Getting great portraiture especially in a corporate environment can be a challenge. Recently I was hired by the exuberant folks at Results Advertising to do portraits of a law firm client that they were tasked to rebrand their website. They didn't want the usual stiff or posed images, but something more approachable and fun. Results had a style of lighting and background that they were going for, so that gave me a specific direction. All that was left was to get the subjects to relax and have fun. So here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Sit them down. I learned in the beginning of my career from a very talented photographer and former model that if you sit people, they can be more relaxed than standing. Sometimes you have no choice but to have someone stand, but usually I sit people first, just to get them to loosen up.
2. Be Silly! I've had the great pleasure to work with some of the best Child Wranglers in the business. If I learned anything from them it was that being silly is a great distractor. Not that my subject Allison needed it, she's a natural, but I like being silly anyway because why not? It makes the day more fun.
3. Cover all the Angles. When I shoot portraits, I have my subjects face left, right straight on, from the back, High, Low. Up, Down and all around! Keeping the subject constantly changing positions, not only helps them to be comfortable, it also helps you as a photographer to explore more interesting angles and crops.
4. The Eyes have it. Not only is frequent change of body position important, so is changing where the eyes look. A very talented creative director told me that there's nothing worse than no variety. When he got a shoot submitted to him, he wanted to see variety and lots of choices. He was right, especially if you're laying out a magazine spread, website or ad campaign. You need enough options to put a story together.
5. Know your Subject. Sometimes you really don't have much time to get to know who your'e photographing. But I always like to chat a little with all of my subjects just to get an idea of who they are and what they like. Even celebrities that you think you might know, may give you great insight into something that you never knew. Besides it's just good manners to show that you care about who's in front of your camera. Treating people with respect and dignity goes along way.
It's very exciting to shoot again with Mavis Foods and their great new Bazodee sauces and marinades. Check out Bazodee. It's a great company and their sauces are terrific! Plus they have great recipe ideas. Shooting food presents many challenges. None more than having a great food stylist to make the food look inviting.
It's that time of year! The woods are gearing to explode in Fall color! Here are some tips to help you capture the beauty of the season.
1. Watch the weather.
I love the way this shot happened. I was on assignment for New Jersey Monthly Magazine. They wanted me to go through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and capture the beauty of Fall. I picked a day where I knew there would be morning fog because of my aviation training in weather, calculating dew point. It was just after sunrise when I came upon the perfect spot in the road that combined color and fog.
You can use many things to frame the main subject of a photo, whether it's tree branches, buildings, etc. In this case I wanted to use the fog as a way to frame the foliage on the bank of the Delaware River.
3. Diagonal Lines.
This was literal one of the very first things that I ever learned in my High School Photography class and have used it through out my career. My teacher said Diagonal lines are Dynamic! My photo assistants have joked with me for quoting Mr. Maioli way too much. But they really are dynamic and draw your eye into a shot.
4. Water, Water, Water
Water is such a great way to accent Autumn foliage. In this photo I used a 4 stop neutral density filter during the middle of the day to create a long 10 second exposure which causes water to look smooth and creamy.
5. Help from above
There's so many new relatively inexpensive drones on the market today that produce very high quality imagery. Safety is important, so be sure to get proper training and follow FAA regulations. You can get more drone tips at AEROJO. All of these images were taken on assignment for New Jersey Monthly. All Drone activity was conducted outside of Delaware River Water Gap National Park because Drones are not to fly in National Parks. So make sure you know the rules and fly safe.
Have a question? Contact me @ email@example.com
Summer Vacation is a great time to catch up on your family photos and document some of the great places in your travels. Here are some tips to capturing great memories.
1. Use the unexpected or even purchase fails. While in California, we ran out of sunscreen, so we bought some cheap store brand in a hurry. It wouldn't absorb into the skin no matter how much we rubbed. So I grabbed my son Caleb who's also clowning around and covered his face. This idea is actually an inspiration of a photo I did of him a few years back. Which leads to the next tip.
2. Think in texture not just color. Like most kids, going to the beach means playing in the sand. Sometimes converting an image to black and white emphasizes texture that may get diminished in a color photo. Be sure to add more contrast to the image after you change it from color to black and white for a more dramatic effect.
