Category Archive for: ‘tips’
Today I’d like to present to you guys a very interesting photographer that I met over in Amsterdam. Richard’s the half-black/half Asian Dutch version of myself (yes, I know, quite confusing). He is hyper, is motivated by creation, loves networking and more often than not takes on more projects he can chew. When I asked him how he managed, he told me how he generated more than 24 hours within a day: Delegating. Without further ado, let me introduce to you: Richard Terborg & the art of delegation.
- Von Wong
When Benjamin was in Amsterdam for his workshop, we had a little chat about managing a crew on set. How could I get the same dedication that gets things done on set, doing things that don’t involve shooting? I have been described as “1 man, 7 brains, 2 hands and no time!” As a full-time Conceptual Fashion Photographer, I just love the creative process that comes with every shoot: teaching, helping others, jumping head first into every opportunity, just working hard and having fun with creatives. But doing all of this and putting yourself out there everyday usually comes at the cost of time and sleep (but who really needs that last one anyway)! Before I even realized it, my weekly schedule was: go through the social media channels, look at what other photographers are doing, respond to questions and comments, on to answering emails from other photographers, clients and emailing new clients, scouting for new talent: artists, clothing designers, makeup artists, pretty much any crazy type person! Then you have the editing that needs to get done, new shoots that need to be managed, planning, finding models, location scouting, building sets, buying set supplies, thinking of new concepts. Not done yet! Writing blog posts, working on my coffee table book, uploading new images, doing my administration, planning and organizing workshops for other photographers and myself and, of course, let’s not forget shooting! Sounds insane? It’s easier than you think! I went looking for assistants that would chop off my legs and carry it halfway to help create a few hours to do more things!
The thought of “I can do everything by myself” is something the millenium kids have developed. Instead of finding someone to help with marketing, I first try and learn things myself. Although it’s very fun, it takes time… and that’s time I’m not spending on what really matters or what I need to be doing.
I needed to put the pride and the thought of “well, I’ll just learn that from the internet” aside. I needed to start accepting that there are people out there that know how to do it and can probably do it way faster if I just made a little effort in explaining what I want.
First: Before you can start delegating, you need to find someone to delegate to!
Finding the right person is probably the hardest, but the most important thing. It’s like a person you marry. I started looking for photography/art/design/media schools that were in my city and asked how my company could get on the list of companies that students go through when looking for internships. I quickly found the organization that does this for all the schools in the Netherlands and went through the “checking process”. Before I knew it, I was on the list and was getting letters left and right from students wanting to do their internship with me. So I scheduled some interviews. When you start interviewing, you really have to feel immediately whether or not you will get along with that other person. You will be working together so you need to know if that person is able to handle it. I play open cards from the get go. “This is what i do, this is how I do it. Do you see yourself fit in this? And if so, how?”
Also finding out if the person is able to push back when pushed is important. Working with a lot of creatives means working with a lot of different visions and I personally love it when people speak their mind. Feel something isn’t working? Let us know! “Why do you think that? What would you change?” I’m not looking for someone to sit in a corner and turn a flash power switch on and off. I’m looking for an extra set of eyes, ears and *in zombie voice*: brainzzz! brainzzz! If there’s one piece of advice I can give you: Don’t just run with anyone.
And that is how I found my full-time Assistant/Intern: Juliane Falk. Say hi!
Picture taken by: Jarmal Martis
How do you know what to delegate? Here’s how I did it:
First I started writing down everything I did. Every little thing I could think of for a week as I was doing them or thinking about them. Evernote was my friend! From here, I was able to create two different lists.
The first of all the things I knew my intern was able to do, without too much intervention like: scouting locations, scouting models, pre-selections, mood boards, sketches, getting gear, calling locations, assisting on shoots etc.
The second, of things that just needed to get done that the intern wouldn’t be able to handle such as…finding new clients, art galleries, selling the work, creating invoices, sending out payment reminders, blog text reviewing, etc. Put this list aside.
I took the first list and used it to make daily tasks and broke them down in to-do’s, which I go over with my intern. “How do we go over these daily tasks?” you might ask. What’s the point of living in the future if you’re not using the technology? Intern stays at home, I stay at home and we go through my to-do list and I delegate whatever tasks I can through Skype. Then I give it a deadline. Sometimes giving it insane deadlines that are very tight; only because I have to work with the same as well and it’s good to throw them in the deep to see how they react. ew
This is just to get you started, after a few months I no longer creating the list of things “I still need” or “want to do”. I send them straight to my intern and she just sends me an email or gives a shout with the day and time she put into it and when she will be sending updates about it. It makes all the difference timewise.
Meeting your delegatee halfway when they miss a deadline is the only way to go. Offer a hand if a task is too rigorous or if circumstances make it hard for them to complete it on time.
