Tag Archives: Presentation

The art of posing for the camera

Looking at you looking at me and being comfortable.

Photographers may be comfortable with taking a portrait. I know from experience that our subjects are often very uncomfortable. Some insights may help us put our subjects at ease.

As a photographer you should be running the portrait session. It is good form to help the subject feel, not only at ease, but looking good. Many photographers forget that the subject often does not know how to look good. So you can do two things about that…
1. direct your subject to act in ways you think they look good.
2. give them a quick lesson in looking good.

Both can work. Direction works best with experienced sitters and models. They often settle down once they see the way the session is going to pan out.

Directing an uncomfortable and reluctant sitter may not work well with someone who has no posing experience. I’ve found that if you do a portrait session where you are directing the reluctant sitter, they often look more uncomfortable and wooden. In this latter situation you have the option of going through a series of practice exercises to see how they feel and what looks good. The video below takes a bit of both approaches. It is worth viewing to get some insights and ideas.

Some other considerations

I think it depends on who you have sitting for you. I prefer to work with the person. Get to know them a bit and build a rapport. That does often settle your subject down. However, some people never feel comfortable in front of the camera. So, after the jump are some hints to help them out…

Tell them you need to take a few test shots, “just sit there for a minute while I get everything set up”… then get chatting to them. Make them laugh if you can. Get a few shots in. Spend two or three minutes doing this. Get as many shots off as you can. Show and share them so the sitter sees what they look like relaxed. This helps them settle down for ‘the’ shots. Actually, you have probably got the best shots already! Yup! This is portrait photogs psycology at work.

Some people really relax if they have a familiar object. Get them to bring a favorite item. A guitar, roller skates, a hat, whatever. Get them to show it off while you chat and shoot.

Getting someone to do something silly sometimes helps. Just afterwards they have a happy demeanour and a more relaxed pose. So click away during the silly bit, but catch the best shots afterwards. This works well especially with families. The parents go with it to get the children going. But children rarely need help once started. In fact you are settling down the wooden poses of the adults!


There is no one way to run a portrait session. You, the photographer, have to suck it and see. Sometimes what you do works first time. Often you have to try things out as you go through the session. Flexibility, experience, and trying out a few of the techniques above may all come into play. Try a few things and see how you get on. The more experience you get the easier it will be to work with your subject. Have fun!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

The mistake we make with holiday photography

"The Brave". A tribute to the American Soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944.

“The Brave”. A tribute to the American Soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944. A brilliant recognition of the sacrifice.
(Sculpture by Anilore Banon, St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy).

Record shot or a family holiday moment?

I love the lines and drama of this sculpture. It is a tribute to the great sacrifice made by so many on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. It is, as a sculpture, invested with energy and power. It lifts the feelings and at the same time reminds us of darker moments in history.

Is it a fitting reminder of a family holiday? No, I think it is a photographers reminder of a wonderful sculpture. It’s a record shot.

Of records and tourist spots

Whatever you are photographing it’s fine to make a record shot. It reminds us that the subject has a character of its own. We see it in an uncomplicated and straight forward way. It is a pure record.

A sculpture like this, however poignant, is a reminder that we live our lives in places of great significance. Yet, as a photograph it does not come alive. In the same way, many postcards are records of a tourist attraction. They are not your experience of the scene. Why take pictures that are like postcards? Will they really remind you of your experience?

Of people and places

Everyone wants a photographic record of ‘being there’. Yet, most of these shots are a cliche. Google lists more than twenty five million images about the Eiffel Tower. Most of them are, well, the Eiffel Tower. Everyone who goes to the French capital takes a shot of it. You’ve just gotta do it!

While there, look out for different, unusual, bizarre and the odd angles. Have you ever seen a shot of the big rivets in the steel-work of the Eiffel Tower? What about the people who are there around you? They have a story to tell and you can show the location too.

