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Being so obsessed with photography, friends and family tend to think of me as an expert in the field. I’ve got the gear, they love the pictures and I live and breath the medium, so the credentials as far as they know add up. With this perceived status comes the occasional question regarding the craft from folks who are just getting into it and being that I love to geek out talking about photography, the question will be fielded with the utmost respect and interest. Let the perception become reality, even for just a moment!

Last week a friend at church asked a good one; one that tied him up with me for a good 10-20 minutes that he’ll never get back for sure. He had some experience with film in the past but had been away from photography for a while. Earlier this year he purchased his first DSLR (a Canon Rebel I believe) and along with it bought a book on composition. He liked landscapes, portraits and macro. His question: “How do I get started?”

That was a first for me. Some folks say they want to learn more about their camera or ask how to take great pictures, but this question was totally different. How do you start? Where to begin? I don’t think he expected me to ramble on like I did after asking the question, but I was really sort of feeling for the answer – it was not something you chalk up in the front brain shelves like, “get down low” or “add a strong foreground element.” It required me going back to the beginning, filtering things forward and seeing what was left. After thinking about it a few days, I thought it would make for a great topic here at Current Photographer, so here goes. Read More→

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This week: I’m looking back at this year’s WildPhotos event, which I recently attended in London.

Taking in a series of talks about nature photography has had a great effect on the progress towards moving my own work along.

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Some quick links to things mentioned in this show:

Music featured in this episode is courtesy of Matt Stevens. You can check out more of his work here.

We hope you enjoy the show and would appreciate any feedback you may have. Send your questions and comments to Giles on Twitter @GilesBabbidge or via email.


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When you own your own business, you often want to take on the world. You want to constantly do new projects, take on new assignments and launch new stuff. Over committing and over extending comes from good intentions. But, it can often leave a trail of frustration and disappointment for yourself and for others involved.

I adopted this mantra for my own business and even my personal life a few months ago. So far, I’ve stuck to it with steadfast dedication, and it’s unbelievable how helpful it’s been to me. So I wanted to share it with all of you, too. Here it is:

Do what you say you’re gonna do.

Simple, right? Actually it’s not, and here’s why. When you follow this mantra you are unable to commit to doing anything you’re not going to do. It puts an end to empty good intentions and starts every decision with a serious conversation on whether or not I’m going to commit. And if I can’t commit, saying no is hard. But, I remind myself that I’d rather say no than let someone down. And when I say yes, I mean it. When I commit, I do it.

This mantra has one other level to it. I have found that when you over commit to something (or to many things), you skim the surface of what’s expected. You might complete tasks late. You might not give them your all. In the end, even though you made an effort, more than likely you’re disappointing someone by not approaching it with the unbelievable passion you might be capable of if you had only hand selected the things you’re willing to 120% commit to doing… and doing amazingly well.

Make every day within the business much more satisfying and rewarding by following these simple guidelines.

Here they are: Read More→

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Nov
08

Magic Lantern – Behind My Eyes

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Being a fan of High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography, I’ve become very intimate with the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function on my Canon camera. What I’ve come to realize is that obtaining the entire tonal range of an image at 1 EV increments can be difficult if your AEB settings will only allow 3 exposures to be produced. Sometimes -2, 0 and +2 are just not enough. If you have an extra $300+, you could purchase a Promote Control which offers amazing bracketing controls, but it’s hard to justify that kind of purchase for some of us.

Then, there’s Magic Lantern. It’s a third party software for Canon cameras (sorry Nikon) that sits on top of the camera’s firmware and adds awesome flexibility to DSLR video shooting, but also gives up to exposures for HDR bracketing and a cool Autodetect feature that takes some of the guesswork out of bracketing. I’ve been flirting with downloading the product onto my 60D for some time, but finally pulled the trigger a couple of weeks ago. The video below will take you through the options for bracketing on the 60D prior to having Magic Lantern, then will show how things have changed with it. Take a look.

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When you review IOS apps you tend to experience a sense of deja vu in that so much of what you see has already been done, and done, and done… So finding new and exciting apps to share with the Current Photographer readers becomes progressively more difficult as time goes on, and so much of what I see is just a different twist on something that has already been done–and sometimes overdone. After all, my goal in writing these reviews is to share with readers apps that I actually use. And frankly, I don’t use seventeen apps that do the same thing. I select my favorite and use it.

WordFoto is not the first app of its kind that I saw. There are others out there, but I was not satisfied with them enough to actually use them for my own photos. But finding another such app ultimately led me to WordFoto.

WordFoto allows you to take or select a photo, add one or more words, and it works its magic by combining the words and photos in an attractive format. Here is a photo that I took in the app while writing this article. Yes, I stopped just now and took it, cropped it within the app, and uploaded it to Dropbox from my iPhone 4. Then I went into the “Words” menu in WordFoto and added a new word set that contains the words, “Zeke”, “cat”, and “meow”. I selected that set then went to the “Style” menu. For this photo I selected “Classic Color” and it is ready to export to the camera roll. Read More→

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Let’s face it. We all want to land that dream client. We want that fantasy photo shoot. We think about what it would be like to be there, on set, camera in hand, shooting the photograph of our dreams.

When we ponder our photography marketing and wonder if it’s working for us, it’s critical to make sure our efforts are directly targeted at the type of work we dream of. How do we get from here to there?

