Featured Member: Lubos Bruha

What kind of photography do you do? I am amateur photographer based in the Prague, Czech republic. I am focused on landscape and nature. I especially like mountains and their…

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Featured Member: Peter Marfleet

What kind of photography do you do? I specialize in family photography experiences covering everything from maternity bumps, newborn babies and toddlers to older children and small family groups.  I…

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Cause Marketing for Photographers

As we move towards the coming new year many of us are beginning to implement a new marketing plan. Also, as the holiday season comes to a close many of our thoughts are on giving. Cause marketing is an opportunity to combine the two. For those unfamiliar with the term, cause marketing is a form of marketing that allows two organizations, one for profit, and one non-profit, to work together to further each of their individual marketing/development goals in a cooperative fashion. Think of the (product) RED campaign, or the partnership between the NFL and United Way.

Cause marketing can be as simple as offering a sponsorship to a local charity event, or as involved and complex as you care to make it. Below are some examples of actual cause marketing campaigns I’ve seen photographers in my market employ”¦

  • A local portrait/wedding studio holds quarterly workshops for photographers on various business practice issues. They host at their studio and usually bring in a guest speaker. They don’t charge attendees directly but ask that they make a donation to a specific charity ($40 to the local food bank or so.)
  • A commercial photographer sponsors a hole-in-one contest at a charity golf outing. If a participant scores a hole in one, they win $10,000. He gets a bond each year to cover it for about $100. He’s at the tee of that hole, shoots a photo of the foursome and mails each of them a print (with his logo and web address of course.)
  • A fine art photographer gives 25% of sales of a series of images of the Chesapeake Bay to a local environmental charity.
  • In lieu of holiday gifts for his corporate clients, an industrial photographer makes a donation to the USO (many of his clients are in the defense industry and are veterans). He then sends the clients a note thanking them for their business and letting the client know that he’s made that donation. (more…)

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The Tuesday Composition: Photographing the Familiar and the Unfamiliar

Rainbow Whirlwind, Seljalandfoss, Iceland
Rainbow Whirlwind, Seljalandfoss, Iceland. I don't need to show much of the waterfall, or the water at the bottom of the fall, to give you a sense that this is a waterfall--and a very large one at that.

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

It is all too easy to forget that when we photograph that we are usually photographing for someone, even if only ourselves. Photography is a type of communication, and the best way to compose a photograph to communicate someone depends on both what you’re trying to communicate and who you are trying to communicate it to. Familiarity is key–if you’re trying to photograph a particular type of animal, if your viewer is likely to be familiar with the animal you’ll want to approach photographing it differently than if they aren’t likely to have seen one before.

It’s helpful to draw an analogy with a dinner party conversation. If you and I are chatting and I start talking about Death Valley, I’ll probably guess that you’ll have heard of Death Valley.  I’ll guess that you’ll know it’s a large desert area in California, that it gets very hot there, and perhaps that it has sand dunes. If I start off the conversation by reiterating a bunch of stuff you already know about Death Valley, you’re going to get bored pretty quickly. On the other hand, if I start talking to you about the Aeolian Buttes, I’m probably going to start with an assumption that you know a little less about it, and start with a more basic information.

Of course, when I’m talking to someone, I have the opportunity to adjust this on the fly, if you say “Oh, I love that part of the Mono Basin”, I can move along. But in photography (and writing as well), I don’t have that flexibility. I have to choose up-front how much to say in my photograph, and how much not to say.

Noa Lake, East Greenland
Noa Lake, East Greenland

If I don’t say enough, I may not actually “get across” whatever it is I want to get across. If I really want to show you how cool the oddly pink Noa Lake is in East Greenland is, a little detail of pink water may be aesthetic, that may be a great piece of art, but if I’m trying to tell you about the lake in general I’m going to have to include the whole lake, the surrounding landscape, mountains and lichen. I’m going to have to establish a sense of scale, I’m going to have to use the other parts of the photograph to help you realize that the pink stuff is pink translucent water and not just a trick of the light.

