Update: After I posted this blog, the Seattle SMUG received a letter thanking us for our efforts.
I always believed that photographer's have a gift, and on occasion, should use that gift to help lift the spirit of others. I wrote about this in a previous post Volunteering is a Good Thing: It Strengthens Your Community.
This past week, I had the privilege of volunteering for a cancer survivor portrait shoot.
The Phoenix SMUG welcomed Ryan Emenecker, creative director, and Adam Garcia, senior graphic designer, from Canyon Communications, a top Phoenix advertising agency. Ryan and Adam came and taught us “The Photo Shoot to Photoshop” by finding and working with models, tips on marketing yourself to an agency, and Photoshop tips.
28 people came to hear Ryan and Adam give advice on breaking into the advertising market as a photographer. Ryan began his talk by stating: “I hate taking photos.” That’s not exactly what photographers usually come to hear, but Ryan’s unique perspective from the advertising side captured everyone’s attention. “I love photographers – you make my job, and what we present to the client, great,“ he said, and he gave some tips on how photographers can get their foot in the door of the advertising industry.
When looking for models, Ryan’s advice is to use friends, family, and co-workers for models. It has the obvious benefit of being cost effective for everyone concerned, but the drawbacks of that are they don’t have acting experience, they are not comfortable in front of the camera, and it is hard to find the right person for the job. Professional models, on the other hand, are comfortable in front of the camera, it is easier to find exactly the right person, but they are more expensive. Art and graphic designers don’t want to hear, “We can Photoshop that out later,” so it’s important to get the right models and to get it right in-camera
When it comes to connecting and developing relationships with ad agencies, Ryan suggested:
- Contact the creative director, art director, designer or production manager by phone, not email. Email is too easy to delete.
- You may want to consider doing your first photo shoot for free, to demonstrate that you understand the needs of the agency’s clients.
- Have an online portfolio and website that is easy to navigate, showing photos from different industries.
A photographer’s specialty is to “make our dreams come true. Be creative using people and places.” The photographer’s role is to bring the ideas of the creative
designers to life, and they want to be able to trust the photographer with their vision.
His suggestions were:
- Use a studio, if possible, to save time and travel expenses.
- Be creative with suggestions for lighting and placement of models and products.
- Be aware of the things that don’t belong in a shot (like a stray piece of paper, cords, etc.),
- Be on time.
- It is also important to understand where the final photos are going to be placed– magazine, an online campaign, flyer, and other medias, so that you can shoot accordingly.
Adam’s skills as an artist are used at the advertising agency to sketch a clients ideas and take it from concept to photo shoot to Photoshop. After his sketch is complete, he will photograph the concept with a friend or fellow employee, and then the professional photographer is enlisted to bring the idea to a higher level. By clipping objects out of a photo, or compositing images together, Adam creates the clients final vision in Photoshop if they were unable to get what was needed in the initial photo shoot. His Photoshop tip for the group was about alpha channels and how to use them to adjust different areas of a photo independently.
We all had a great time at the SMUG, and Adam and Ryan were great speakers. Our next meeting will be just as informational, so if you’re in the Phoenix area, make sure to check out our group to polish your photography skills!
The Paducah SMUG held its July meeting at Casa Mexican Restaurant with a great turnout and each of us received a SmugMug mug!
Suzanne Roach, the Paducah SMUG co-leader, presented information on new upgrades and makeovers that enhance SmugMug’s usage. Suzanne is a professional photographer in Paducah, who specializes in portrait photography and has won national awards for her images. The evening also included an informal question and answer period with discussions on how each photographer would approach a specific situation such as wedding photography.
Some of the questions that were asked were:
As a female wedding photographer what do you wear to the wedding?
She states, “I always wear a black top with a non-revealing neckline and black slacks with deep pockets. Also I wear black dressy shoes, comfortable ones, and ones, that I can move around quickly in. Wearing the color black helps you to blend in and become almost invisible. As the photographer you do not want the attention to be on you.”
Which lenses are most helpful at a wedding shoot?