Step One: Define the dream client’s persona

We cannot attain the shoot of our dreams if we haven’t formally and fully defined the persona of the decision maker we need to win over. In other words, we may have fantasized about what it would be like to be there. But do we know the exact person (or group of people) who will make the decision to hire us? Do we know where they hang out, what websites they read, what influencers they have, what things they dislike? If you don’t know, spend some time researching, talking to other similar individuals and determine all of the possible attributes that make up this decision maker’s persona.

For example, a sample decision maker’s persona might be described like this:

  • eats on the go
  • loves small dogs (she has two)
  • lives and works in the city
  • works late at night often
  • goes to charity events (at least once per month) with coworkers
  • collects vinyl records
  • price of photography isn’t an issue / not reason for deciding
  • works for her clients; she is the decision maker, but the client must love her choice
  • her shoots are rapid and she needs someone who she can book quickly

Step Two: Be where they are Read More→

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Oct
25

OSXcellence – LightFrame Review

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Great images will always be pleasing on the eye, but the overall impression a viewer will get is dependant on how that image is presented. This includes factors such as whether the image is digital or on paper, editing quality, but also framing. Whilst you can just go out and buy a frame for printed pictures, digital images need the help of some software to make them stand out. LightFrame uses OSX’s in-built textures to superimpose digital frames around your pictures, but is it a presentation improver or degrader?

The first thing I noticed about LightFrame is how dodgy the viewing controls are. I tried to zoom in and out of the picture, but just ended up with a semi-zoomed-in view which was heavily distorted – not a good start. Loading up the tools in LightFrame is easy enough (assuming you guess that the “scenes” button opens up the tool palette), as is the process of using the tools themselves. Alongside the framing options, LightFrame has a number of other features, such as the ability to add a caption or sprite to the image, plus image cropping and resizing.

The textured frames in LightFrame are terrible, looking like something grabbed from a gaudy mid-90s web page. On the plus side, the plain colour frames look okay, and LightFrame’s in-built shadow creator is pretty nifty, allowing you to select the angle of light. In addition, LightFrame can create borderless frames (like the clip ones); that is, it can create the shiny effect of its real-life counterpart.

The rest of the functions in LightFrame work well enough, although the list of apps out there that will perform the exact same functions (many being free, I should add) is the size of several directories. It is also worth noting that many of LightFrame’s rivals work a great deal better. Read More→

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If you are a photographer it is likely that you have at least considered signing on with a microstock agency to sell your stock photos. Some photographers make a very good living selling stock photos. But how many of us make a living selling stock photos from our iPhones? Me either. But is is possible to generate some income from photos taken on your iPhone or other smart phone?

The folks at Foap say they can make that happen. The concept is simple. Download the Foap app and sign up for an account. Then upload your photos through the app. Once your photos are approved they will be added to the Foap website where they may be purchased for $10 per download. You get $5 per purchase and Foap keeps $5. It’s pretty much that simple.

So are you ready to strike it rich by selling photos on your iPhone? My guess is that you will not. But could you generate some extra income for your iPhone photos? Perhaps. My job is not to critique the concept, but to review the application.

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Oct
23

Site on Site – Behind My Eyes

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The digital age has definitely become a part of who I am, connected to the internet at every turn, but I am far from being an expert at any of it. Social networking, blogging, websites, etc. – I know a little about all of it, but that’s about it. If you’re similar to me in this way, then you can understand how difficult it was to go through the process of designing a totally new website. But I did it and am totally happy with the results (see for yourself here), so I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I learned with the other Jacks of all trades, but masters of none out there who plan to go through the same pain in the future.

Why?

You might be asking, “Why would someone who has been blogging for sometime now want to go through a total redesign?” That’s a great question and one that we should all address before actually going through with one. Jeremy Cowart was doing a website review for some of the folks at the Lifefinder Tour (Awesome – please go if you can) here in Minneapolis earlier in the year and the same thing kept coming up with each review – your website needed to reflect who you are as a photographer, not just the pictures you take. And it needed to do it quickly, because visitors are not going to stick around if they’re looking for something and you’re not showing it.

This hit me pretty square in the face being that my website was 100% my blog, which is primarily one picture a day and not one that interacted with the business I was trying to build (family and event photography). If my website was going to mean anything to helping my business grow, it was going to have to change. The decision was made.

The Brand

Unfortunately, this decision to do a redesign was just the start of the hard work. The next step was to decide who I was as a photographer and how to brand myself. I had never done that before and had put little thought to it, but if your website was going to be you, a decision needed to be made of who you are! The first thing we see and think of for most businesses is their logo or a trademarked product, neither of which I had, so that was the starting point.

For a long period of time, I tried to come up with my own logo design, but as stated in the first paragraph, I am no expert at anything so this turned out to be a spinning wheel kind of thing and lasted much longer than intended. I finally contacted a designer who had put together some of my friends’ logos and worked with him to get one put together. The key, once again, was for the logo to represent who you are. I needed something simple, photo related, somewhat informal (no BOLD type) but unique. I think we hit pretty much on the head.

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This week: I’m turning back the clock a few of weeks, to bring you another recording I made on my return from this year’s Outdoor Trade Show.

What is it like to be a photographer on the go? Is it as glamorous as people are led to believe? Well, yes and no…

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Some quick links to things mentioned in this show:

Music featured in this episode is courtesy of Matt Stevens. You can check out more of his work here.

We hope you enjoy the show and would appreciate any feedback you may have. Send your questions and comments to Giles on Twitter @GilesBabbidge or via email.


Subscribe
to The Active Photographer podcast in iTunes or from our RSS feed.
You can listen to this episode by clicking the play button below.


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