Third: Rules and Restrictions
This should be clear from the first interview. What is that person allowed to do, and to what end. Keep in mind that they do represent your brand. Taking behind the scenes pictures or video is great! Posting the results online before the client gets the chance to post their own campaign? Not so much! So stating how you work and by what rules you need to work is good to go over with your delegatee. It’s also good practice to share this information before a shoot so that they can learn about every client and their needs. However, you are dealing with a human so do not treat them like a robot. Give them the freedom to do it in their own way, as long as it gets done and done on time.
Fourth: Different People, Different Tasks!
Remember the second list we had? Think that list was going to be the list of things for me to do? Wrong!
Going by the same principle of finding an intern, I was soon looking for someone to keep track of invoices, orders and especially taxes! Always giving myself the excuses “this would be way too expensive!” and “I can do those taxes myself!” I finally sat down and called in reinforcements. Telling them my story, where I’m at and how they could help me. I got so many cool responses from great people that were there to show me the way and before you knew it, I had a bookkeeper!
Soon after came help for finding new clients and help with all around communication and marketing in the form of an agent! I am now represented by the agency Draumlist.
From this came tasks I could delegate closer to home. My wife, Karin van de Kuilen, has been a drawer and painter forever! Why couldn’t she paint me a cool new set? So I started adding her in the mix and before you knew it she was helping out sketching shoots, set building, painting props, building props etc.
My sister, Thelea Terborg, awesome blogger! Crazy with words! And now even a wizz in marketing! She goes over all the text I write, making sure everything looks nice and pretty and gets new blog topics ready that I sometimes forget to write down. I couldn’t ask all of this from 1 person and doing it all by myself was not going to work for long.
Different people love doing different things. Find out what other people love to do, and see if you can help out each other doing what you love.
If you want to follow me, the crazy people that like working with me or if you have any questions or just want to say hi. follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RichardTerborg.Photos
Today, I would like to introduce you guys to a friend and fellow photographer of mine. She’s one of those crazy creative souls that has actually figured out how to blend sci-fi, science and photography into an abstract art form! When I stumbled across her 2 years ago, she was a painter but after a couple years of hard work, passion and experimentation she’s come out with a body of work I have never quite seen before. I think you’ll enjoy it (and be sure to scroll to the bottom!). Presenting to you: Anick Morel
It all began two years ago when I came across an article about a burning light bulb that reignited my creativity.
I’ve always liked photography but never had the time to explore that medium seriously until recently.
My first experiments with burning light bulbs were quite rough. At first, I would miss the critical moment when the “explosion” was as its best. But after dozen of attempts, I started to get the hang of things. The light bulb burns for about 3 seconds so you have plenty of time to get the perfect shot.
I love science. I love physic and chemistry phenomena. I love light bulbs. The beauty, intricacy and delicacy of the smoke coming from the burning tungsten wire is what attracts me most. I love the fact that light bulbs are easily obtained and that you can do a lot with them (photography speaking) So far, I haven’t run out of experiments I can do with a burning light bulb: you can photograph them with the glass partially broken or with no glass at all, can put different chemicals on it (like fireworks powders), turn the bulb upside down, put glass above it, etc.
All my images are shot in camera. Since the smoke is white, I use Lightroom to bring colours to the image. And then use Photoshop to erase imperfections and bring out the details. Sometimes, like with chemicals, you won’t need to add colours in post production. These days, I treat my images so they have a painterly feel to them. It adds a new dimension.
From there, I started scouring the web for new and exciting things to photograph. One of the things I stumbled upon was cream. Cream is like liquid smoke. I enjoy the cream technique because just like the light bulb, it creates beautiful ethereal shapes going from translucent to opaque.
When you pour it into water, it just slowly descent and makes little medusa shapes. Very inspiring. What’s more, you can colour cream with food colouring and/or choose the density of the cream (10%, 15% or 35%).
Timing is not a factor when you photograph cream but the container is. You need a flat surface (like an aquarium) if you don’t want your image to be distorted and be out of focus. Oddly enough, the biggest challenge is the speed of pouring the cream into the water. Much like the light bulb, you need to practice a little to get it right. But when you master the pouring, the rest comes easy.
One more effect I’ve discovered along the way is the magic of the soap bubble. I really love this technique even if it gives limited results. Photographing bubbles can be a little tricky; Their lifespan is not very long, the wall of the bubble is always in motion and you need a good light source placed at a strategic place to see the the colours.
What fascinates me is the colours that dance on the surface of the bubble. It comes from the light being reflected from both the inner and outer surface of the wall of the soap bubble. Soap molecules have one end that repels water, and another that attracts it, and these molecules move to the inner and outer surfaces, thrusting their water-repelling ends out into the air, and their “heads” inwards.
