because I’m focusing on my “real” career, but I’ll still shoot if I get a booking, or if friends or skilled photographers want to work with me.
I love that with modeling comes travel, new faces, clients from all over the world. I’m saturated with wanderlust but tied to the second most isolated place on the planet, so when I spend the day with a group of Norwegians posing with Tahitian kids at Sandy Beach, I’m a happy girl. “Wow, how is this my life?” always hits me in the middle of shoots, or when I land in a new city. I’ll never forget standing in Shanghai and looking out at the Pudong skyline by night, trying to communicate with tuk tuk drivers in Thailand, or driving past thousands upon thousands of windmills on a road trip-themed shoot from Vegas to Palm Springs. I never would have had those experiences in my early 20s if not for this job.
It gives me a chance to get away from my typical daily life, wear clothes I’d never wear, and basically pretend to be someone else who is far more glamorous than I, with better hair, for a day. I’ll miss my job when it comes time to claim the inevitable title of “former model.”
Who takes creative lead on the shoot? Who contacts who?
It depends on the client. I wouldn’t be the person to ask about this, I just show up at call time. There’s might be an art director on larger shoots who handles a lot of that. My responsibility is to communicate with the client and photographer to understand their inspirations, vision for the finished product, and especially the emotion they want to convey.
What’s the most important bargaining chip for models?
A model needs to understand what emotion the photographer wants to portray at any given moment, and know her body and face well enough to make sure a large portion of those pictures come out well. She needs to be able to do ridiculous things like hang from unsteady tree branches or splash around in the ocean in December (in heels, probably) while appearing completely “relaxed” and “natural” (these two words usually come up when I’m in a particularly precarious situation).
It helps to be friendly, never complain, and be professional. I had a client who booked a model with this great sullen, bored look that would be perfect for selling clothes to teenagers. Unfortunately for them, this was actually her personality and she ended up storming off down the beach mid-shoot in their sample clothes, never to return.
What happens on the day of the shoot?
I show up at some ungodly hour even earlier than necessary because I am prideful about my punctuality. I find the coffee. I find the client. Now I am ready to sit in hair and makeup for up to three hours, usually two; then, the stylist gets me ready for the first look. By then the set of the first image is prepared and the photographer and I get to work. There are assistants around, and stylists maintaining the integrity of the look. But there is an unbroken line of communication between the photographer and the model – the photographer has a vision and an inspiration, the model understands that vision and does her best to create the image he or she wants.
We’ll work our way through however many looks the client needs, and by the “golden hour” are ready to shoot the final image. This one is always my favorite because the light is easy to work with – all angles look better! – and also, I’m about to go home. On the best shoots, the whole team will go out to dinner afterward to celebrate.
What contracts, insurance and other business details do you need to make sure get handled?
My agency handles the business end, which is why I give them a 20% cut. My agency in Hawaii is especially reliable and I’ve never had a problem getting paid on time, unless the client was delinquent, but they’ve never failed to claim payment eventually. The mainland was a little different because there were so many girls; if I didn’t keep track of every invoice I probably wouldn’t have been paid for several jobs.
I also have to take out all of my own taxes and keep track of business expenses, of which there are many. I’m lucky because I can include expenses such as bikini waxes and gym memberships on my expenses each year.
I signed a 2-year contract with my agency but it’s kind of a charade because they can drop you at any time if you gain weight or you lose a limb or something.
What is your opinion on TFP (Time For Prints)?
It’s great if you’re just starting to model and the photographer is experienced. If you’re an inexperienced photographer, I can imagine it would be difficult to book a professional model, so you might have to find a new face to work with. By the time a model is established, she should be able to book enough editorials where she won’t have to do any TFP. I wouldn’t do it now unless it were with my close friends who are photographers.
Do you you ever initiate projects with photographers?
My agency vouches for me if a client is interested; I do not initiate jobs. By the time the model is booked, the shoot is probably completely organized, and then a couple of weeks (or even days) before, they’ll hire me.
What does the ultimate dream job look like for you?
Oh wow, this is great. Okay, I am in Tokyo, I’m thinking something involving a Frida Kahlo inspired look, on the streets of Ginza in the spring on Saturdays when the roads are blocked off from traffic.The photographer is my favorite in the world, Harold Julian (who is off in New York now!). Whenever I felt nervous on a shoot in LA, I would pretend Harold was actually the one behind the camera. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but when he starts shooting he gets really energetic. And while he’s shooting, he’s explaining what attitudes or emotions he’s envisioning for the shot; he lets me use that inspiration.