Sit down for a while in these places. See what is going on. Wait for a story to unfold. Capture the old lady reading a newspaper on the pedestal of the monument. Snatch an image of the lovers kissing at the flower stall beside an iconic statue. Look at life and actions around you and invest the image with that life. You will remember the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the moment. See the attraction, but, picture the experience and people sharing it with you. Capture the local moment, the essence of the place.

Here are some sorts of things to think about putting in an image when in a tourist spot…

  • The restaurant where you had lunch.
  • Strong fishy smells from the market in the port.
  • A family playing games outside their home in the old town.
  • Condensation on the glass of a drink you had.
  • A crying lady on the steps of the Taj Mahal.
  • Peeling paint on an old building in Venice.
  • A local food you enjoyed.
  • A puddle reflecting street lights in the town square.
  • Character and integrity in the face of a devout worshiper.
  • Street performers doing something extraordinary.

Show something that makes a memory out of your visit. At the same time show the location. Enjoy!

Getting Started With Cloning

Vulture Landing - not a bad photo; some final adjustments are required

Vulture Landing – not a bad photo; some final adjustments are required. A little cloning work needed to tidy up loose ends. Click to view large.

Cloning allows you to clear up small problems – here’s how

Every picture starts its life with the composition. Once you have composed you take the shot. In those two simple actions is a world of experience and knowledge. It does not finish there – there is a third stage – post-processing (or just processing). Simplicity in your image is one of the keys to good photography. Often to achieve simplicity you need to remove unwanted elements of the picture. This is where cloning comes into play. In what follows I am going to look at simple cloning techniques using my photograph above.

Removing stuff

In this post we will concentrate on an essential technique… that of cloning in small strokes or spots. The essential element of any cloning job is the copying of the texture/pattern/colour (whatever) at the source point onto the destination point. The destination point is where you are hoping to remove something. Here is the first picture. It is an enlargement of the legs on the main image at the top of this article. The aim of this cloning work is to remove the leg harness from the bird.

The problem... an enlarged view shows the offending leg harness.

The problem… an enlarged view shows the offending leg harness.

Two simple points of technique underlie about 75% of the work of cloning. First the spot technique.

The success of cloning usually depends on collecting the source texture or pattern from near to the destination point. This is because there is a better chance that the colours, textures and patterns are going to match if they come from close to each other.


Lets get started

First, set up the source point. How the source point is selected depends on the application you are using. You will need to check the instructions. The idea is that there will be a cursor icon for sensing the source and a painting icon for where the cloning will be done. In the next picture you can see how I have cloned a little from the harness from the surrounding area. The round icon is the painting tool, the cross-hair is the source tool. As you move the painting tool the cross-hair moves with it.

To replicate textures, use near-by similar surfaces

You will see that I have done some cloning in two places. The cursor is currently cloning over the area of the harness, collecting the source from the surrounding green bokeh.

Placing your clone tool sensor

You can place the sensor cursor at any angle or distance to the painter cursor. You will see if you look carefully, that I have also done some cloning on the leg. Part of the harness has been removed there. You will notice that the leg has a scaly texture. I had to work close to the harness with the cross-hairs north of the area I was cloning. This allows me to pick up the texture and deposit it on the harness area. If you run over the same area as you have just cloned you get a repeating pattern. So, use short strokes. Change the sensor cross-hairs after each stroke or spot you clone.

The source point can be anywhere. In this image I have shown the positions I took the clone from for the leg and the harness part off the leg.

The source point can be anywhere. The image shows the positions for the clone from the leg texture and the harness part sticking out from the leg.

Three common problems

When just starting it is easy to just clone away until the job is done. However, when you stand back there are frequently three things wrong – lines are not straight any more; repeating patterns show up; big clone spots show up. To counter all three of these errors it is best to work in very close to the area you are working on. Make tiny changes each stroke. They are less likely to be noticed. They blend in together better and have less impact on the picture as a whole.

As you can see from the black icons in the image the painting circle is very close to the leg edge. To get lines back you have to work with the edge of the circle, as I have done here. Just skim it along the line to straighten it from one side. Then, working from the other side (in this case on the leg) work that side too. Work from side to side. Gently skim it into a straight line. Keep working until you are satisfied your work will not be noticed when you zoom out. Here is the finished leg.