3. Bring Exciting Wardrobe. Spice up your pics with a unique item of clothing. I got this colorful raincoat on clearance at the Gap and brought it with us on vacation. It also got my daughter Rosie excited to do something fun.
4. Get up Early! Today it's very easy to remove people from photos, but it can be a hassle. I discovered this gorgeous location in Laguna Beach and wanted it to be empty. So Rosie and I got there at 6:30AM. Early morning is also a great time of day for beautiful light.
5. Use other platforms. There are so many other camera platforms out there today available at low costs more than ever before. Drones, water proof cameras, time-lapse functions, etc. add new dimensions to your vacation photos. Always be careful to follow local restrictions and FAA regulations when it comes to flying drones.
I've had the great pleasure of working with many celebrities over my career. It can be exciting and very intimidating at the same time. So here are some valuable tips that I've learned over the years to keep the nerves in check and the focus on creating exciting images.
This is the most important aspect of the shoot. The more communication you have with the client over what the expectations are of what you're trying to accomplish is key to understanding the scope of the shoot. What's the purpose of the shoot, promoting a movie, product, a mood based on the theme for an article? What are the most important elements of the photo? Know what the expectations are before hand and prepare well.
Where is the shoot taking place and most importantly how much time do you have for set up, the actual photo session and then break down of equipment. When I photographed Les Paul he was very generous with his time and his home, but we didn't abuse his time, we still made multiple set ups, so we could move quickly from one scenario to the next. Most other times you won't be as lucky. Which brings us to Number 3.
3. Plan B
I did a shoot of a well known TV Journalist, who to my surprise when I arrived at the TV studio with my assistants and van load of equipment, only allowed me to photograph him during commercial breaks. needless to say I had to work fast with very minimal equipment and still get something compelling. So have a back up plan if things change (and they usually do!) be ready to have less time than you think!
Celebrities have crazy schedules, so be flexible. Many times they run late or reschedule at the last minute. Other times it's just a matter of common courtesy. One of the shoots that I did with Buddy the Cake Boss was scheduled at night in front of his home to promote a Smart Home System from Elan. My assistant and I got there several hours before he would arrive and planned out exactly what we were going to do. He arrived late after a 12 hour TV shoot, I'm sure the last thing he wanted to see was me and my crew in his drive way, but being the pro that he is, Buddy just smiled and said "can we do this quick". I said we'll be out of here before you know it and we were because of our extensive preparation.
5. Be respectful and patient
Celebrities are human too! A popular morning show host came to my studio once in a bad mood not wanting to shoot. I took a deep breath and just started engaging in small talk finding out her interests and playing on that to get her to decompress from what ever it was that set her off before she came. After letting her see that she was in control and surrounded by people that had her interests at heart, she changed completely and became very cooperative. You'd be surprised how far patience and putting others first will get you.
We're very excited to shoot with Mavis Foods and their new line of Sauces that are created from age old family recipes from Barbados. When shooting food, it's critical to have a food stylist who can not only make beautiful dishes, but who has experience styling food for photography. Some of the things that you have to watch out for is smudges on dishes, wilting foods, as well as keeping the food looking glossy and fresh. It's also important to watch out for cracked or chipped plates and bowls. Lighting is very important. If we cannot take advantage of beautiful natural light, we have a full compliment of strobes to recreate any type of lighting condition needed.
Love the way this ad turned out for LeisureCare. There are certain times of the year where air temperature and lake temperature give us morning fog on the water in the north east. Knowing how to read and understand dew point in a weather forecast combined with water temperature is a sure way to predict when this will happen. Special thanks to Tina Stafford of Stafford Creative Inc.
This is one of my most special Magazine Covers ever! The models are very dear friends of mine whom I've worked with for more years than I care to admit. They still look amazing! Thanks Martin and Yolanda Rinab and of course a big Thanks to the awesome Laura Baer of New Jersey Monthly Magazine for making it all happen.
Preparation is everything! When photographing little ones, It's really important to have everything prepped and ready to shoot. From camera settings, wardrobe, background, you name it. Once everything is ready to go, then you can literally focus on capturing that Moment!
Here's a video shot by the great Dina Pace of Pace Productions of a shoot I did for Autism Speaks and Toys are US.