The holidays are a perfect time to practice your portrait-taking skills. Bring out the best in your subjects and take memorable family portraits with some expert instruction! Because we at SmugMug are big fans of photo education, we’ve asked author and professional photographer Kirk Tuck to reveal his top five tips for successful family photo sessions. Learn the essential skills for capturing beautiful family portraits in Kirk Tuck’s FREE online class, Professional Family Portraits, over on Craftsy.com.
1. Bring Out the Best in Mature Subjects
Try adding fill light with flash, or even a cheap piece of foam core. Use off-camera flash as your main light and use umbrellas (cheap and easy) to modify the light. Or situate your couple in their living room for stunning environmental portraits.
2. Capture Toddlers
Toddlers are particularly hard to pose and it’s typically difficult to maintain their attention; make the best of the small window you have with them by limiting their distractions. Get down on their level, and use simple items like a lit match to capture their attention (and get that wonderment-look).
3. Set Up a Studio in Any Home
In a few simple steps you can transform any garage into a studio. When you lift the garage door you have great ambient light that comes in! If the house or garage is cluttered, bring a gray seamless backdrop. Be sure to consider the color of the walls and ceilings when bouncing flash, too, because colored walls can tint your images.
4. Success with Posing Larger Groups
Take the time to thoughtfully choose your location, for example look for hills, walls and contours. You want to shoot in the shade so you can have even light. When it comes to arranging and posing groups, odd numbers are best, form triangles and have the family members slightly face each other to show a connection.
5. Get the Best Results with Your Digital Editing
No photo is complete until it has been taken into the digital darkroom: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Use the healing tool to remove scars and soften wrinkles in Photoshop. And, use the sliders in your layers to make believable changes in skin blemishes, like wrinkles.
In the FREE online Craftsy class, Professional Family Portraits, Kirk will cover:
- Advanced strategies of family portraiture as Kirk shares his best techniques for lighting, posing and composition.
- Fail-proof ways to take adorable shots of even the most impatient little ones.
- Using foam core, umbrellas and bounce flash to create ideal lighting in any setting, and explore broad and short lighting for warm, engaging portraits.
- Quick, effective strategies for transforming any room into an uncluttered studio – even a garage!
- How to select a location and direct poses for a large group photo.
- Step-by-step post-processing strategies to remove blemishes, soften wrinkles and adjust color cast to ensure your portraits have professional polish.
- All the benefits of an in-person seminar from the convenience of your home.
Kirk will critique your photos and answer any questions you have, and since you’ll own your class forever, you can learn at your own pace and revisit techniques before your next shoot.
Sign up for Professional Family Portraits for free now, and take natural, high-quality photos that preserve precious moments in time.
What are some of your own favorite tips and tricks for photographing your families? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Commercial photographer Kirk Tuck has photographed many extraordinary people, from President Bill Clinton to Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger. He’s also authored several books including Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers, Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography, and Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers.
Can’t quite capture Fido’s charisma? Keep snapping the backside of Senior Pussyboots? Yeah, we know. As puppy-loving photographers ourselves, we understand the unique challenges that come with photogging furry friends. When your subject shakes at the first sign of a squirrel, chases it’s own tail, and can’t smile worth a darn, you might wanna declare animal photography an art for the dogs. But there are definite secrets to snapping pet pictures so good, they’ll make you drool.
SmugMug pro Kira Stackhouse, throws us a bone and let us in on her top tips for taking animal photos. Because, after all, dogs can’t learn new tricks…but photographers sure can.
About Kira Stackhouse: An award-winning, San Francisco-based animal and pet photographer, Kira’s modern, colorful images of animals have been featured in books, magazines and websites nationwide. She has photographed more than a thousand rescue dogs and cats, helping them find homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kira is the creator and author of Project DOG, an online movement to promote responsible pet ownership. In her free time, Kira hangs out with her dogs and cats, and competes in triathlons and half marathons. She loves egg sandwiches, french fries, a good cappuccino and pizza that does not flop.
Kira shared her best business tips and let us know which SmugMug tools she loves most.
Read the full interview with Kira, and plan to include your pet in your holiday portraits this year.
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!
Halloween is upon us! What better time to announce our latest inspiring Success Story with Todd Atteberry from History Trekker? Todd’s beautiful, haunting photos of historic northeast locations echo classic, timeless Dutch paintings. He talked to us about how he got into the art of photographing haunted buildings and how his SmugMug website helped him find a firm foothold in the historic community.
Todd is also the man behind Green Man Studio, one of SmugMug’s Certified Customizers. You can tell that his creative skills reach well beyond simply digital art in his beautiful and thoughtful website designs.
Read the full interview with Todd, and don’t be surprised if you hear something go bump in the night.
Have a safe, happy and haunting Halloween!
Good news for all you holiday travelers and gift buyers! Mirrorless cameras are gaining in popularity and may be the perfect option for just about anyone who wants a powerful camera in a smaller package. Our friends over at Borrowlenses put their expertise at work to help you pick out which model may be right for you… or your lucky giftee.
Reblogged by permission from Borrowlenses.com.
