Author Archives: momo

Familiarize These Basic Photography Tips

Basic Photography Tip # 1, Visual literacy

Now that so many of us are just clicking away with whatever technological piece of equipment we have, we are seldom giving thought to how and why the image is important, or in what way it might influence others.

Visual literacy is about seeing instead of looking. When getting ready to take that shot, stop for a second to think about what the picture is saying.

Understand that every photograph suggest its own vision and view of the world. When you are getting ready to take that shot, try to pre visualize what is being translated from the three-dimensional reality that is in front of you, onto the two- dimensional space within the frame of the photograph. The camera is only a tool which will help you present your interpretation of what you see to the world.

Basic Photography Tip #2, Visual impact and Appeal

There are many formal values within a photograph, and they may vary. These values consist of composition, proportion, focus, balance, rhythm, and texture among others. Any of these elements will influence the visual impact and appeal of the photograph. But, the most important basic photography tip is the value of composition, or in other words, the satisfying arrangement of shapes and the space they occupy.

Basic Photography Tip #3, Importance of Composition

Determine who or what the subject is. Decide what might be the best camera position, or point of view. Instead of holding your camera at eye level, try a different angle or point of view. Get down lower or get higher when composing the shot.

Think about whether the subject and the surroundings compatible. Look around, make sure don’t see any things such as lamp posts or trees coming out of the back of someone’s head.

Always Check the Frame

Think about how you will frame the photograph. Select the scene by looking through the viewfinder or digital back. Observe the scene from edge to edge of the frame. Take notice what of what might be left out of the frame to make a better composition. Work on filling the frame with only the necessary elements, instead of depending of cropping later.

The Rule of Thirds in Photography

The rule of thirds and subject placement in one of those, must know, basic photography tips, that you want to keep in the back of your mind. After using it for a while, you will instinctively know when the shot feels right.

Most good photographs have a main subject or event. Think about it, when you are aiming your camera, there is a certain subject or event that you are trying to photograph. Where you place that subject in the frame determines the effectiveness and emphasis of the picture. The rule of thirds is a compositional method which suggest that the points of interest should be positioned at the intersection of two sets of vertical and horizontal lines that divide the image into thirds. Place what is important at one of the four intersecting points for geometric balance in your image.

In conclusion, the most important basic photography tip that will make all the difference, is to find yourself and develop your own style.

It is O.K. to emulate others, sometimes, but don’t try to imitate others. One way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to try producing a series of images that deal with a particular subject matter. Make sure the subject is of interest to you, other wise you will get bored and give up on the project. This intentional way of shooting photography will help develop your skill and abilities faster and will learn to visualize your ideals sooner than if you rely on what happens when you are randomly shooting.

Practicing these basic photography tips will help you to gradually stand out from the crowd of snap shooters while also finding your self and developing your own style.

Fashion Photography Tips

We see them all over the place; in television advertisements, in magazines, and on the runway. They are the beautiful men and women who strut their stuff while showing off the latest styles from the hottest fashion designers. These are the fashion models of today and tomorrow, and the subject of high fashion photography. It is through photography that these models and fashionable clothing are brought to the public. Therefore, these photographs must be taken with a certain level of precision and a special attention to color, style, and lighting composition. Learning a few key fashion photography tips will help to make this possible.

High fashion photographers such as Mario Testino and Eva Mueller may not be as famous as the models they shoot, but they are actually sought out more than their model counterparts by fashion magazines and designers. While the dream of huge paychecks and hobnobbing with the rich and famous might appeal to the aspiring fashion photographer, it is not easy to become successful in fashion and model photography. For every one talented young photographer who makes it big, there are hundreds are left dreaming about the moment their photo will be chosen.

Here are a few fashion photography tips for anyone interested in getting started in the field of fashion photography. The first thing you must do is study your subject. As with any field, you can never learn enough. Read as many fashion magazines you can possibly get your hands on. There are a number of fantastic books on the subjects of fashion and model photography available. They can be purchased cheaply online at sites like Amazon.com or even cheaper if you get them used on eBay. You will also need a good camera, a tripod, and a lighting system. One of the more often overlooked fashion photography tips, is to ensure that you always have plenty of film and extra batteries available.

One of the most important fashion photography tips to focus on is having a portfolio. You need to start assembling a portfolio of your work and you need to keep this portfolio handy at all times. You never know when you will have the opportunity to show your work off to someone in the fashion world. Sharp, vibrant images on a 4 x 5″ transparency will best show off your work, so focus on them when putting your fashion photography portfolio together. If any of your work has already been published regardless of whether it was a local magazine, newspaper or contest, add a tear sheet (literally a sheet you torn out of the magazine) is a great addition to a portfolio. You should have a minimum of 20 photographs in your portfolio and showcasing different styles.