A good macro lens is a must since the area of the bubble you want to capture is very small. And if your camera has a lot of MP, you will be able to blow up the image without loosing definition. If you want to extend the life span of your bubble, add some glycerin.
As you might have noticed, all my abstracts involved a little bit of science. It’s because, and I’ll proudly admit it, I’m a geek. I’m into RPGs and LARPing. I Love fantasy, science-fiction and horror novels. I was an avid comic book reader in my teen years. And because I am a geek, I started a brand new series involving super heroes logos.
This series combines my love for comic books, science-fiction and abstract. I admit it, I got jealous of all those talented photographers that could create all the wonderful images with heroes and villains, knights and goblins and felt like I had to contribute to the geek world…And so I have in my own way. This series is called: Heroes, Legends and Icons. It’s a small tribute, but I’m only beginning. Heroes of this world take heed, I’m coming after you. Or your logos anyway
Like my previous abstracts, all is done in camera. But unlike the rest, this series is much more figurative. You can clearly see the logo in there. How it’s done is very simple: I take a light bulb with the glass removed and place over it a sheet of glass on top of which I place the logo that has been printed on transparent film. I then shoot from the top.
Post-production is the same process as my other light bulb images. LightRoom and Photoshop. Because of the of the film over the glass, I don’t need to add much colouring to the image.
I will leave you on this little note: If you have a passion or even something you like to do, don’t be afraid to invest a little time (or a lot), energy and a little money into that thing. You don’t know where it can lead you. Or what amazing things you can discover and achieve.
If you like her work, be sure to check out her fan page !
Today I’d like to introduce to you Pratik Naik from Solstice Retouch, a professional high end beauty retoucher that also happens to give workshops all over the world. I had the chance to meet Pratik after I helped him toss together a high end beauty retouching workshop for him over here in Montreal and it’s been one of the most useful workshops I’ve ever taken.
Since I know many of you guys out there are looking to begin giving workshops of your own, I asked if he would be so kind as to write a guest article breaking down the 6 essential things to keep in mind when organizing a retouching or photography workshop.
First and foremost I’d like to thank Ben for having me! He was amazing to approach me in organizing a workshop there and I am eternally grateful.
When he approached me to write this article, I knew it would be one that many of you might find helpful. For those of you who don’t already know me, I invite you to check out my website here . I grew in this industry with a passion to give back. At the time, there wasn’t enough information out there and felt that if ever, I had the opportunity to work in the industry long enough, I would offer a package that would allow people to learn without searching through multiple resources. This is how I ended up offering one on one classes and seminars. I often travel and teach seminars for the most part, with my next one coming up in London on March 16th. I have been teaching retouching for 4 years now.
Now, since I am a retoucher and not a photographer, I will be speaking from my viewpoint. I will elaborate everything in a manner which can also apply to you. Note that there are many ways to run workshops and organize them, so take it with a grain of salt and remember that you can customize this in any way you wish to.
The most important part about teaching, is wanting to teach. If you don’t have a yearning and a passion to show people what you do and make them better, it just won’t work.
Secondly, it’s important to be a people person. I’ve met great artists who are also not good at speaking with people and they are quite shy. I was quite shy as well when I was younger and could barely speak in class. If you’re the same way, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, you just may feel uncomfortable talking about things you just have no interest in. When it becomes about your passion, chances are you will feel a lot more comfortable about speaking, so start out with a small group of 3 to 5 and see how it goes!
Third, you must really have something important to say. Don’t host a workshop just to host one. Make sure you have enough substance to contribute where people can learn from. It doesn’t have to encompass everything, just as long as you make it clear about what you will be talking about. Start writing out what you would like to talk about and how you plan to execute it. If it’s about lighting, what type of lighting will you talk about and how will you exactly demonstrate the differences. These are just a few examples. Essentially, be organized and brainstorm!
The most important part about teaching, is wanting to teach.
Lastly, how good are you are communicating what you want to say in a manner that the common person will understand? Do you have the patience to guide people through the process of what you already know in a manner that will allow them to understand it? Along the course of my sessions, I would realize that there are people who almost no nothing at all and you have to talk in a manner that doesn’t intimidate them but helps them understand everything without taking anything for granted.
Have you ever asked someone for help only to be further confused since they used terms that were foreign to you? They would base their answers with an assumption that you have a general understanding of some things. It’s important to not be that person. Make sure you do speak in a manner that doesn’t take anything for granted when teaching. If you have great skills communicating, that is the most important part. It doesn’t matter if you are the world’s best photographer if you can’t communicate it!
Alright, so you really think you’re ready to teach! Now it’s time to organize and plan our your course.
There are a range of options you have to consider that will rely on your own information. It could be a one day course all the way up to a week long course. I have seen everything in between. For me, I really enjoy doing one or two day courses. With retouching, I have effectively figured out how much time people need to go through everything comfortably. In the beginning, I had nothing to fall back on since it was new to me. In time, I began to realize exactly how long my course would run.