Don’t get us wrong – we LOVE our big cameras, especially those pro bodies with huge, high-quality glass. Lugging it around, however, is not so ideal – especially while on vacation or during situations where there just isn’t a lot of room to shoot.
High-quality sensors are coming in smaller and smaller form factors, which is good news for globe-trekking photographers or for those who simply need to pack lightly. These small cameras are perfect for:
- Hiking to get that great sunrise/sunset shot from a high vantage.
- Inconspicuously taking candids out on the street.
- Using auto or fully-manual settings on a simplified system.
Here are 5 recommended small cameras with incredible image quality:
These full frame cameras sport 24 MP sensors and fixed 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss lenses. They shoot full HD 1080p video and have incredible low-light performance. The “R” version lacks an optical low-pass filter, which is ideal for catching extra detail in landscape shooting. The only bummer about these? You’re stuck with that lens. However, on the full frame sensor the 35mm is a great walking-around focal length and the all-metal Zeiss construction is top notch. Another great small-form-factor offering from Sony is their NEX series of mirrorless cameras (with some sample images here)
This retro-looking, handsomely-built micro four thirds camera does full HD 1080p video and shoots stills up to 9 FPS on its 16MP sensor. It is very slim and yet still accepts interchangeable lenses, like the fast 17mm f/1.8 M.ZUIKO. Many of our street photographers extol the virtues of this camera.
Another retro beauty, the X100s comes equipped with film simulations, a fast 23mm fixed lens, and a 16MP sensor. It also shoots full HD video and supports a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. Don’t like the idea of a fixed lens? Try out the Fuji X-Pro 1 instead. It shoots RAW, sports cool analog dials and pairs with the following lenses: Fuji XF 18mm f/2.0 R, Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4, Fuji XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro, and the XF 27mm f/2.8. More info on the Fuji X100s here.
Canon’s first mirrorless system allows you to use this diminutive body with any Canon lens with the help of an EF to EF-M adapter. It’s equipped with Canon’s latest DIGIC 5 Image Processor and an 18 MP sensor. Don’t want to mess with an adapter? Rent the M-compatible EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 STM lens, which includes the new Stepping Motor technology that can auto-focus quietly and provide continuous tracking of a moving subject. The rental of the Canon EOS-M automatically comes with a 22mm EF-M f/2 STM lens.
While only supporting a 10MP sensor, the Nikon V1 is one of the quickest shooters in the small-camera world with 10 FPS bursts in autofocus mode. It’s CX mount offers a variety of tiny (TINY!) lenses, such as the Nikon 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 1 Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6. It can also shoot interesting and effective slow motion footage (up to 1200 FPS) at 320×120.
The Leica M9 is kind of a different beast being the only rangefinder in this bunch. It has a “range-finding” focusing mechanism that shows two images of the same subject, one of which moves when a calibrated wheel is turned and the two images coincide and fuse into one. It is a wholly different way of focusing on your subject and takes some getting used to. It is full frame, 18MP, and has that satisfyingly retro-sounding (and discreet) metal blade-style shutter. Pairs with a decently large range of lenses. Check out Rolling Stone contributor, Drew Gurian’s, sample images from our Lecia M9.
All of these cameras have the option of shooting in fully manual mode, so you do not have to give up creative control to carry a lighter load. Simply toss one of these in your day bag knowing that you can travel comfortably toward your next unique shot.
For the first time since launch, we’re offering a huge sale on our world-famous iPhone app: Normally $.99 per set, $3.99 per category or $9.99 for the whole shebang, but we’re slashing prices on the complete bundle of filters and presets. For one week only, you get everything in Camera Awesome for just $0.99.
We’ll say that again: From today (Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013) through Monday, September 9, 2013, it costs just $0.99 to get every single item in Camera Awesome.
For those of you who missed it before, that’s a total of 262,143 possible artistic combinations. How many photos have you snapped lately?
Discounts are automagically applied when you purchase the bundle in-app, so there’s no reason to wait.
New to Camera Awesome?
If you’ve lived under a rock for the last year, you may not have heard that SmugMug’s powerful iPhone and iPad photo app is called Camera Awesome. Ranked #1 Photography App in 55 countries and #1 overall app in 10 countries, it’s completely free and includes cam-tacular compositional tools, filters and presets.
You can start shooting instantly (photos and videos), edit your work and share direct to your favorite social sites like Facebook, Instagram and SmugMug.
Making the Leap from Mom to Pro
As the new school year creeps closer, it’s time for many of us to transition back from full-time parent to full-time pro.
This month’s SmugMug podcast features Clickin Moms’ teacher and mom extraordinaire, Alicia Gould, of Alicia Gould Photography. Like many professional photographers, she started out by taking photos of her family, then watched her hobby blossom into a successful pro business. We sat down and asked her about all the fun and hard work that many women experience when making the leap, and what issues you might face when you start your own new business.
You’ll hear answers to questions like:
- Do you need previous experience or an artistic background?
- How and why you should balance your time with your family?
- How do you judge success as a momtographer?
- What’s the most important decision you can make when starting your business?