In this day of the internet, it is wise to display your fashion photography talent online as well. Setup a simple website displaying your work and submit your digital photos to online contests. Also, submit them to online fashion gallery websites. This will help tremendously with getting your work seen and showcasing your talent around the world. Probably the most important of all the fashion photography tips is to get your photographs seen by as many people as possible. There is no better way of doing this than by putting them online.

Remember that most fashion magazine editors are looking for your personality in the photographs that you take. Each fashion photographer will captures the essence of a fashion design and model differently. Most importantly, if this is your dream, do not give up, ever! Keep learning the latest high fashion photography tips and keep working to get your photographs on the cover of my next hot fashion magazine.

Make Your Wedding Budget

Your wedding is perhaps the biggest celebration you will be a part of. And why not, it is a celebration of a new beginning and new life. To make your wedding the most it can be, here are a few tips that will stretch your budget.

Stick To The Budget

A vendor such as a photographer may offer to give you a special package deal if you add more options. Make sure and think about if it is going to cost you more and if it is really necessary. Weigh your options on what is most important in your budget and don’t change your limit on the less important items.

Compare Vendors

Find out what other vendors are offering for prices. Consider this when talking to vendors and make sure and ask what other costs there will be after everything is said and done. Make sure and compare apples to apples. For instance you may be talking to a videographer that merely gives you the footage of your wedding and charges $750 and another vendor that edits the footage in a more cinematic fashion that charges $2,400. Both are totally different, on both prices may be consistent with what the vendor services are.

Book Early – Book Intelligently

Often times vendors get slammed in the popular wedding seasons. In colder places the summers are more popular, and in the not so cold places the spring time is more popular. By booking well in advance you will get vendors who aren’t as much in demand and may offer more reasonable prices. Book late and they may give you an outrageous price because they know they have nothing to loose. Also consider having your wedding on a Friday or even on a weekday if possible. Wedding places and vendors oftentimes have a discount on days outside of the weekend.

Use Your Friends And Family

Your friends and family may have vendors they recommend. Also you can go to the web to see portfolios or pictures of what you are looking for. If you have a particularly crafty friend, why not put them in charge of decorations. If you have a family member that is baker, put them in charge of the wedding cake. Even if they aren’t the one making it, they will know the market better and will have a better chance of getting a good deal. Often times family and friends are anxious to help if you only ask.

At the end of the day your wedding is your more most joyful union. You will want to do everything you can to make it such. Oftentimes the planning process and budgeting can be overwhelming. Make sure and give yourself plenty of time to plan for your wedding. Be smart about how you spend your money but also remember that you get what you pay for. Vendors are there to facilitate you and not vice versa. Find the vendors that fit your style and personality.

Tips Your Wedding Photographer

Getting married soon? Congratulations! As wedding season approaches, us wedding photographers have one eye at all times on the weather – and another on the constantly shifting requirements of our clients. It’s with this in mind that I thought that this week, I’d put together some hints and tips for how to plan your perfect photography on the wedding day.

1. Be realistic about the photography which is achievable at your venue.

To start with a bit of a dampener – take a good hard look at your venue, your surrounding location and your timings. If you’ve been browsing wedding photographer websites, particularly those set in the beautiful South West locations of Somerset and Devon, you’ll no doubt have been beguiled by gorgeous shots of couples drifting through stunning yellow rapeseed fields, looking out to sea over dramatic cliffs, or dappled in sunshine with evening sunbeams drifting through woods. All these shots, and more, are undeniably beautiful. However, let’s face it, unless you’re getting married next to a wood, a cliff or a rapeseed field, you’re not going to have the time on your wedding day to go out and get these shots – or, indeed, wait until the evening sun is just right and abandon your guests halfway through the wedding breakfast to take advantage of ‘golden hour’.

Realistically, the vast majority of these type of shots are not taken on the wedding day, but on post-wedding ‘love the dress’ shoots, where you have all the time in the world to travel to the perfect location, wait for the light to be just right, and relax without worrying about your guests or holding up the wedding breakfast. Most couples on their wedding day have around half an hour for their ‘couples shots’, if not less – so bear this in mind and work with your photographer to find the right backdrops at your venue where you can get gorgeous wedding day shots without putting undue pressure on your timings. If you do want the stormy clifftop scenes or woodland idylls, however, just ask – most wedding photographers will offer post-wedding shoots, and even better, you get to wear your dress all over again!

