1 August 2020

So I've been lucky enough to be on holiday these last few weeks. I had great plans to get all those things I never get time to do done. As I cruise into my last week of holiday nothing has been done and the motivation to get anything done is even less.

Lucky for me, I've got my camera equipment so the holiday hasn't been a complete flop. It does make me think how lucky I am that I've been able to get the right shots and how do you go from being a lucky photographer to actually know what you're doing?

The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone is to know your camera. I know that sounds a little joke worthy - but do you really know yours? Do you know how to set the aperture? Shutter speed? ISO? Can you confidently shoot in manual? 

Knowing these things are the first and most important steps to being not just the lucky photographer. 

21 July 2020

So I haven't blogged for a while. There's been a feeling of self doubt and that my photos aren't good enough. It's probably okay to feel like that with what we have been through this year - but is it really? Does the 'tortured artist' myth really run true? Is this dangerous to my career?

It’s perfectly normal, and with the right leverage it will encourage you to challenge yourself to grow further and better. However, when it becomes too obsessive, this feeling of self-doubt is highly destructive. Here is some signs when it becomes worrying:

  • You keep comparing your work to others

  • You can’t accept constructive criticism

  • You feel that your photos never improve

  • You are constantly seeking reassurance/approval from others

  • You feel that everyone is your competitor

  • You can’t be happy for your fellow photographers’ success

  • You only rely on your external values (big studio, client list, instagram success) for your sense of self-worth

When you’re not strong enough, or too stubborn to learn, then it will eventually tempt you to quit. If you want to give up, by all means, do it. It’s your life. But if you: (a) are really serious about considering photography as your career, or (b) truly find solace and passion in photography, then please guys, just don’t. Regardless on how much you think your work suck, do not ever give up.

2 July 2020

My whole life I’ve been afraid of being bored (or boring for that matter) because of these words. My mom’s response anytime I would whine the dreaded phrase, “I’M BOOOORED!

What’s boring to me, may be exceptional to you. A photo that’s exciting to me, may put you to sleep just by looking at it. I constantly need to remind myself of that. So in my shooting journey this year, I’ve discovered a few tricks that have helped me accomplish my goal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken plenty of boring… ahem… uninteresting, photos this year. All the emptiness everywhere started off interesting but soon got - well you know BORING. When I take those types of shots, it helps me reassess and think through what I need to do to get a shot that I’m happy with. I know I’ll eventually find it. That one angle, that one detail or that new perspective I’ve never seen before. Those are the things that make my heart sing and that make me want to pick up my camera again and again. 

Emotion is a big one for me. And this might also be why I never seem to like taking traditional portraits. When I can add an element of emotion (and for me, nine times out of ten that emotion is humor) to an image, it is immediately transformed from what might otherwise be a boring photo.

Most of my friends are just naturally funny. I try to pay close attention to what they’re doing and I can usually gauge when they’re going to do something that will elicit lots of emotion.

But every now and then, I will “set up” a situation where I know they won’t be able to resist big laughs. I once had a burp contest with my husband while taking pictures. I almost puked (literally) but the genuine emotion and laughs I was able to capture are so special to me!

25 June 2020

Throughout lockdown, how many of you were like me and chased your animals around the house trying to get the perfect shot of the stupid cat only to find they moved too fast, didn't sit in the right spot or moved before you got your camera sorted. 

There are three things that I managed to find that helped me get the shot of the cat that I think even he liked:

The trickiest part of animal photography is that pets don’t understand posing instructions like people (maybe like children).  A few treats and favorite toys can go a long way in getting pets to stay put or look in a certain direction. A dog that’s been trained to sit and stay, in particular, will be much easier to work with when he’s eager to listen for that treat. 

Pets don’t have to be sitting still to get great shots, however — and that’s where a favorite toy comes in. Using some of the same camera settings you’d use for sports photography (more on that coming up), you can freeze a game of fetch or the attack on that stuffed mouse. Also, consider asking the pet owner what the animal’s favorite words are so you know what to say to get the pet’s attention.

Just like when photographing toddlers or newborns, sometimes, waiting until that cute but cranky subject is in a better mood can go a long way. When photographing your own pet, it often pays off to just keep the camera ready and wait. Don’t try to force your pet to sit still if you’ve just walked in the door and he’s eager to see you, or if she just woke up and is ready to stretch her legs. Wait for a calmer moment.