Some photographers will have a certain vision they want to fulfill and tell you exactly how they want you posed, down to your fingertips, and it can be really suffocating and drags a lot of life out of the image. Harold gives more vague ideas or asks me to try certain things, but it’s never strict, and he lets me work within that framework of what he has in mind. It’s such a positive, creative atmosphere.
If you had to pick 3 things that you wish photographers would consider when working with models, what would they be?
I can only really speak for myself because I’m not sure how all models feel, but I like when photographers act relaxed and friendly and take the time to get to know my personality before we start working. I also want photographers to be able to get the right rhythm between when I pose and they shoot. It’s difficult to hold a facial expression or pose for longer than a half a second without the expression falling flat or looking unnatural. I like to be able to move fluidly between poses. And third – play music! I love when the music matches the theme of the shoot, how it helps you get into that headspace of acting like someone completely new.
Is it generally expected that you’ll get copies of the photos to use for your own portfolio?
It doesn’t always happen and sometimes I have to go out and buy the magazines to use in my book, but really great clients are conscientious about sending me a few copies. If I’m shooting for fun or testing, it’s important that the photographer sends me the pictures because that’s the whole point of giving up a day, or morning, to work. If they take forever to return the finished images, that’s a sign that they’re unprofessional and it’s unlikely I would work with them again. How hard is it to use Dropbox?
Everyone has their “best angles” in photos. How do you find a balance between what works for you vs how the photographer wants to pose you?
If the photographer wants me to pose in a very specific way, I just have to work with what he or she is asking. They have the final say, but I try to angle my face or body in such a way that it will still look good. If the photographer is more lenient I can pose how I see fit and play around with different looks until I hit on something that inspires them. Then I’ll work within that more narrow range of poses and attitudes.
How would you suggest up-and-coming photographers get started with finding a model to work with?
Don’t find a model. Shoot people – friends, family, anyone. My friend Ja Tecson, in Los Angeles, is a great example of what can be done without using a “model.” His images are crisp and colorful and full of energy. And although many of the people he shoots are really attractive, they have a genuineness that makes the images interesting.
We hope that all of you budding photographers are as inspired as we are after seeing what happens behind-the-scenes of the great fashion industry. So tell us what you think. Have your experiences been any different? Are you inspired to try adding more fashion into your portrait shots?
Fashion photography is just one of those things that inspires us all, whether you’re a photographer or not. The glamour, the lighting, the beautiful models, clothes most of us will never wear, and the notoriety of the rich and famous… who hasn’t dreamt about living that life? This month we’re going to take a closer look at what goes into making those incredible pictures, and we talked with Ed and Dallas Nagata White, two fresh, young and incredibly talented fashion photographers from Hawaii. Here’s what they had to say about what it takes to create magical portraits and how you can bring a little glam into your photos, too.
Photos by Dallas Nagata White
Fashion photographers tend to get a lot of attention for their images. It’s not hard to see why, since those photographs strive to portray glamorous moments within the four corners of a poster or glossy magazine spread, unfettered by the everyday stresses and worries of the real world. The truth is, though, those moments are carefully crafted illusions that no photographer can create alone, which is why SmugMug invited me to talk about the crew I work with and how they can help other photographers bring a touch of that same magic to their own work.
You are a professional photographer, that that’s what people hire you for, but there are other professionals in photography that don’t take pictures, but are essential to helping you craft the most polished, professional image possible. When I started doing fashion photography, I tried to do everything on my own, which was very expensive and not nearly as effective as working with people who make a living in each of these photography niches. You are hired by your clients because you are an expert at photography, so you should encourage you to do the same for your clients with models, stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists and producers who can take your work to the next level.
Here are my thoughts on how to work with what I consider essential crew, and how they can help you improve your craft, even if you are not in the fashion industry. I also don’t claim to know it all, so I’ve also invited a few of my friends from the Hawaii fashion community to write their thoughts about how they think photographers can make the best use of their skills. Please watch for their guest posts over the next month!
A model is much more than a pretty girl. In addition to being in possession of striking appearances, a model must be able to convey the right emotion and body language at the right moment, and know how to connect that emotion to the viewer. In that way, modeling can actually be a little more complex than film acting.
Even if you are not in fashion, you may benefit from hiring a model every so often. For example, a portrait photographer could hire a professional model to showcase what their technique looks like with an “ideal subject,” allowing you to focus on shooting instead of directing. Working with models will also give you more experience with seeing how professionals pose and emote, which will help you direct your clients later on.