2. Lineups, lineups – love them or hate them, how to do them.

Nearly all of my wedding photography work is carried out in reportage, or candid style; it suits my client’s needs and wishes and provides a more truthful, honest record of the wedding day, allowing me to work much more unobtrusively. However, nearly every client of mine specifies that they also need some lineup shots – generally for the mums and dads, who want these for the mantelpiece. If not managed properly, lineups can take far too long and keep your guests away from the celebrations – something which neither the photographer nor the guests want! So, here’s a few tips on how to keep your lineups quick, effective and relatively painless.

– Make a list of the lineups you want before the day and talk these through with your photographer. You might find that you actually don’t need as many as you think, and an organised approach will save time on the day.

– Make sure your Master of Ceremonies, best man or other key wedding party member has a copy of the lineups and helps with getting the right people into shot. Many hands make light work! – Look at potential locations for your lineups prior to the wedding day, taking into account the size of the groups and where the light will be at the time you’ll be doing this on the day. Always have a ‘Plan B’ in the eventuality of bad weather.

– Remember that it’s easiest to get these lineups done whilst you’ve got all your guests together – so do the large groups first, allowing people who aren’t required for smaller, immediate family & wedding party shots to return to the party and not be left hanging around.

3. Trends quickly turn into gimmicks – so beware

No doubt you’ll book your wedding photographer based, at least in part, on the style of the photography you’ve seen on their website. As with most things, photography (and in particular, wedding photography) can go through trends – in composition, in style and in processing. As a wedding photographer, I spent a lot of time discussing the look and feel of my client’s photographs prior to the wedding day, with the ultimate aim being to reflect the couple’s own style and personality.

However, one of the things I always advise clients is not to plump for any photographic or processing style which is too quirky. For example, retro styling and processing is great – but let’s do it with a feather touch, not an iron fist. You’ll be looking at your photographs for many years to come, and the last thing you want is to fall out of love with the shots you loved so much at the time, just because the processing style is no longer in vogue.

So, if you have a defined ‘look’ which you’d like for your photography, think carefully about how it might look in five years’ time – and if in doubt, err towards a more classic look, or a photographic or processing style which has been around for a long time. For example, cinematic style processing which replicates the look of some of the great slide and 35mm film brands STILL looks great, many decades after it was first used on the big screen.

Interesting Photography Tips

Some Basic Photography Tips

Any photography hobbyist would do well to keep their eyes and ears open for photography tips. While some people just seem to pick up on the methods of taking great photographs, others can always use some hints and tricks to help them take their pictures from drab to fab. It may seem a bit overwhelming to think that you can apply all the little so-called secrets that professional photographers employ, but in reality, even some basic photography tips can help turn your photos into something worth bragging about.

Portraits

If you do portraits as a hobby, remember to be creative in your poses and settings. While good photography tips involve keeping things simple, you do need to dress things up a bit when positing portraits. For instance, if you’re going to do a portrait of a couple, don’t just have them sitting and facing the camera. Try getting a profile as they look at each other or a playful pose as one kisses the other’s cheek. Family portraits also mean working on your poses and settings. Again, avoid having them just sitting and facing the camera. Try having one of the parents swinging the child above his or her head, or mom and dad holding the child’s hand as they walk forward.

Other photography tips for portraits include getting out of the drab studio and using different settings. If the subject has a beloved pet, go outside and include the pet in the portrait. If it’s someone that just got their driver’s license, pose them in front of a car.

Photography Tips for Landscapes

If you enjoy taking pictures when you’re on vacation or traveling, you may wonder how to spruce up those landscape pictures. There are some very quick and easy ways to do this.

First, keep your eyes on the colors in the picture. If you snap a picture of a lake against a blue sky, that’s an awful lot of blue! It might be better to wait until sunset when the color of the sun breaks up all that blue. Good photography tips for landscapes and any other type of picture include being aware of how the same color is going to translate on a photo, regardless of how breathtaking it may be in person. If you are looking at autumn foliage, avoid a picture of just a bunch of trees all at the same height. Again, it may be just a jumble of all the same colors. You may do well to adjust your angle so as to get a hill or part of a field in the picture so as to break up all that color.

Simple Lighting Techniques When Making a Video

So you’re making a video for the first time. Your first thought may be – where’s the script? And then – how much money is this going to cost? Can dry ice and glitter be involved? At some point, you will need to think about lighting. How do you get that picture-perfect, cinematic quality in the final cut?