Portraits are all about the eyes — even when that portrait subject isn’t a person. While there are a few exceptions, getting down on the animal’s eye level will create personal pet portraits as it brings out unique personalities and highlights a more intimate perspective. If you shoot from your eye level, the pet will look smaller and it will be harder to look into Fido’s eyes in the shot.

To really make those puppy dog eyes pop, make sure the camera focuses on the eyes by using single point autofocus area and moving the focal point over one of the pet’s eyes. Using natural light like a window also tends to make the eyes sparkle without risking red eye.

17 June 2020

Well 2020 has really been a year of WTF's followed by a few of WTAF's. As we head into it being halfway through I'm exhausted, grumpy, fat and really lazy. How did this happen. Who else is feeling like this? Who else's wardrobe has succumb to the dreaded rona and everything in it has shrunk? 

I was feeling really down about it all, but then I thought why not just own it. Go shopping, buy that outfit and strut your stuff. And that's exactly what I did and I feel great. I'm not starving myself on a diet, I'm not killing myself in the gym, I'm just owning what I've got and enjoying it. 

Many of the future brides I'm working alongside are struggling with the same thing and that got me thinking about how to I make these voluptuous goddesses look stunning through the lens. Here's some things I like to be aware of when photographing people my size:

  • Photograph multiple people at multiple angles to shield each others less than awesome parts

  • You don't need to photograph the whole body - head shots and head and shoulder shots are gorgeous

  • Work with your lighting. A short light works beautifully on round faces

  • Find the flattering position. Try having one shoulder angled away from the camera and experiment with where the light hits the face

  • Be aware of the double chin and use lighting and position to avoid it at all costs!

7 June 2020

So how are the photos of food going. Are you like me and getting frustrated by how your food photos are turning out? Here are some little tidbits I found helped:

Your photos are blurry

Blurry photos are caused by camera shake. Solutions include: 1) hold your camera steadier (easier said than done), 2) use a tripod with a remote so your camera stays completely still while you’re shooting, 3) use a faster shutter speed, which will require opening up your aperture and/or moving to an area with more light, or 4) raise your ISO to decrease the amount of light needed (this will reduce image quality, however).

Your colors aren’t true to life

When you’re editing your photos, if your plate of food looks very blue, yellow, pink or green, use your software’s white balance tools to fix it! Colors come alive when the white balance is set properly. If you shoot in RAW format, you’ll have an easier time adjusting color balance later.

Your photos just don’t “pop” like professional food photos. 

Experienced food photographers use lenses that allow them to narrow their depth of field to highlight the subject of the photo. Then they use photography software to tweak the contrast, levels and sharpness of their photos. Sometimes a few little edits can really make a photo pop.

3 June 2020

So over the lock down and with all the social distancing we need to do, how many of you have become addicted to food? My thighs are certainly not doing any type of social distancing right now. This got me thinking about how to take the perfect food shot. 

Now I'm not talking about snapping something on your phone and posting it all over your social media - I still struggle to see why people do that. Pre smartphone photography no one took photos of their food to show everyone. Anyway, I digress. The perfect food shot. How do you do it? 

It’s all about the light! My best tip is to become aware of the intensity of the light and how it hits the food, and learn to adjust accordingly. Here is what I think about when I'm snapping the deliciousness:

Take photos under natural light. Do not use overhead lights or lamps or your built-in flash. Ever!

Move around to find the best light source. Don’t feel confined to taking photos in your kitchen. Perhaps the light is best in your bedroom in the morning, and in your living room in the afternoon

Try taking photos from multiple angles. Some plates of food look better from above (like, pizza), or from the side (burgers), or at a 45-degree angle (drinks). Try moving around the plate and taking photos at various angles so you can pick your favorite later.

Get rid of the clutter. If that spoon, napkin or busy background doesn’t add to the photo, it detracts from the photo. Focus on what is most important, but don’t zoom in so close that viewers can’t tell what the food is.

28 May 2020

There are so many different ways you can structure a photo. Most will tell you to obey the rule of thirds. I do have to say when I am in the studio editing I do make sure when looking at the composition I do make sure I've obeyed the rules. 