I recommend outlining everything you want to talk about and everything you want to demonstrate. With that outline, you can fill in the gaps about what you will need during your course. Will you need models, makeup artists, more lights, modifiers, a bigger studio space? These are the options you will have to run through.
Remember to allocate 20% more time than you expect you will need. In the middle, things happen. People start asking questions, you may have to reiterate yourself, things can go wrong. Allocate time for this, otherwise you won’t make it. Time always flies when it starts rolling!
Remember to allocate 20% more time than you expect you will need.
Once you have an outline of what you want to talk about and what you will need, you can get an idea of how much things will cost. For myself, it’s a little easier to do since I don’t need camera and lighting equipment to run a seminar. I just need a laptop, my wacom tablet, a projector, cables, space for people, food, and renting a room. As a photographer, you really need to customize this based on your program. If your program is heavy in lighting and gear that you don’t have, begin calculating the cost of renting gear from your local camera shop or buying it. Consider the cost of the studio space you may have to rent if you need a bigger space. Include the cost of hiring the models and other team members. I would also recommend bringing on an assistant to help you change lighting setups and such if your seminar is intensive in different lighting setups.
Also include the cost of lunch for the attendees and what you plan to bring. Usually, I’ve seen cold sandwiches as a good option as it’s cheap and you can have a variety of options since many people may eat different things. The other half of the times, we would take a break and eat at a local restaurant or you can have them cater too. It all depends on how much time you have.
As a photographer, it would also be important to have backups for your camera and gear on the day of. In case you don’t have a backup solution normally, factor that into the cost of rentals.
Chances are that most of your future workshops will be in another city all together. This is where it gets a little trickier since you do not have the same connections as you do locally. In this situation, you will have to obtain costs based on calling local camera shops and getting in touch with studio owners to see if they have options to rent the studio for a workshop. Chances are, you may even know someone in the city you are going to go to that has a studio. I would always recommend working with someone you already know since the communication is a little bit easier. You can even get referral for local models and makeup artists.
I would always recommend working with someone you already know since the communication is a little bit easier.
If you plan to do a shoot outdoors rather than in studio, you will have to consider the cost of permits (if needed) and finding a location. Again, I recommend getting advice from local photographers in that area about great places to do a shoot. I would also definitely recommend assistants in this situation.
Next, the biggest cost may be the travel expenses. Consider what the average expense of hotels are in that area, the amount you will need for ground transportation, airfare, and estimated food costs for yourself and the team (if you are flying with anyone). Depending on where you go, it may be best to rent a car once you fly in if you have a lot of equipment on you. Many people I know rent most of it wherever they are.
Once you have these major costs outlined based on the city you are planning to go, you can get a estimated price. Increase that by 20% for unexpected costs that you might incur.
Teaching is great! But be sure after all of this, you still make profit off of what you’re doing. The amount you want to give yourself wildly depends what the local market is willing to pay for a workshop vs what you deserve. Sometimes, these figures don’t align. If you’re starting out, I would recommend doing a few workshops priced just high enough to cover the expenses to get an idea of how they are going, if they met the amount of expenses you had estimated, and to see what people are willing to pay.
It’s also a good idea to see how other local workshops are going and how they’re priced. Chances are yours may very well fit into their price structure too.
(The amount )[…] depends what the local market is willing to pay for a workshop vs what you deserve
So for example, if you find that your expenses to do a workshop in a city is $1,700 and you want to make $1,000 from a day’s workshop, this can amount to charging $270 per person for a workshop. This is a low example, but you get the drift.
I can’t give you a figure of how much you should make for a day’s work, as that comes from you, but I would recommend figuring out your expenses vs how much other workshops (that are conducted by people in your experience level) generally charge locally and subtract the difference. If you feel that the amount is more than what you wanted, that is a great sign. This is not to say you should follow everyone else. By all means, definitely price it to your own value and what you believe people will pay for it too.
Now that you have a general cost structure and all the details ready, it’s time to start marketing and planning. I always like to keep my seminar 2 months ahead so that I have enough time should I not get enough feedback to cancel it. The first thing I do is market it before booking my airfaire and everything else.
It’s very important to market and get the word out about your workshop. Whenever I get a workshop together, I create a flyer together that notes the important information such as this (link).
I setup a blog post that talks about what my upcoming seminar will be about along with how people can register for the event. You can spread that post on all social media platforms.
With registration, I personally do it a few ways. Usually I team up with someone who handles the registration of attendees, or you can use a website like http://www.eventbrite.com/. It helps people register for your event. It’s a one stop shop so you can focus on everything else. It allows people to book the event and manages number of open spots. You can also write anything you want there so people can get a description of the event.