The good news is that you don’t have to hire an entire production crew to master professional lighting. Here are three techniques to reduce harsh shadows, disperse light across your subjects, change temperatures or moods, and ensure your video looks and feels like it came straight from Hollywood (or close to it).

1.) Move

Okay – time for set up. You have the lights, but where do you put them? The most basic formula to light your scene is the 3-point system: key, fill, and back. The highest-powered light, key light, should be placed in front of the main subject of your scene. Position another light source to the side of the subject, usually in a lower position to balance shadows and harsh contrasts. Another light is placed behind the subject to separate from the background and to create highlights. Now move the lights until the scene illuminates that perfect shot. You can rent lighting kits that range in various prices, but ARRI Kits are favored for their durability and simplicity. They rent for $100-$125 per day.

2.) Diffuse

Cast, props and crew are in place. But you notice shadows casted across one of the actor’s face. And you are not necessarily going for that Maltese Falcon kind of tone. The best way to soften light and spread it over the entire scene is to use diffusion methods.

Three essential gear choices to correct your scene are 6×6′ Silks, Diffusion Gel, or Softboxes.

Diffusion gel is the most versatile tool because it’s disposable and easy to pack, especially for location shooting. They can be placed just about anywhere with a few C-47s. Clip onto your light’s barn doors and this heat-resistant material will soften extreme spotlights. Gels comes in ¼, ½, and full diffusion varieties for less or greater amounts of softening. You can buy one sheet for $5 or an entire roll for $100.

Silks are used to diffuse harsh, direct sunlight when shooting outdoors or can be placed in front of tungsten lamps and HMIs. The benefits to silk frames? They are easy to set up and move around set, you can reuse them for the next shoot (go green!) and they are available in multiple sizes. This is key if you want to have consistent lighting across a wide shot. You can rent 6×6′ silk sets for $50/day and 24×36″ or 18×24″ flag sets for $25/day.

If you have more money to spend on production, a Softbox, or Chimera, will give you better control on how lighting hits your subject. These attach directly to your lights and are great for portrait photography and interviews. If you need a lot of light but want it soft and evenly dispersed across your subject, the Joker 800 HMI is an optimal choice. You can rent a kit for $175/day.

3.) Reflect

Next up – the beach scene staged in conference room two. How do you emulate the sun and make it look authentic? Reflectors are an inexpensive way to redirect light from other light sources onto your subject. Change your shot’s mood with four color options: silver for high-contrast, edgy and cool; gold for warm, natural, and sunny; white for neutral and fill light; and black to get rid of unwanted reflections or casts of color. You can buy a 5-in-1 reflector for $40.

Indoor Portrait Photography Tips

Here are some indoor portrait photography tips that does not require you to have access to expensive studio lightings, but will still be able to produce professional indoor portraits.

What say you if there are ways you can conduct indoor portrait photography at the comfort of your own home? Although with only one light source, you can still take photographs that look stunning. All you’ll need is an angle-poise lamp.

8 Tips For Indoor Portrait Photography

Photography Tips #1 – Background

To begin, position your subject to be sited in front of a light absorbing black velvet. The velvet creates a black background for your photo shoot. As to support the velvet, you can use about anything to hold it up. A bookcase for instance, is good enough.

Photography Tips #2 – Lighting Tips

After your model is comfortably sited, adjust the lamp so that it is positioned just slightly above his/ her head. Also, have the lamp positioned towards the right side of your model. This light setting will create a classic and stunning portrait photography result.

There are many other lighting effects you can try out. So go wild with creativity and don’t limit yourself.

Photography Tips #3 – Fast Shutter Speed

Set your shutter speed to be relatively fast. I normally set my camera to 1/160 sec at f/2.8, ISO500. Also, it is advisable that you use a tripod to complement your photography.

Photography Tips #4 – Use A Tripod

The tripod will get rid of camera shake, hence refrains from ruined indoor portrait photographs. The indoor portrait photos produced will be sharp when you use a tripod.

Photography Tips #5 – Longer Focal Length

I normally use the 80-200mm f/2.8 lens and set it to 145mm. This is because longer focal lengths will result in a much more stunning indoor portrait photograph.

Photography Tips #6 – Take a Few Shots

Another thing you can do is to take a few shots just to test the exposure and general set-up. If you’re satisfied with the settings for the photo shoot, you can start your indoor photography session. It will be great if you can discuss with your model beforehand about the various poses and expressions he/she can do.