“If there is low light during the ceremony, a wide aperture fixed focus lenses such as a 50 mm or 85 mm prime lenses and a 1.4 aperture.”
When you edit images from a wedding do you use Lightroom or Photoshop?
“Sometimes both. However, most people we speak with use Lightroom as the primary editing software.”
Is it better to use auto or custom white balance?
“A custom white balance is the better answer. However, if you are in a hurry or the light is changing rapidly you can use auto, shoot in raw, then edit color balance in Lightroom or Photoshop.”
As a professional, doing a wedding photoshoot, which is more important: the camera or the lens?
“You need the best camera you can afford and then the best lenses. If choosing between the two, spend the larger part of your equipment budget and choose the best lenses.”
Caroline enjoys photographing nature with a special interest in macro photography of flowers. Children are an additional photographic love. The fellowship, friendship, and atmosphere of learning that the Paducah SMUG provides is something she looks forward to each month.
The Twin Cities SMUG welcomed renowned nature photographer, Steve Gettle, to their latest meeting. Steve is a part of North American Nature Photography Association. His photographs were amazing, and we were treated to a fabulous slide show at the end of his discussion. He shoots mainly scenery, birds, mammals and macros.
He shared some of the decisions he makes as he’s building a photo:
- What you want to communicate such as text, shape, pattern and color. To improve your pictures, decide your message.
- What do you want to include, and what you exclude that does not fit your message? This can be done while composing the picture, or after when you crop.
- Control your background.
- Decide if the subject dictates vertical or horizontal. If undecided, Steve suggests shooting both ways.
- Organize the elements with rules of composition, such as rule of thirds, leading lines and implied motion.
He also explained the quality of light:
1. Sweet Light: when the light is high, or bright overcast day. This is good for macro, but the sky will most likely be blown out.
2. Warm Light: This is the light early or late in the day. It gives a warm glow to the subject, and is great for scenery and landscape.
3. The Edges of Light: Just prior to sunrise or after sunset. Steve said this is not good for wildlife.
4. Bad Light: Bad light is flat, lifeless, no color. Harsh light will add more contrast than the camera can handle.
He suggested changing the angle from which you shoot, depending on your conditions. Shoot up when the sky is blue with clouds, and shoot low in other conditions so you focus on something other than the sky.
Decide on Depth-of-Field:
- Depth-of-Field (DOF) will control the background.
- Use DOF to isolate the subject.
- Pull viewer into the scene with everything sharp. Direct the viewer’s eye with shallow DOF.
You can also use the shutter speed control on your camera for action shots. Also, for intentional blur, use a slow shutter speed.
Steve’s presentation was an amazing learning experience for all of us at our SMUG.
Michele has been coming to the Twin Cities SMUG group at the Ridgedale Library for over a year, and has gained so much knowledge from this group. She uses a Canon 5D Mark ii and shoot mostly with natural light. You can also find her on Facebook.
At the July meeting of the Philly SMUG, held at Calumet Photographic, 39 members were in attendance to receive some great tips from Sarah Stolfa on successful ways to exhibit their work. As is usually the case, it was a very enthusiastic group that gathered for this lecture.
Sarah Stolfa, a musician and photographer, is the founder and director of The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC). The PPAC is a nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of services for anyone interested in photography and the arts. Sarah’s photographs have appeared in numerous publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In addition, she has received many awards for her photography throughout her career.
- Use a high quality printer or printing service
- When framing the photo, it is always important to use a custom frame
- Exhibit the work in 16″ x 20″ or larger sizes
- Have the final work ready for installation at the gallery
Other aspects talked about during the presentation were research and networking. Sarah noted that in order to be successful, “You have to do your homework and research what type of images galleries show.” She pointed out that we need to tailor our efforts to those galleries that are a good fit for our photography. It’s also a plus to try and network face to face and to know who we are talking to. Above all else, be nice to everyone, because you never know what door may open at any given meeting.
Joe is a freelance photographer based in Wilmington, DE. He is currently shooting with an Olympus E-30 & E-520, and he is also transitioning to the Olympus mirrorless system.