The marketing itself will generally be done through social media platforms like facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc. Alternatively, you can enlist the help of friends to spread the information as well. A good tactic is giving a payment for every referral in case you need to, which can be a small sum, but enough to bring in attendees. Another option is also contacting local photo schools and organizations and seeing if you can advertise through them.
You can get really creative with marketing, just look at Ben, he’s the perfect example! He creates excellent behind the scenes videos, that in result bring in many new fans and followers. The more demand he gets, the more awesome workshops he gets to put on for the benefit of the fans. Once someone sees that he is doing a workshop somewhere, people want him everywhere else. So that is how it happens.
Let demand dictate where your workshops is, it will be easier for you and it will be more fun that way. You won’t have to market that much either.
Initially you may not have the option to enlist help in organizing the event. However, going with an organizer is another option that will allow you to focus on planning for the event itself so that you have everything booked and prepared before the event. As you progress with more workshops, you will begin to find more organizers and promoters that actually take care of everything for you, including location, studio, and marketing! By then you may not even need them, but it does help.
However, in the beginning I recommend doing it on your own so you know everything that goes into it. Through the process, you’ll learn what you will be missing along the way.
Let demand dictate where your workshops is, it will be easier for you and it will be more fun that way.
Part 6: Baby Steps
With all this information in mind, keep in mind that it’s about the baby steps. Start small and do a workshop that is a smaller scale of one you really want to do and see how it goes. If you start large, it may not go as planned and this helps. Over a few years, you will find a system that works for you.
If you start large, it may not go as planned
I hope that this article helps to get your gears up and thinking about your own personal workshops! If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact me personally.
If you would like to be kept up to date on Pratik’s latest workshops, contact him directly at [email protected]
Richard Dubois – Fantastic Magazine
Lara Jade for Velvet
Glenn Prasetya for Marie Claire
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- I will be giving a CRAZY 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22/23/24th of March… Check it out HERE
Should I buy a teleprompter? Why should I get a teleprompter? Which teleprompter should I get? Here are a couple answers to your questions:
As someone who makes BTS videos on a weekly basis, I’ve found that having one of these nifty devices can really help me improve the quality of the videos that I can bring your way. I took a little bit of practice to get things right. Initially I had problems with my eyebrows and expression and looked a little bit forceful… but after a couple tweaks, focusing on getting the right body language and proper camera angle it does deliver some really solid results.
For more information on the PadPrompter itself, I invite you to check it out on their website: www.onetakeonly.com/OneTakeOnly/Pad_Prompter
For a second opinion (and some pretty product shots) I invite you to check out OliviaTech’s review: http://oliviatech.com/pad-prompter-by-one-take-only
Though I definitely need to get a bit more practice with it, here are a couple tips that I’ve found to be helpful when setting up your teleprompter to look the most natural on camera:
For some odd reason, we tend to get our reading faces on when… well, reading off of a teleprompter. This means that it gets rather stiff and unexpressive. Deep breaths, relax and imagine talking to a person. It helps!
Break eye contact
It’s good from time to time to simply break a little eye contact with the camera as you pause to move on to the next paragraph. Either looking slightly away, picking something up, looking at your hands. It helps to break that newscaster vibe and bring a bit more humanity into your presentation
Keep going… and calibrate!
Even with a teleprompter in front of me, I still make mistakes and stumble through words as I go through the presentation. Go through with it anyways instead of restarting from scratch and each run will become more and more fluid. As you go, note which parts you speak too fast/too slow and edit your prompting text until it goes at a natural speed.
That’s about it guys! I can’t quite stress out how useful it is to have a teleprompter if you make BTS videos, coordinate interviews! I think the PadPrompter itself is an amazing product at an extremely competitive price but… don’t take my word for it, feel free to check out on other products that exist on the market and do your own research! Here are a couple search results that came up when typing “Teleprompter” on B&H (they unfortunately don’t carry the pad prompter)
As a special effects fire photographer with mild pyromanic tendencies, I often get people asking me a bunch of questions on what they should think about/look into when shooting fire. I’ve compiled a list of tips that should help you out if you ever get called upon to shoot a fire show, capture a memorable moment of a friend lighting himself on fire, or even juggle fire on your own. (I’ll add an FAQ section at the end of this article, so if you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll add the answer to the article)
Disclaimer: You should only play with fire in the presence of trained professionals. Kids, don’t try this at home. Adults, you probably shouldn’t either. Fire is very dangerous and should never be treated lightly. Please make sure to read the safety section before scrolling down this article.
See the BST video here
1. Make sure you’re in the presence of a trained professional
I can’t stress this part enough. You want a professional capable of preventing things from going wrong. You also want that same professional around when something goes wrong (and I say when, not if, because it happens.) If you happen to be lucky enough to be in Paris, France… check out Burn Crew Concept!
