Technical and business advice. DSLR intro, portrait photography. Other genres. Promotion.



General Business Advice

  • Get a pro Flickr account, be active on Flickr, engage with people
    • Allow creative commons use (about 1 in 10 photos)
    • Flickr tags: mood and description (romantic, calming, woman, sunset)
  • Host a small art party with fellow photographers, combine contact lists and promote/sell
    • What sells? Small items like greeting cards!
    • Large variety with my best images
    • Pack wrapped with bow (good gift ideas for friends, coworkers)
    • Bargain basket: ltd. edition of discounted cards
    • "One free card if you buy ten"
    • Article has more advice on how to make and sell them
  • Don't listen to outdated advice (by established pros)
  • Learn about personal selling (face-to-face)
  • Take customer service seriously! Experience starts way before photo sessionDirections to reach me
    • Where to park
    • "Thank you" note
    • Surprise preview photos
  • Remember that winter is low season
  • Care for your friends and keep communication open
  • Going pro: guide on Digital Photography School
    • Work: 1/2 of all time is actual photography work
    • Discuss with clients why they hire me (great sample conversation in article!)
    • State my rates or work out a budget, don't start work w/o deposit!
    • Agree on a timeline: stress transparency
    • Market market market!!
      • Shout it from the rooftops, offer photos & exposure to businesses
      • Team up with others
      • Online
  • 5 cornerstones of building a photography business
    1. Technical proficiency: quality, consistent product
    2. Legalities: be ready to deal with them (permits, licenses)
    3. Operating costs: know and understand your costs of running business
    4. Research: be on top of market trends, developments
    5. Manage clients: have a solid, automated business workflow so you can take good care of them
  • Total up all your expenses
  • Figure in all taxes and credit card fees
  • Consider the total cost of goods sold
  • Factor in your time, workload, and financial situation!
  • How much money/hours per week? E.g. 1000$ / 25 hours = 40$ per hour

Blog as a Promotional Tool

Article on Digital Photography School

  • Ideal: website + blog!!
  • Blog builds trust (relationship!). Articles: everyday stories with amazing photos
  • Helps increase your reach & get local exposure: e.g. write about local photography
  • Helps your website rank higher
  • Helps build new collaborations
  • Tips:
    • Know your brand
    • Be personal & friendly
    • Find a way to be different
    • Make blog your "home base"

General Photography Advice

  • Shoot with the heart. Observe your emotions and let them guide you
  • Ingredients for good images:
    • Subject
    • Strong composition
    • Moment
    • Light
    • Emotional impact
  • Perspective options:
    • Low & straight on (child)
    • Downward
    • Upward
    • Wide
    • Up-close
    • Reflections
    • Behind/through things
  • Light sources at night in the city:
    • Illuminated advertisements
    • Street Lights
    • LED Lights
    • Seek and find!
  • Get close and remove clutter
  • Daily exercises:
    • Pick a color
    • Shape
    • "Sth. different"
    • Reflections
    • Everything within 2.5 meters from you
  • Look for curves
  • Look for converging lines (lines approaching each other)
    • How to find those:
      • Become aware, look and plan
      • Roads, paths
      • Shadows
      • Buildings, structures
      • Lines of streetlights
      • Look up (buildings)
      • Patterns in the ground, sand, paved
      • Look up: tall trees
      • Make lines:
        • Light painting
        • Long exposure water
      • Keep the lines in focus (plan!)
      • Accentuate in post
  • Look for light
  • Bring camera everywhere, carry little gear!
    • 1 lens
    • Cloth
    • ND filter
    • Extra card
    • Battery
  • Get a pocket camera for mobility
  • Expose with purpose: add something interesting!
  • Composition: have a second point of interest

Using Flash

Article on Digital Photography School

  • Aim flash directly at subject: even lighting, but harsh shadows & flatness
  • Bounce off a surface (ceiling, wall): nice light on top parts of subject, but shadows on protruding parts
  • Use built-in white card: reflects off surface and card, produces more even light, catchlights
  • Use white flash diffuser cap: extra accessory, evenly spreads out, eliminates harsh shadows

Image Quality

  • Minimize noise: expose to the right!
    • Get max amount of light possible without clipping
    • Article is specifically about EOS camera
  • Keep tonal contrast in mind: bright vs. dark areas!