- What are some unexpected mistakes you may end up making?
- What kind of equipment is in a successful family photographer’s kit?
Photo by Alicia Gould Photography
Download the podcast right here and have a listen while you put the finishing touches on your latest summer photos. We think you’ll be inspired to take your shooting to a whole new level!
Composing Images in a Natural World
If you prefer photographing trees to toddlers, join our upcoming webinar, featuring world-reknown nature photographer Steve Gettle.
We’ll focus on the many elements that make up the composition of a beautiful nature image, using hundreds of examples and practical, real world situations. You’ll learn the “rules” of composition as well as when and why to break them. You’ll find out how to see the picture, and how to work a subject to maximize the potential of every situation.
In addition, we will cover how to control such things as lighting, backgrounds, depth of field and perspective to enhance your composition.
Composing Images in a Natural World
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 CT, 6:00 MT, 5:00 PT and 1:00 AM BST
Photo by Steve Gettle
***UPDATE!*** You can watch the recorded webinar on our YouTube channel.
We hope that everyone out there has been having a great summer full of wonderful experiences… and the pictures to prove them!
A huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you passionate readers out there who’ve shared your thoughts about the new SmugMug. Whether you’re Tweeting, Facebooking, Dgrinning, emailing or posting comments in our blog, we really do read every single response (even if we can’t always reply personally to every one). Change inspires great feeling in all of us, and it’s been a wild ride seeing just how the new features and tools have affected so many of you.
Since launch day we’ve been hard at work helping you get settled, cataloging your feedback, tweaking and polishing and making things that much better for you to use. So here’s the first batch of updates that gives you a closer look at some of the things we’ve shipped in the last week.
Gallery Comments are back!
When we launched, your gallery comments didn’t migrate with your photos, but we didn’t just chuck them into the trash. Now when you drop in a comments content block, click the wrench in the corner, choose a source and pull in all your previous comments from, say, your legacy guestbook gallery:
Show Off to embed slideshows
You’ve asked for an easy way to embed your photos into external sites, so we brought the Show Off feature into the new SmugMug. When you’re logged in as owner, you’ll see the “Show Off” option in the lightbox view, from the social menu. You can customize a beautiful slideshow of virtually any size to embed in webpages:
Events & Favorites
We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about this feature in the last week, so thank you to everyone who helped us track down and iron out the bumps. We have:
- … fixed issues your clients sometimes had saving and removing Favorites.
- … made it so that Event slideshows play perfectly again.
- … fixed an obscure bug so that all top-level folders display reliably in the Events gallery picker.
- Slicker, smoother video playback.
- “Auto” streams a juicy 640×480 and up.
- Are you in the EU? You’ll feel at home with our new, rule-abiding cookie consent bar.
- Presented a cleaner, new crop page on preview mode and unveiled sites.
- Upped the maximum number of Multiple Photos to 48.
Misc bug fixes
- Site Meta Title and Description SEO tools use YOUR text (not ours, unless you leave these blank).
- Tidied up the logged-out view of comments box.
- Passwords stick to your galleries, even if you move them into Public folders.
- Fixed navigation into Categories on legacy Sharegroups.
- You can set pricing on galleries before you’ve even filled them with photos.
- Gallery descriptions are visible to anyone with permissions to view your gallery.
- You can sort your Collected images in the Organizer.
Enjoy! As always, please don’t be shy about sharing what you love, what you don’t, and what you think doesn’t look quite right.
The SmugMug Family
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!
The best camera is the one you always have with you… but that doesn’t mean you should just point, shoot, and hope for the best.
In our next webinar, we’ll talk about the explosion of this little thing called mobile photography and how to leverage that more-powerful-than-you-think camera phone. More than just a convenient device in your pocket, your smartphone is a valuable marketing tool that most pros simply overlook.
New Webinar! Mobile Photography with Angie Garbot
This month, we’re talking with full-time Chicago photographer and instructor Angela Garbot, whose professional work spans a variety of subjects from beautiful brides to culinary delights. She was recently featured on CNN.com for being one of the few wedding photographers who work with the ubiquitous camera phone, rather than against it. Because of her insights, we’ve asked her to show us why the versatility and portability of your camera phone is the best thing to happen to the photography industry, how to shoot winning camera phone pics, and how you can harness the power of mobile photography to boost your business.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
8:00 PM ET, 7:00 PM CT, 6:00 PM MT and 5:00 PM PT
Register for this event!
We’ve all got smartphones in our pockets, using them to snap and share on the go. But are you happy with what you’re getting? Do you actually think before sharing those with your friends and fans? If you’re like most of us, you probably answered “No.” But mobile photography is no excuse to take a bad photo! And if you’re a pro, you could be missing out on a vital piece of your business’ marketing plan.
In this webinar we’ll show you how to maximize your built-in camera app functions, introduce you to some powerful editing apps and then discuss how to use social media and your smartphone images to enhance your business. We’ll talk about some do’s and don’t's in sharing, the importance of hash tagging, ways to engage your clients using your smartphone images, and tips for live-tweeting with images.
See you there!
All photos by Angela Garbot Photography