There are so really easy tricks to think of when taking photos of a single person though. These little tips will flatter your subject and make them love they way you've made them look. 

Pose the Hair

We don't generally think of hair as a part of the body we can control, but you really can! If you are shooting a subject with long hair, then bad hair is going to be the first thing anyone notices about your photo. There are no rules as to what looks "best" across the board. Everyone will look different with their hair a different way. Let's assume you're doing a basic portrait session without makeup artists and hair stylists. The first thing to remember is that hair sitting on the shoulders looks terrible. If the hair sits on their shoulders, then it looks wild and you need to do something with it.

 Pull the Chin Forward

When someone stands in their normal relaxed stand, or even stands up straight to have nice posture, there is a little bit of flab right underneath their chin. No matter how skinny they are, you will see this. If you tell people to bring their chin forward, which sounds like the sensible thing to do, they will point their chin at you, which brings their face up and ends with you shooting up their nostrils. (Not attractive.) Instead, tell your model to bring their ears forward.

 Lift the Arm

When people stand naturally, another thing they do is stand with their arms flat at their sides. This causes several problems. First, it makes them look awkward and uncomfortable in the photo. Secondly, their arm presses against their torso. This squishes the arm out and makes it look larger than it actually is. You can correct that by having them just lift their arm an inch or two so it is "floating" and not pressed against them. Alternatively, you can pose their hand so the arm is in a different position, such as putting their hand on the hip.

 Turn the Shoulders

This is a very simple tip, but important. If your subject stares at the camera head-on, they look bigger. This can be good when shooting a football player or CEO of a big company, but it is bad when shooting beauty or portraits. By having your subject turn, they are showing a slimmer profile of themselves to the camera, and look slimmer.

16 May 2020

People ask me why I carry a big bag of goodies with me on every shoot I do. Most of the equipment is to ensure I can get the best light and use it to create the best image.

Lighting is a key factor in creating a beautiful image. Lighting is not only  about brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood and the atmosphere. We have the ability to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of colour and luminosity on your subjects. By distributing shadow and highlights accurately, you can create extremely professional looking photographs.

Light can be manipulated to fall on a particular area of your subject. This can be achieved through the use of diffusers and reflectors. Reflectors can shape sunlight or bounce flash light on area you’d prefer to highlight. Spot lights can also be covered in light shapers that enable you to have more control over the direction the light will fall and how broad the light spans.  .

5 May 2020

A lot of people ask me how to get a good photo of themselves. Obviously my first answer is to get a professional photographer to do it ha. However, there are a few things you can do to make that selfie look just a little better.

1. Shoot from above

Shooting the photo from above will provide a more flattering angle. It will likely emphasize your eyes and make your face and neck seem smaller.  Shooting from below can make some people seem powerful, but it usually makes the chin and nose look prominent, which is not a flattering look for most people.[2] It’s best not to go too high so the photo doesn’t get distorted. Hold the camera out and a little above eye level [1] Shooting from below can make some people seem powerful, but it usually makes the chin and nose look prominent, which is not a flattering look for most people.[2] It’s best not to go too high so the photo doesn’t get distorted. Hold the camera out and a little above eye level. Then take the picture.

2. Find the shadowed side of your face 

Look at your face in a mirror or the camera (or take a practice photo), and find which side of your face looks darker due to being further from the light source. Take the photo from the shadowed side for an artistic and slimming effect. This approach may not work in direct sunlight.

3. Do not center yourself in the shot

The best photographs follow what’s known as the rule of thirds. Imagine dividing the frame into 3 equal parts, like top, middle, and bottom, or left, middle, and right. Then, line up the photo so the features you want to accentuate fall along one of those lines.

24 April 2020

Whilst sitting here writing this blog, I start thinking, why am I doing this? I follow a few blogs and I'm thinking what is the point. Are any of you reading this thinking the same thing?

Maybe it's the craziness of lockdown and isolation that has made me start to question things I've never questioned before. However, I've come to the realisation there are so many reasons to write and follow blogs in your chosen careers or hobby. 

As we are in a digital age there is a greater need for visual content, meaning a photography business has become a competitive and thriving industry. Whether we are aspiring photographers just starting out or professional photographers looking to build our businesses, we need to keep pace with the rapidly changing trends and new technologies coming out every month.