2. Wear organic, not synthetic
Organic clothing will burn whereas synthetic will melt. And while catching on fire doesn’t sound like the best of situations, I can assure you that it’s better than having something melt into your skin. It actually takes a lot longer for cotton to catch on fire whereas synthetic clothing will almost instantaneously melt. Don’t trust me? Try burning your shirt with a lighter. Of course, fire retardant materials like Nomex are even better but for someone who doesn’t work with fire much and who isn’t in direct contact, the best price/efficiency ratio is to have 100% organic cotton clothing handy.
3. Keep your stuff away from the fiery stuff.
Probably sounds stupid but when flammable fluids are out and about and you don’t quite understand what’s happening the best is to stay far far away. Photographers have the tendency to focus too much on their cameras and their target, but in these situations you want to stay hyperaware of what’s happening around you. Accidents happen and if everyone’s paying attention, it usually keeps things a lot safer.
4. Bring water and a towel
Though the professional there should have all safety materials, it never hurts to be too safe. If, for whatever reason, something goes wrong, a wet towel can solve a lot of your problems and put out most fires or even soothe a burn.
5. Beware the wind!
Wind can and will affect the flames. If possible, try to choose a day without wind or at least search for a sheltered location! If it’s too windy, the flames will RETURN onto a fire spitter!
Now onto the fun part…
Tips and tricks when shooting fire
1. Master your camera
Fire, as most of you probably know is a pretty volatile thing. The shape, texture and colour of the flame will vary depending on the type of material and fuel that is being used. Add onto the fact that the elements (wind, temperature) will also change how the flame reacts means that you need to really be on top of your game to come out of there with the results that you want.
Don’t get caught up in one camera setting, be sure to be able to chimp quickly and recalibrate. Whether your pyrotechnician is spitting fire, lighting himself on fire, or spinning poi’s he’s playing with resources that are literally burning away.
2. Underexpose rather than overexpose
Cameras today such as my D800E have a massive amount of dynamic range. This means that you can recover an amazing amount of detail from the shadows. The same can’t be said for highlights. Lightroom 4 in particular does an amazing job recovering detail.
Overexposed flames! No detail! Still cool… but could have been better! See the BTS video here
3. Using flashes? Add a CTO and a half!
If you plan on using flashes to capture some exciting motion blurs, keep in mind that fire burns a very strong orange! To preserve proper skin tones you’ll want your flashes to be properly gelled if you’re blending flash-frozen subjects with your flames. Failure to do so will result in ghostly white models or way-too-orange environments! Grab two 3/4 CTO gels and stack them!
BTS video coming soon… be sure to subscribe to the newsletter!
4. Shooting a fire show and don’t have time to change settings? Try Bracketing!
I don’t know about you canon folks but the Nikon D7000 and above has a nifty bracketing function which means that you can set your camera to shoot at a variety of exposure settings without ever needing to tweak your camera settings. This can be useful when you’re not sure what the next effect is going to be thrown your way as you can set your camera to capture in continuous burst a -2EV/0/+2EV (for example) series of images that will give you a greater chance of capturing the unexpected.
Of course, as you get more and more familiar with how a show goes, you can confidently toss your camera into manual and change settings without your eye ever leaving the viewfinder!
5. Capturing someone spitting fire? Fast shutter speed!
Fire spitting essentially consists of creating a miniature explosion. This means that you have an extremely rapid “movement” of expanding gas. As all you photographers know, what do you do when you want to freeze movement? You got it! Fast shutter speed!
BTS video coming out soon… be sure to subscribe to the newsletter !
6. Capture someone spinning fire? Slow shutter speed!
Similar to light painting, you can also do fire painting with a burning torch. Keep in mind that you can either keep your camera on a tripod to “burn” in the environment or you can paint with the camera too by moving or zooming it around.
Click HERE to see the BTS video and blog post!
7. Too easy? Try combining slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed AND flashes all at once!
Check out this article and BTS video I wrote on using multiple exposures to combine a slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed and flashes to create the image below.
See the BTS video & blog post to create this image here!
Hopefully these tips and tricks helped you out. Be sure to check back on Wednesday the 1st of Febuary for yet another exciting BTS video and article on my latest fire shoot Subscribe to the newsletter to receive it straight in your email!
- I’ve been nominated in the [FRAMED] awards as one of the best conceptual photographers! If you like what I do, drop me a vote or two to support me: http://bit.ly/10QntqG
- Like the fire stuff? Did you see my previous BTS video with Andrey DAS?
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Shooting creative portraits underwater can be quite a challenging task. I’ve summed up a couple tips and tricks that can help you get ready for your first couple experimentations in creative underwater portrait photography.
For those of you that want to try out underwater photography, chances are you’re not looking to spend thousands of dollars on an underwater housing. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that act as glorified plastic bags that are quite secure such as the DicaPac *** which can house a full frame DSLR and lens for only $75. Starter housings like the Ikelite housings cost over $1500 body only and that’s just the beginning!
