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Lighting Your Portraits: Broad Light vs. Short Light

Light patterns 001
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Lighting patterns can make or break the look of a portrait.  Lighting can make someone appear heavy or slimmer than they actually are and give a completely different look to an image.

In the image below, the author of this post simulated the look of different lighting ratios in Photoshop – to show the different light patterns.

Broad light:

Broad light is lighting the broadest or more open side of the face, the side toward the camera. See the image on the right. The main light is on the right side of her face creating a broad light.  This creates a shadow on the left side of her face (first photo).

Short Light:

Short light is lighting the side of the face that is turned away from the camera or the short side of the face, like in the left image.  The main light is on her left side creating a short light.  Creating shadows on the right side of the face (second photo).

As you’ll notice, the image on the right gives her face a fuller appearance.  The image on the left giver her face a slimmer appearance.

 

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Shadows:

In the below image you see the shadow is on the opposite side.  In the left image the shadow fall on the right side of her face.  This is a short light which gives the appearance of a slimmer face.

In the right image, the shadow in on the left side of her face (a little harder to notice). This is a broad light which gives the appearance of a fuller face.

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After the fact

Watch for lighting patterns when you look into the viewfinder, and adjust as needed.   If you realize later that the lighting did not quite work, you can sculpt your subject using dodge and burn techniques with Photoshop actions such as Light Painting and Light Blocking in MCP Inspire.

 

Conclusion

There are several light patterns you can use in your portrait work.  Broad and short lighting patterns are just a few.  Practice.  Move your lights to different position and intensity.  See how the movement of your lights and the intensity of your lights can completely change the appearance of your images. Keep in mind that natural light creates lighting patterns too.  Using a flash for fill and/or a reflector, as well as controlling the direction of the natural light, you will notice these patterns… if you look for them.

 This post was written for MCP Actions by: John J, Pacetti, Cr.Photog., CPP, AFP  2014 MARS Instructor Owner South Street Studios, Freehold NJ

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10 Tips For Spring Family Portraits For Photographers

Tips for Successful Spring Family Portraits for Photographers
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10 Tips for Photographers to Prepare For Spring Family Portraits

In my previous post, I highlighted 5 tips for clients on how to get ready for Spring Family Portraits. This post will focus on the photographers’ side and discuss how to be prepared for the Spring Family Portraits season.

1) Gear Readiness

Check all your equipment. Get cameras and lenses cleaned and serviced. Check reflectors for any tears. I recently had an issue with my primary camera and it was a MAD RUSH to get it serviced and ready for my weekend session! I, personally, am a Canon user and have the Canon Professional Services Membership, which is a great service that is very quick and efficient. It is always a good idea, no matter what brand you use, to have your equipment serviced and cleaned before the busy season hits so that you are well prepared.

2) Update Camera Accessories

Clean out and reformat your memory cards and recharge/replace flash batteries so they are ready for immediate use.

3) Backup External Hard Drives

Clean out any external hard drives and backup all of your previous year’s work. There is nothing more frustrating than finding a full hard drive when you are trying to backup your memory cards out in the field.

4) Showcase Latest Work

Update your Website and Portfolio with your latest work. Most of us get so busy with sessions, blogging and marketing, that we tend to forget about updating our websites and portfolio (I know I am guilty of that too). You know you have done some amazing work – take the time to share it with the world!

5) Order Business Stationary

Take advantage of Spring sales and stock up on business cards, brochures and any other marketing materials you know you will need for the months ahead.

6) Prepare And Update Business Templates

These can be templates for responding to inquiries, sending invoices and/or requesting feedback. This will speed up your workflow and help you balance your business and personal life once the busy season hits.

7) Update Your Go-To Location List

Take the time now to scope out new and interesting locations. Test out lighting at various times of day and make a note of them in your journal. This will ensure you are prepared for the coming year and your portfolio images are fresh and new!

8) Update Your Posing Techniques

Research new poses and techniques and keep them handy for your sessions – I look at various magazines and newspapers for inspiration. When I find something I like, I snap a quick picture with my iPhone and store those images in separate albums. That ensures I have them handy when I need them because let’s face it, a photographer is never without his/her camera phone!!!

9) Create Season-Specific ‘What to Wear’ Guides

Create a ‘What To Wear’ Pinterest board for the various seasons and times of the year. Proactively share these with your clients so that they can use these clothing tips when preparing for their sessions. Additionally, it shows them that you have a plan and are well prepared for the shoot. Here is an example of my Pinterest Board for Spring Sessions.

10)  Update Your Mindset

For most of us, Winter is a slow season. It is our time to rejuvenate and renew our mind, body and soul. Start to shake away the winter blues and have a fresh, positive attitude towards life and your business and you WILL do great things this year!

I hope you have enjoyed this two part series on Preparing for Spring Family Portraits. Feel free to share other tips and ideas that have helped you prepare for Spring.

Karthika Gupta, guest blogger for this article, is a Lifestyle Wedding and Portrait Photographer based in the Chicago Area. You can see more of her work on her website Memorable Jaunts and follow her on her Memorable Jaunts Facebook page.