For me, I've come to realise there are a number of things that reading and following different blogs helps me with. Firstly, they can help me get inspiration from photo stories, interviews, and resource articles. These types of blogs are in abundance and really useful. Next, blogs definitely help me improve my skills. I like to follow blog posts on photography techniques, software tips and tutorials. And lastly, but possible the most important one, they help me stay informed on the latest cameras, gear and technologies. With how fast the world changes in this digital era, it is critical to stay on top of what's happening.

Thankfully, there are a ton of photography blogs out there which regularly publish resources, articles, reviews and photo stories designed to do just that - to keep us informed and inspired with the latest in photography.

21 April 2020

At the moment a lot of us have some free time. I can't actually tell you what day of lockdown we are on - or actually what day it is. However, this has given us an awesome opportunity to really get to know our cameras. It's a fantastic feeling to be about to know where all the buttons and configuration settings are without having to stop and look. This could be the difference of capturing that shot or not. 

First and foremost, you need to read the cameras manual. Sounds like a pretty normal thing to do right? Most people tend to skip doing with with this excitement of just getting to play with our new toys. However, this means you are trying to learn how the cameraworks through trial and error. This may mean you will take more time to master your camera. There are a lot of settings that you will learn and find very useful if you read the manual that you may not stubble across if you are trying to learn how to use your camera without reading it. Another great tip is to watch videos on Youtube. Some videos are amazing and will really allow you to learn what your camera is capable of that you thought were not possible up till then.

The skill you need to develop is the ability to be change every setting on your camera without looking at it. Not that easy huh? That's why take this time in lockdown to practice. Take the time we have been granted to practice using your camera in your bubble with you bubble mates, changing as many settings as possible. This will help you get used to the feel, position, and configuration of the buttons.

By mastering this skill, you will be able to use and set up the camera faster, helping you get more shots in a shorter period of time. 

12 April 2020

So as we move into day 18 of lockdown I wondered how many are taking this time to master a different skill. I've been listening to the news where they claim a lot of people are learning to cook due to the lack of takeaways. We are definitely two of those people. It does make me wonder if we will continue to use our new found skills when the world as we know it transitions back to the norm. I can tell you know I am hanging out for a Poke Bowl from my favourite store in Newmarket. 

I thought I'd take this time to give those of you who are mastering their photography skills some tips that may help. This is just my opinion on things so don't be afraid to challenge me or ignore me. This key thing I think people who are learning fail to remember is how important composition is. When starting out I was the queen of chopping people's feet off as I was so keen to get the expression in their faces. 

Image composition can turn an OK photo into something spectacular. There are several rules and pointers to remember when composing your photo. For example, there is the rule of thirds. This means that if you are shooting an object, it should be positioned in the left or right third of your photo horizontally and the top or bottom third vertically. Another rule says to consider making use of leading lines. Look for any sort of flow or lines within your photo that directs your eye towards a particular area or object. Make use of leading lines to naturally draw attention to parts of your photo and to make it easy to follow. For example, leading lines can be found on the sidewalk or pavement of a road leading off into the distance.

Have a go and let me know how your photos are turning out. 

11 April 2020

We are on day 17 of the lockdown here in New Zealand. This has given us all a chance to be alone with our thoughts. One thing, that I think constantly about is a comment I've hear from many times. Who else has heard the comment 'don't you just click and delete all the photos you don't like?'

Being a photographer is more than being someone with an expensive camera. My job is to be welcomed into people's lives and capture important and special moments for them to keep forever. I need to get the lighting right, the angle right, the pose right and most of the time I only have one chance. 

The value of a professional photographer appears to have diminished in recent times with the advent of high quality cameras on phones. How do you get the message out there though that being a photographer is more than just pointing and clicking? This is a question I've pondered for a long time and it's a hard one to answer. 

For me, the answer to that questions, is people need to get to know me and who I am. And that is what people who are looking for a photographer need to think about. You need to know your photographer and feel comfortable and happy with who they are, taking instructions from them and the quality of the images they produce. 

I can't stress enough to people that just picking someone out of a phonebook is not the answer. Meet your photographer, spend time with them. Look at their portfolio, ask them to take some sample shots. What is so important to capturing what you need to capture, is do you like this person?

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