Six Tips to Improve Holiday Photography – Part One

With the holiday season upon us everyone is trying to give the perfect gift, and what better then the latest digital camera. For many, each year is ANOTHER digital camera.  This one has a larger screen, more megapixels, upgrading to a Digital SLR or a point and shoot that can fit in your pocket, the options are limitless, but the problems seem to be the same. My mother-in-law had this issue when receiving her first digital point and shoot, which is 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!

Here are three tips that every amateur can use to improve their photography and three more are coming next week!

Pumpkin carving, the smile and the pumpkin juxtaposed from one another tell the story.

Pumpkin carving, the smile and the pumpkin juxtaposed from one another tell the story.

1. Get close, then get closer, then get closer still! Fill the frame with the subject and eliminate the stuff you don’t want in your picture. If you’re photographing a person, show me the person, turn your camera vertical I don’t care about the things on either side of them. And as I said, be close!  I want to see their faces, the smile, the color of their eyes.  Most amateurs try to make images from too far away. Don’t just rely on the camera’s zoom to make the object appear closer, just use your feet. You can’t go wrong when you fill the frame!

2. “I’ve heard and read, if you’re photographing outdoors, not to photograph more than two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset.” Everyone says this but they don’t realize that this only means you will miss the “golden hour” referring to the golden glow from the rising or setting sun. I

Using a fill flash outdoors in overcast or sunlight will always improve the photograph!

Using a fill flash outdoors in overcast or sunlight will always improve the photograph!

love the golden hour, I don’t know a photographer who doesn’t like the light, but there are no photographers I know who will NOT take the picture simply cause he is missing that light.  No matter what the position of the sun or lack of, make certain your subjects have the sun illuminating the people from behind or to the side of them, and then make sure to take your camera off automatic. Let’s set it on P for this (that is program mode) and hit the button that has a flash on it (usually a lighting bolt). Make sure the flash is set to on and not the automatic feature so that YOU are in control and not the camera. Even if you want to capture that beautiful sunset behind the subject you are photographing, they will be perfectly lit by the “fill flash” and the ratio between the two will be just perfect!

Someone here ignored all the rules. Not close enough (we know there is a sky up there), no fill flash, and is that a dolphin coming out of your heads?

Someone here ignored all the rules. Not close enough (we know there is a sky up there), no fill flash, and is that a dolphin coming out of your heads?

3. If anything drives me crazy (besides not following rule 1) it is backgrounds! So let’s say, you apply the above mentioned rules to take better pictures, but the one thing you leave out is what’s behind the subject? Who wants to see a photograph of your friend or loved one with next to (or behind them) a big container that reads trash? Look around you! Here is another example, you get the perfect composition, the fill flash is turned on, the moment is right and you press the button only to reveal the flag pole, tree branch, stop sign (take your pick here) is growing out of your subject head! Not a pretty picture… Either you move, or move your subject over an inch or two in either direction and problem solved!  Most of your subjects have the same ability as you the photographer, move your feet to where you want to be, then like my mother-in-law you can take the picture.

This post assumes you’re just looking for good, basic exposures that reliably convey the scene. 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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10 Must Read Copyright Articles for Photographers

Posted by Jerry Avenaim under Photography Talk and Discussion (3 Responds)
My portrait of actress Halle Berry chosen as Picture of the Year by People Magazine

My portrait of actress Halle Berry chosen as Picture of the Year by People Magazine

I have several copyright issues at hand at the moment. Here is a great article by Jim Goldstein (posted here) that I commented on the moment I read it. Stay tuned for my compelling story concerning my copyright infringement lawsuit against American Greetings for the use of my portrait of Halle Berry as a greeting card… It’s a game changer!

Jerry Avenaim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fellowship in Photography

Fashion and Beauty Photography Demonstration

Fashion and Beauty Photography Demonstration

Earlier this year, I was giving a lecture and conducting a live cover photo shoot at Samy’s Camera here in Los Angeles for photographers of all levels. I began the lecture with a statement that was so simple, so earnest, you would expect to hear it from your own mother.  I asked each attendee to look at those sitting to each side of them, to see them not as their competitors but rather as their comrades. If they could see that, they would succeed. How do I know this? Because it’s how I have treated other photographers since I began my photographic journey over 20 years ago. And it was because of those comrades that I met at a cafe in Milan I began shooting for Italian Vogue and other Conde Nast publications. This simple lesson has remained with me over the years and it appears the lesson resonates still.  My friend and former assistant Jason Christopher was in the audience and I later found out that my message resonated with him as he passed it on as well in his blog.

As comrades you help each other and experience far more success than you will failure because you are brothers and sisters in arms. To support and help or guide one another is how we not only survive, but thrive in these difficult times! It is beyond me how many photographers today can’t get along with other photographers for reasons so trivial that I wonder when our mothers are going to shout at us  “Play Nice!”