Shutter Speed

  • Basics/introduction:
    • Fast enough to have a sharp image
    • Slow down to create movement
    • Speed up to freeze motion
    • You can hold still for about 1/60 second ("60" shutter speed)
  • Reciprocal Rule: speed should reciprocate focal length!
    • 60mm: 1/60
    • 200mm: 1/200
    • etc.
  • Use it creatively:
    • Freeze action (e.g. drops of water)
    • Pan: follow a moving subject during exposure
    • Slow down to convey motion
    • Flash (set to 1st curtain in menus) then pan during exposure
    • Long exposure (e.g. 20 seconds)


  • Metering Modes: Cheat Sheet at DPS
  • Spot metering to fine-tune exposure:
    • Spot Metering: use when subject is much brighter/darker than background
    • Measure where you want visible detail (area will be mid-tone in final photo)
    • Use Exposure Lock (* button) to lock metering results while recomposing


  • How to get telephoto focus right
    1. High Shutter Speed!
    2. Tripod
    3. Image Stabilization
    4. Aperture
      • Wide open is not as sharp as more closed
      • Very shallow DOF is unforgiving!
    5. Bump the ISO
    6. Teleconverters work, but have drawbacks


  • Keep them even, no distractions
    • Change perspective
    • Put up backdrops
    • Even colours
  • Horizon: don't cut through important parts of my subject
  • Align background to highlight important features of subject
  • Watch for bright spots!

Portrait Photography

  • Article: "Create Portraits with Depth"
    1. What are my subject's habits?
    2. What decisions have they made? (about their bodies: style, clothing, shape, hair, tattoos, jewellery, ...)
    3. How do they present themselves? (identity expressed in clothing, accessories, props): ask them about their clothes!
    4. Facial expressions, body language
      • Make them laugh!
      • Elicit emotions
    5. Look for physical features that stand out - bone structure, height, eye/hair color
  • Article: 15 tips for more powerful portraits
    1. Have respect
    2. How to tell the subject's "story"? Focus on one emotion expressed by them or you.
      • How did you feel when you met them?
    3. Look for emotion: the "unguarded moment" where the soul comes out
    4. Start with someone you know: your comfort zone
    5. Leave your comfort zone: ask strangers if you could photograph them! ("I'm a photography enthusiast" / "you'll get a copy")
    6. Choose the right focal length
      • What's your usual photography distance?
      • How much weight are you willing to carry?
      • Maximum aperture?
      • Price
    7. Choose the wrong focal length: experiment and experience
    8. Study the masters
      • Dorothea Lange – one of the first photographers of Social realism
      • Steve McCurry – probably the best color portrait maker in history
      • Richard Avedon – unique fashion and portrait photography
      • Sebastião Salgado- outstanding B&W documentary portraits
      • Annie Leibovitz- Editorial portraits
    9. Careful with DoF: too shallow and vital parts get blurred
    10. No flash
    11. Don't follow the crowd
    12. Consider the background: no distractions. You can use it as a storytelling element
    13. Have fun: jokes, show photos, don't put them into the sun
    14. Always ask their name
    15. 45 degrees light: place your subject at a 45° angle!
  • Create Mood Boards with Pinterest (inspirational sites here!)
  • Check mood boards to decide locations
    • Location will influence lens choice!
  • Find location that provides shade and interesting structures/backdrops
  • Use surroundings: e.g. sky
  • Have your camera with you to capture perfect moments

The Session: Creating a Vibe

  • Kids:
    • Get down to their height (towering above them is intimidating)
    • Be funny (dance, joke around, get them to scare you, be enthusiastic, loud, roll eyes, stumble / use props)
    • Let them run and play
  • Reassure your models
    • During booking: assure they will love the session, and professionals are there to create good photos
    • Do not mention "Photoshop" (retouching). Your job is to take photos that are instantly great
    • Ask them what they hate about photo sessions, and what they love about themselves - take mental notes
    • Talk to them as you shoot. Ask for their feelings, get them laughing
    • Women:
      • Careful with low shots! Makes them look unattractive.
      • From above: helps, but don't overdo it or it will show that you're trying to attenuate a heavy figure, and it may make them more uncomfortable


See posing guides in resources!

  • Get the subject to so something (with their hands/sth. they like)!
  • More than 1 person: stagger heads (diagonal positioning)
  • Bend body parts: e.g. shift weight to stick out hip, hand in pocket, finger hooked in belt, lean in/back/etc, cross feet
  • Use burst to capture subject in motion
  • Get them to twirl around, dance, be busy

Photographing strangers / street photography article:

  • Start out with no specific "pose": just straight-faced, no smile
    • After a few shots, warm up with jokes
  • Sit them down (find a suitable location, sit down yourself to show pose)

Flattering posing(article features lots of images!):