The stylist is probably one of the single most important members of a fashion crew, because they are in charge of the clothes! In fashion or editorial work, your client will usually fill that role, but there are also independent stylists who work on supporting bigger shoots, magazine editorials, non-clothing brands, and test shoots.
A stylist goes a great distance towards improving your photography, even if you’re not shooting fashion or editorial images. The great majority of photographs include clothes; by extension, fashion is a nearly unavoidable element in photography and it exists in a spectrum of good to bad. Hiring a stylist makes sure that balance falls on the “good” side, and will absolutely make a difference in your photos.
Besides having good fashion sense, a stylist’s job is to ensure he or she has access to clothes that would ordinarily be out of reach for most people. Your client may not own a $4,000 Oscar De La Renta outfit and $2,000 worth in accessories, but a stylist with the right connections can make it available for the shoot. Barring that, a stylist can consult with your client prior to the shoot and put together the best combination of their own clothes…or help your client buy a new set!
The Makeup Artist
Whether I’m doing commercial work, editorials, or test shoots for new models breaking into the industry, I insist on making sure a professional makeup artist gets hired. The time a makeup artist saves you during post-processing alone makes hiring one worth it, but good makeup work has the potential to totally transform the appearance of your subject and make your photographs far more cohesive.
On the side of saving you time, professional makeup goes beyond covering up acne or blotches. One of my most memorable makeup moments was watching makeup artist Jessica Hoffman explain what the techniques and colors she was using on that day’s model, and watching very slight circles under her eyes–things no one else would have noticed–disappear on one side, and leap into existence on the other as the difference made it possible for our brains to finally notice they were there.
Makeup artists who work with photographers also know how their various products photograph, which your client may not. This helps prevent unflattering artifacts in your images (which you’d have to fix), and can help you nail a particular look in the process of transformation.
On the side of transforming your subject, a makeup artist is able to minimize some aspects of your client’s and emphasize others. A slight darker tone under your subject’s cheekbones in real life can translate to sharp, contrasty features in photographs. The right shade of eye shadow can make a your subject’s eyes jump to life and convey the sultry attitude of a rocker. A different brand or variety of makeup can create the dewy glow of an athlete or the shimmery aura of a clubber. Most importantly, a trained makeup artist can achieve these looks without overdoing it and distracting from your final images.
The Hair Stylist
Hair is often described as the one accessory you have to live with every day. While makeup artists are generally able to style hair, having a dedicated hair stylist on set allows you to push the polish much further with their specialized tools or their ability (or willingness) to actually cut hair with confidence. This is particularly important when a particular look absolutely must be achieved for a commercial client. Some hair teams may also have wigs they can style instead of cutting the subject’s own hair.
Even if you’re not a fashion photographer, you can suggest or offer professional hair styling in your packages. This will give you control–or at least input–into hair styling right before the shoot, so you have the freshest, most polished hair possible for your shoot, and your client leaves with a whole new cut from a hair professional!
A producer’s job is simply to help you get things done. I don’t generally have to use producers, but sometimes it’s easier, faster, and cheaper to pay someone who has the appropriate knowledge, connections, and relationships to help you complete an assignment. A big role producers play for most photographers is helping scout and book locations, especially private locations that are not generally available or advertised for commercial work. Even if you can’t hire a producer to play this role, you may be able to consult with some if you are looking to change up the places you shoot for fresh and interesting locations.
Producers also help with other production work, such as acquiring props, vehicles, catering, and accomplishing other non-photography tasks that make the shoot come together in a timely manner.
Putting it into practice!
So, where can you find all these adjacent-industry professionals?
It varies a lot by city, and finding fashion crew is different going from Honolulu to Maui, let alone from Los Angeles, California to Bartley, Nebraska, especially given that a lot of fashion people don’t necessarily advertise their services due to the close-knit nature of most fashion communities.
The best and most universal place to track down fashion crew is to start with local magazines or publications that use editorial images. The editors and creative directors will probably know a few fashion professionals and could give you a couple of contacts, and those connections can potentially give you a foothold into the entire network of people in your area. In larger cities, the usual places–agencies, marketing firms, and places of that sort–will probably provide you contacts as well.
Thanks for reading! I hope my advice was useful, and I hope you find the guest posts from my friends over the next month helpful as well. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out on your social platform of choice (I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Facebook) and I’ll do my best to give a useful answer, and if you’d like to keep up with my work, please visit www.dallasnagatawhite.com.