Now the tools are out of the way, you can see how the lines, shades, textures and colours are all blended and maintained.

Now the tools are out of the way, you can see how the lines, shades, textures and colours are all blended and maintained.

Working zoomed-in is critical

One of the easy mistakes to make is to do your cloning large, at the image normal size. If you look carefully at the leg you will see that, even zoomed out, you can see some texture and areas of darker and lighter shading. However, you cannot see the detail of the cloning spots/strokes. If you work at normal image size you will find it very difficult to replicate those shades, tones and textures. They are delicate and subtle. But life is delicate and subtle. If you want it to look realistic you have to put those subtle differences in. Working in a highly zoomed state allows you to do that.

If you click here  External link - opens new tab/page, you can see the finished full sized image on a new page. Look carefully. The slight colour variations and texture changes look natural and fit in well. The variations are poorly integrated, clumsy and unrealistic if you work in at 100% image size.

What we have covered
  • Make Small changes. They are less likely to be noticed. Also, work zoomed in and with small tool sizes. They blend in better and have less impact on the picture as a whole.
  • A pattern/texture source close to the clone destination is more likely to match than distant sources.
  • A continuous clone stroke will be noticed. Work with small spots and short strokes changing your clone source frequently.
  • Avoid running over an area you have cloned already with your sensor. It creates highly visible repeating patterns.
  • When working with lines/edges skim them gently from both sides until straight.

If this all sounds like quite a lot of time consuming work… well, it is. As you can see it is worth it. A good image improved in a natural way. And, like all your photography skills, it takes time and practice. It is fun and absorbing however, so enjoy your processing!

Useful links after the jump…

Irfanview – A free image viewer and basic image editor.

GIMP  External link - opens new tab/page – a full featured, open source, free image editor – download and install.

Photoshop (by Adobe) – Adobe Photoshop CS6 (PC) External link - opens new tab/page – Industry standard post-processing professional software

Adobe Lightroom – Adobe Lightroom 4.0 (Mac/PC) External link - opens new tab/page – Professional photographers workflow and post-processing software

Adobe Elements – Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 (PC/Mac) External link - opens new tab/page
– Powerful editing system for amateur/semi-professional photographers.

Google listing for ‘online image editor External link - opens new tab/page

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Landscape verses Portrait – page orientation

Sometimes page orientation is dictated by subject... but there are other reasons to pick a particular format

Sometimes page orientation is dictated by subject... but there are other reasons to pick a particular format

There are a many reasons to choose portrait view

Landscape orientation is where a page or picture has the longest side on the horizontal. The picture above is in the portrait view – the longest side is upright. The use of the term ‘page orientation’ refers to either horizontal (landscape) or upright (portrait).

Of course there is more to it than that. In most cases we also consider the aspect ratio. In most SLR formats the aspect ratio is 4 to 3 (or 4:3 as it is written). This means four units along the long axis. And upwards, 3 units tall. This is a typical landscape view. Wider screens on televisions in recent years has introduced a new format of 16:9 although this is not seen as a common format for still photographs.

The current norm is for SLR video formats to be the same 4:3 of the still images. Normally the aspect ratio is considered only for landscape view – a ratio is not given for portrait view.

When taking a picture the photographer needs to consider orientation as part of the composition decision. It is probably true to say that the starter SLR-photog generally uses landscape orientation. It is a natural position since the shutter release is in a naturally comfortable position.

So what makes you turn your camera sideways and change the page orientation to take a portrait shot? There could be a number of good reasons. So here are a few ideas to keep you thinking…

Subject orientation

If your subject is long and upright then it is pretty natural to take it in an upright framing. Despite how natural it is, many people take the picture in landscape, then crop the shot afterwards. This is wasting a compositional opportunity and image space. If you take the shot in portrait from the start it lets you get close to the shot and fill the frame.