On the other hand, If I say too much, if I “overexplain” something in a photograph by showing you to much of it and/or by emphasizing it, you may not be insulted but you’ll certainly not be particularly interested. (more…)

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Wedding Photography and Bounce Flash

I’ve been trying to write about bounce flash at weddings for about an hour now. The problem with explaining bounce flash is that it seems simple at first (just point the flash over your shoulder!) but then there’s a snag … a situation where that doesn’t quite work. So, you talk about the snag, which leads you down another path (diffusers and bounce cards!) … which veers off into some other tangent (shadows and background!) and the next thing you know you’re typing the words “raccoon” and “inverse square law” in the same sentence and you just have to stop.

So, here’s what I’m going to do:   I’m going to post some pictures from a recent wedding and talk about the lighting in each one. Hopefully I will be able to stay on topic. (By the way, I am a wedding photographer in Tampa, FL and no raccoons were harmed in the writing of this article.)

tampa wedding photographer marriott 8

This particular wedding reception was in a small room with low ceilings that were white (mana from heaven for a bounce flash photographer). I was able to shoot with my flash pointed back over my left shoulder most of the night. I think a lot of people tend to believe that you either bounce off a wall or you bounce off the ceiling in front of you. It’s important to realize that you can bounce off the ceiling behind you as well (especially if it’s low). You will typically lose some light, since most of it will bounce to the back of the room but you’ll still get some back from the ceiling, tablecloths, walls, etc.   I had my flash dialed up to +1 most of the night. Could I have taken this shot with a diffuser or direct flash? Sure, but I would have lost contrast in the subject. The reason the dancing man stands out is because the light falls off across his body (notice the shadow on his face).


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What equipment do I need to be a wedding photographer?


I was thinking today about what I would have liked to known when I was first starting out as a wedding photographer in Tampa and realized that, despite the wealth of information available to the newby, I don’t recall ever seeing a detailed breakdown of the equipment a typical wedding photographer carries to a shoot. So, with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the equipment in my bag with comments about how I use it. This is, by no means, a definitive list. It’s just what I am carrying right now and could change at any time.

(2) Canon 40D – The Canon 40D may not be the best that Canon has to offer but it will certainly get the job done. Don’t get too caught up in the rush to buy the newest and most advanced camera available. The cheapest DSLR on the market is still light-years more advanced than every camera that came before it. Personally, I prefer two identical camera bodies. It’s a comfort to me that I can grab either camera and get the same results.

(4) Camera Batteries – One battery in each camera body and two backups. I don’t use a battery grip with my camera. I’ll admit I envy the convenience of the added controls so that you can hold the camera in portrait mode the same way you do in landscape but I’m put off by the extra bulk and weight. If I found myself frequently changing batteries during a shoot I would probably get a grip, but I rarely have to use my backup batteries.

(1) Black Rapid Strap (1) standard strapI’ve written about this before. When I feel it necessary to carry both cameras, I have a second strap around my neck. Both my camera’s have Manfrotto tripod mounts on the bottom and I attach the straps there with speed clips. Typically, I will wear both straps during the ceremony and sometimes during the reception. I just attach the camera’s as needed.


st. petersburg wedding photographer 5
Sigma 18-50, f2.8 – This is my main lens and is on my camera 90% 0f the time.


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Developing your own style as a photographer

When you first decide that you want to be a professional photographer, there are so many things that you have to learn. You’ve got to learn the equipment, the software, and the business side of being a professional photographer. Then there’s the unbelievable amount of knowledge that you have to absorb in order to develop an eye and a talent for the entire operation. So much information, in fact, that any good photographer will tell you that they are still learning all the time. The one thing that can often fall by the wayside while you are trying to dig yourself out of of the mountain of education that has landed on your head is that you also have to develop your own style.

This can be very hard to do. When you take into consideration the fact that Photoshop provides a virtually unlimited palette from which you can paint (not to mention the hundreds of ways in which you can shoot) it’s easy to wind up all over the map. Occasionally I’ll come across that photographer who seems to have a clear idea of what they like and how they want to present themselves, right from the very beginning. I hate those guys. Nobody likes someone who seems to have it all together while the rest of us are flailing about with our water wings in the shallow end of the pool. Don’t even think about sitting at my table during lunch. Seriously.


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