Strike a Pose: The Do’s and Don’ts of Posing

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Everyone with a camera phone does it at least once a week: we take photos of ourselves. Many of us have come to rely on that front-facing camera and know what angle we look just right. We know how far to extend our arms, how to slouch our shoulders or pull them back and we all know what filter looks right. I hate to be the barer of bad news, but it doesn’t translate in portrait photography or executive portraits.

Most of the poses you’re using for Instagram or Facebook selfies don’t work on a shoot. But here are a few tips on how to strike the perfect pose in your headshot.

DO:

Relax
Take it easy, it’s just a photo. Breathe, listen to direction and don’t get too stiff!

Keep your chin down
I cannot stress this enough. Keep. Your. Chin. Down. Not only will it actually slim your face, it will generally hide double-chins. Just make eye contact with the camera and make sure you’re facing the photographer unless otherwise directed.

Take suggestion
More times than not, photos come out odd for two reasons. The first is the lighting was off in some way. The second reason is the subject decided to go overboard with expressions or movement. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to feel free in front of the camera, but always be open to suggestion. I promise, I’ll make sure your photos turn out flawless.

 

DON’T:

Look up
Keep. Your. Chin. Down. Please!

Do the “thin lean”
This is what’s commonly referred to as the “college girl pose” or “my little tea pot.” You know it – hand on hip, turned to the side, knees slightly bent, head tilted. This doesn’t go well on a DSLR, despite looking suitable on your Instagram feed in sparing doses. Please stand up straight and look at the photographer, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Freak out!
Again, relax. We’re just taking photos. I’ll make sure you’re retouched in post-production. Just keep calm and smile.

Is #InstaModel a real thing?

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Image via Instagram

 

Warning: this is a very opinionated, industry-influenced blog on the rise of the #InstaModel.

Everyone with a camera phone and an Instagram thinks they’re a model lately. I’ve never seen so many posts with the hashtags #model #instamodel #instahot – it’s almost offensive to a person like myself coming from a background in fashion photography. Men and women are constantly, almost obsessively posting pictures of themselves hoping that an agency like Wilhemina, Ford, or Campbell Models will come knocking on their door. As a professional photographer who’s shot thousands of models and now specializes in executive portraits, I’ve seen it all and can honestly say I’m baffled by the rise of the #InstaModel.

I’ve had clients come by the studio to have shots submitted for major publications – which is generally routine – but then seeing how they decided to submit by looking at their Instagram struck me as odd. It’s already a hard-enough industry to break into, but add onto that a plethora of selfies on your social media accounts and it’s almost impossible.

Spoiler Alert: Almost all of you aspiring models pitching yourselves on Instagram will probably not make it. Not because you’re not attractive, not because you’re not ambitious, but because you don’t fit the measurements of sample clothes and you’re not pursuing a career through the proper avenues.

1. Measurements:

The fashion industry looks for their models based on amazing looks and specific sample sizes. The minimum requirements for female models is in the 5’9 to 6’ ft. range. The minimum male model requirements are in the 6’ to 6’3 ft. range. These vary slightly based on agency requirements from the client, but this is the standard.

2. The Proper Avenues:

If you’re serious about pursuing a modeling career, I cannot stress how important it is to have an agent. By going out and seeking proper representation, you increase your likelihood of getting signed immensely. Make sure that you call around, get headshots done and find an agent that has your best interests at heart.

3. Take Control of your Image

Everyone’s on the internet. Everyone can find your posts and see your images on their feed. Make sure you’re posting things that won’t conflict with the image of an agency and make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Follow these three simple steps and you can go from posting #InstaModel pictures to getting signed with an agency.

Less isn’t more: why Hair & Make Up is vital

More times than Beau Blognot, clients will come in to my studio and try to do their hair and make-up on their own. Sure, your normal ‘do looks great for your day-to-day activities but may not be a great choice for photos. The subtle details of your face get picked up in a big way on camera and everything is magnified.

Thinking that it’ll be just like a selfie photo shoot, people come in and expect me to retouch any blemishes or imperfections. While that may work great with Instagram filters, it’s just not the same with a DSLR camera. The lens picks up everything. Everything. Any loose hairs, any missed spots, anything.

Hair and make up artists are necessary.

First of all, they’re skilled professionals who are educated on exactly how to perfect a look and style you. They’ll make your photos that much better and give you that extra “oomph” you need to further your professional endeavors.

