Category Archives: Photo

Photography portfolio.

Think Before You Shoot

This post was written in collaboration with Ms. Katie Lantukh, a Digital Communications Specialist at Pyxl, Inc.

We all know the difference between good pictures and bad pictures. Almost everyone that has a camera phone and have access to photo plugins become instant photography professionals – they can edit, filter and publish right from their phones. On the other side of taking photos, are your viewers. They can judge bad photos at the drop of a hat and simply ignore what you shared.

So whether you’re posting photos for your 300 closest friends to double-tap and hit “Like”, or you run your Fortune 500 company’s Facebook–  consider the following thoughts before hitting the share button.

1.   Consider the best composition.

If you’re going to be sharing on your favorite social outlet, think about the positioning and framing as you’re lining up the shot. Are they any distracting objects in the background? Is it too dark/too light? Are you following the Rule of Thirds? The Rule of Thirds is one of the easiest tricks to follow to capture more interesting shots. Check out this quick demo on the Rule of Thirds –  In other words, don’t just get the photos you want to take, make the photos you want to have.

2. Have compelling content.

Make sure you’ve got compelling stuff in your images that are amusing, appealing and quite frankly, something that people can talk about. Remember that filters don’t make your photos beautiful, but it’s the subject you’re capturing that makes all the difference.

3. Make your photos share-worthy.

I’m not talking about the awesome selfies you take every day, but the variety and  unique things you take photos of. There are a couple of things people are tired of seeing: Selfies, the food you’re about to eat, and cringe-worthy portraits where you attempt to look like someone you’re not (Okay, maybe the last example is worthy enough to pass along to friends).

4. Tag Intelligently.

So, if you’re sharing on Facebook or Instagram, who can you tag? Is this something that other people will want to share on their own walls, or even allow themselves to be in it? Don’t embarrass anyone. Get their permission first before you get some messages.

5. Zoom with your legs.

Using the zoom function on today’s phones doesn’t really create the same quality as using a zoom lens on a standard SLR camera. Every phone camera’s zooming capabilities will likely get better with each new release. You should consider walking back to capture a bigger scene up or walk forward to get a more personal close up. Taking quick shots are ok, sometimes you can get lucky, but you really can never beat a great photo you worked hard for.

6.   Natural light is your best lighting tool.

Granted, there will be scenarios where you have to use a flash, but do your best to find sources of light that are outside your camera. If you’re taking product shots and can move your product near a window, do that. If you have human subjects, make them move so they’re not standing under weird overhead lights. If you have the time, it’s always worth the extra minute to compose your perfect picture before you hit the shutter. Also, since there’s no knowing when you have to take that opportune photo, consider the Golden Hours of Photography for the optimum breathtaking shots

If you’re self conscious of your photography skills, don’t worry. Keep these things in mind and remember: “the best camera is the one you have with you.” – Chase Jarvis




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Food for Thought: 95 Imaginative Ways to Take Your Next Photograph

I recently found a sheet full of awesome photo ideas inside my old college camera bag. The 5-paged document was handed out by my own college professor but they were written by Ray Spicer, a photography professor from the University of Wisconsin. His ideas were very unique and as his title, “Food For Thought” suggests – it’s a fun and different way for aspiring new photographers to think about how to get those interesting photos. Although his tips were conceived  before the advancements we have with digital cameras, all the ideas here are still relevant for anyone who loves taking photographs. I hope this will guide you in your own pursuit in capturing that next awesome shot!

Be honest. Photograph your way. Photograph the way you really want to photography. Push it, have fun with it and let it develop. Don’t make photographs you think you should make. Don’t make photographs based on other’s expectations. Make them for yourself. Enlightened viewers will understand and appreciate images made for the right reasons. Honest images are ultimately the best images. We all have influences. Just don’t be pushed around by your influences. Let them synthesize within you so that what you express is a true extension of you. Make photographs you (from the heart) want to make. Be honest.

