The Importance of Repeatable Photography

Before I get started with this week’s blog entry, I’d like to thank my good friend Jeff Berlin for following up his comments in last weeks entry as guest blogger this week.

Jerry Avenaim’s comments last week in this space, their theme of discipline with regard to photography struck such a note with me that I felt compelled to reply. That reply became this blog entry.

Photo © Jeff Berlin (click to enlarge)

Like Jerry, I worked as a photographer, shooting primarily beauty, in Milan and then Paris. Likewise, Jerry and I both shot with large format cameras for Italian Vogue when we were young photographers. It was an amazing and invaluable experience for a young photographer to work with, and be groomed by, some of the top fashion and beauty editors in the business.

Milan, and Paris, where the market and clients are more international, served as a sort of boot camp for aspiring fashion photographers. It was well known that if one had the desire to ascend the ranks and shoot for the Vogues, Elles and Harper’s Bazaars of the world, which would hopefully lead to lucrative advertising campaigns, spending time pounding the cobblestones in Milan and knocking on the doors of magazines and agents was de rigueur, for everyone knew then that the ticket to the brass ring of fashion photography was through obtaining practical work experience, and tearsheets, in Milan and Paris.

I can only imagine what it’s like now — going to Milan or Paris like we did back in the day and knocking on Vogue’s door. Can you imagine Franca Sozzani or Ariela Goggi saying back then, Send me your link and we’ll take a look.

How many of us would have even made it to Milan had that been the case? Technology’s definitely been a double-edged sword for photography, for there’s no doubt that the while web has brought the world to your laptop, it’s also changed the game of international photography.

Indeed, had we all had websites like today, how many photographers would have even ventured on spec to Milan or Paris or London or Munich or Sydney or Sao Paulo or Tokyo, hoping to meet with magazine editors and score real tearsheets? We would instead send editors a link to our site, and upon our first and second rejection, or after not hearing back at all, perhaps we would never have persevered, plunked for that ticket on Alitalia and made a commitment to working long term in a foreign land.

Jerry said last week, “In the end, the image is not determined by the equipment used but by the person who was using that equipment.”

L'Oreal © Jeff Berlin (click to enlarge)

I have always strived, as a photographer, to find strength in my pictures by what was in front of my camera when I was shooting, and not rely on elaborate post production to whip an image into shape, and I definitely never “spray and pray” and hope for the best. This I learned back in my formative days in Milan, when there was no Photoshop or world wide web, and what I shot, on each single sheet of film, after careful, deliberate and collaborative composition, was what I got, and what I turned in to the magazine. Jerry mentions, “There is a very different feeling in hoping one shot out of 10 is the one you want as opposed to knowing the one shot you took is exactly what you wanted.” Shooting only a handful of sheets of large format film per shot, I had to know that each time I clicked the shutter, I was getting an image that I potentially could turn in to the client with confidence. Things don’t happen fast in large format, so the deliberative process is inherent to the medium. Obviously, one never gets the shot every time, but with experience and patience, I pulled a high percentage of good images from few sheets of film.

I should also mention that at this time, Italian Vogue limited the amount of sheets, or rolls of film that we could shoot per shot. We weren’t allowed many. And getting the shot came down to discipline. Spray and pray just wasn’t an option; it didn’t exist.

It would seem to me that the photographer who employs the spray and pray method would probably never reach the consistent level in their work necessary to warrant a trip to Europe for work. Hell, they might not even have the patience it takes to work, and live, in Italy, where things happen in their own time. This photographer might also be the same person who never shot a roll of film nor learned how to use a hand-held light meter, like a Sekonic, and instead ballparks their initial camera setting and fine tunes their exposure by chimping and the histogram. How would they ever consistently produce an image of quality. Or in other words, how would their work be repeatable.

And to consistently produce images worthy of world-class magazines takes a lot more than effective SEO, cool web design, and mad Photoshop skillz. (deliberate “z”)

Polaroid © Jeff Berlin (click to enlarge)

Polaroid © Jeff Berlin (click to enlarge)

That’s not to say that all of that isn’t important. It is, and digital technology has exponentially improved photography in so many ways. It’s brought so many more into the fray, which is great, but it’s also oversaturated the photo market, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. Now, though every serious photographer has a website and maybe even a blog, and it’s never been easier to promote oneself to a wide audience and get seen way beyond the horizon, we’ve also learned that technology is still not a substitute for meeting with clients, and potential clients, in person. Jerry and I would never have shot for Italian Vogue had we never knocked on their door, in person, and shown to the editors that gave us our break commitment, dedication, and a bit of humor and talent. No matter how fantastic a website, it doesn’t replace interpersonal dynamics, which go far in sealing the deal.