Second, they’re detail-oriented. While we get ready as fast as we can and say to ourselves in the mirror, “good enough,” they look over your hair and face and pinpoint which areas need more attention. They have the tools and the products to make you look flawless.

Third, and perhaps most enticing, they’re not as expensive as one would think. They’re affordably priced for one of my one-hour photo shoots and come straight to the studio.

Contact me for rates on an executive portrait session and ask about the amazing hair and make up artists I work with.

In Defense of Retouching (and Khloe Kardashian)


KhloeThis week, Khloe Kardashian (I’m her biggest fan, by the way) fought back against the swarms of angry people calling her out for retouching her recent Complex cover shoot. In the side-by-side photos, you can see how the shadows and lighting have been lightly edited.

Key word: lightly.

That’s the secret to a good retouching job – making sure that the subject’s main features aren’t distorted or too edited but still enhancing the focus of the image and cleaning up any unwanted blemishes or distractions.

I’m the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of retouching. I believe, if someone’s going to spend good money on a photo shoot, that they should receive the best possible images. And I understand why there were so many people upset over the use of retouching – it portrays an image of perfection to girls and women viewing the images and may set unrealistic standards. But the fact of the matter is this – Khloe is a brand in and of herself. She is selling herself and her fitness, and if the photographer sees fit to lightly retouch her images, then I see no problem with that.

I use the same techniques in my photos. My niche is executive portraits and commercial photos, and that’s the goal of my shoots – to “sell” an executive or a professional and help them further their business.  But I always make sure to highlight their features instead of changing them all together. Now, this hasn’t always been the case. I’ve definitely made mistakes retouching images and gone “overboard,” but after years of experience and perfecting my craft, I’ve learned how to do it right.

So, go ahead Khloe! You look amazing, retouched or not.

Finding Your Focus

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I’m the first to admit that I’ve made a lot of mistakes over my career. Everything from bringing the wrong equipment to a shoot to a poor retouching job on the images or even arriving late to a set, the list goes on. But I learned more from those experiences than from a book or from the advice anyone could have given me.

I feel the same way about all the different roles I’ve had in the photography industry. From shooting fashion to catalogs to events, I’ve gotten the chance to see how the business works in so many different facets. But what I found over many years of experience was where I fit: executive portraits.

Here’s how I found my focus in the industry:

  • Try everything you can: It took me many years and many jobs to find the role I’m in now. I dove into different types of photography and learned from amazing professionals that came before me. I was open to new experiences, even if they didn’t always work out. To be honest, I would have never thought I would love shooting executive portraits. But I do – it’s a way to help people further their image and their career. It helps create a people create a new image for their career. And had I not dipped my toes into many waters, I may not have found my way here.
  • Ask questions: There will always be someone who has more experience than you. Find those people and pick their brain. Listen to what they say. Ask them as many questions as you can. There are no such thing as “bad” questions. Only unanswered ones.
  • SEO: The best thing that I’ve invested in, besides my own equipment, was search engine optimization. It made me more accessible to potential clients and broadened my reach to the market. SEO can be an expensive endeavor, but it will pay for itself in no time.
  • Professional networking events: Events held by BNI or other networking groups allowed me to meet other professionals and become better known in the market. It allowed me to reach more people and develop personal connections with clients.

Returning the favor: Tips for taking better photographs

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With the explosion in social media and equipment affordability, everyone is becoming a photographer. Everyone, their mom, and in some cases even their dog (see @remythadon) have Instagrams. Everyone can purchase their own DSLR at affordable prices and in convenient locations. But what makes a photographer is the craft – the lighting, the scenery, the angles and composition. It’s the details that make a photo extraordinary.

After working with so many incredible photographers that have come before me, I was lucky enough to learn the tricks of the trade. Now it’s my turn to return the favor. Below are some quick tips for taking better photographs:

 

Background:
Backgrounds sound like simple details to photographers, but the perfect background is simple. Keep it basic, that way you don’t distract from your subject. Simple backdrops or solid colors seem to work best. It draws the eye directly to the person or subject you’re shooting.

Also, be aware of your peripherals. Did you want to catch that garbage or messy closet in the background? Didn’t think so. Be sure to scan your area for any unwanted background clutter.

Flash:
Knowing when and how to use a flash is pivotal. Using a flash too close or too far away distorts the photo’s crisp details and may either be too light or too dark to see the subject. Make sure you’re no further than 5 feet away when using a flash.

