Choosing Where to Take Photos in a Family Home

Family homes provide a multitude of possible backgrounds and framing opportunities for wonderful photographs. But it’s easy to end up with cluttered-looking shots if you get the background wrong. Choosing your location carefully can make all the difference. Here are my top tips for different shooting scenarios.

Posed group portrait

For a formal studio feel, look for a wall near a window for the family to stand against. Bear in mind that families will usually be happy to take pictures down to create a blank canvas, and you can easily Photoshop out picture hooks. Consider showing more of the family
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Reality Check: What Counts as ‘Pro’ Photography Gear?

The short answer: whatever works for you. In this short video/soliloquy, photography educator Matt Granger takes a break from looking at the best pro photo gear, to help define what exactly “pro gear” means to him, and what it should mean to you. We call this a “reality check” because, given the frantic pace of camera gear releases, it’s easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking you have to use a certain camera, or lens, or accessory in order to capture a certain genre of photography. In other words: if you wanna be a professional photographer, you need
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Pro Tip: Don’t Pose Your Models, Direct Them

Commercial photographer Derek Heisler has some key advice for the novice portrait photographers in the audience: don’t pose your models. This might seem counterintuitive at first, but Heisler explains why ‘directing’ your models instead of posing them, will make a huge difference in your photography. Heisler talks about this issue in a so-called Minute Master Class he did for Vistek, calling it “the biggest mistake that a lot of photographers make.” “That’s really where my job is,” explains Heisler. “Anyone can stand in front of a camera and press the shutter, anyone can really kind of light [a
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A Massive 30-Part Guide to Retouching Photos in Photoshop

Want a crash course in retouching photos in Photoshop? Here’s a 4-part video series that clocks in at 4.5 hours in total, making it a very comprehensive guide. There’s something here for everyone — even the most experienced photographers are sure to learn something from the series. Nathaniel Dodson from tutvid goes over a total of 30 techniques from healing skin blemishes to creating skin texture, replacing skies, puppet warping, and even swapping out faces. Photoshop is a very powerful piece of software, and it seems that no matter how long you’ve been using it for there’s always something
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How to Use Extended Low ISO for Cleaner Photos

Does your camera have an Extended ISO function? Using it can help you produce less noisy images than the base native ISO of your camera. Here’s a 4-minute video tutorial explaining this. Many photographers ignore the extended ISO range on their cameras, or don’t fully understand how it works. In this quick tip, Tony Northrup explains how the low extended ISO setting can result in less noise than the base ISO your camera offers. The extended ISO setting on your camera may appear as 50, L, or something similar. This is different from normal ISO settings in that
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Quick Tip: How to Make a Creative Bokeh Backdrop for Portraits

In this creative 2-minute tutorial, Ukranian photographer Anya Anti demonstrates how to make an interesting bokeh effect using shapes cut out of a paper backdrop. To create the effect, you will need:
  • Paper backdrop
  • A marker
  • Something sharp (preferably scissors)
  • Flash heads or other light source to place behind the backdrop
The idea is quite simple:
  1. Draw a pattern (such as a star) on to your backdrop with the marker. This pattern will frame your subject in the end result.
  2. Following the guidelines you’ve drawn, poke holes through the backdrop with your scissors.
  3. Position your lighting behind the backdrop so
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10 Things You Should Never Do as a Photographer

In this article, I discuss some of the different things that I’ve personally decided are bad ideas as an artist. Let’s dive in.

1. Steal Other Photographers’ Work

To some of you, this might seem obvious; however, when you’re starting out you might hear the advice “fake it till’ you make it,” or see another photographer who uses photos that aren’t their own to make money. This is a bad idea on multiple levels and isn’t just a problem with amateurs. Award-winning photographer Souvid Datta just recently got caught doctoring and appropriating photos. We’ll get to the doctoring part in
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A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Black & White Photos in Lightroom

Here’s a 15-minute video tutorial from photographer Nathaniel Dodson that’ll help you learn how to create the perfect black and white image using only Lightroom. Although titled as “3 great ways to create black and white photos,” this tutorial demonstrates 2 different methods for converting the images in Lightroom, with a third segment showing the effect applied to a dramatic HDR photo. At 1:35, Dodson begins with the first method: using the HSL panel. This panel has a B&W tab, which converts the image to black and white when selected. Because the color detail still exists in the image,
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How to Clean Your Camera Sensor: A Tutorial for Brave Souls

The idea of cleaning the sensor on your camera is a frightening prospect for many photographers, but it needn’t be. This 2-minute video will show you how to shake that fear and banish dust, dirt, and oil from your sensor’s filter glass for good. If you use an ILC, you’re bound to get dust and possibly oil (the horror) on your sensor at some point. This may not be noticeable at a larger aperture, but once you stop down those dust particles will leave annoying spots in your images that you’ll have to clone out in post. In this short
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How to Safely Retrieve Files Off Failing HDD, SSD, or SD Cards Using Free Tools