Photography Tips #7 – Experiment The Various Lighting Conditions

Different lighting angles will result in a different indoor portrait photography effect. All you have to here is to try the different lighting positions and see which one works well for you. Such lighting angles include the right side, above, the left side, below and from behind your subject.

Photography Tips #8 – Use A Reflector

Whenever the light is too harsh, it creates unwanted shadow that ruins your indoor portrait photography attempts. What you can do here is to use a reflector on the opposite side of the light source. The reflector bounces the light onto your subject, thus creating a much softer light illumination.

Creative Photography Tips Step-By-Step Guide

There is no doubt that composition and framing are both components that play very important roles at producing stunning photography results. There are little-known creative photography tips that have to do with framing that photographers can implement to bring about extremely creative photography effects.

Creative Photography Tips #1 – Enclose Subjects within Frames

When you keep your subjects within the natural frame, this will bring the viewers of your photographs to be led towards the focal point. It also adds interest to the photographs. A few examples of natural frames are windows, doors, and also encompassing trees.

Creative Photography Tips #2 – Frames As Center Stage To Compositions

Another great creative photography trick is to shoot images where frames take the role of becoming the center stage to compositions. When you do this, make sure you the results turn out in an abstract fashion so that it becomes the primary subject of the frame.

Creative Photography Tips #3 – Subjects with Repetition

You can use these photography tips and implement them onto the various subjects. The main thing to look out for is the existence of repetition on your subjects. For instance, you can use these creative photography tips on a group of trees. You can also shoot photos of a corridor of doors.

Creative Photography Tips #4 – Step-by-step Guide To Photographing Pylons

Another example of subjects with repetition is pylons. Pylons can be found in areas such as suburbs and rural areas. I will now reveal you a complete simple step-by-step guide to photographing pylons.

Here is a very important key pointer to note when photographing pylons; make sure that the day you conduct this photography attempt is a day where the skies are blue with beautiful and puffy clouds. Avoid photographing pylons in overcast situations.

Step #1

First of all, look for the pylon you want to photograph. Once you have located it, be sure to ask for the permission to photograph the pylons from the land owner.

This is just a matter of courtesy and to avoid getting into unwanted troubles. Land owners are normally more than pleased to give you the permission you seek, if asked properly.

Step #2

Properly attach your camera to the tripod. What I did when I photographed pylons back then was to set my camera to the aperture-priority mode. I also dialed up an aperture of f/14.

Try shooting through the legs of the pylons and shoot to a telegraph pole located a distance away (if possible). This is to allow the pylon to frame the image.

Step #3

Next, check the results of the image you photographed on the LCD monitor. The image taken should be framed with the pylon still girders. Your goal is to have the result of the photograph taken to turn out looking abstract.

Step #4

If you happen to not be satisfied with the earlier creative photography attempt, try again. This time however, you can try out another viewpoint.

Re-adjust the positioning of your DSLR camera that you have attached to the tripod so that it faces the next pylon along the field (approximately 500 yards away is good enough). You can use the corded remote release to reduce camera shake.

Step #5

Check the result of the shoot once again through the LCD monitor. The result of the shot should turn out looking better than the first one because of the viewpoint; the power lines of the pylon naturally frame the shot well.

Step #6

Nonetheless, the color of the blue sky may be washed out, making it look really pale. When this happens, you can use a circular polarizer to your lens to fix the pale blue sky.

The polarizer makes the blue sky’s color richer. The sky will also appear looking more saturated. Using a polarizer definitely adds punch onto the photographs.

You can use a square-shaped ‘Cokin-style’ polarizer as it brings about the same effect.

Step #7

Now, try photographing the pylon from another viewpoint – right under the main pylon of your choice. Photograph this scene with your camera attached to a tripod. Adjust them so that the lenses aim straight up towards the top of the pylon. Whenever possible, consider using a remote release to better aid camera stability.

Step #8

From my experience with this viewpoint, pictures turn looking way better! The framing of the image looks perfect with the criss-cross metal structure that the pylon has. This gives the result of the photograph an abstract feel.

What you can do after taking your first shot is to take a few more shots from this same viewpoint. Reason being you’ll be better able to ensure that it is symmetrical.

Creative Photography Tips #5 – Polarizing Filters

What exactly do polarizer filters do? These filters actually help to darken skies and get rid of unwanted reflections that appear on surfaces like water and glasses. This is possible as filters act to reduce directional light. Polarizing filters produce a much more intense and saturated image.