  • Angle away from the camera, hide "away" arm behind body.
  • Chin out, tilt head forward (accentuates jaw!)
  • Never pose beside a person thinner than you
  • Never be closest to the camera
  • Use props to hide protruding body parts
  • Use hands to define your waist
  • Clothes are important! Thin people: bright on bright background, weighty: dark clothes
  • Smile: count to three before shutter clicks. Breathe deep with eyes closed, then breathe out, eyes open, smile
  • Height correction: sit down, crop shot
  • Avoid reference objects (standard mailbox, other people)
  • The more of legs is visible, the longer they look
  • Group: short people in front, tall in the back
  • Convey motion


Article on Digital Photography School

  • Lens: 70mm crop sensor (aka 105 mm full frame)
  • Neutral background if possible (grey, black, white)
  • Have some low music playing to chill out
  • Get the model to blink 10x quickly & lick their lips
    • They relax
    • Creates fluid in eye for catchlights
    • Also reflection lips
  • Tilt subject's head slightly
  • Ask subject to dress neutrally
  • Warm up! Play around, get different expressions
  • Involve the subject: show shots, get feedback
  • Give direction and positive feedback!
  • Engage the subject, get them to talk


Great article on Digital Photography School

  • Recommended: 40-43" 5-in-1, round
  • Will require a stand or assistant!
  • Use diffuser (white) to counteract harsh light/shadow situations, e.g. light through trees


Guide on DPS

  • Solid coloured (to see faces and not stand out from group)
  • Muted, subdued colours - flattering, attention on person
  • Top and bottom in similar tones - brighter will look bigger!
  • Groups: 1-3 colours, everybody in the same palette
  • Long sleeves because arms can look fat
  • Long pants / skirts (same as above)
  • Dark socks and footwear. Bright sticks out
  • Not too much jewellery (for attention)
  • Hair should look like it normally does with these clothes - no fancy shit
  • No fresh hair cuts - rarely look best next day.

Dealing with Personalities

Article on DPS

  • The loud ones: wise-cracks and volume
    • The clown in group shots, possibly covering up insecurities
    • Smile, joke with them. Put them at ease. Don't confront.
    • Put them into comfortable surroundings: small group of friends
    • Or photograph them on their own, build rapport
    • Enlist them to round people up and get them in line
  • The shy ones: nervous laughter, no eye contact
    • Test the waters: see how they respond to shots, perhaps they warm up
    • First shy shots may show their personality and be appreciated
    • Put the camera down, talk about anything with them (scene, their clothes)
    • Try to make them laugh, compliment them while shooting
    • Go slow. Reassure them
  • The wannabe models: pouting, uncontainable enthusiasm
    • Often younger females
    • Pleasant, but extremely excited. Want to try all kinds of outfits and scenes
    • Great if you have the time!
    • Otherwise: tame them without killing enthusiasm!
    • Extract others from their shadow by praising them
    • If too much posing: suggest natural poses by referencing celebs
    • Distract them by having the group do fun things together
    • Then catch candids
  • Fellow photographers: taking their own shots, spewing photography trivia
    • Enthusiastic and secure: good. Know-it-all or insecure: bad.
    • Indulge them. Peacock a little. Discuss gear. Listen.
    • Then: impress them with your photos. Discuss merits.

Light for Portraits

  • 3 types:
    1. Open shade
      • Between sun and shade
      • You benefit from surrounding reflections
      • Consider direction my subject is facing
    2. Overcast days
      • Beautiful even light
    3. Backlighting
      • Meter for model's face
      • Just under the eye closest to you
  • Sunset portraits:
    • Facing the sun
    • Side Light: 1 shoulder facing light, face angled into sun (over shoulder)
    • Sun behind subject: note that it will blow out the background!
  • Focus on eyes and get light into them: catchlights
  • Use reflectors: bounce light up from below, or diffuse straight sunlight
  • High key portraits: expose to the right, don’t clip. Diffuse light with reflector.
  • Midday light: go to shade & use residual light, burn background, use silhouettes

Other Genres

Shooting Sunsets

Article on DPS

  • Camera settings:
    • Manual
    • ISO 100
    • f/11
  • Shutter: fast/slow enough to retain sky detail
  • White balance: daylight/sunny
  • Exposure: use graduated density filter or HDR
  • Composition: perhaps exclude sun from image
  • Keep shooting after sun is gone
  • Don't forget sunrise! :-)

Food Photography

  • Less food on the plate! Use plate as frame
  • Use paper (ex. baking paper) to add texture
  • Contrast between food and background
  • Natural spillover
  • Unobtrusive plates, cutlery to bring out food
  • WIP shots
  • What makes food intriguing? ex. ice cream: creamy, soft
  • Start looking at all food from photographer’s POV
  • Half-finished plate