*** When purchasing any type of glorified plastic bag, I highly recommend you test it regularly by sealing it and putting in a sink/bathtub/toilet full of water to check for leaks. Manufacturers will not reimburse your camera if it leaks!
Myself holding a DicaPac somewhere in Malaysia
1. Water will affect your shot and your lighting!
Water affects your lighting. As you probably know, the deeper you go, the less light reaches your subject. On top of that, water acts as a massive filter that eats up the entire spectrum of reds… which means that your shots will get more and more blue as you go deeper. Depending on lighting conditions, you might want to stay as close to the surface of the water as possible to get the best skin tones and to keep your shutter speed from getting too slow! Additionally, the farther you are from your subject, the blurrier they will tend to become!
Keep all of this in mind when planning your shots!
2. Radio triggers don’t work underwater!
If you were planning on triggering surface strobes using radio triggers, think again. Radio waves unfortunately don’t travel through water which means that you’re limited to optical triggering using underwater strobes, or hoping that your flash+plastic bag combination is powerful enough to trigger strobes on the surface.
If you plan on triggering using the on camera flash, cover any part of the housing/bag directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape/gaffer tape to prevent backscatter from the internal flash that could ruin your image!
Alternatively, if you happen to be a little bit on the handy-side of things, look into this fabulous DIY solution
Alternatively, contact the folks over at The Underwater Realm and ask them for their lighting plans for their underwater LED lights! They might still have them for sale: http://theunderwaterrealm.com/contact/
3. Plan for time! Things take 3 times longer to happen… at least.
Normally takes you 30 minutes to nail a shot? Don’t count on it when playing underwater. Things take exponentially longer to happen when it’s happening underwater. Everything is more complicated: framing, focusing, breathing, directing, changing settings, moving lighting… and even worst, as the day gets on, you get tired and things get only harder!
4. Think oxygen & comfort!
It may sound stupid but things you take for granted such as breathing and staying warm don’t work the same way underwater as they do over water.
Best case scenario, get an entire scuba kit.
Worst case scenario, grab some fins to increase your mobility.
Also, staying in water for long periods of time gets uncomfortable quite quick so be sure to grab a full body wet suit. These small things that help keep you comfortable will help ensure that your mind stays more focused on creating the image you want to create.
Finally, be sure to bring snorkeling goggles over standard swimming goggles. Keeping water out of your nose will make your life so much more comfortable in the long run.
5. Beware the drowning face
Unfortunately, most people tend to look quite ugly as they strike glorious graceful poses underwater. Many a time, shots are ruined because of a missed expression. Before taking photos of your models, run them through the poses underwater making sure that they’re comfortable. Getting them to perform the same routine over and over again while your attention is 100% focused on their expression and not grabbing the shot will help both parties understand what needs to be done to pull off the perfect expression.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the drowning face, some amazing portraits can be created by simply cutting off/obscuring the heads of your models. Brooke Shaden does this quite often in her amazing underwater works (beware a lot of her stuff is NSFW).
6. Light floaty clothes and props are magical underwater
Light transparent cloth looks amazing underwater and adds a glorious sense of ethereal beauty to your images and is great for helping you tell a story without drowning your models. Keep in mind that it will hinder your models movements which brings me to the last and final point…
Bringing props underwater will also make things even more surreal. Simple objects take on a whole new meaning underwater. Some ideas: guitar, chair, flowers…
Photo Credit: Renee Robyn Photography / Model: Madison Mah
7. Run through breathing and visualization techniques to help improve your shots
Speaking of drowning expressions, one thing that will greatly help you stay underwater longer and get a better expression is to perform a combination of visualization techniques and breathing exercises.
Surprisingly, it is not the lack of oxygen that triggers the urge for air after you hold your breath for very long but the body’s buildup of carbon dioxide. That can be controlled with a little practice.
8. Bring swim noodles and lead weights!
Swim noodlesare the perfect flotation device that are great to have so that your models don’t need to swim to the edge of the pool/lake/sea after every take. They’re long, bright, hard to loose and ridiculously useful.
Lead weightson the flip side can be useful for sinking your models rapidly if you happen to be in a deep environment so that they don’t waste time and energy to get to the bottom of the pool.
9. Prepare a safety person
I can’t stress how important this final point is. Having somebody standing by to get your model out of trouble if she tangles herself while you’re fiddling with the camera is absolutely critical. Water is dangerous and you always want to be sure that people are on hand just in case anything goes wrong.
And finally, some inspiration from some great creative underwater photographers:
- Zena Holloway: http://www.zenaholloway.com/
- Elena Kalis: http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/
- Alix Malka: http://underwaterfashion.org/archives/355
Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment!
