Category Archives Guest Blogger

Great News for Photographers

Finally there is some great news for photographers that is breathing fresh life into the photography world! It’s easy to see that video keeps gaining momentum as the preferred way to deliver content. Thankfully Motion Art is blowing up right now on Social Media, and advertisers are finally taking notice. Looping videos, also know as Plotagraphs as well as Cinemagraphs, are a great way to breath life into traditional still photos.

However, Plotagraphs are different than Cinemagraphs. For example, a Plotagraph starts with a still image that is animated and a Cinemagraph starts out with a video that is masked in certain areas and then made into a loop. Plotagraph was created with the mission to help photographers compete in the fast growing field of video, whereas Cinemagraph’s focus is on helping videographers create short form video.

With my involvement in field of Motion Art over the past several decades, I have lately been seeing a big trend from artists and brands who are now using these mesmerizing loops. This trend is definitely here to stay with a lot of room for future growth.

Photographers who already use these techniques are hesitant to give away their secret formulas because this has traditionally given them a competitive edge. Historically, Photographers have been hesitant to get involved in motion art because of the sometimes difficult learning curve of video files. Photographers sometimes have a hard time moving past .PSD’s, TIFS, and JPG’s.

The latest Plotaverse App now makes it easy to animate because the file formats are automatically done for you. Plotaverse tools help solve the long time big obstacle for photographers, which is now no longer an issue. Not all photos are meant to be animated but sprinkling in Motion Art into your website or Social media posts will definitely make your creative content stand out.

For instance, a lot of established wedding and portrait Photographers I know will include one or two Plotagraphs in their packages, which turns out being highlights that customers use in their social media. It can also be a lot of fun to animate old images and repurpose them to Plotagraph. Seeing that classic image you have brought to life can be exciting.

I have personally animated work for well-known photographers from around the world, with reactions to these loops ranging anywhere from surprise, to even a few tears when they see their images come to life. They note that the effects of the loops somehow evokes a mood identical to the original scene of the photo they shot. It doesn’t matter whether it was yesterday or fifty years ago. If there are organic elements, texture or hard lines a photo can be brought to life and animated in a relatively short period of time.

Another technique that can be a lot of fun morph multiple images together. This works great for portrait photographers as well as beauty and fashion photographers who want to stand out. 

It has only been a few years since websites and social channels have begun to support short form looping videos. Today, Motion Art is now considered an industry standard and is supported by all the major platforms. Swiping or scrolling past still images is now easier than ever. The name of the game is dynamic content because it is the most effective way for photographers to catch the viewers’ eye and engage them. The next time you scroll through Instagram or Facebook keep an eye out for these dynamic images. They are sure to catch your eye.

For more information check out my recent tutorials exclusively for the KelbyOne Community. They are hands down the best and most detailed that I have ever done on the Plotaverse suite of dynamic apps. Check out the Plotaverse in MAC, PC, or iOS with over seven hundred thousand samples of some of the worlds best motion artists.

You can see more of Troy’s work on Plotaverse, and keep up with him on Instagram and Twitter.

Fix Your DAM Life This Year: Do As Little As Possible

Digital Asset Management is like finding the perfect backpack for most photographers. Close, but there’s always just this one problem… Well maybe this next one. We think it exists. We want it to exist. Well maybe this one, with this… Ugh.

I can’t help you find that perfect backpack, every photog knows that’s a deeply personal decision. I can however get your DAM life in order. That’s actually not a personal decision. Not as long as your idea of the perfect workflow is the one that requires the least amount of, you know…. work.

As it turns out, doing as little as possible is the best solution. Finally!

That’s because you’re the problem! Sorry, no offense, but it’s true. I am too, probably more so actually. We’re creative creatures though, and we make mistakes. Now, while we make small mistakes, computers allow us to make really big ones! But they’re consistent! That’s critical. Anyone who fixes anything for a living will tell you consistency is everything.

We’re accurate but not consistent. We’re the variable. Which folder do these images go into this time? Which keywords apply here? Is this a 3 star or 4 star image? Tomorrow… different answers. Like your alarm clock you set to be 5 minutes fast… consistency, not accuracy.

You’re also slow. Man, sorry again. Not stupid, slow. You can get to California from New York by walking but there’s a better way. Machines, automation, you get it. Much faster.