The 2 main type of polarizing filters that are tailor-made for DSLR cameras are;

A) Slot-in Polarizing Filters

These types of filters fit perfectly into a special filter holder. If you want a recommendation, I suggest that you get the Cokin’s P-system. It is indeed the most well-known, also the most reasonably priced slot-in polarizing filters in the market.

B) Screw-in Polarizing Filters

These filters are made available in a range of filter threads so that it fits your lens. Hoya screw-in polarizing filters are definitely an excellent range.

Tips For Picking a Great Stock Footage Clip

There are more stock footage video clips than ever before but that doesn’t mean there is consistent quality with each stock footage clip you search for. There is a vast array of options and choices when hunting for the perfect stock footage clip to use in a video, advertising or PowerPoint presentation project. Searching for a stock footage clip that fits the bill in terms of subject matter and quality of execution can often times be tedious and frustrating. Below is a list of ten tips for picking a great stock footage clip for your next project.

1. Composition

Every great stock footage video clip starts with eye-catching composition. Composition includes the way in which the visual subject is constructed and placed within the frame. More standard composition places the subject in the center of the frame and uses symmetry and balance to compose the picture. A more photographic and stylized approach is to “weight” the frame and place the subject near one of the edges of the frame, which gives the stock footage clip an edgier and more modern look. Visually engaging composition is one of the primary elements of a great stock footage clip so pay close attention to this when choosing a clip.

2. Motion

Motion is another important element to carefully look at when reviewing and selecting stock footage clips for your projects. Motion can include both camera movement as well as movement of subject. Typically the most dynamic and enticing motion happens when the camera is moving in some way. A moving camera during a shot adds drama, power and impact creating a high level of cinematic production quality. There are a variety of camera movement techniques including using a dolly, jib arm, crane, tripod or many other specialty equipment devices that can create beautifully crafted movement during a shot. Look for stock footage clips that have distinct movement to give your project an added level of craft and production value.

3. Performance

If you’re searching for a stock footage clip that includes talent, then it’s key that the performance of the talent is believable in the clip. Stock footage clips that include talent have received a reputation over the years of looking “staged” and less than real. Another key element to selecting a great stock footage clip is the believability of the performance of talent within a clip. There is a lot of stock footage in the marketplace that features bad performances and over acting of talent. Be selective when choosing a stock footage clip and weed out talent and performances that look staged.

4. Lighting

Good lighting can greatly enhance the overall quality of a stock footage clip. What defines good lighting you ask? Good lighting is the balance, ratio, look and level of the overall light within a scene or shot. The lighting can come from a natural light source, be generated artificially or be a combination of both. Premium and pro stock footage clips are shot by seasoned directors of photography who are experts at creating shots with commercial-grade lighting. They have an arsenal of techniques, equipment and tricks for making a stock footage clip look stylish and professional with lighting. Use a critical eye to look for those stock footage clips with the best use of lighting.

5. Focal Length

Focal length describes the length of the lens used on the film or video camera for a particular shot. A short focal length will give the image a wider field of view whereas a longer focal length will compress the image and bring the field of view tighter and closer. The longer the focal length typically the more out of focus the background is from the subject. Different focal lengths give different emotional feelings to a shot and can have a profound effect on the look and quality of the stock footage clip you’re using in your project.

6. Art Direction

When researching and selecting stock footage clips, quality of art direction will be another important element to consider. Art direction primarily refers to the scenery, decoration and props within a scene. Like any other art form, the quality of execution when it comes to art direction can vary from one stock footage clip to another. Pay careful attention to these details because art direction that is well thought out and implemented can have a big impact on the stock footage clip.

7. Locations

The location or locations featured in a stock footage clip has a big influence on the quality of the clip. A visual and relevant location has as much impact on the shot as composition, camera movement and lighting. A good location influences the overall emotional tenor of a shot as well as providing context for the subject matter, whether it is a high concept clip or a more realistic one. Locations during shooting are enhanced with good art direction, props, lighting, composition, talent and camera operation; however the foundation for a quality stock shot starts with a solid location.

8. Authenticity

The overall authenticity of the stock footage clip you’re selecting for your project is another key criterion when researching clips. Authenticity is all about the truthfulness, realism and naturalness of the overall qualities of the stock footage clip. This includes many of the elements discussed above but especially includes the performance of the talent (if any) as well as the props, wardrobe and art direction for the scene. All of these elements must “ring true” for you and your audience or the clip will scream out that it’s a stock footage clip. The believability of the stock footage clip or clips you choose will determine how well it integrates into your final video, commercial, TV show or PowerPoint presentation.