In the end, I’m still a bit old school and love to shoot film, which of course I then digitize. But I have embraced the vanguard of digital, love just as much to shoot with my 5D Mark II and manual focus Zeiss lenses, tethered cord-free with a Pocket Wizard. I marvel at the quality of the images I produce right from the camera. Though I do still try to use my DSLR much like I do my film cameras, by using lower capacity cards to approximate a roll or two of film, and by sometimes turning off the camera body’s LCD screen and waiting to see my images at the lab, in Lightroom.

Would love to hear your thoughts,

Jeff Berlin

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Photography and the Art of Discipline

fashion photographers

Polaroid (type 59) shot for Italian Vogue 1987 © Jerry Avenaim

“Jerry Avenaim’s images of supermodels and celebrities have captivated readers of almost every major magazine. Combining mastery of lighting techniques, the ability to guide his subjects to the limits of their expressiveness, endless energy, and abundant chutzpah, the L.A.-based shooter has attracted so much press coverage that when we asked him to dig deeper into some of the famous stories about his career, he replied. ‘I don’t know what else I can add. If you dig any deeper, I’ll be buried.’” -Excerpt from American Photo Interview by Mark Lapin.

During this interview I surprised myself, realizing what I could have witnessed firsthand during my years in photography world. This decade has seen a great evolution in how we create photographs, most notably film vs. digital. Photographers state they are “going back to film” while others sing the praises of digital and what can be done in post production. At times I feel like I am straddling the 38th parallel in this debate because I am, and always will be, a double agent.

To this day, I don’t regret stepping forward into digital. Nor do I lament not being able to step back into film, because I still have a variety of equipment to choose from in both avenues of image capture. Each camera I own is a tool, one that serves a purpose of capturing what I’m trying to convey in my photographs. By having all of these options at my disposal I am never compromising my photography, or my vision, by restrictions inherent to technology or available films.

In the end, the image is not determined by the equipment used but by the person who was using that equipment.  If given a pinhole camera, many photographers I know would be able to make a photographic essay shooting with only that. Of course, knowing your equipment and maximizing its potential is what will make you the photographer you are, not a visit to the camera shop and buying the most megapixels or the top shelf films.

fashion photography

Polaroid (type 55 negative) shot for Italian Vogue 1987 © Jerry Avenaim

I started shooting large format at a very early stage in my career. This gave me the discipline that I feel photography requires. To study my subject, compose my image, and when the moment comes, to capture it. This practice has carried over into every format and medium I shoot today.  The patience, precision-all my images were born from mastering the properties of large format film cameras.  By today’s standards a large format camera is neither portable nor frugal, but to me the discipline I learned from using it is priceless and I carry it with me everywhere.

However that’s just me, many photographers, it seems, were out sick and missed the class on discipline and patience. In my fashion photography workshops I see photographers use what I affectionately call the “spray and pray” method of shooting which is simply holding down the shutter on their camera and PRAY a good shot comes out.  Many forget there is a person on the other side of their lens and to make a great photograph both sides need to work together.  A photographer can’t simply accept what is in front of them and take a  picture, that’s not being a photographer, that’s not even being a photo journalist, that’s paparazzi at best.  There is a very different feeling in hoping one shot out of 10 is the one you want as opposed to knowing the one shot you took is exactly what you wanted.

los angeles fashion photographers

Polaroid 8x10 (type 84 and 89) shot for L'uomo Vogue 2003 © Jerry Avenaim

Digital technology has really increased “spray and pray” shooting, and many forget that the original purpose of digital technology was to eliminate the limited exposures presented by rolls of film.  Today, digital photography is much more than just “film-less shooting.” It has changed photography for the better in so many ways that I would need another blog (with sequels) to detail how.  The only downside I can really acknowledge is that I feel digital-only photographers have not learned the discipline of photography like I did with my first steps in large format.

