Think your camera is your best friend? Think again.
Your camera is a marvel of amazing technology, but you still need to use your brain when you shoot. Even if you’re in full Auto mode, don’t assume your camera knows what’s best for you!
Here are five common bloopers and how to avoid getting tripped up on your next shoot.
1) It’s exposed.
Photo by Windermere Studios
Your camera has several automatic metering modes to help you catch the right amount of light without you needing to whip out the calculator. But are you using the right one? Spot, center-weighted and multi-zone metering are great for many situations, so be sure you know which one is best for you.
For example, you may want to over-expose when shooting in situations like snow, to be sure you get that fluffy, clean white stuff you’re used to seeing. No one likes gray snow.
Finally, let your artistic creativity be your guide. There’s no shame in flooding your summer portraits with light or even leaving in a bit of flare if you’re going for a sun-soaked, dreamy mood. Similarly, underexposing your shots is your key to super-dramatic clouds, abstract shadows and gritty street shots.
2) It’s in focus.
Photo by Windermere Studios
Despite the reassuring “beep-beep!” of your AF, there’s still a lot that can foil your focus. The most common culprit is motion blur if it’s too dark in the room. As a rule, you want your shutter speed to be at least 1/(focal length) for your shot to have a chance at being sharp. If it’s not possible, try bumping up your ISO to compensate for lack of light.
Also, be sure you’re focused on the right spot. If you’re shooting wide open (low f-stop numbers) your depth of field gets smaller, meaning it’s easier to accidentally focus on your subject’s nose, not their eyes. We love bokeh as much as you, but missing the focus can make or break a perfect portrait.
3. You can keep on shooting.
Photo by Schmootography
Your camera’s telling you your memory card can hold 386 more shots, but did you know this may not be the case? The size of each photo file you shoot depends on the data in each, which usually translates to how busy your pictures are. A zen, monochrome ocean scene makes a smaller image file than a colorful fisheye of Times Square. So be aware if you’re worried about space on your hard drive, or on your memory cards.
When in doubt, pack extras.
4) You’re a great/horrible photographer.
Photo by Ana Pogačar Photography
“Great shot! What camera was that?” We’re sure you’ve heard this before but contrary to popular belief, the camera doesn’t make the image. YOU do. You don’t need to upgrade your equipment just to run with the big dogs, and top-of-the-line gear isn’t carte blanche to the photographer’s Hall of Fame. So be proud to carry your favorite camera into the field. As long as you know what all the buttons do and have a grasp of fundamental principles, you’ve got everything you need to take an awesome photo.
(Like the above shot, taken with a 4 megapixel Canon Powershot point-and-shoot.)
It’s not the size of the ax; it’s how you click it.
5. You’re off the hook.
Photo by Windermere Studios
Even if you switch on your camera’s auto modes (green square, Tv, Av), don’t switch off your brain. Auto modes work most of the time to get you better shots with less fiddling, but they can also be fooled. Like when shooting in unusually bright scenes (snow), unusually dark scenes (backlit subjects) and when you want to freeze action.
Take that extra second to think about what you’re shooting, the picture you want to get, and how best to make it happen. You can manually bump up or lower the exposure when using most automatic modes, so consider over- or under-exposing your scene to get what you want.
Have you discovered any scandalous lies that your camera has been telling you? Share it with us!
Next up in the lineup of pros we’re tapping to chat with is Amanda Reed, a fun and fearless high school senior portrait photographer. We love her attitude (in addition to her gorgeous images), so we had to ask her how she built her business from the ground up, how she keeps it alive in her tiny West Virginia town and what inspires her to keep capturing those teens at such an important time of their lives. Amanda’s got some amazingly fun ideas for promotion and marketing, too, so read on to see what she says!
Photos by AR Photography
What is your niche, and how did you find it? How would you describe your specific style of photography?
My photography journey starts with a personal tragedy that took place when I was 10. When you are 10 you are mostly concerned with Scooby Doo episodes and your bike. Not me. When I was 10 and my youngest brother was 4 he suffered a brain aneurysm. To make a long story short, his life is a miracle. Doctors told us he would not have anything to offer the world, that his life expectancy would be a maximum of 18 years. Damage from the aneurysm was indeed severe. He requires 24-hour care. Epilepsy now wreaks havoc on his body and my now 27-year-old brother will always mentally be my 4-year-old brother in an adult body. So, the doctors were wrong.