Page orientation drives the framing decision. The same framing opportunities arise in portrait as do in landscape. You just have to practice the framing.
Exercise: Go out for a day. Take only portrait view shots. Consider every one as carefully, or more carefully, than your normal landscape shots.

Panorama shots
So panorama shots are in landscape view? Yes. But the best panorama shots are frequently made of portrait shots digitally stitched together along the long axis. This assembly gives them the height and width needed to make up a substantial picture in panorama format. Understanding the portrait format gives you an appreciation of the type of framing needed to master panorama landscape work. So, even in panorama work the page orientation is crucial.
Images in text: page orientation is an essential consideration

If you are planning to contribute to a publication you learn how to take portrait shots. Editors are often more interested in the portrait view. It will fit into one column. That will give the editorial more space to tell the story. Editors like this format. If you wish to be published cultivate your skills in portrait view.


Portraiture can easily be done in landscape format but has an odd feel. It is important to make page orientation comfortable for the eye. The portrait format is ready made for capturing the upright nature of the natural portrait. We would normally give a wide orientation to something that is moving. The landscape view provides space to move into. In portraits there is often no movement or implied movement. The taller, thinner format helps the person pictured to engage with the viewer. An upright page orientation helps the picture sides to hold in the viewer’s eye to the portrait subject.
Exercise: Try a traditional portrait format and see if you think the portrait orientation is more effective. You will need to shoot a number of different shots to get the feel for it. Try different lighting conditions too.

Page orientation is also about presentation

The need for upright formats is not just about what is in the picture. It might also be about the way the picture is to be used. A picture may be chosen for its shape. Often a picture purchase is made to fit in a place which needs that format. A long thin alcove in a wall suits a long thin picture format. Taking the picture with that page orientation better suites the situation than cropping afterwards. How a picture will be used is a reason to frame a picture that way. Page orientation is a composition and presentation decision.


If you are taking a picture with words in it think about your page orientation.

It is easy to forget that very wide pages make reading difficult. Landscape view will hinder reading if the text spans the page. If you must use that page orientation with text find ways to keep the text from going across the page.

Using landscape format may be a good idea if the meaning of the text is unimportant. Where the impact of text is stronger than its meaning then you can span the image for effect. For example, the name of a café may not be as significant as the run down and decaying feel of the old building and its name sign. The impact may be more in the other elements of the scene. The importance of reading the text is minimised. Reducing the impact of text in an image is often a good idea as the eye is drawn to it. This can reduce the impact of the rest of the picture. Try to strike a balance. It may be better to use landscape with text if you want to include other things in the image.

If for some reason you are setting up a picture to take text then consider the portrait view. It will make the shot easier and your viewer will appreciate it. The reading will be more comfortable and quicker. This will take the emphasis off the text and allow the reader to quickly move on to the rest of the image.

Exercise: Paste a page of text into a word processor page. Set the page to landscape view. Print it out. Easy to read?

Page orientation as an eye stop

Artists and photographers often use the page orientation as a way to control the eye. The landscape page orientation helps the eye to flow from one side to the other. You can use other elements in the page to help keep the eye move around. The right sort of content in a picture can stop the eye moving out of the page. For example, a tree trunk on the edge of a landscape page tends to act as a natural stop to the eye, directing it upward into the canopy. The eye can then flow back the other way.

The use of a portrait format naturally causes the eye to move upward or downward. Where it is important to stress the up/down impact of an image use portrait view. Portraits, are a classic example. Other examples might be trees, or tall architectural images. The power in the image is controlling the eye between the image sides.

Page orientation is also a resolution issue

Where page orientation is a bad match for the composition, all is not lost. It is easy to crop the image to bring out the content in a new page orientation. However, consider the resolution for a minute. If you have to crop out a segment of the picture you may be affected by resolution. Artefacts, lack of sharpness, poor resolution and blur are all enhanced by a crop. Changing the page orientation makes these more likely to affect the final image. Consider the correct orientation from the start. Then you will not be faced with these quality issues.