The dream list of equipment… one day
And for those interested in seeing how I shot the Underwater Realm:
After surviving a crazy 4 hour concept,shoot and edit challenge, I decided to draft up a little survival guide I thought might be useful for all of you to enjoy.
1. Know your stuff. Get it ready!
It is imperative for you to know what resources you’re going to have available to you – what are their limitations. What are the work arounds, if something breaks or fails to work, do you have a backup plan.
- Check your batteries, are they all charged?
- Memory cards. Without these, your camera is useless!
- Triggers: what if they don’t work? Got backups? CLS/cable/optical alternatives?
- Reflector. Bring one it’s useful.
- Tripod. Always want to have one available. Did you bring your base plate? I use the CSLR M-Plate, so my base plate is always tightly screwed onto my camera.
2. Assess the location
Take a couple seconds to look around the space, engage the people that are there at your disposal… Figure out where you can and cannot go. Don’t be scared to ask.
- Is the ceiling low enough to bounce light off of?
- Any interesting objects that can help cast an interesting shadow? Plants are great for this.
- What type of ambient light are you dealing with? Can you turn them on/off?
- Which objects can be moved? What can you do to customize your set?
- How much time do you have available? Who is in charge of the building/space? Become friends with him, he might be able to open some doors for you…literally.
3. Who are the people there and what are they good at ?
If they’re there, they can be used. Figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are of each person that’s there to help you out. Establish a connection with the people and the location. If you’re shooting in a public location and people stop and stare, they can help too!
- Girls are better than boys at makeup and hair. Don’t have a hairstylist? Put a girl to work, she’s probably got more practice than you if you’re male.
- Figure out who has experience in photography. What equipment are they familiar with.
- If they have no experience, take a couple seconds to gather up your potential assistants to explain to them the basics (ex: Don’t put your finger here, this is the optical sensor.)
- Choose wisely. Take a couple seconds to study the people that are available and put them to use accordingly. Don’t put a 12 year old kid on lightstand + umbrella watch duty, he’ll probably get bored and run off.
- Be conscious that these are people probably helping out for free, they’re not your slaves. Be aware of what you’re asking of them. It doesn’t hurt to ask people if everything’s ok.
4. Do first, think later
If time is a very real constraint, get the ball rolling. Turn on all your equipment, take out all the light stands, set up all the softboxes. Have everything ready to go so that when you need it, it’s there.
- If possible, set your assistants to the task. Though they may be slower than you, delegating will free up your hands and mind. If they don’t know how but are a quick learner, get them started and tell them to figure it out.
- Try to lay everything out in a single corner. Seeing your equipment all ready to go can inspire ideas that you hadn’t previously considered.
- Don’t be scared to change things up after you’ve asked someone to do something. If for whatever reason you decide that Flash A should now have a softbox and Flash B a beauty dish instead of the other way around, it’s not the end of the world. No one’s judging you.
As a photographer you’re thinking of concept, lighting, pose, style, communication, timing and more. This means that when one variable changes, the rest need to compensate and the only way to do that is to multitask.
- Can’t multitask? Learn. Start small and build up. You multitask on a daily basis (talking on the phone while cooking while making plans for the next day). How do you do it?
- Create a mental checklist if necessary and run through it over and over again. Here’s an idea of what goes through my mind:
6. Relate to familiar scenarios
Experience plays a huge part in these type of situations. Connect to a similar situation that you had to deal with – what are the similarities. How did you deal with similar challenges.
- If you’re one of those visual people, perhaps it would be handy for you to grab a set of Strobist trade secret cardsor build your own
- Have images you like in a folder on your phone. Seeing images can trigger inspiration.
7. Be confident… or act confident if you’re not.
When you hold the camera in your hand, you’re the dude (or dudette) in charge. Everyone is looking at you to pull the shots. If you look like you have no idea what you’re doing, people will quickly loose confidence in you and things will only get worst.
- Don’t make long uncertain “uhhmmmmm… ahhhhh…” sounds as you consider what to do next. Compliment the parts of the image that work loudly to encourage those that surround you while you panic in your head about the parts that don’t work
- Don’t chimp for too long. A quick glance should tell you how things are looking. People holding uncomfortable poses as you zoom in and consider whether you’ve nailed the perfect Rembrandt lighting will quickly grow uncertain and their pose will suffer int he long run.
- Really want to take the time to review the shot? Call a quick break
- Have a friend in the mix? Pull him/her aside and get an objective opinion… a fresh pair of eyes can help unblock whatever you’re stuck on.
- No idea what to do? Things just really aren’t working? Reset the entire set. Say to the group: “Alright this is great, lets try something new!”
Photo by Jo Gorsky – www.jogorsky.com
For those interested, this was the challenge that triggered it all!
****Are you a long term fan? Please tell me about yourself!