When he was 21 and about to graduate high school, he needed senior portraits. Watching my brother be ridiculed, watching him tire after a seizure, I knew this would be a daunting and stressful situation. I told our mother I would handle his portraits. I was always documenting everything with my camera for as long as I could remember. So, I took my brother’s senior portraits. In that moment I realized I captured a moment doctors had told me would never happen and that these images may be all I have to hold on to one day.
That moment changed my life. People recognized my work. My love for photography became more than documenting moments – it became an outward expression of what moves my soul and a journey to perfect this profession.
In 2008, Amanda Reed Photography had legs and of course high school seniors are my niche. It is where I got started, where I feel most creative and where I feel I can have the most impact on a young adult’s life. Growing up in West Virginia it is very easy to be sheltered by our beautiful mountains and heritage. It is easy to be convinced that you will never have more than what your family has. The fact that I still live in the small town of 1500 people I grew up in and have a successful career, that I can travel and experience new places and situations inspires the clients I come into contact with. I want them to know that with hard work and faith your dreams can fly you to places you only dreamed about.
How did you find your “happy place” in your profession? Did you know how you were going to make AR succeed from the start?
That is a hard question to answer. I shoot from my heart. A few years ago I got caught up trying to emulate what other successful photographers were doing. I spent a lot of time reading blogs, trying to figure out their style and yet I was very unhappy. I began examining my life, my choices. I was working way too much for way too little. I spent half of the night on the computer. I was spending more time with other families than I was my own. My business was running me and I was not happy.
In 2010 I attended my first WPPI convention and learned the importance of a business plan. I came home and went to work on finding me. I stopped reading blogs. I hid every photographer and photography page from my Facebook wall. I developed a business plan. I stopped working weekends. I scheduled work hours from 9 to 5, Monday through Thursdays. I quit relying on sweet light and relied on skill to manipulate and create light. I honed my craft and I found me.
If you want to find your style, turn off the noise, tune out what everyone else is doing and look for you in what you create.
In 2010, the market was saturated with photographers and the economy was in a down turn. Our business was thriving. Every six months it seemed liked I reached a point where I said “go big or go home.” We went big and broke ground on my studio in 2011, by the winter of 2012 we were moved in. Was it scary taking on the debt of a studio when the economy was crashing? Yes, but I knew when the market recovered I would be way ahead of photographers who were relying on nice weather to run a business. While they were praying for warm weather I could master in-studio lighting. Operate on a 12 month calendar of income instead of the 6 month on-location photography calendar. Right now, we are sitting pretty and I could not be happier with our success.
Apart from technical skill and perseverance, what do you think is the secret to your success?
I attribute 75% of that to my personality. I am a people person. I love honestly and openly. I know that when you walk into my studio that smile on your face may be hiding hurt and insecurities. High school is a tough time. My high school years were some of my hardest, personally. I want my clients to feel comfortable. We talk personally and comfortably. They are making an investment in my work and I am making an investment in them. I come from a genuine place in befriending my clients. I want every young adult who walks in that door to walk out feeling better than when they arrived. Not only do I invest in my client but I invest in what is important to them. We often joke that I give away more money than I make but I have no problem with that. I give back to our high schools, I rally around them. I want Amanda Reed Photography to be integrated in the happenings of not just my town but my state. If it is a charity event, a sporting event or a simple prayer that I can offer my heart to then you better believe I am going to make every effort to be there.
My essential gear:
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Canon 70-200 IS L series lens
- Adobe Bridge/Photoshop
- PhotoVision Reflector goes everywhere I go.
We hear you’ve done some pretty fun events to market your brand. What are they?
One year we decided to see how far our fans would go to show their love for AR. The craziest idea would win them $1500 worth of products. My brother kicked things off by shaving my logo into his hairy chest. Yep! Things only got crazier from there. A few examples of entries were: my logo burned into a field, a sleeping baby lying beside milk spilled into my logo, people with backstage passes to concerts having music artists sign autographs to “AR.” All of these were fabulous ideas but the winner tattooed AR on her leg. Those were not her initials, not by any means! We had over 200 entries. Lots of them amazing so it was going to take something big to seal the deal and this did it. I posted every entry to my Facebook account and tagged the entry. When you tag 200 entries and multiply that by their number of friends we were getting maximum exposure. People were waking up to see our page and the craziness going on around it.
This year we are going to prom. Yes, prom. I offered a free session and an iPad mini to the first person to take me to prom. I have no plans of crashing the prom. Only to create buzz, arrive in the limo with clients, pose for prom portrait and be on my way. If you missed out on taking me to prom then you can take Flat AR. It is a twist on the Flat Stanley character. Snap some images with my flat AR persona with you getting ready for prom, family portraits, at dinner, on the dance floor, etc. Whoever shows Flat AR the best time at prom and documents it through images wins $1500 worth of products.