Lighting:

Lighting is everything. Lighting captures the details that make your photo. The right light can make an ordinary picture amazing. Be aware of your subject’s details and be aware of the time of day or equipment you’re using. Some people prefer using SoftBoxes or Beauty Dishes, so know how far and how high to position them according to your subject’s placement. Use reflectors if needed to make that dark spot pop. Use your angles!

Framing:
Using framing as a photograph technique is great and always makes subjects pop. Framing a subject by drawing attention to the subject can be done with different, out-of-focus elements or by blurring the background to lead the viewer’s eye directly to the subject. Be sure to play with the variables of the photo so you can decide whether it works in your photo or not.

Hold the camera steady:
Simple, yet very important. A common mistake for photographers is a shaky hand or leaning too much when trying to capture the photo and losing a steady grip. Hold your camera firmly. Take your photo confidently. And, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground. No one likes a fallen photographer.

Take your time:
Three words that mean everything to a photog: cool, calm, confident. Believe in what you’re shooting and your abilities. It’s your photo and your work of art. You’re in control. Take as much time as you need to create your masterpiece.

The Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Headshot

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Everyone has a preference, a specific idea of what they like and don’t like. While that may be just fine when ordering your dinner at a restaurant where you can pick and choose what goes on your salad, it works a little differently when taking head shots. After years of experience in the photography world, I’ve learned there are some very simple rules to getting the right shot that get overlooked on a regular basis by my clients. Here are your “do’s” and “don’ts” to the perfect headshot:

DO:

Hire a hair and make-up artist:
Time and time again, clients will come in for a shoot and do all their primping on their own. While they may look great in the mirror, what shows up on camera can be much different. That’s why I highly recommend hiring a professional who knows exactly how to style you for the lens.

Arrive clean-shaven and showered:
I know, this sounds like an obvious one but it’s surprising how many times this isn’t taken into consideration. Every feature, every hair and every detail is enhanced on camera. Always arrive to the shoot freshly shaven and ready to knock ‘em dead.

Bring wardrobe options – more is better:
Clothing options are key to a good executive shoot. I recommend bringing lots of choices, especially collared fitted shirts. For men, polo shirts are great for a casual look and button-downs photograph well for an executive. Women photograph well in fitted button-down shirts or dresses. But make sure you bring clothing options you feel confident wearing!

Get enough sleep before your session:
A commonly overlooked detail is how rested you are on the day of your shoot. The camera catches everything, including how well rested you are. Even if your skin is flawless, little wrinkles show up when you haven’t gotten enough beauty sleep. So, get some solid shut-eye before your shoot and you’ll photograph like a star.

RELAX!
Like I was saying, the camera catches everything. It even picks up on your mood, no matter how hard you’re smiling. Rest assured that if you feel cool, calm and collected, your photos will reflect that. And for anything else, don’t worry – I can retouch.

DON’T:

Be in a hurry:
Shooting executives and busy professionals can be stressful. They’re either planning a meeting or running out the door to an appointment. I suggest to plan accordingly for your shoot. An appointment with me usually takes up to an hour, and I guarantee you’ll shoot leaps and bounds better if you’re present than if you’re already one foot out the door.

Show up hungover:
Being fresh-faced and rested is pivotal to your photos. I’m sure that if you had a few too many the night before, you won’t be excited to pose for an hour the next day. Be sure to get some good rest, stay hydrated and cut back before your session. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t drink during the shoot:
While having a drink to loosen you up on the set of a shoot might sound like a great idea, it doesn’t turn out too well. The camera picks up even the slightest redness in a person’s eyes and the flushing of their skin. It’s best to stick with water instead of a glass of red.

Over-do it: less is more:
Going back to the tip above about hiring a hair and make-up artist: less is more. When they’re getting you ready for your shoot, they’ll know exactly how much to do and when to stop. This rule is especially true for your clothing. It’s best to stick with simple, basic options so the attention is drawn to your face rather than the print on your clothes. Think basic, think plain. Let your features be the focal point.

Run the show:
Let the photographer lead you during the shoot. Many times, clients will try to position themselves like they would for a picture on Instagram, but those poses don’t translate into a headshot or executive portrait. Take direction and have fun! It’s just a picture, after all.

End note: Don’t settle on your choice of photographer. Give me a call and make an appointment today.