The context of landscape or portrait orientation is the important thing. There is no reason to assume that either format is best. Pay attention to the needs of the composition or context in which the image is used. Clearly both upright or horizontal have their place. It is down to you to decide page orientation. My main point is, don’t ignore poor old portrait view. It can lead to some stunning compositions. It would be a shame to miss out on the benefits.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Catchlights… Bring your portraits alive

Catchlights bring a portrait alive... look out for ways to bring the eyes to life

Catchlights bring a portrait alive... look out for ways to bring the eyes to life

Portraiture demands that your subject looks alive

If the eyes of your subject look dead you stand no chance of drawing your viewer into the picture. When doing portraits you must bring a light into the eyes. A few days ago I looked at ways to enhance the eyes. The use of catchlights is one of the more important of these techniques. Within moments of death the spark of life seems to leave the eyes. This is because the reflections that we call ‘catchlights’ disappear in dry eyes. So, it is important we capture the eyes looking moist and reflective. It is this moisture that brings life, a three dimensional look and a dynamic feel to the picture.

Here is an article about catchlights in more detail…
Definition: Catchlights; Catch Lights; Catch-lights;

Photography Tips to Improve Your Online Selling…

Online selling? Make your product shots interesting

Selling online? Make your product shots clean, interesting and good looking.
Click to view large.

Online selling? Better sales – great looking products

Selling online is about getting your product noticed. Nobody will pay top dollar for your product when others look better? A great photo is essential to your sale. Here are some questions to ask yourself. Does your product photo…

  • Look great?
  • Look clean?
  • Show everything important?
  • Show the product is in great condition?
  • Represent the true colour?
  • Show only the product?

Make your buyer think, “Yes, I want THAT one”! If lots of people want it then you can get a high price. If your photograph is dull, cluttered, dirty and with poor colour… forget it. Someone else will make the sale. Here are a few tips to help you get your online selling product looking good.

Photographic background for online selling

Make sure that your background is looking good when online selling. White is a colour that looks crisp, clean and bright. It can lift the mood of your shot immediately. It is also a neutral colour so it goes well with most others. It will not clash with your product and will look great.

You can buy large white card sheets cheaply from a local art or stationery suppliers. Look after it and you can use it hundreds of times for your online selling backgrounds. You might also try this technique for white backgrounds… Simple photography in the bath – high key shots.

Use a card bent in the middle so you can see it below and behind the product. Or, use two boards jointed with white tape to hide the join. This gives the feeling of infinite white space around your product. Clean crisp white to infinity in your image is a great way to display a product for online selling. Online catalogues use this technique a lot.

For very brightly coloured or white products, use another neutral colour. Off-white, cream or black cards are great as backgrounds. They will not distract buyers from your product. Black is good for focusing the attention on the subject. Cream is a slight contrast from yellows or very bright colours. Make sure your colours and background are sympathetic to the subject. If they clash your online selling will bomb.


Make sure there is only your product in view. Other items are a distraction for the buyer. They will wonder why it is there and what it has to do with the sale. Online selling relies on your product being the centre of attention. Simplify the scene as much as possible. Present the product as a centerpiece.

Make your online selling products interesting

Try to present the product in an interesting way. If there are multiple items in the product you can arrange them artistically. If you have only one item take it from an interesting angle. Try to think how most people look at the object and take the shot from a different viewpoint. If you normally look down on an object, look at it from below. If you normally see it from the side take it from above and so on. If someone sees the shot from a different view they will often spend more time looking at it. That is when you will be most likely to make a sale.

Warning: Check your photo for unexpected reflections or body parts. Many Internet joke sites have unfortunate pictures of people who did not notice dodgy additions to the shot!

• eBay Photography the Smart Way •
Creating Great Product Pictures that Will Attract Higher Bids and Sell Your Items Faster.
It stands to reason that you should present a product well. Nobody will buy awful looking products. Great sales rely on a great looking product. It’s quite easy to improve your skills.