All of these fun ideas create a ton of buzz for our business and our clients realize that we are about having fun.
The promotion I am most proud of is our Annual Toy Drive event. During two weekends in November I will photograph 34 sessions. The cost of these sessions is a new toy valued at $35. Each session lasts 20 minutes with option of purchasing another 20 minutes for another toy donation. Our print pricing is deeply discounted for this event but that still doesn’t stop some clients from ordering over $1800 in products from a 20-minute session. Each year we donate toys to a different charity so that I can spread our love back to different communities who support us. Some of our clients really outdo themselves by donating bikes and electronics to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter.
We have to ask: What are your favorite SmugMug features?
High school seniors live in the moment. I believe the faster we can put products in their hands, the happier the client experience will be. That’s where SmugMug comes into play. The ability to link clients to their galleries and the sharing options they have right from their computer or mobile device leads potential clients directly back to me. If I am photographing a charity event or a high school basketball game, the option my clients have for to downloading and sharing the display copies directly from my galleries creates amazing word-of-mouth advertising for our business.
So, what would you say is the #1 secret to success?
How you define success is very important and my definition should be different than yours. I define my success by the quality of my life and the time spent with the ones I love. It is not about the money, the exposure, magazine covers or speaking engagements. When photography affords me the opportunity to make a difference in an individual’s life, that is when I am most successful. Please do not get caught up in the “do it all” mentality. You do not have to be on the cover of a magazine, have a million dollars in the bank, be on speaking circuit, and have products to sell to the photography industry to be a great example of success.
I believe you have to carry a smile in your heart. When you find you, you find success.
As a final note, I know you are going to visit my blog and website but please do not spend much time there reading about my life and my work. That is how you waste time worrying about the competition. Instead, grab your camera, go find you and find success!
Attention, Lightroom lovers! Today we have a great post by one of our friends, Matt Kloskowski, full-time Education Director for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He’s the Editor of Lightroom Magazine, author of several best-selling Photoshop books and teaches Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world. So we’re flattered that he hand-picked a few favorite ways for Lightroom-armed Smuggers like you to get their photos finished faster. After all, we’d rather be outdoors shooting in the sunshine than stuck at our desks. Wouldn’t you?
If you’re a pro photographer thinking about joining the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and continuing your photo education, they’re offering a free 24-hour trial membership now. Try it out!
Hey everyone, Matt Kloskowski here with some tips on speeding up your Lightroom workflow. We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money.” Well, if you’re shooting weddings or events, you need to get through your photos and get them organized as fast as possible. Then you can get on to the good stuff of editing and getting out there to shoot more photos. So to help out, I’ve compiled 5 of my favorite tips to kickstart your workflow and keep you moving through Lightroom as quickly as possible.
Tip #1. Use Flags Instead of Stars
A big part of speeding up your workflow is identifying your favorite photos in some way. That way you can do something with them. Well, if you look under the photo menu you’ll see Lightroom has 3 ways of picking out your favorites. First there’s Set Flag. next, there’s Set Rating and finally there’s Set Color Label.
Here’s my thoughts. Ratings and Color Labels are really difficult to work with. Most people are familiar with the 1-5 star rating system but the main drawback is that it has too many choices. 5 stars is a keeper right? 4 stars probably means the photo is pretty good. 3 means it’s decent. 2 would be bad. and 1 star would be a reject that you throw away. Well what happens as you go through your photos and you come across something that isn’t a throw away or isn’t an absolute favorite keeper? You sit there and debate with yourself whether it’s a 2,3 or 4 star photo. Either way, it’s not your favorite so you’ll probably never do anything with it. But yet, you’re giving it too much time in the rating process. And inevitably, when something takes too long, we stop doing it.
So try this. Instead of using ratings, use the flagging system. This way, you get two choices:
- Flagged means you like it.
- Reject means you don’t and you want to delete it.
Go through your photos quickly and hit “P” to flag or “X” to reject. If you don’t flag it or reject it, then it stays unflagged which is that gray area that you’re just not sure about. But you don’t have to press a key to be indecisive – Lightroom just assumes you’re indecisive about the photo by leaving it unflagged. So your job becomes really easy! Flag it if you like it and think there’s a remote chance you’ll do something with it again one day. Reject it if you don’t. Then hit the right arrow key and move on.