5 Tips for Finding an Agent for Your Child

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One of the most common questions I get as a photographer is how to make the leap from acting as a hobby to as a profession. When it comes to a child wanting to be on TV or Film…the task can be a challenge. In the entertainment business, getting signed by an agent to represent them is key. Agents receive the casting “breakdowns”, then submit their represented talent to the casting directors, and bring forth auditions. In the broadcast or commercial print industry, especially for children, success is based mostly on personality and physical appearance.

1. If your child shows interest in acting, sign them up for a class. This is the first step to see if they really want to do this, or if the desire will fade once things become more structured.

2. A professional headshot is an actor’s calling card. If your child is 10 or older, he or she needs one. This shows me that the child/parent is serious, and willing to invest in their professional career. Headshots don’t have to cost a fortune, and if a child is on the younger side, good digital pictures are fine. Make sure the photos are clear and UPDATED!

3. Contact agencies and ask for days they conduct open calls. This is a great was to get in front of an agent. Be sure to have your child in an on-going acting class. On-going education is also key in this industry. If one agency turns you down or you don’t hear back, don’t give up. It’s all about being aggressive and persistent.

4. Talk to everyone you know. We do meet a lot of kids through referrals, and someone you know might be involved in the business or know someone who is. Just like looking for a job, finding an agent is about networking!

Minimum Agency Height Requirements for Models

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While some girls and guys dream of being a fashion model from the very first time they pick up a fashion magazine or see America’s Next Top Model, the harsh reality is that this is an occupation and, and like any job, there are VERY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS. Unfortunately, unlike a lawyer or even a actor, some of the requirements cannot be learned, purchased, or faked. I’m not writing this to be negative or to break hopes and dreams. Agency Requirements are driven by clients who book fashion models. These requirements are not completely based on customers being more likely to buy clothing from models who fit a certain size range or look. Models have to fit into the sample sizes from the client.

Here are the Minimum Requirements Height requirements for submission to modeling agencies:

FOR GIRLS: 5’9 to 6’ ft.

FOR BOYS: 6’ to 6’3 ft.

This is the most likely the most frustrating requirement for most aspiring models to deal with because you can’t change your height. Working in this industry for over 10 years, I would suggest if you have a face of an angel and an amazing look. You should look in to acting. If you are dedicated and get the proper training…you could have an amazing career and make some really good money. Best of luck on your journey!

Steps for Better Product Photography

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For brands and businesses with products to promote, the quality of their photographs is key to a successful promotional campaign. Cameras have a way of underexposing images particularly when they are placed on a light or white background. The best way to achieve clear and vivid images is to utilize your manual exposure settings and adjust your shutter speed.

There are photography methods that professionals use to capture products in the clearest way possible. If a potential customer or client views a brand’s product page and the items are dark or fuzzy, it gives the appearance of a less than professional service or mediocre product line.

By following the tips below, you can create product photography that stands out above your competition.

Know How to Focus Your Camera

Before beginning to take product photos, make sure you know how your camera works. Before beginning to take any photos, become familiar with all of your camera’s settings and learn how to focus your camera. It is a waste of precious time to take unappealing photos that appear amateurish that you will have to spend time editing.

When Taking Close Ups Use the Aperture Priority Mode

When taking product photos you will want the largest area of your product in the camera’s focus. Set your camera’s aperture priority mode to its highest setting. When you are capturing close ups of your products, the aperture mode setting becomes highly important when it comes to taking a clear, quality photograph.

Utilize Your Tripod

One of the most important things to remember when taking product photos is the use of a tripod. A tripod holds your subject perfectly still so that the camera can capture a true representation of the product. Without a tripod, any slight movement of an object will result in a less than stellar photo.

Use Your Camera’s Flash Sparingly and Use Natural Lighting As Much As Possible

Your camera’s flash will rarely give you the type of lighting you need when taking close up product photos. For most product photos, the use of natural lighting will result in a clearer, more detailed picture. When possible take photos outdoors in natural light. Overcast days are perfect for taking product photos. If taking your pictures outside is not doable, get yourself a photo tent for indoors. A photo tent is the next best thing to capturing a product in natural lighting.

Edit Your Photos with Software

Technology has provided us with many ways to create the perfect photograph. Once your product photos are taken, use editing software to make your photos clear and professional looking. There is plenty of photo editing software online that will offer you the choice of various tints, backgrounds, and special effects, to make your product photos look like art.
 

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