  1. Make and ordinary object unrecognizable
  2. Give an ordinary object sensual or emotional qualities because of the lighting and the way it is printed.
  3. Design a photograph ahead of time – maybe sketch it out–then make the photograph.
  4. Photograph yourself in as many ways as you can.
  5. Make a night photograph indoors leaving the shutter open with a cable release using small light source like a flashlight, candle, electronic flash, sparklers etc.
  6. Do a night photograph outdoors.
  7. Passionately express your love in a photograph.
  8. Make a photograph with “meaning”.
  9. Life and Death (Symbolism)
  10. As an exercise, shoot part or all of a roll ignoring subject matter and thinking only about composition.
  11. Use light as the subject.
  12. Give space or atmosphere importance in a photograph
  13. Elevate the ordinary object to a religious symbol or give it great importance.
  14. The wind.
  15. Skin.
  16. Alter the “reality” of what is in front of the lens.
  17. Photograph something the way you want it to be, not the way it is.
  18. Combine the human figure and the landscape.
  19. Make a photograph no one else could possibly make.
  20. Make a photograph using your bathroom as an environment.
  21. Make a series of photographs within 30 feet from your bed.
  22. Record a love relationship so that the viewer will understand.
  23. Go to a boring, uninteresting place and make interesting photographs.
  24. Ask a stranger if you can make a photograph of them.
  25. Go to a new place and record not things, but your impression of things.
  26. Shoot randomly (from the hip, etc.). Then crop later. Find compositions that work.
  27. Photograph parts of your body (remember, composition is critical).
  28. Make a photograph based in some way on another work of art (sculpture, painting, etc.).
  29. Make a photograph that depends more on the subtlety of the lighting and print quality than the subject matter.
  30. Try to make the very best negative and print you can make, as a technical exercise.
  31. Make something three dimensional and photograph it in such a way that the photograph is the work of art, not a documentation of another work of art.
  32. Photograph one of your parents in a non-traditional way.
  33. Do a small series of photographs with relate to one another in some way.
  34. When you see a great sunset, turn around (180 degrees); that’s the nice light (almost always).
  35. Photograph the same object or composition at different times of the day as an exercise in understanding light.
  36. Make an angry photograph.
  37. Make a photograph in such a way that the composition or design of the image is so unique and so personal that the compositions itself becomes the statement or meaning of the image.
  38. Make a portrait of someone you care about or are attracted to in such a way that the viewer will understand to some extent how you feel about that person.
  39. Take a chance. Make a photograph which reveals something very personal or private about yourself or a friend. Some of the very best photographic images come from taking risks.
  40. Make photographs using a nude model, possibly yourself. The challenge here is to do it in a personal, unique way. Artists have used nude models for thousands of years, so uniqueness, though quite possible, is difficult.
  41. Make a political statement which is also beautiful.
  42. Photograph your dreams.
  43. Photograph your depression or ecstasy.
  44. Paint or draw on your photograph.
  45. Combine small photographs to make a larger one.
  46. Invent a new photographic technique
  47. Read about a “Fine Art Photographer’s” work and make a photograph in the “spirit” of that photographer, but add something that makes it “yours.”
  48. To “free” yourself, make a photograph different from any  you have ever seen.
  49. Think of the camera as a tool and photography as a medium for creative expression. Insist on controlling the medium. Don’t take photographs – make photographs.
  50. Don’t give in to the obvious.
  51. Be free, have fun, don’t stifle your instincts.
  52. Regarding your ideas, beware of societal norms – avoid the strait jacket.
  53. Make the photograph you are afraid to make.
  54. Combine photographs with another creative medium.
  55. Photograph your own home.
  56. Create order from disorder.
  57. Explore the “erotic”.
  58. Deal with your deepest feelings – be vulnerable.
  59. Photograph in such a way that the images must be printed very small to be successful.
  60. Moved by a good book or an emotional experience? Make photographs before you lose the feeling.
  61. Include your own creative writing with a photograph or series of photographs.
  62. Keep a small notebook of ideas. Some ideas will escape if you don’t write them down. I speak from experience.
  63. Try not to be detached from your photographs.
  64. Respect your photographs. Take charge and control every detail.
  65. Photograph the places of your childhood.
  66. Being overly influenced by mass thinking, the trendy, or the fashionable can weaken your work.
  67. Shoot lots photographs on one idea. Look at it–think about it and do it again. Let the idea penetrate your psyche.
  68. Satisfied with your work most of the time? This is most worrisome.
  69. Frustrated? Wish you were getting better faster? Spending a lot of time researching for better ideas? Trying with only moderate success to perfect your technique? Hungry, but unsure of yourself? Vibrate with excitement when you succeed? Celebrate! You’re GROWING!!
  70. Investigate things a little closer.
  71. Get intimately involved with something meaningful to you.
  72. Reveal something–open your eyes.
  73. Offended by racism or sexism? Make a creative statement about it (through photography).
  74. Take the viewer and yourself somewhere neither has been.
  75. While very carefully considering the consequences, break some rules, technical and otherwise.
  76. These suggestions will mean something different in two years–again in five years.
  77. Photograph things you take for granted.
  78. Use your imagination more. Think more. Stretch the possibilities.
  79. Fine are photography takes work, dedication, and passion, but the rewards are immeasurable.
  80. Worry less about what you will photograph and more about how you will photograph your subjects.
  81. Work with several vastly different subjects and treat them photographically in a similar way so that they “hold together” as a series.
  82. Write a statement about your work. Imagine that you are having a solo exhibition and that this statement will appear with your photographs. In other words, think about what your work means.
  83. Insist on BEAUTIFUL light. Never settle for less. Wait for it. Create it. Recognize it. Treasure it. Understand it. If it’s just no there, walk away.
  84. There are many ways to approach photography as there are ways to think, see, and feel.
  85. Regarding the value of good technique versus good creative ideas: the two cannot be separated. Good ideas are diluted without good technique. Good technique without good ideas is vacuous and empty.
  86. Try to establish an attitude about your subject matter before making photographs. Don’t let your subject matter control you. Take charge. Have a plan. As you are photographing, think about the final print and ways that you can get that to print.
  87. Art is a tangible manifestation of pure creativity. Do not allow anyone to limit your possibilities. Do not let traditions and theories control you. Beware the limiters.
  88. Photograph with a friend.
  89. Go on an afternoon/evening road trip with the sun to your back. Stop and photograph along the way. This approach has worked well for me lately.
  90. Stay humble. None of us can conceive of what we have yet to learn. Growth is stifled by inflated egos. On the other hand, enjoy your successes!
  91. Collaborate with someone on a photographic project.
  92. When you are photographing, think all the way to the final print. Anticipating technical decisions down the road will help you during the actual photographing.
  93. Shoot the same roll of film twice. This work best if dark backgrounds are used either the first or second time through.
  94. Sun light isn’t always the best light. Your subjects need what they need.
  95. Allow an unexpected image on a contact sheet to generate a series of photographs.
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