Go out and take pictures of anything, as many shots as you want, just don’t shoot longer than 5-10 minutes.  Next pick up your digital camera and disable your LCD screen by covering it with a piece of 2 inch paper tape (this is LCD safe) and prepare to take the same images again.  However, this time, instead of limiting your time shooting we are now limiting your images- do not shoot more than 10 – 15 images (up to 30 if you were shooting medium format), but take all of the time in the world.  And finally, do not look at them until you go home or to your studio (you could even wait a day). Treat those files as though they were film.

With only so many chances, each shot is now more valuable than the last. Odds are, moving forward, you’re not going to just push the shutter without thinking first.  Engage your subject and instruct them on posing; convey the expressions you like.  You can’t wait for them to naturally give you that spray and pray shot, after all, you now only have 10 to 30 shots at most.  Was it a landscape? Has the lighting changed or will it be changing?  Will the patience and discipline of waiting a few minutes or even over an hour present the golden hour light and make the image that much better?

Having the knowledge and the equipment is a valued attribute in the photographic community. However, it is all nothing without patience and discipline.  A photograph is made by what is on both sides of the lens, and in a photographic world full of quantity it is wise to distinguish yourself by the quality of your images.

Happy shooting!

Jerry Avenaim

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A Better way to a Clear Picture!

Photographer Jerry Avenaim

Happy 2010 everyone. I hope you all had a safe and joyous holiday week. I’m not really into regurgitating a press release, but this is just too good to start off the new year!

I’ve been a Brightscreen® customer since the 1980’s – The product is unparalleled to anything of it’s kind. Most film photographers may have used them or are familiar with them, and some I’m sure had them installed on their Mamiya RZ 6×7 or Pentax 6×7 cameras like myself. These screens were and still are lifesavers by increasing your brightness level of up to 3 stops when looking through your cameras viewfinder, allowing greater clarity for much easier focusing.

Many might pose the question; why do I need that? I shoot digital… Well there are many reasons.

I know many photographers that shoot Canon or Nikon with manual focus Zeiss prime lenses, and that increased brightness in the viewfinder helps with pulling focus.

Ever heard me say “cropping is for farmers?” I like to look through my camera and compose my image when shooting it rather then cropping it later. (This will bring me into my next article – “The Art of Discipline in Photography”). This company makes focusing screens that you can swap in and out of your DSLR with “crop marks” for shooting 8×10 or 6×6 aspect ratio.

If you’re shooting an album cover in a square format, are you just guessing where the square crop will land? If you are shooting for a magazine, have you ever had the feet or top of your frame cut off because you weren’t leaving enough space for the 8×10 aspect ratio of the magazine? Well voila!

And by the way, I still shoot medium format film cameras with manual focus lenses and these bright screens allow me to focus!

Lastly, if you are a medium format film shooter and you put a digital back that is not full frame on your camera body, or the camera frame is larger than the sensor (RZ or Fuji et al), they make a bright screen with crop marks in the aspect ratio that matches your digital back to your camera!

So here is some the news from Jim Lakey – Founder of Brightscreen®.

Press Release Date: January 01, 2010

brightscreen for fashion photographers

Nondeteriorating Mirror Cushion™

“Brightscreen® Cleveland, Tennessee USA has announced a new recently patented product “Nondeteriorating Mirror Cushion™” which targets the elimination of the majority of in camera particles in the form of dust or black spots.

Brightscreen® also produces a patent pending product Dust Collector™ which has been installed in all cameras sold or serviced by Brightscreen® as a courtesy free of charge for the past five years. This product helps control and contain camera dust and particles.

An expanded variety of custom camera focusing screens, for most all entry level up to the highest end DSLR cameras, are available now with or without optional Crop Lines®.”

Happy shooting!

Jerry Avenaim

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My top 5 Photography Articles of 2009

Fashion Photographer and Director Jerry Avenaim

Directing international Commercial for XX by Mexx

As we approach a new year and a new decade, I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a joyous, healthy and very prosperous future. I look forward to sharing many photography tips, tricks and observations in the new year. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite articles from 2009.

1.) Fellowship in Photography

2.) Photography Lighting – White on White

3.) Fine Art Nude Photography

4.) Celebrity Portrait Photography

5.) Dynamic Lighting on Location

Honorable Mentions:

My Voyage of Self Discovery

Fashion Photography on Life in the Fab Lane

10 Must Read Copyright Articles for Photographers

My Favorite Assignment of 2009?

Photographer, Director and guest judge on Germany’s Next Top Model!

Happy New Year!

Jerry Avenaim

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Top Lenses for Fashion Photography – My Picks!