This book will help you to get to grips with making your product look outstanding.   • eBay Photography the Smart Way •


Show the product in full

Consider if you need more than one view of your product. Some sites allow you to have several photos. Try to capture it from all sides without too many shots or you can cause indecision. With one picture, shoot from the best side so it presents well.Online selling pays off if you spend a little time presenting it in full and from the best angle.

Bring out all the good points. Product marketing aims for the ‘unique selling points’ of a product – the reasons why people want to buy it. So ensure you have these in the photo if possible. If not, write about it in your posting.

If there are accessories, additional products or extra items included, think carefully how to photograph them. Consider just listing them with the product on your advert. Extra photographs of something which is not the main product may weaken your message.

Lighting the shot for online selling

If using images straight from your camera beware of light casts. Indoors tungsten bulbs and fluorescent lights can strongly colour the scene. Choose the ‘Tungsten’ or ‘fluorescent’ setting in your ‘White balance’ menu. This will off-set the colour cast. You will get a more realistic colour.

If you get the lighting right your product will be much more likely to sell

The right lighting will help you sell your project.

Top: Underexposed, dim light with a tungsten colour cast - unappealing.

Middle: Nasty highlights, too bright, reflections, washed out colour - distracted buyer.

Bottom: Diffused light, proper camera settings - An attractive product.

The important part of your photograph is the light. Make lighting simple and bright. One diffused light, slightly off from one side is best. Try not to make it a hard light. That will cause harsh shadows and highlights and make it look ugly. Diffuse the light as much as you can so it is a soft light. Hang a piece of white cotton in front of the light, or use some other type of diffusion. This will allow the brightness but keep the shadows soft and flattering to your product. Also try to light your product to avoid unnecessary black spots. If the detail is lost, so is your online selling customer.

Harsh lights and flash both create over-brightness which is ugly and distracting. It puts customers off. Most people use flash – it’s easy and already set up in their camera. Unfortunately, it is often far too bright and harsh, sharpening the shadows and washing out the colours. Many cameras allow you to turn down the flash. Look through the menus for the flash control. If you are close to the product for the photo then the lowest setting is probably fine.

You may also need to diffuse the flash. You can put tissue paper over the flash panel and tape it on. Alternatively you can deflect the flash or point it at a wall/ceiling so the light is bounced around the room. This gives a nice even and diffused light.

If you used bounced light for your online selling photographs, be careful about coloured walls. They can cause colour casts. This leaves your product looking odd coloured and unattractive.

Look out for nasty highlights, bright sparkles and bright reflections. They are totally distracting and will put off potential buyers. Find a way to light your product to get rid of them. Good online selling requires your customer to like the product and not be distracted by the photography!

Taking the shot

Here is a quick checklist…

  • Make sure the whole object is properly in focus.
  • For maximum sharpness use a tripod – very important.
  • Make sure the product is spotless – really work on cleanliness.
  • Set white balance and lighting correctly to get the best colours.
  • Arrange your scene in a pleasing way.
  • Get close to fill the frame to provide the most detail you can.
  • Try not to lop bits off your subject – get it all in the frame.
  • Shoot and re-shoot… get it right.
Practice for online selling

Don’t assume you will get it right straight away. Take a shot and look at it very carefully. Re-shoot several times if necessary. Download the shot and look at it on the computer. Be prepared to go back to get it right.

If you are serious about selling things online this is your chance to do it well. The key is good lighting and careful attention to detail. With practice you will get it right quicker, increase your business and have fun with your photography.

Comments, additions, amendments or ideas on this article?
Contact Us or leave a comment at the bottom of the page…

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Don’t Look Bad in Front of Friends and Family

A day out with the boys.

A photography shoot for friends. A photo shoot demands careful thought. When you know you will be doing shots for friends or family you want to get it right. Be prepared so you look good and perform well.