Tip #2. Delete the Bad Stuff (and an easy way to do it)
Another way to speed things up is to keep your library as clean as possible and get rid of the bad stuff. If you followed the previous step and are using the Flag system, you should have some rejects that were marked with an X. A really simple way to delete them is to go up to the Photo menu and choose “Delete Rejected Photos.” Lightroom will delete all the rejects all at once so you don’t have to go back and get rid of them later.
Tip: When you try to delete a photo Lightroom will ask you if you want to delete it from the hard drive or just from the Lightroom library. Personally, I want me rejects gone forever so I delete them from the hard drive rather than just removing them from Lightroom.
Tip #3. Use Collections
Using Collections in Lightroom is more important than ever and probably one of the fastest and best ways for you to speed up your workflow. Photos that go into a collection are the photos that should be one click away and the photos that you’ll want to see most often.
To put it simply, think of a Collection as a photo album. Let’s say you have 2000 images from a wedding. You want to quickly show them to the bride/groom or family. Do you go through and show them all 2000 photos? No way. Instead, you’d create an album. Well that’s what a collection is. It’s a way for you to get to your favorite photos in just one click no matter where you are in Lightroom because the Collections panel is everywhere.
Typically, I’ll look at my photos in the Folders panel and go through them one by one. I’ll hit the letter P (for Pick) to flag photos as a favorite when I come across them. Then I can quickly sort to just see my picks by clicking the little flagged icon in the Filter strip just above the filmstrip:
Once I’ve figured out what my favorites are I select them all (Edit > Select All), go to the Collections panel and create a new Collection with a descriptive name (usually the last name of the bride/groom). Now, no matter what I do in the Folders panel and no matter what folder I’m looking at, I have a one-click way to get to my favorite photos from that event.
Tip #4. Use Collection Sets
Collections have an extra level of organization called Collection Sets that are key for events like weddings. Think of a Collection Set as a group of nested folders. If you put your picks from a wedding/event into a Collection, you’d have all the best photos from all parts of the wedding in one place (the Collection you created). The problem is that this Collection could be huge, so this is where Collection Sets come in.
You’d create a Collection Set (example: the top level folder with the bride/groom name) and then create Collections within the set for each part of the wedding (example: formals, church, reception, etc…). Here’s what a Collection Set could look like in Lightroom:
Tip #5. Use Smart Collections for the Long View
Collections are also smart: They can organize themselves automatically as you import photos into Lightroom. One example of this could be a Smart Collection to help organize your portfolio photos. These are photos that help get you new business as you update your website, so you’ll want to keep them close, easy to get to, and – most importantly – easily updated.
For example, anytime you edit a show-worthy image, put the word “portfolio” in the image title or give it a certain color flag or label. Because Lightroom’s Smart Collections are “smart”, you can set up a rule to detect that this photo meets certain criteria and have it placed directly into a “Portfolio” collection for you.
The best part about it is that once you set up your Smart Collection, Lightroom automatically does the rest.
Bonus Smug Tip: Get Them Uploaded Safely
Once your photos are all cleaned up and ready to go, you’re just a few clicks away from uploading them safely into your SmugMug website. The publish plugin is free, gets your photos seamlessly into SmugMug, and also lets you sync, make galleries and keep your online presence as clean and organized as your Lightroom library. You can also see and adjust your customer’s Event Favorites, republish, and even proof your orders all right within the SmugMug Publish module. Get it now!
What Lightroom tricks have shaved seconds off of your photo editing workflow? We’d love to know!
Sam Nichols is one of SmugMug’s longest-living Sorcerers. In addition to creating mind-blowingly amazing things for you (like our original browser uploader and a little iPhone app called Camera Awesome) he sets the bar pretty high for anyone coveting the title “Camera Nerd.” From large format to Leica, Sam has used them all. We asked him to stop coding long enough to open up his gear bag, and here’s what we found.
What’s in your bag at any given moment?
A Nikon D800e with something wide and sharp (Zeiss 21mm), something versatile and fast (35mm f/1.4) and something tight and isolating (Nikon 85mm f/1.4 or Zeiss 100mm f/2.0) with a solid carbon Gitzo tripod (GT3542LS). I have problems with chasing extremes and found that primes are the sharpest, have the widest apertures, focus the fastest, have the least distortion etc. Versatility be damned I want the best, so those are what fill my bag. I’m liking shooting the 21mm with high aspect ratio crops (6×17) or (land/buliding)scape shots using tighter lenses like the 85mm or 100mm to isolate a subject and compress the background.