All of the drives we are using to store our precious photos and videos are not 100% reliable. Everybody should know that by now (and back everything up) but even if you are doing it properly, there are times when a drive fails and you have nowhere else to get its contents except from the drive itself. It happened to me recently. A 23GB SD card from a trip, almost full of precious shots, was corrupted when I inserted it into a cheap PC card reader. As a result, both Windows PC and Mac were unable to read anything from
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How to Shoot Professional Portraits Using 3-Point Lighting

This handy 7-minute lighting guide from Aussie music photographer PJ Pantelis shows how you can use 2 lights and a reflector to create a professionally-lit headshot. Even if you’re not shooting portraits, the video is a great tutorial on working with light. The basic 3PL setup involves a key, a rim light, and a fill. The key is placed in front and to the right of the subject, acting as the main lighting for the portrait; the rim is positioned to the left and back, helping to add some dimension to the image; and the fill is a silver reflector
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9 Creative Photography Tricks You Can Do at Home

Ready to get creative this weekend? Good, because our friends at COOPH are back with 9 creative photography tricks you can try out at home when you have a spare minute. From making your own glitter “snow,” to magnifying glass macro and beyond, there are some really fun tips in here. Some of these will be familiar from other “at home DIY tips and tricks” videos you’ve see on PetaPixel, but there will be at least one or two in there that are either new or inspirational enough to get you out there shooting. Check out the video up
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Quick Tip: Composition for Beginners

Improving your composition can bring balance and personality to your photography, simultaneously enabling you to produce more appealing images. And as quick tips go, this 90-second video from Mango Street Lab is absolutely packed full of key compositional advice. It’s important to remember that all of these rules can (and often should) be broken to create added interest and tension in your photos, drawing your viewer in to the image in a unique way. But you can’t break rules you don’t know. The video kicks off with a compositional rule that most of you will know: the rule of thirds.
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10 Lessons Learned from Botched Motorcycle Photo Shoots

When it comes to motorcycles, I’m the grown-ass man equivalent of the 8-year old girl with the pony sweater that every single person knew in grade school. I’m obsessed: they’re what got me into photography; motorcycle photography brings the funnest edits; and bikes are a huge part of my life. I’ve shot a lot of them in my short stint at photography, and I’ve learned a lot of “Do Not’s” in my time. The following is a list to remind myself, and hopefully help others to keep mindful of some things that may make or break your next vehicle shoot.
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5 Handy Lighting Techniques using Foam Board

In this short-but-useful tutorial from DSLR Video Shooter, Caleb Pike runs you through 5 video and photography uses for simple foam board. Get out a pen and a pad, this photo DIY 101. Foam board (or Foamcore) can be found online or in dollar stores on the cheap. Caleb recommends picking up the 20X30 sheets in black and white to get the most use from them. Speaking of which, he then goes on to explain 5 handy uses for the material:

1. Fill Light

White foam board can be used as a reflector to bounce light back on to
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The Ten Commandments of Retouching

There are some things in life that are universal rules we should all follow—things like not cheating on your wife, not killing anyone, and not stealing. Easy enough, right? And if life has Ten Commandments that are just obvious things not to do, retouching should have them as well. Here’s are my 10 Commandments of Retouching.

I. Thou Shalt Not Blur Thy Skin

You lose a lot of detail when you blur skin. It may not be noticeable on a phone screen as much, but when these photos are printed or even viewed on a monitor, you can actually see
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How I Earn $200,000+a Year from Photography

It’s kind of a crazy thing: I believe you can stay true to your roots, values, and ethics, and also get rich. In this post, I’ll share some of the secrets of how I earn over $200,000 a year as a “photographer.”

1. To become rich, charge more money

I earn the bulk of my income through teaching workshops. The secret is to charge more money for workshops. I think workshops are great for photographers because nowadays people want to spend money on experiences and people want to learn. A lot of photographers like to complain that the Internet
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Photographer Loses $20,000 in Gear After Airplane Carry-On Taken

If you’re flying with pricey camera gear, it’s often advised that you bring it with you in a carry-on bag instead of risking all the handling issues that could happen behind-the-scenes with checked-in luggage. But your carry-on isn’t necessarily safe either, as photographer Sam Hurd recently discovered: he lost $20,000 in gear when a fellow passenger just walked off with his luggage. After his plane landed at London’s Heathrow en route to Washington D.C., Hurd stood up in his window seat and waited for an older couple ahead of him to collect their things from the overhead compartment.
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Should Photography Be Relaxing?

What’s the difference between a hobby, and a job? Ignoring money, of course, I’d say that a hobby’s primary purpose is entertainment and relaxation, whereas a job’s primary purpose is to produce value. And yet, defying common sense, photographers seem to have this reversed. In many cases, amateur photographers are not in the hobby for enjoyment, but rather as a means to an end. So focused on improving their photography and getting perfect shots, they complete forget to sit back and savor the moment they’re trying to capture in the first place. And then when their photo inevitably fails to
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