So, your DAM solution? The least amount of work possible, and the least amount of you possible, equals the fastest, most consistent workflow. I’ve yet to meet a student of mine who’s argued with me on this.

So, your DAM solution? The least amount of work possible, the least amount of YOU possible, equals the fastest, most consistent workflow. I’ve yet to meet a student of mine who’s argued with me on this.

How about 1 click fast? And an image management system that requires no decisions at all.

Let’s get started so you can move on with your DAM life. Sorry, last time.

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Photo by Jan Schrieber

Like many of you, every weekend, and most days, I’m out with my camera exploring. Today’s post is about how those shoots are always more fun with fellow photographers by your side. That’s what a Photowalk is all about, right folks?

Photowalking And Friends

Photowalks are such a great way to get out of the car and see what the world really looks like. You just notice things when your camera eye is open that you don’t at other times. Things like big and little details, crazy signs, unusual buildings and people (hello street photographers) that seem way more interesting than when you’re soaring past them at 20 or 30 mph.

Jefferson Graham hams it up with photographer Ginger DiNunzio of Sandprints Photos on a photowalk of Morro Bay. Credit: Jefferson Graham

For instance, I have visited the city of Orange, California (5 miles from Disneyland) many times, and love the nostalgic feel, antique stores, vintage cars and old-time Grand Circle in the heart of the town. But it wasn’t until I met up with another photographer, Jan Schrieber, for our Photowalk and we started exploring together, with our cameras by our sides, that we began to realize a trend. “Everything’s orange,” Jan said, at lunch. The street signs. The fire hydrants. The chairs at local restaurants.

This neither of us had noticed in our drive-bys, and it gave us a theme to have fun with.

Anthony Quintano (left) and Jefferson Graham capture a giant airplane landing near LAX airport and the Westchester In-N-Out restaurant, popular with plane spotters, and part of the Hidden LAX Photowalk video. Photo by Anthony Quintano

And as I note in the above video, when you get other photographers with you, instead of just your two eyes, you’ve got several of them to work from. The enthusiasm is infectious and it just makes for a great day.

Plus, having that new or old friend by your side produces a way more lively lunch break.

Jefferson Graham and Joshua Kalev compare notes at a Los Angeles deli during the L.A. deli Photowalk.

For the past two years, I’ve been producing a series of travel videos for YouTube called Photowalks (inspired by my friend Scott Kelby and his amazing October event!) where I aim to bring the viewer to great places and show them around, through my eyes and others.

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On stage at Self Help Festival 2018. Thanks to Adam Elmakias for the photo!

The Joy of Live Music Photography

First, thank you to Scott for the opportunity to do another guest post. And thanks to Brad for all the work you do here too. Both of you inspire me daily.

As you can probably guess by the title of this post, I’m a concert photographer, and I think every photographer should try photographing a concert at least once. It is one of the most fun photo environments you will ever encounter. It will also require that you can operate your gear without thought.

Unlike some other areas of photography, where we might position the subject, and control or shape the light, in live music photography you can’t do any of that. The lead singer may be in front of you with the perfect expression, and then gone before you can get focus. He may be in low light as you set exposure, and under bright landing lights by the time you shoot the shot. The lighting director will try to push the limits of what the human eye can see, and since the camera sees much less dynamic range than our eyes, your images may be clipped on both ends of the histogram.

For photographers that are accustomed to having full control, concerts will challenge you at every turn. Like with any type of photography, there is a lot more to concert photography than I can cover here. My hope is to give you a few general tips below, in case you ever try this yourself.

Terror at Self Help Fest 2019. ISO 6400, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/400

My first tip is to ignore the noise. We music photographers live at ISO settings that make some people cry. Just crank the ISO as needed to allow a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, and a sharp noisy shot is always better than a blurry clean shot. That is not to say you can’t play with motion and blur, just that when needed be sure you can get the shot you want or need.

What is Concert Photography?

The answer to this question is part of the reason I love this genre. At its core, concert photograph is really just Low Light Action Photography, similar to photographing some sporting events. But, it is also event photography, environmental portraiture, and photojournalism.

Rob Halford of Judas Priest. ISO 1600, 140mm, f/2.8, 1/400

Depending on who you are shooting for it could be any one of those, a combination of some, or all of the above.