The only thing I keep wanting to include but don’t is a 24 Tilt-shift lens. I miss Canon’s 24L TS-E mkII. I loved that tilt-shift lens but Nikon’s 24 tilt-shift offering is older, has less features and isn’t as sharp as the Zeiss 21mm or the Canon.
If you had to grab one lens in a house fire, which would it be?
A 35mm f/1.4 is my jams. I loved it on my Canon full-frame bodies, it was the 1st lens I bought when I switched to a Nikon D800e, and its the only lens I own for my Leica M7. Long ago I started with a Canon 28-135, tried zooms up the wazoo and primes to the horizon eventually settling on 35mm as the sweet spot. I found 50mm too ‘normal’, 85mm was too confining and 24mm was too distracting, 35mm was wide enough to be dramatic without being overwhelming, indoors and out. Its a fast focusing lens (except on the Leica, obviously) and I’m a sucker for thin depth of field. I’ve no complaints on the size either (85mm f/1.2 or 1.4 I’m looking at you). When we go out and I’m just bringing one lens, it’s the 35mm. If we’re going on a trip it’s the first thing in my bag unless there is some reason or limit such that I can’t. Mmm, my precioussssss.
Do you have any totally-indulgent, special-occasion favorites?
Film. I take out my Leica M7 with B&W on certain occasions. I also use a medium format 6×17 view camera which forces a dramatic perspective but my film favorite is my large format 4×5 field camera: a Toyo 45AX with Schneider 210mm f/5.6 and Xenotar 150mm f/2.8. In 35mm camera parlance that’s like a ~60mm which is quite sharp and a ~40mm f/1.0! Yes I know I said I don’t like 50mm, but holy poop, f/2.8 on a 4×5 camera has such a shallow depth of field and the lens creates really unique shots. I originally went to large format to force me to slow down and think about the shot. It was a great exercise and I still like taking it with me for the unique images it produces and the different mindset it puts me in while photographing.
Being me, I also tried out the 8×10 format, thinking that if Big means Awesome, then Bigger must be Awesomer. But it turns out there is such a thing as too much and 8×10 just meant heavier and more expensive. However, I’ll still be jamming this into my main kit for an upcoming trip to Utah.
If you could change one thing about DSLR bodies…
High resolution full frame bodies! What happened to high-resolution, full frame pro bodies like the Canon 1DsIII and Nikon D3x? I suspect the problem is that the majority of pro body SLR users use them for sports/event/action/wildlife where you want a high frame-rate which precludes higher resolutions due to bandwidth. Combine that with studio photographers being ‘ok’ with a prosumer full frame body since they don’t need the ruggedness of the pro bodies and demand for the 1DsIII and D3x begins to dry up. But it sucks to be part of that minority who wants all the functionality of the pro bodies but doesn’t care about frame rate. I’d take 3FPS if I could also have > 30MP!
With all this delicious gear you’ve got (literally!) in the bag, is there still something you wish you had?
Digital medium format so hard. There are three things I want above all else: broad dynamic range, smooth tonal gradations (read high bit-depth), high resolution. I don’t care about frame rate, high ISO performance, fast AF (accurate AF is still important), AF points, sync speed, shutter speed, etc. All of that is important for ‘action’. Digital MF crushes those 3 desires, especially with its 16bit files (Nikon and Canon max out at 14bit), give me a 80MP Leaf back and I’ll be your friend forever (maybe), plus I could use the MF back on my large-format camera. The only thing between me and a pile of digital gear is price of course — even the ‘reasonable’ 40MP Hasselblads are in the $20k+ area.
What do you wish you could improve upon?
Actually going out and taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures, and a follow up to that would be actually editing and sharing them. I have a lot of technical knowledge surrounding cameras and photography but I don’t get out very much to actually apply any of that to taking interesting pictures. Sure, I bring my kit along almost every trip we go on and that often results in Goin’ Out To Take Some Pictures, but usually it just means (really good) snapshots. I have the know-how, I have ideas, but for some reason I never find the time. I blame working at SmugMug sucking up all my time.
By popular demand, we’re launching a brand-new series of webinars to give you LIVE opportunity to learn step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of your SmugMug site.
Why Should I Go?
You get info from our real SmugMug folks. Our email replies are fast, but this is even better.
Safe zone: Don’t be afraid to ask the most basic questions. We were all beginners once.
Experienced, expert how-to’s and we’ll show you to new ways to use features you already have.
They’ll happen regularly. Miss a session? That’s OK. Join us next time.