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5 Tips For Getting in Spring Family Portraits (Share With Your Customers)

Tips for Spring Family Portraits For Families
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Tips For Getting Ready For Your Spring Family Portraits

I’ll wager a bet that most of us are eagerly awaiting Spring. This winter has certainly been an extreme one! Between the subzero temperatures, snow blizzards and being cooped up indoors, we are ready for sounds of birds chirping, warmer temperatures and bursts of color everywhere. This is a prefect time to start thinking and planning for your Spring Family Portraits!

If you skipped taking Holiday Family Pictures either due to the busy holiday season or because you did not want to look like an Eddie Bauer Commercial (nothing against Eddie Bauer – I love their winter coats!), Spring Family Portraits are a great way to celebrate color! Better yet, take the session outside!  The lush greenery and blooming trees make an amazing backdrop. An added bonus is that the whole family can dress up in bright colors and shake away the winter blues. Below, are five tips to make the most of your Spring Family Portraits.

1) Plan Ahead

We all spend the last few weeks of winter counting days until Spring. The days start getting longer and suddenly our calendars seem to fill up very quickly. Plan ahead and start researching photographers in your area. Most photographers use the early part of the year to update their website and blog their recent sessions, which is a great way to check out their latest work and make sure their style fits with yours. If you have found a photographer you want to use, feel free to schedule a consultation and book your session months ahead. This makes the planning process much easier not only for you but also for your photographer.

2) Locations

Most photographers have a list of favorite locations that they like to use for family portraits. As photographers, we take the time to scout locations and test out lighting. However, if there is a location that you really like and want to incorporate in your family pictures, don’t be afraid to ask. Perhaps it is a park that you visited when the kids were young or a favorite family biking path that you want to revisit with the family. Photographers are generally open to suggestions.

3) Update Your Wardrobe

Spring is all about color. Be it pastels like pink and teal or brighter colors like orange and reds. Research the latest fashion trends and feel free to experiment. Start a Pinterest board and share it with your photographer. This will help them get to know you and your individual style even before the photoshoot and you can get expert opinions on what would work and what wouldn’t – a win-win for both parties!

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4) Opt For A Lifestyle Photoshoot

Lifestyle Photoshoots are a documentary style of photography. It is a great way to capture interactions among families – simple, honest emotions that represent your true personality, like the tight grasp of a child’s hands, squeals of laughter as they play a game of tag, or blowing bubbles together in the park. These sessions tend to be more relaxed as the photographer captures the natural flow of your life. I find that Spring Family Portrait Sessions lend themselves more towards Lifestyle Photography.

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5) Keep It Simple

Spring photos tend to be simple and clean. Stick to the basics – wardrobe, location and activity. Don’t try to overdo the shoot by trying to plan many different things within the photoshoot timeframe.

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I hope these simple tips help you in planning and making the most out of your Spring Family Portraits. Remember to get outside and have fun. You owe it to yourself and your family after surviving a brutally cold and dark winter! icon smile 5 Tips For Getting in Spring Family Portraits (Share With Your Customers)

Follow along for my next article – Tips For Spring Family Portraits Readiness For Photographers.

All images in this post were edited with the new versatile MCP InFusion Lightroom Presets!

Karthika Gupta, guest blogger for this article, is a Lifestyle Wedding and Portrait Photographer in the Chicago Area. You can see more of her work on her website Memorable Jaunts and follow her on her Memorable Jaunts Facebook page.

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The 4 Best Tax Tips for On Location Photographers

The Best 4 Tax Tips for On Location Photographers
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Being a self-employed photographer, filing income taxes can be stressful. Even more so if you are not prepared, or are just unaware of what Uncle Sam expects his cut to be, especially when you are traveling for your photography business. These four tips should help.

1. Track your mileage

Other than driving from your home to your business, you want to write down the miles you are putting on your car related to visiting clients, driving to an on location shoot, or other activities directly related to your business. At the end of the year, you can deduct 56 cents per mile, which is the 2014 standard mileage rate. The IRS recommends you keep a logbook in your car and write down the date, miles, and business reason for each trip. Also, write down what your odometer says at the beginning and end of the year. Keep in mind, that when you charge a client mileage, you are not excluded from claiming this deduction.

2. When traveling for your business, you can eat without keeping the receipt

Every professional gets paid per diem when they are out of town for business, but what about the self-employed photographer? Fortunately, you can deduct it. Better yet, you don’t need a receipt from every meal while you are out of town.  The IRS just requires you to “keep records to prove the time, place, and business purpose of your travel”. The deduction amount varies by location so look up the per diem rate of your destination at www.gsa.gov before recording it in your expenses. For example, if you travel to Los Angeles to shoot a wedding, your per diem is $12 for breakfast, $18 for lunch, $36 for dinner, and $5 for incidentals.