Getting Started

The most important thing to know about shooting live music is that you can’t just walk into a Foo Fighters concert with a pro camera. Major artists, the ones that play festivals and arenas, want press coverage.

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. ISO 3200, 185mm, f/2.8 1/500

That means you will generally need media credentials to shoot the show. How do get those?

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Christmas Cards Don’t Have To Be Boring…

For the last few years, I have made a goal of mine to create the most amazing memories with my kids, both in real life and photography-wise. Of course, it is a mission of mine to make our Christmas Card an epic one every year. Who wants to receive another boring Christmas card anyways?

Our Christmas Cards and my Bad Santa series were personal projects I started doing for fun, and they turned out to be the greatest marketing tool for my business during the Holiday Season. 

This year, I started booking Christmas Cards sessions even before Halloween. 

As the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and it is also the perfect time for you as a photographer to make money. 

Mostly everybody I know sends Christmas Cards to their family and friends. A big part of that group prefers to send family pictures instead of store-bought Christmas Cards. 

I am sure you usually receive pretty much the same version of a Christmas card from different families. Matching outfits, fake smiles, all of them in front of a Christmas Tree. But not all Christmas Cards have to be like that! 

What I look to capture on Christmas Card sessions is a little bit of everyone’s personality in one image. For me to be able to do that, I make sure to collect as much information as possible from my client’s family. Some of my clients have already a concept picked by the time they book the sessions, and some others need a little help choosing a theme. That’s when the info I collect from them comes handy. I go ahead and customize inspiration boards for them and even draw a few sketches. 

Then my job is to escalate their concept to the epic level!

Having shot multiple clients’ Christmas Cards through the years, I can also say it’s a very competitive time between family and friends, but the fun kind. Once you send out your first fun Christmas Card, there’s no going back. They will be expected every year.

This family recreates a rock album cover every year for their Christmas Card… Can you guess which one is this?

This family wanted a portrait of the chaos that goes behind doors… I can relate!

Kitchen portraits are always fun!

This lovely classic portrait:

Here’s a beach theme without having to pray to the weather Gods for good weather or having to spend a few days getting rid of the sand.

Our Christmas Card this year was inspired by our beloved state of Florida and its fumbling superhero, the Florida man. Who every year gives us the most embarrassing, outrageous, cringy, dumb, awkward, funny, infuriating, and even sometimes, inspiring news stories.

I built up the set in my garage with a ton of Props I got from Spectacular Themes. I really wanted to have a wooden fence as a background, but I couldn’t fit anything like that in my car. After giving it a little thought, I remembered I have laminated wooden floor that I sometimes use on portraits, so I put it against the garage door and BAM! Instant wooden fence!

I didn’t have to spend money on outfits; we used what we had, and of course, I had to wear my Santa suit like every year.

After setting all that up in my garage, I wasn’t going to shoot just one picture. We created a fun little series, and my kids made sure to stamp their personalities on them. 

Since I managed to get all the props I wanted, I only had to Photoshop the sky, and I added a little bit of my personal retouching style.

All of these images were shot with my Nikon Z7 and a 24-70mm Z mount lens on my 3 Legged Thing Leo (except for Christmas car one, that was shot with my camera on my Platypod Max). I used two Elinchrom BXRi 500 strobes: one with an octa on camera right and the other one with a strip light set horizontally on a background stand for fill. I also had a Vflats from V-Flat World on each side of the set to bounce light.

This is my busiest time of the year, but it is also the most fun because I get to be creative doing the kind of work I love. 

I hope you have a fantastic Holiday Season!

Here are our Christmas Cards from the previous years:

You can see more of Gilmar’s work at GilmarPhotography.com, and keep up with her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Hi! My name is Chris Orwig and I’m a Sony Artisan of Imagery, portrait photographer, author and teacher. Today I want to share with you a few tips for capturing better portraits. These tips come straight from my brand new book, Authentic Portraits: Searching for soul, significance and depth. Let’s dive in!

What Makes A Portrait Good?

I’ve always felt that capturing a well exposed picture was easy, but capturing a portrait that reveals the essence, character, and personality was hard. And that’s because the most successful portraits take us well beyond the surface of how someone looks and show us the inner essence of who someone is. They reveal character, soul, and depth. They uncover hidden hopes and inner strength, revealing that authentic and deeply human light that shines within. 