Fashion Photography for Flaunt Magazine

24~70 Zoom for Flaunt Magazine

Fashion photography is a unique combination of all types of photography. Fashion often includes portrait photography, environmental photography, product photography, macro photography, and sometimes even landscape photography are all included under the required knowledge umbrella to be successful in fashion photography.

In order to deliver a successful fashion photography shoot, you’re going to need lenses that allow you to capture each of these aspects with artistry and creativity. In a perfect world, we’d have the finances and manpower to haul every available lens to the venue; but in reality, we’re limited to a handful of accessible, high-quality, and versatile lenses.

Here is a list (from my camera bag) of must have lenses for any given fashion or advertising assignment. I’m listing Canon lenses since I primarily shoot with 5D Mark II’s when it comes to my DSLR choice, but each lens listed should have an equivalent for other brand name DSLR producers.

Variable Zoom Lenses
1. 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens
This is my favorite lenses. it’s fast and versatile, it allows for quick shooting and it’s razor sharp. I can use this lens while shooting a portrait and pull out wider with it to include the environment when on location.

2. 70-200mm f/2.8L Zoom Lens
This lens creates a beautiful bokeh (blur) at f2.8, and the compression you get when you’re zoomed in from 150-200mm gives your image a look that’s hard to achieve with any other lens. It also allows you to get in close on the subject without disrupting the moment you are trying to capture.

3. 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Sometimes the 24-70mm lens just isn’t wide enough to capture everything you want. The ultra wide angle helps you capture your surroundings, such as in reportage on the street or in tight spaces.

Prime Lenses
4. 50mm f1.2 L USM Prime Lens
This is another one of my favorite lenses. It can save the day when the light starts to drop and allow you to bring out the backgrounds. It also, makes you less reliant on your flash, creating a softer, more natural look for your subjects. The 50mm also allows you to create stunning portraits, as the low aperture creates the shallow depth of field that makes your subject pop off the page and softens your subject’s skin.

5. 85mm f1.2L II USM Prime Lens
This is a great lens, but not a necessity if you’re happy with the results from your 70-200mm. The nice thing is it is the perfect portrait lens and carries a fraction of the weight of the aforementioned variable zoom.

6. 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
If your shooting beauty and are not able to back up enough to gain the compression you would with a 200mm here is the solution. With the 100mm Macro, you can capture detailed shots with the same quality and detail as product advertisements in magazines. because t is a macro lens, it is a bit flatter, thus giving you the feel of the 200mm compression. In addition, if you want to come in tight for a detail shot such as the lips or an eye, this is your baby.

What are your favorite lenses?

Jerry Avenaim

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The Future of Photography Books?

Posted by Jerry Avenaim under Photography Talk and Discussion (4 Responds)
Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

“Andy Adams, of Flak Photo, and Miki Johnson, of LiveBooks blog RESOLVE, have partnered up to organize a huge communal blog discussion on the future of Photo Books! You can read all about here and view contributing Photo Blog posts and find out how to add your own.

What do I think Photo Books will look like in ten years? Considering how fast technology is evolving, I think we can’t begin to imagine the form they will take by then. Ten years is light years in technological time. I do think whatever method used to create Photo Books, hand crafted like Raymond Meeks or printed in awesome gravure like Twin Palms, photography books in any form will still have a collectible market. Read Eric Miles interview on Rare Photography Book Collecting.” The above section by  –Elizabeth Avedon (photos © Elizabeth Avedon)

Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

For myself, I hope there will still be “real” books and not just digital ones. While I am most definitely a technology person, I also cling to the beauty of the craft of the book – be it literature or art or photography. While I can read a book on a Kindle, it could never replace books that are more than words and I still buy hard copies of ones that are meaningful that I want in my library.

I love the art of book cover illustration. We have a many used bookstores in the Pasadena and Burbank areas of Los Angeles. I used to spend hours there on any given day in the Art & Photography section looking for treasures – the older, the better, as usually – but not always – the quality is better. It’s always an adventure as it’s a hit or miss experience.

Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

Looking back: Vintage PORTRAITS Book Dummy

Technology changes so rapidly so it is so hard to predict what we’ll be looking at in 10 years but I hope we have choices and that books do not become cost prohibitive from producing (green issues aside about trees, etc). I just hope that those who will be in their teens and beyond in 10 years will still have an interest in and love for books as we know them and that they will not be something they see in a museum showcase.