What, Where, How?
We’re offering two types of SmugMug webinars so there’s something for everyone:
1) SmugMug 101: The first Tuesday of every month. Perfect for newbies looking to get up to speed with their brand-new SmugMug website.
2) SmugMug Feature Spotlight: The third Tuesday of every month. We’ll spend one hour talking in-depth about a specific SmugMug feature.
All webinars are hosted by SmugMug’s very own Rocky Bowles and Seán Rogan. Together they bring almost 15 years as SmugMug users and Pro Gurus. They’ve been there, done that, and earned their hoodies.
We’ll block out extra time for Q&A, so come prepared with your questions!
Smug Tips, Photo Tips, Business Tips
We’ll be adding to our webinar schedule as we settle subjects, speakers and dates, so bookmark our Events Calendar and check it often.
Our next Feature Spotlight takes place on April 16th, 2013 at 8:30 PM Eastern Time. We’ll discuss SEO and Branding, how it works, and how to make it work for you.
We’ve got all kinds of educational webinars planned for the future, too, and it’s not all about SmugMug. Here’s what’s coming upon the horizon, and you can click the links to register for each event.
- April 12, 2013 – 7:00 PM BST — UK and Europe! PhotoTraining4U & SmugMug
- April 16, 2013 – 8:30 PM EDT — SmugMug Feature Spotlight – SEO & Branding
- April 25, 2013 – 8:00 PM EDT — SEO with Jason Grubb
- May 7, 2013 – 8:00 PM EDT — SmugMug 101
Do you have a specific topic or feature you want to discuss? Tell us! We’re here for you.
Bored with shooting the same ol’, same ol’? If you’re like the rest of us, malaise is destined to happen eventually but there are lots of things you can do to breathe new life into yourself… and your camera. Here’s ten ways we recommend.
photo by Windermere Studios
1) Shoot something new
If you’re a portrait or a wedding photographer, you do the same thing all the time. Why not point that lens at something else: A sunset, people on the street, flowers in your garden, skateboarders at the park, the Milky Way? You may discover new ways to use your existing gear that you never would have thought of before.
And who knows! You may even end up finding a new niche.
2) Find a group to shoot with
Nothing lifts the mood like a smile, and there’s tons of that at a photo walk. Social sites like Meetup.com and Google+ are only two of many options where you can find like-minded photographers like you getting together to shoot something fun. It’s always inspiring to see what other people are using and doing, and you may end up making a few new friends, too.
Better yet, if you’re thinking about organizing your own photo walk, we have some tips for you.
3) Shoot a theme
Sometimes the way to stretch yourself is – yes, it’s weird – to limit your boundaries. Try taking pictures of just red things, a series only looking upwards, or any series you can think of with a common theme. You’ll find yourself liberated by the rules, grounded by great focus, and perhaps even seeing something new in the mundane.
Try uploading those photos into a single, themed gallery, too. You might like the result!
photo by Schmootography
4) Rent something new
With companies like Borrowlenses.com out there, it’s so easy to take your dream lens for a spin. From macros to mega-zooms, you can get anything you want shipped to your door and enjoy it for as little (or as long) as you like. Especially great for getting to use highly specialized lenses like fisheyes, which pack a lot of punch mixed up in with your regular portfolio offerings.
And did you know that Borrowlenses is part of our ClubSmug? They’re offering logged-in SmugMuggers a special discount on your next lens rental, so why wait?
5) Try a Daily Photo project
Daily photo projects aren’t a new concept, but there’s a reason why they’re still around. It’s pretty neat to take a picture every day, whether you frame it with a common theme or just take a picture of whatever you’re doing at a certain time each day. It may not be high art and you may miss a day here or there, but it still gets you thinking about shooting each day without the stress of your business or a client. It’s YOUR time, YOUR life. Enjoy it!
At the very least, they make fantastic time capsules. Going through your photo diary ten years later is priceless. Browse SmugMug’s Daily Photos community to see some great examples of Smuggers documenting their lives.
6) Take a break from shooting
At the other end of the spectrum, you may just need a break. Put the camera down but don’t get stagnant — go hiking, pick up a paint brush or a pencil, read a great book, take your kids to the park, or do yoga. Try new things that don’t flex your photography muscles, and you may find your creativity growing back.
photo by Schmootography
7) Take a workshop
Some people thrive in the formal education environment. Is that you? With the boom of digital photography workshops of all types, you’re bound to find a way to learn something totally new, and find the best environment for you, to boot. From one-day classes to week-long trips, you can take up a brand-new photo skill and actually get good at it in relatively short time.