And while technical expertise is undoubtedly important, it’s not the technique, lighting, camera, or pose that creates a great portrait. It’s you, and it’s your mastery of technique and the way you make the connection with the subject, that makes the image come to life. Because ultimately, good portraits have very little to do with the surface of how someone looks.

Good portraits go beyond the surface and in doing so, they make us feel. I like how Antoine de Saint-Euxprey put it, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” So in a sense, the craft of portraiture is all about capturing what you can’t quite see, but what you can clearly feel.  That’s what makes portraiture such an interesting craft. And at the same time, such a paradox.

The Paradox of Portraiture

I like how the French poet Charles Baudelaire put it, “A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound.” Authentic portraits—at least the ones that endure—are paradoxical in these ways. These pictures aren’t single-minded; they’re a complex and sometimes conflicting combination of ideas, emotions, and themes. Like good literature or art, they give you access to multiple emotions at once.

Authentic portraits speak to the many paradoxes of life: absence and presence, fragility and strength, pity and admiration, nostalgia and regret. Paradoxes are truths in disguise. That’s why they thrive in good literature, film, and art. The element of surprise draws us in. What at first seems like a flaw suddenly makes sense, and the original contradiction metamorphoses from dissonance into interest, believability, and depth.

So how then do we capture more authentic, more meaningful, and more interesting frames? Here are three tips:

 1. Carry Less. Capture More. 

One of the quickest ways to capture better portraits is to work with a single camera, lens, and natural light. And that’s how I’ve built my career and had my images published by Rolling Stone, New York Times, Esquire Magazine, etc. and worked with dream clients like Google, Adobe, Patagonia, The Nature Conservancy, etc.

99% of all of my images are created with natural light. So if you’d like a great primer on natural light, I’d highly recommend Scott’s new book. I was sent a prerelease copy and it’s really good. His book will give you the foundation to start capturing great images without a lot of gear. This way you can work quickly and build up a body of work.

2. Search For More

When we see someone standing in front of our lens, it’s easy to think of the person in regards to how they look. But great portrait photographers always resist the urge and look past the surface in search of something more. My friend Travis Blue put it this way, “To be human is to look so closely and so deeply into another that you see yourself.” In other words, we must find a way to search for the story within that resonates with who we are.

Like with the photograph below on the left. At first glance he seemed like an “ordinary homeless person.” But as I got to talking with him I discovered that he really was a writer without a home. And I was able to identify with that. Not that I’ve ever been homeless, but that I have experienced what it’s like to be displaced, marginalized, and discouraged even while I was committed to my craft. And it was my craft that kept my spirit alive.

So when you photograph someone, never settle for what you see at first glance. Take time to search, look, listen, and learn about your subject so that you can create portraits that reveal more. 

 3. Find The Common Ground

When I am photographing a celebrity, a stranger, or a close friend, the process is always the same. And it always begins with making a connection through finding common ground. I’ve found that the quickest way to do that is through the art of asking interesting questions. Rather than telling my subjects what to do, I ask them about their life. And that’s true whether it’s a world famous celebrity like Millie Bobby Brown (below left) or a good friend like Chris Burkard (below right). The point is to start a dialogue and to learn about the subject so that more of who they are shows up in the frame. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more, check out my new book, Authentic Portraits: Searching for soul, significance and depth. The book is chock full of inspiration, ideas, and advice on how you can capture more meaningful and awesome portraits. Thanks!!!

Chris Orwig is a best-selling author, photographer, and teacher who blends a down-to-earth approach with technical expertise. Having authored 7 books and over 5000 hours of online tutorials, Chris knows his stuff. But more importantly, he knows what matters most. After having survived a near death rock climbing accident at an early age, Chris realized that life is a gift, and that the camera is the perfect tool for savoring and celebrating the time that we have.

He regularly speaks on creativity and photography at conferences and workshops, and has been invited to speak for companies like Google, Facebook, Adobe and on the TEDx stage. Whether capturing photographs, teaching, or writing books, Chris strives to inspire others to become more creative and lead more meaningful lives. Find out more at ChrisOrwig.com and on Instagram @chrisorwig.

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