Shooting Sports 2 – Courts – Volleyball and Basketball

In my first article, I talked about some general considerations in shooting sports – the gear, the camera settings, etc. If you haven’t taken a look at that article yet, you should read it before this one.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the considerations specific to shooting court sports — volleyball, and basketball. These are usually indoors, but the same principles apply when they are played outside.

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How to take great family pictures

I think that most people believe that the key to taking good pictures is mostly technical. First you need a good camera and then you need to learn all the advanced trigonometry and physics necessary to use said camera. (“So, a higher ISO means more light but a higher shutter speed means less light?   What?)   All that stuff is necessary, sure, but let’s not overlook the thing that’s really important:   Memories.

Always ask “Why?”
Every time you reach for your camera, ask yourself, “Why am I taking a picture? Why did I reach for my camera?” Most of the time it’s one of two things: Either you want to preserve a memory, or you saw something that sparked a memory in you and you want to record it. If you approach the picture with that in mind, you will take better, more meaningful pictures of your family.

photocrati how to take family pictures 1

My kids were putting out Halloween decorations last year and I grabbed my camera to record the memory. Don’t stand your kids up and take a snapshot. You have thousands of snapshots of your kids and they all look the same. Instead, ask “Why?” In this case, the reason I was taking pictures was because my children were putting out decorations. The decorations were the memory… the process. So, I focused on the decorations, not the children. My technical knowledge allows me to take the picture from the proper angle with the proper light, etc, but it’s my desire to preserve the memory of my children decorating the house that leads me to create an image that is unique and so much better than a snapshot.

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Shooting Sports 1 – A Primer

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a wide variety of sports. I am a people/portrait/event photographer in Frederick, MD, but I also have two active kids.

I also have a wide variety of friends who have kids active in sports, and who ask me to take pictures of their kids doing the things they do – which include sports. When you tote a camera everywhere, people assume you take pictures “everywhere”.

I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to serve as the Digital Media Director, responsible for photography and videography, for the U.S. Deaflympics Team at the recent Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan. (See the photos here.)

My goal with the next several articles is to help the budding sports photographer (or the involunteered sports photographer) get better pictures. In my experience, it usually takes two to three games of shooting before you learn the tempo of that particular game, and learn where to stand to improve your odds of getting a better shot. With proper instruction and guidance, my hope is that you will be walking away with keepers on the very first game. [Read more…]

Balancing flash with ambient light outdoors

Trying to balance your flash with bright sunlight for an outdoor portrait scares the pants off people. It’s one of those things that seems so hard to do, especially if you are using off-camera flash without TTL. In that case, it’s all math and numbers and my head starts to hurt just thinking about it. Fortunately, it’s not really that difficult to do once you learn a few tricks.

tampa portrait photographer 1

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Wedding Photography and Using Your Surroundings

One of the things that quickly distinguishes a professional photographer from an amateur is the ability to select a good location for a portrait (also, professional photographers have an air of mystery and suave intrigue about them, like James Bond).   I see this every weekend when I’m shooting weddings (I’m a wedding photographer in Tampa, FL). People have a  preconceived idea about how a photograph should look. They’ve seen wedding photographs before and they’ve seen tons of pictures taken at the portrait studio in the mall (or at school) and so, subconsciously,   they believe that’s what a good picture looks like. (Not that they aren’t good. Don’t write me a nasty email, Mr. School Photographer. I shoot them too…) A good example of this at a wedding is that most people expect me to take a group  and family portraits on the altar–and many times I don’t.

If you look at any good portrait photographer who works primarily on location you’ll see a common thread. They have a knack for looking at the surroundings and figuring out the best way to place their subjects. Being able to manipulate your surroundings  to your advantage  will help you in every type of photography that you do. In wedding photography,  it can be the difference between a good picture and a great one.

With that in mind, I thought I might post some pictures from a recent wedding and talk about how I manipulated  my surroundings to create, what I think, are better pictures. I’m just going to concentrate on posed shots this time around and maybe later I’ll do a post on candids.

This first picture was taken just before the bride  left the dressing room to go and start the ceremony. We were already running 10 minutes late  and the wedding planner was dragging her out the door when I stopped her.

“Can I just have 30 seconds?” I quickly closed the door and opened the blinds.   Then I said, “somebody turn out the lights.”   This shot is nothing but window light and a gray wall.

Window light and a gray wall

Window light and a gray wall

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Rules for Good Photography

I think now, more than ever, it’s hard to tell what makes a “good picture.”

Photography, like all art, is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc, etc. And with Photoshop becoming such an integral part of the work process, it’s getting to the point where the old “rules” for good photography are being tossed out the window. I think that’s just fine, and I’ll tell you why. [Read more…]

The Super Wide Portrait

Want to have some fun next time you’re shooting environmental portraits? Then think wide! Just when you are about to pack up that gear and call it a wrap, pull out that super wide angle lens and try something different.

The Super Wide portrait

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Wedding Photography Lighting – Find the level that’s right for you

I was talking with a friend of my wife’s yesterday and she asked, “Can you help me pick out a new camera?   I want to take better pictures of my kids.”

I get this sort of question all the time and it’s a tough one to answer. Most people don’t understand that good photography comes in levels (like Donkey Kong). Sure, it starts with a decent DSLR but then it moves up through many different levels of skill. The real question you have to ask yourself when you want to take better pictures is:   How much time am I willing to dedicate towards learning to take good photographs? Then I can help you choose your equipment.

The same question applies to wedding photography. Search the web and you will find prices from $500 – $5000 for a wedding photographer. How can that be? Well, it’s all about the levels and like Donkey Kong there are several different ladders you can choose to climb if you want to reach the big gorilla. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the “Flash” ladder.   (I’m a wedding photographer in Tampa, FL) [Read more…]

How to get them to smile at a wedding

I’m going to reveal a little trick that  I use… a super-secret weapon in the constant battle to get people to pay attention to me when shooting formals at a wedding.

Wedding photographers know what I’m talking about but for the rest of you I’ll explain.   After the wedding ceremony, when the photographer is shooting the formal portraits, it’s very common for a lot of people to be loitering around.   You’re shooting a lot of groups plus there’s just general mayhem.   This can make it tricky because you’ll be trying to take a picture and the subjects are constantly being distracted.   It’s important that you take the pictures as quickly as possible and frustrating when every shot is ruined by someone looking away from the camera.

Enter “The Magic Egg.” [Read more…]

Photobooths for Fun and Profit

I photograph a lot of events – weddings, tournaments, parties.

One of my least favorite situations is when a photographer comes around to the table where everybody is eating, and wants to take a picture of the people at the table.

I have several problems with this. [Read more…]