8) Look at other people’s art
Taking an afternoon to the museum could be the best thing you ever did for your craft. Switch gears, stop stressing about creating your own art and take a look at what others have done before you. The timeless work of old masters or the trailblazing pieces of new ones will inspire, stretch and get your brain thinking in great new ways.
Similarly, take a look through photo blogs and social channels to see what other photographers are doing. You may be inspired to try something new in the format you’re already familiar with. No need to trek down to the art store.
Nothing gets the soul going like travel. Speak, eat, look, immerse yourself in new cultures and notice new things. And you don’t have to go far, unless you want to: You can experience a whole different side of your own town that you’ve never even noticed by volunteering at an organization, taking a walk to that park you’ve never visited, paying attention to local events and flyers posted on the street.
What’s around your next corner?
10) Enter a contest
Sometime a little friendly competition is just what you need to hone in and focus on your craft. Get the blood pumping with a photo contest where there’s a set theme and (if you like) a tasty prize. Just be sure to check the rules and be sure that the way the organizers handle copyright and ownership of submitted images is OK with you.
photo by Schmootography
We hope some of these methods work to breathe new life into your photo-passion. What are some things that you’ve done to rekindle your love for photography?
In the eight weeks leading up to the biggest Wedding Photography tradeshow of the year (WPPI!) we’ve been posting up a storm of great posts featuring sage advice, photo tips, and SmugMug tricks all aimed at helping you become a better photographer in the business of love.
We truly hope these articles have been inspiring and educational, whether you’re a seasoned pro ready for the best wedding season of your career, or a beginner looking for ways to meld your love of photography into everyday life.
Here’s the recap, just in case you missed one of these great articles along the way.
Photo by Lee Morris
The Business of Love
- Intimate Portraiture: A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make your boudoir studio truly successful. Guest post by Je Revele Fine Art Photography.
- The Changing Business of Wedding Photography: Film to digital and beyond. Are you keeping up? Guest post by our friend, Lee Morris.
- Are All Weddings Created Equal? How and why traditional engagement photography techniques won’t work for same-sex couples. Podcast with Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodd.
- Quadruple Your Wedding Reach in Half the Time: Just like it says. Learn about SmugMug, SnapKnot, and the best workflow for same-day edits with Vanessa Joy.
The Love of Photography
- Photowalks with Scott Jarvie: Circle the cameras, round up your friends! How to plan and pull off the photo event of the year.
Your SmugMug Toolkit
- Privacy Cheat Sheet: We’ve got a number of safeguards that can be mixed and matched to create the perfect bouquet of privacy for you, no matter what you shoot.
- Print lab Love: You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. Here they are.
- Events, Favorites and Sharegroups: Save your friends a few brain cells. How to help them easily find the photos they want.
- How to Maximize Your Wedding Workflow, using SmugMug.
We’ve always said that we love photography, but how can you tell it’s true? We’re busting at the seams with our crazy obsession for all things photo, and some of the most gear-minded folks on our team wanted to bust open their bags and show you what exactly they’re hauling around this year. Or this week. This minute. (You know how it is!)
Today we interviewed Ivan Makarov, SmugMug’s Controller. Since his official title is scarier than sand in a focus ring, we just call him “Uncle Scrooge.” Ivan’s been taking hauntingly beautiful black and white photos for years before he came to SmugMug, and he’s showing us what it takes to capture those now.
Why did you pick the setup that you have?
It took me a few years to put my setup together. I wanted to cover all focal lengths I usually shoot with sharp lenses, and I also wanted it all to fit into a backpack so I can take pictures both in the urban and nature setting. I shoot nature, I shoot architecture, and occasionally I shoot people. So this setup allows me to cover it all.
What’s your #1, go-to, must-have, desert-island item?
I shoot the most with 85mm f/1.4. It’s super sharp, and I’m in love with how it renders out-of-focus areas. The reason why I shoot with that lens a lot is because I have a house full of kids (three little clowns!), so I shoot them all the time. It’s a perfect lens to capture their little lives and faces.
What’s the rarely-seen underdog in your pack?
I hardly ever use a macro lens I own. I knew it from the start and was on the fence about buying it for years. That’s why I went with a Tamron version rather than a Nikon version – I knew I’d shoot with it very rarely. That turned out to be true, but this lens by Tamron is actually pretty good.
Are you an off-brand kinda guy?