9. Resolution

With so many camera acquisition formats on the market today, there are a countless number of delivery resolutions and formats for stock footage clips (i.e., 1080i, 1080p, HD, 720p, SD, PAL, etc…). It can be overwhelming for sure. Be sure you research and understand what the final resolution of your project is before final delivery of your project. Talking to your video editor and technical team upfront before researching and searching for stock footage is a key step not to be overlooked.

10. Compression & Delivery

Compression is an important consideration when ordering and/or downloading the stock footage clip(s) that you choose for your project. Different companies offer a variety of compression codecs when delivering files and masters to you after you’ve ordered. If choosing to have digital files delivered to you be sure you understand the type of codec and compression that will be used within the stock clip you’ve ordered. Some companies deliver stock footage clips without any compression and others deliver clips with a considerable amount of compression. Knowing the codec and compression of your clips before ordering is an important consideration to remember to be sure you’re getting the quality you need for your project.

Beginner Photography Tips

With that in mind, I’d strongly advise you to read through the whole article, even if you’re an average amateur, just to freshen up on the mental aspect of photography. I’ve never written an article on my way of thinking when taking pictures, but I think it’s cool because it’s not like your everyday photography.

Learn To See Creatively

The best way to learn to see creatively is to take more photos. The reason being is because the more pictures you take and the more time you spend on your photography , the more you will begin to see things you would normally never see. The eyes of a true photographer, or artist, sees shapes, patterns, light and color when walking down an ally or across a street. For example, let’s imagine I took a photo of a railroad track at night in a big city:

I saw a good photo because of the 1) light reflecting off the metal 2) the contrasts in color between the wood and metal 3) the strong diagonal lines of the track leading from edge-to-edge. Before I learned how to see creatively, I’ve probably walked over that railroad track a million times and not once have I seen it the way I do now. All these things added together create a great picture for the eye. That’s good and all, but, the photo is missing a strong message. It doesn’t emit a strong enough feeling/emotion when one views the photo. To get that, you gotta:

Feel The Moment

If the following makes any sense what-so-ever, it’s that I believe everyone has the ability to see creatively in their own personal way. To see creatively is, in my opinion, to set your mind free and get in-tune with your feelings. These feelings are what drive powerful photographs. And if you can get your brain, eyes and camera to link with your feelings then you’ve just opened up a door that has the potential for you to become a great photographer.

You want people to feel your photos; To get a strong emotional reaction because it’s all about the feeling, the impact and the structural composition of a photo. There are just a few key steps to improve the feel and impact of your photos, making them into memorable masterpieces. It’s certainly not as easy as you’d think and definitely not something you can learn in a few hours or a few days. It may take weeks, months and sometimes years. It’s all up to you and how much time and devotion you spend taking photos and learning photography. When you are out shooting and see something you want to take a picture of, stop and ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why do I want to take this photo?
  • What is the main message of the photo?
  • How am I going to take the picture effectively?

Keep asking yourself these three questions before you press the shutter and, I promise you, there will be an improvement in your photos. Let me explain the questions in more detail:

The question “why do I want to take this photo” forces you to explain your feelings. You did after all stop to take the photo because you “felt” it could be a good photo. But why? Was it because the light was good? Was there something extraordinary happening? The more you ask yourself why and the more you answer why, the more you’ll start to feel the moment and start seeing creatively. Remember, it’s all about feeling and communicating that feeling to the viewer.

So now that you know why you want to take the photo, you have to ask yourself, “what is the main message of the photo?” This question will better refine the first question, helping you define the actual subject whether it be exquisite shapes and colors or a person whose face tells a story of a life-long struggling journey. Whatever it is, it prepares you for the next question:

“How am I going to take the picture effectively?” Well, you can start by thinking of the first two questions and what their answers were. Imagine this as an example:

Say you’re sitting in a car at a red light and see a man starting to cross the street. You feel it can make a good photo, so you ask yourself “why” and answer “because the sky is blazing red and the timing just right.” So you quickly ask yourself the next question, “what is the main message of the photo” and answer “to get the feeling and mood of an urban sunset.” Next you swiftly take out the camera (shame on you not having it out already) and ask yourself the final question; “How am I going to take the picture effectively?” You struggle at first, then you realize that timing is everything. So you quickly compose the shot, frantically making sure the buildings are lined up roughly using the rule of thirds and wait until the man crossing the street is right in the middle of the blinding sun, creating an awesome editorial like silhouette.

These three questions will become second-nature to you and soon you will find yourself asking and answering these questions sub-consciously. Just remember once again, that communicating your feelings through your photographs by using your creative eye and brain, all linked together will make for amazing, memorable photos.