The key to shooting in front of people you know

So you are interested in photography! Before long you’ll be asked to take photos for family or friends. You may already have been asked – it happens to all of us. The impromptu shot is not too bad. It is more nerve-racking to do when you have been specially asked for an event, party, wedding, or important occasion. You don’t want to let anyone down. You certainly don’t want to look a fool because you fluff-up on the day. So how do you carry it off?

Approach your task with confidence, preparation and planning. Make sure all the bases are covered. Here is what you do…

Advance Preparation

Ask what is expected of you. You need to know…

  • How important is this?
  • What/who you will be shooting.
  • Who you will be working with/for…
  • When you will be doing it.
  • Where will you be doing it.
  • Why you will be shooting.
  • How you will do it (is there a brief?)

You can probably think of other questions to ask. Just, make sure you know what the shoot is all about.

If you don’t have any of the required skills, get online and find out what you need to know. Be clear about what’s needed and plan to cover your learning work with time for practice before the event. Leave ordering time for buying things and delivery too.

Leading up to the shoot

Finalise the equipment you need. Here is a preliminary list…
2 cameras; 2 flash units; Lenses, charged batteries (x4?); Memory cards; chargers; lights/stands; light/flash modifiers/reflectors; suitable clothing (cold or hot gear as appropriate); umbrella(?); contact/business cards; tripod…

Why two cameras and equipment? If one is damaged on an important event, and you quietly pull out another and carry on – the professional. Think how confident you will feel too. Access to only one camera? See if you can borrow one for the day. Otherwise do the best you can. I skipped over lenses. The ‘glass’ you need depends on the shoot. If you don’t have what you need, consider hire. The deals are pretty good for a weekend or a few days. If your contact considers this an important enough event they may pay for hire. Try to get the hire ahead a few days so you can try the equipment before the shoot.

Visit the location of the shoot in advance. You need to know about the shoot location…

  • What size is the location
  • How light/dark it is
  • What power provision
  • How many people can it hold
  • What are the rules (especially if a business)
  • Do you need location permissions
  • What’s the access/parking
  • Is parking near/far
  • What scope is there for your shots
  • Light and shady places
  • Natural backdrops available
  • What else will be put out (tents, food, disco, stage…)
  • Bbar times/licensing
  • Where can’t you shoot
  • Other things you need to know fo your event
Planning the shoot itself

Think out how you are going to handle the shoot. Don’t make it up on the day. You will not be creative and get all the shots you need. Do some sketch plans how you are going to make the best of the location. Pick several places to shoot. Pick places for groups or singles. Plan the main shots you want and their order – a professional approach.

When you have a plan check it through with your contact. It is important they know you have got it in hand. Also they will have confidence that you are going to do the job they asked.

The day before

Check all the equipment works, batteries charged, cards clean, everything packed, camera ready; lens cleaned and packed, pack lens wipes too. Make sure you have a route and maps addresses ready too.

The transport arrangements should be prepared and ready. Pack your kit to be ready to leave early. Review all your plans for the shoot. You will be more spontaneous if you already have a shoot plan in your mind. You may need to have a shot list as your main plan to follow. You should have your ideas and plans in order in your head. Don’t forget your wallet or money! Finally, give your friend a call. Check it is all OK and to reassure that you are ready.

On the Day

Dress for the occasion – everyone looks at the photographer. Look good, wear appropriate clothes.

You must arrive early to set up. So, leave early for the shoot. Check traffic reports beforehand. If you get there in plenty of time you will look and feel more professional. If you have setting up to to do – arrive an hour early. To just re-scope the location arrive half an hour early. Leave enough time to park too.

While you are traveling, review your plan in your mind. Try to relax if you are nervous. Its understandable but you will need to be ready for the fun! Visualise and mentally rehearse your shots while you travel.

On arriving report to your contact. Make sure they know you are there and get any ‘latest news’ Something always crops up on a shoot. You need to know changes in arrangements straight away.

Once you have all this in hand, you can set up. Then you are into shoot mode… off you go! You the professional… Be confident, follow your plan, make sure you enjoy yourself!

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