I own a Sigma lens and a Tamron lens. They aren’t build as well as Nikon glass, but good enough for a lot of situations, and are often cost half the price.
Confession time! What’s your worst gear fail story?
I was once shooting a portrait of a nephew on the beach using off camera flash. A rogue wave came in, sending fully charged flash into the water. It electrocuted me, and fried the flash right away.
Show us one of your favorite shots and what you used to get it.
To end on a dreamy note, what’s at the top of your wish list?
I would upgrade my Sigma 24-70mm with the Nikon 24-70mm. The Sigma is very soft at f/2.8 and is very slow to autofocus. I do shoot with it quite a bit because it’s pretty sharp after f/5.6. Nikon’s version costs five times as much but the upgrade is probably worth it.
If you’re new to SmugMug, you may wonder exactly what, how much and how often you can upload to your galleries. And we agree — it’s a good idea to get an idea of what your limits are… particularly when there isn’t one.
The quick version: Upload JPG, PNG, or GIF files up to 50 MB and 100 megapixels apiece, videos up to 3 GB and 20 minutes apiece. Add up to 5,000 photos into each gallery and create as many galleries as you want.
Uploading at SmugMug
You’ve got tons of options for getting your photos from your computer and into your galleries. Our two favorite methods right now are:
1) Our default, browser-based HTML5 uploader. It’s lightweight, accessible from any computer/browser, and lets you drag and drop files from your desktop into the upload box. Voila!
2) Lightroom’s free SmugMug plugin. So many photographers from all walks of life love Lightroom for its ease of use and powerful editing capabilities. Download the free SmugMug plugin if you haven’t already got it, and start making your life that much simpler. Best of all, you’re publishing direct from your digital negatives, which means no extra JPG files to suck up space on your hard drive.
We’ve got lots of other options if those don’t bake your potatoes. From SmuggLr to Star Explorer, our community has created as many methods as possible to upload photos from wherever they are, just the way you like it. Check out your options here on our Apps page, or click the green “Choose a different uploader” from the bottom of the web uploader box.
How Big Can Galleries Go?
You can create as many galleries as you wish on your SmugMug site, and each one can be tweaked to have different SEO, privacy and print settings as you’re aware. You can give them a total makeover by choosing one of four different Viewing Styles, too.
Your galleries stretch with your screen and adjust to fit the largest images the gallery settings allow. They’ll also auto-adjust so that you see fewer gallery pages on big screens and more pages on smaller ones. We’ve capped photo count to 5,000 per gallery because basic tools like sorting and keywording become impossibly difficult when you have that many photos in one place.
The Many File Flavors at Smug
When it comes to photos, we accept JPG, PNG and GIF files up to 50 MB apiece. Which file you use depends on what you’re going to be doing:
JPGs are the format you’ll use the most. The only file type our print labs will print from, and they’re ubiquitous, so it’s easy-peasy for your fans and clients to view them if you’re offering digital downloads.
PNG files are recommended for images that contain transparent areas, like the site branding files that Power, Portfolio and Business users will use. We’re talking header logo images and watermark image files, to start.
GIF files are commonly used for animations. We don’t hear much about them these days, but who doesn’t love watching a good cinemagraph? We’re always thrilled to see what great ones you’re making.
If your tipple is video, you’ve got a lot more options. There’s tons of codecs out there and we support a good number of them. Check out the list here, which may not include everything but does come with bonus conversion info.
Just be sure that your videos are under 20 minutes long and 3 GB apiece.
Vault It! For Everything Else
SmugVault, our archival service provided by Amazon, is for the kitchen sink. PDFs, TIFFs, RAW, CR2, DOC whatever you’ve got and want to keep safe, keep it there. You can upload any file up to a max of 3 GB, and you can view and retrieve them from the familiar SmugMug gallery interface. When possible, we’ll even create a JPG preview so you know exactly which file you’re looking at.
Tip: Because all video files are processed slightly on upload to SmugMug, you can choose to Vault your originals. This way, you always have a copy in case your hard drive goes boom.
We hope that everyone has a better idea of what’s possible with their accounts. So go ahead, grab your bag and get out there shooting. We’ll see you on the upload!
- Our drag-and-drop uploader
- Upload direct from Lightroom
- Uploaders, downloaders, migration tools and more
- How to set your own print, privacy and presentation settings in galleries
- Spruce up your site with gallery viewing styles
- Arranging photos in your SmugMug galleries
- Set up your keywords and get found
- What files types can I upload to SmugMug?
- All about SmugVault
- Video on SmugMug: What, why how?