Study Amazing Photos And Books

Granted, I’m not an amazing photographer by any sorts, just an average amateur, but I believe that if you want to take good photos, you can, and you can do so without going to school. I am self taught in pretty much everything I do, photography being my main passion. A big influence for me are amazing photos. You can learn a lot by studying them and figuring out what makes it an awesome photo just by asking yourself the same three “why”, “what” and “how” questions mentioned above. I sometimes spend hours just analyzing photos, both to enjoy and also to figure out the ingredients of making it a memorable photo. Go to sites like Flickr, Photo.net, 500px and 1X because not only do they have photos, they have amazing photos. Especially 1X. Look at the photos that interest you and ask yourself why they interest you. Just start studying them, and read the peoples reactions to the photos. Learn everything there is to know.

If you like to learn through books and want something good to read, I’d suggest picking up at least 3 out of the 5 books mentioned here because all 5 of these books have made a significant impact on my photography:

  • The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman
  • Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson
  • Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3 by Scott Kelby
  • The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes by Joe McNally
  • The Camera (Ansel Adams Photography, Book 1) by Ansel Adams and Robert Baker

Did you notice that I picked 5 books on 5 completely different subjects? That’s because with these 5 books you can learn everything from off-camera lighting and composition, to Photoshop and exposure. These books combined together are just awesome to read and study, and because they’re written by very well known photographers, you know there’s good info to gather inside.

Get Constructive Criticism

Improving your photography and taking good photos means you have to get advice from the pros, because they’ve been where you’re at and know the good and bad, and the right and wrong in photography. I personally have never talked to a real “professional” photographer face-to-face. I’ve only chatted with pros through the use of web forums and email. I’d suggest, if you can, to meet a few pros and join them in a few gigs or whatnot, which is actually something on my to-do list because working with an actual pro will give you hands-on experience and get real feedback, real constructive criticism, unlike the kind your family and friends give you.

I’d suggest you sign up to one or all of these critique websites because they, too, can give you honest but sometimes blunt, constructive criticism. Google the following to find the sites:

  • photocritique
  • flickr
  • digital-photography-school
  • And last but not least my favorite and by far the best of them all, 1X. You have to sign up to see and use their critique system, but it’s totally worth it, and free.

What you do is you sign up to one or all of the critique websites, and post a photo that you want to receive some feedback one. Most of the time these sites require you to give feedback on at least one photo before posting your own. This makes the community balanced, so everyone doesn’t just keep posting pictures for critique and never give out any critiques themselves.

In addition to critique websites, there are a few photography blogs that I love, also. The first being the well-known blog authored by David Hobby called Strobist. His blog is mainly about off-camera lighting, or hence the name, strobes. I have to mention him just for the sake of mentioning him, Ken Rockwell. He’s pretty much a Nikon fanatic that talks jokes a lot about a wealth of different subjects. He also has a lot of great information on Nikon camera gear. Joshua Hoffine is probably one of my favorite photographers because he sets up his shots as if they’re movies. He also has a great blog so I would recommend that you follow him just so you can see his latest amazing work and how he creates them.

And now for the no brainer…

Keep Pressing That Shutter!

Practice makes perfect and taking photos is no exception. If you want to become the next best photographer in town, or in the world (hey it’s possible!) you have to get out and start shooting more. And for those who log in 60 plus hours of work a week and still strive to be a great photographer, you have to find time to get out and shoot. It’s tough, I know. I only work around 50 hours a week at my retail job here in Berkley, Michgan and know first-hand how hard it is finding time to take photos.

If you want to get better, you have to dedicate time to shoot pictures. When I first got into photography I didn’t spend more than a few hours a month with my camera. And it showed; My photos looked the same as they did when I first started. Something needed to be done so I got into the habit of spending a few hours every week working on my technique. That eventually developed into a few hours every other day learning how to take photos. Soon I’d find myself spending hours upon hours every single day taking photos and learning, that I think my head literally got a few centimeters bigger from all the information I had gathered!

Final Words

If there’s one thing that I’ve found out over the last year while trying to become a better photographer, it’s that attitude has everything to do with photos. Most of this article has nothing to do with an actual photography “technique” if you will, because I feel that if you’re told to take photos a certain way you’re constricted within a set silly rules, and you will never be able to explore photography with your own feelings. Anyways, I hope I brought up some good points, ones that you will take into action soon because if you do, I know you’ll soon discover that there is a great photographer within you. You just gotta have the motivation to continue and have the right attitude.