When the DVD format was introduced in the 1990’s, movie theaters were terrified they would lose there business to people that had ‘home theaters.’ We all realized how nonsensical that was because at the end of the day, when the lights go down and the curtains part, we know nothing will ever replace the movie theater experience. And in my opinion a work of art is not digital, it is tangible.

What are your thoughts?

Jerry Avenaim

I hope there will still be “real” books and not just digital ones. While I am most definitely a technology person, I also cling to the beauty of the craft of the book – be it literature or art or photography. While I can read a book on a Kindle, it could never replace books that are more than words and I still buy hard copies of ones that are meaningful that I want in my library.
I love the art of book cover illustration. We have a many used bookstores in the Pasadena and Burbank areas of Los Angeles. I used to spend hours there on any given day in the Art & Photography section looking for treasures – the older, the better, as usually – but not always – the quality is better. It’s always an adventure as it’s a hit or miss experience.
Technology changes so rapidly so it is so hard to predict what we’ll be looking at in 10 years but I hope we have choices and that books do not become cost prohibitive from producing (green issues aside about trees, etc). I just hope that those who will be in their teens and beyond in 10 years will still have an interest in and love for books as we know them and that they will not be something they see in a museum showcase.
When the DVD format was introduced in the 1990’s, movie theaters were terrified they would lose there business to people that had ‘home theaters.’ We all realized how nonsensical that was because at the end of the day, when the lights go down and the curtains part, we know nothing will ever replace the movie theater experience. And in my opinion a work of art is not digital, it is tangible.
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Creating Lighting Diagrams on your iPhone!

Fashion Photography Lighting

Janis Lanka and Isa Goksu have released Strobox, a (free) app for the iPhone. With it, you can create lighting diagrams directly on your precious iPhone.

No connection to thestrobist web site other than the similarity in the name, which is apparently a combination of the words “Strobe” and “Botox” or something. Direct link to app in the iTunes Store, here.

Five-star app rating from me if the next upgrade references the site and can set off a PocketWizard receiver… Thanks David for this tip!

Jerry Avenaim

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Photography Lighting – White on White

Jerry Avenaim for Diesel

Jerry Avenaim for Diesel

In photography, we the photographers are often asked to shoot on a white seamless background (or a cove). One of the most challenging shots in fashion, advertising, and catalog photography is to photograph a subject wearing white clothing on a white cove with perfect separation.  In images I have seen by others, there is often no separation between the white clothing or material and the white background. Over the years, I have heard so many photographers explain how they are able to achieve this in such a clean manner leaving no spill of light on the clothes or subject.

Some have said they have to be a certain distance from the background so their is no flair or wrap around of light. Rubbish! Some have these complex equations that I think require the photographer to have a doctorate to even comprehend. For instance some believe that if the background meters at F32 and the main light reads F11, and they are 16.5 feet away, they will get the perfect separation. Rubbish!

Advertising Photography for Diesel

Advertising Photography for Diesel

Now remember, to keep this consistent, they keep running to the wall to take a meter reading then back the subject to take another meter reading until that formula has been achieved. Okay, well what if you don’t have 16.5 feet or 20 feet or what ever your magic formula thinks it has to be?  Some photographers have a studio, others a garage, the formula works under conditions.  But nobody wants to run back and forth and you are not going to call Home Makeover just so that you can shoot white on white images.

Here is a simple tip to make you life easy, your white background photos consistent and flawless with no wrap, spill or flair of studio strobe lighting.

Light the white background (however you like, preferably with studio strobes). I happen to use two Profoto umbrellas stacked on each side, so you have four lights total facing the white seamless background (or cove). Then light the subject however you prefer. This brings us to the one stop rule. Take a reading of your subject, place the meter under the chin, point it at the camera and pop the flash. Let’s say the light on the face and body reads F11. Simply place the meter on the persons backside now facing the white seamless or cove and pop the flash again. You want the light traveling back to the subject to be no more than one stop less than the previous main reading on the key (front) lights. So therefore in this case, your reading on the face as I said earlier was F11 and the reading on the persons back should read F8 giving you a perfect separation between subject and and background!

Reading one stop under whatever the main light reads is the key to a consistent clean white background image. Even if the subject is wearing white clothes!

Voila, the one stop rule! And no more Rubbish!

To see more samples, visit my main web site here.

Happy shooting!