3. Don’t use your frequent flyer miles for business trips

If you plan to fly out to a workshop or a destination wedding, buy the tickets. When you have a receipt for traveling related to your business, you can deduct that expense in your taxes. If you were to use frequent flyer miles to get a free flight, you can’t deduct anything for it, since it didn’t cost you anything. Save your frequent flyer miles for vacations and other times you plan on traveling, which have no chance of being deducted for your business.

4. In general, keep receipts for business purchases over $75 (required by the IRS)

Even if you track your expenses in a software or spreadsheet, keep the receipts. The IRS suggests you keep receipts for four years after you file your income tax return. The easiest way to keep your expenses in order is to make a list of them for the year. Update the list with purchases as you make them, and then store the receipts in a file labeled “Throw Away in 4 years from…” whatever the date is.

Bonus: Get the Right Look from the IRS

Click here for a Guide filled with Tax Tips for Photographers

 

Nate Taylor is a small business consultant and the owner of PhotoAccounting, where he shares tax tips and tools with photographers.

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The Importance Of Being Social On Social Media

World social media network
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Let’s get right to it.  I have written before on our studio blog, where I have tackled the subject about social media for photography studios and how to create good content (and how to avoid creating bad content).  I usually stress the importance of being social on social media, as well, but unfortunately many of you reading this article right now still are not rising to the occasion. How do I know this? Because I see it all the time.  It’s still the most common coaching tip I am hammering home to my peers and my clients who manage brand pages on Facebook and elsewhere.

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Interesting Content Is Important…

Of course, posting interesting content is still critical to an effective social media strategy.  Although Facebook’s new algorithms may again have you wondering, you will still have more fans (whichever platform you’re on) if you are providing value.  Value on social media = useful information, interesting and funny posts, content that focuses on your clients, along with things you would want to see in your own news feed.  Blogging can be great for your brand, IF you do it well – maybe even the best thing you can do!  Tweeting, vining, instagramming, pinning or whatever your clients are doing is all still very  important with a creative and valuable approach.

…But Engagement Is EQUALLY Important

Once you put all that stuff out there your job is STILL NOT done no matter how good it is.  Of the social media managers and business owners I see I would break them down into three categories:

1. Those who are spinning their wheels because their content is all about them and a sales pitch, boring and weak, and/or intermittent and unfocused  (I feel like the MAJORITY of brand pages still fall into this category)

2. Those who have done between a good and fantastic job of creating interesting and valuable content that is varied and client-focused (There are SOME doing this but they stop there)

3. Those who have really done a fantastic job of creating interesting and valuable content that is varied and client-focused, AND do an equally great job of building relationships through engagement (NOT MANY are doing this – it’s a painful truth).

It’s very simple – when people respond to your great content with comments and feedback they want to know that you’re reading it and will feel better about it if you acknowledge their contribution.  The point of putting your studio on social media is probably to get exposure and maybe build your business a little – right?  Social media has to be social to be effective.  You have to build relationships with people to grow.  You won’t build relationships by ignoring people who take an interest in your business, so make sure you do the reactive part – comment back to the people who like and comment on your page.  But even that’s not enough.

Make sure to also be proactive!  Go outside of your page as your brand and like and comment on other brand pages you partner with, are neighbors or peers with, or just plain like!  And please, be sincere about it.  Share some of their content that your followers will find valuable. I am speaking largely in Facebook terms here but the same concept applies on twitter, instagram and anywhere else.  If your clients notice your interactions with other brands it will help both of you.  If you are visible to clients on peer pages you will be giving yourself additional exposure.

Don’t be Intimidated… It’s Easy to Start Being Proactive!

Let’s walk through this on Facebook for starters because many do not know how to do this.

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The screenshot above is how the upper right corner of my Facebook home page looks when I am logged in as Doug.  Now let’s left click on the little gear icon to the right:

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When we click on the gear we get a drop down box giving us the option to “use Facebook as:” Frameable Faces Photography in my case.  Now let’s click there – where it says Frameable Faces:

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Now my Facebook home page has flipped and I am logged in and using Facebook AS Frameable Faces Photography – not as Doug.  Now when I click on “Home” I see the news feed of other pages we follow as Frameable Faces and when I comment, like and share I am doing it as my brand – not as Doug.  That’s not to say that you are anonymous when you do this, and you don’t want to be.  While it can be healthy to separate yourself from your brand a little bit, as photographers you and your personality are infused into your brand in many ways and hopefully that’s a good thing.  As I said before, you need to be sincere about it when you are engaging as your brand – in other words don’t just like and make cookie cutter comments about everything you can find on Facebook even if you didn’t read it – that can come back to bite you – people will spot a fake.

While it can add time to all of our daily exercises as business owners, it truly can be something that adds value to your business and helps to build your brand outside of your location.  I hope this helps.  Now go forth and socialize!!!

 

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Doug Cohen is a co-owner of Frameable Faces Photography with his wife Ally in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, MI.  Ally is the photographer and Doug handles the sales and marketing.  You can also find Doug personally on twitter in addition to the studio at @dougcohen10.  He writes for their blog and sings in a rock band.

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