Jerry Avenaim
This post is for my friend and comrade Gerry Hanan
PS. Yes, ask questions as I’m sure there are some 😉

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Fantastic open lectures for photographers

Fashion Photographer Jerry Avenaim

Fashion Photographer Jerry Avenaim

I was sitting around this evening having to resize enough photographs to make my head spin. One of my resolutions (pardon the pun) was to have my new web site done for 2010. That resolution was last year, think I procrastinate much? I’m sure my 2010 resolutions will include – not to procrastinate. 🙂

Well in about 48 hours a temporary new look to the site and maybe even the blog will be up. This is until the livebooks site is ready. When you come back, have a look at avenaim.com and let me know if you like it, if so, maybe I’l just resize the images and use the livebooks site on another one of my domains. See, it’s late and now I’m just rambling

Back to the point, while I was working away, I received an email about these photography schools, speakers lectures and technology et al. You name it I found it, a great resource for anyone looking for some tips and tricks, you can get them here. Except: Whether you want to get inspired to take photos or learn about the history of the field, there are loads of lectures out there that can let you sit back, watch, and expand your photography knowledge. Here are 50 such lectures that will help you learn about photography basics, famous photographers, photojournalism and much more to get your creative juices flowing and help you hone your craft.

Another great resource is the Profoto blog here. I was honored to have been asked to be the first ever entry in that Profoto blog in the form of a Podcast. You can find it on the link above and iTunes 🙂

Cheers,

Jerry Avenaim

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Six Tips to Improve Holiday Photography – Part Two

As I said in part one of this post, my mother-in-law had some issues when receiving her first digital point and shoot, which was simply how do you maximise the potential of your digital camera?  A few simple steps and words of wisdom and like my mother-in-law, you will be well on your way to taking great pictures this holiday season and beyond! So here are the additional tips…

My father photographed his father in the 1960's using Kodachrome in this beautifully composed image.

My father photographed his father in the 1960's using Kodachrome in this beautifully composed image.

4.  I love digital, don’t get me wrong, however the “spray and pray” method of photography does not apply.  Hoping to get one good photography out of holding down the shutter for 30 seconds does mean you will have more images to choose from, but nothing that you would want to choose.  It does not require 30 frames to take one good one! If most photographers today were still buying roles of Kodachrome and were limited to the 24 or 36 exposures, I am sure they would be more patient and take better pictures. Take a moment to remember the basic rules, and when the time is right, THEN you press the button, and only once. I can hear you know, but it’s a group and what if somebody blinked yada yada… Okay, no problem in taking a few more WELL THOUGHT OUT images, what good is the option to choose more images of people maybe or maybe not blinking when you have strangers walking into the frame or the sun is now behind a cloud? Holding down the shutter to the point of it sounding like machine gun fire and you are storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day is NOT a requirement in today’s photographic world, and it will not make your pictures look any better in the shutter lottery.

My daughter Skye in the backyard - in open shade!

My daughter Skye in the backyard - in open shade!

5. Let’s forget the sun, the indoor and the flash. A beautiful opportunity to take a well composed photograph is always going to be in open shade. No shadows, flash or any other factors to be concerned with. Just a beautiful even light that spreads across the face. This can be done anywhere from your porch, overhang and doorway. This is something I do even when photographing celebrities and models for a magazine. It’s a trade secret, stay out of the sun 🙂

6. This one drives me absolutely crazy! When you look through your viewfinder or at your LCD screen to compose your photograph, compose it in camera. Don’t just think “oh I can crop it later.” Cropping is for farmers! When you start cropping into the real estate of your photographs, they are losing value! When you purchase the new digital camera that has more megapixels than your older camera all cropping your image will do is effectively reduced the resolution (megapixels) of the image to a third or half! In addition, when you start cropping in on an image you are bring out the noise in the digital file, much like grain in film. When you’re done with all the cropping you don’t want your precious photo to look like a connect the dots or shot from a $8 disposable film camera!

I think this is a photo of my mother and her friends in Hawaii. But I can't tell because my attention is drawn to the beautiful tree and beige building :(

I think this is a photo of my mother and her friends in Hawaii. But I can't tell because my attention is drawn to the beautiful tree and beige building 🙁

Remember, you can break every one of these rules and get creative if you know what you’re doing. But if not, start here. You will get better photographs, guaranteed. For better or for worse, family members will be handing you the camera for the holidays cause, “you are the one who takes great pictures.” Happy holidays!

Jerry Avenaim

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