The photographic industry is as competitive as ever with many trying to break in while others are simply trying to survive. I’ll say it again, change your path and perspective and not only will you survive but you shall thrive.  With the tug of war and popularity contest going on nobody will make any progress.

Explaining the Light

Explaining the Light

Over 20 years ago when I was breaking into this industry, I had access to and was able to soak in information and experience first hand the work ethic of many established photographers, none more so than the legendary Patrick Demarchelier.  From my years with him I learned everything from loading cameras with film, to how to handle my business, and above all, how to treat my clients and my peers. I once owned a book titled, “Seven in New York.”  It was about seven French photographers (of which one was Demarchelier) who went to New York and helped one another establish themselves in the photographic community. The book had a huge impact on my life and I wish I had it while I was working for Patrick.  Not only could I have had him sign it,  but can you imagine what it would be like to read a book about someone who was in the same situation you are currently going through and that person also happens to be your boss?  Think of the water cooler conversation possibilities on that one!

The time spent, and lessons learned from those days with Patrick, to this very day affect who I am as a photographer and a person. If you ask me how to do something, I will not only tell you but I’ll draw you a map!  Your body of work is not just the images you create over the years, but the images you help to create even if you are not the one pushing the shutter.  Another photographer is not your enemy, another photographer is your brother/sister in arms.  Just as you can help them grow they can help you.  As Mom says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Jerry Avenaim

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Fashion Photography Workshop on Life in the Fab Lane

Celebrity fashion photographer Jerry Avenaim gives Kimora Lee Simmons a crash course in high-end advertising fashion photography so she can shoot her men’s fall campaign Phat Premium. So, will she sink or swim?

Fashion is one of the most critiqued form of genres in photography, advertising is one of the most financially funded types of photography, when combined the weight of the world has been added to the photographers shoulders.  One would think the responsibility and repercussions of your work could not increase with this already potent combination, but that is exactly what happens when you are the first to photograph a new clothing line.

This was the situation for me when I was asked to photograph Kimora Lee Simmons for Phat Farm’s first ever advertising campaign.  Now over a decade later Phat Farm has called on me again, except this time Kimora will be wearing my shoes as the photographer. In addition to being a Model, a Mogul, and a Mom, Kimora was ready to take the weight on her shoulders and create and capture images for the brand new advertising campaign for Phat Premium.

The pressure of being the first photographer for a new clothing line is intense.  The photographs are laying the foundation of what will become the style and brand of that company for years to come.  My work on the first ad campaign with Phat Farm did exactly that reflecting the style and shape the future advertising campaigns, now it was Kimora’s turn to do the same for Phat Premium.

Enjoy the video, and I hope you get the message, it’s never to late to learn new skills!

Kimora had already expanded Phat Farm and today it’s clothing line to include Baby Phat, Phat Classics, and the Phat Premium clothing line she was going to photograph the launch of.  Having been in front of the lens Kimora knew what poses to do, and now being the photographer she knew exactky the images and style Phat Premium required.

The images shot at Griffith park had traces of the original Phat Farm campaign, however these had a refinement and style that was pure Kimora. Before my very eyes I could see how the images I had photographed years ago continue to shape and influence the current advertising campaign.  Working from the foundation laid down by the original Phat Farm advertisements, Kimora was able to incorporate the past into the future with her images for Phat Premium.

Have fun shooting and feel free to post any questions!

Jerry Avenaim

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Fashion Photography Workshops

Picture 3Fashion Photographer Jerry Avenaim has been a highly sought out teacher and speaker regularly within the photographic community at events such as Photo Imaging and Design Expo, Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) and Photo Plus Expo in New York since 2002. Jerry has inspired and guided a generation of photographers through his lectures to students at universities like Columbia College Chicago, Harrington College of Design, Santa Monica College, College of Southern Nevada and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Not restricted to just the classroom, Jerry has also led hands-on photographic workshops in diverse locations throughout the United States.

Taking the experience and knowledge of his years as a seasoned fashion, celebrity, advertising photographer, Jerry has been the featured on countless photo magazines. Not afraid to share his knowledge, he has authored many articles on his photography style and techniques.

Private Instruction: What better way to learn than one on one with photographer who has experience in all genre’s of photography? For all experience levels–this is the way to learn years of photography in one day. Limited in availability this unique experience can offer instruction with complete privacy and concentrated attention catered to your photographic aspirations.

With contacts from years of shooting Jerry will facilitate the models, hair and make-up, for your private instruction.  And as one affluent client offered, Jerry will fly to your exotic vacation spot, vacation home, or even your private location to help you learn how to shoot like a pro with your own family and even your own equipment or his professional camera gear!

Taking a Crash Course in what you want to learn and how!
A full day private workshop with Jerry Avenaim, one on one from concept to completion. Relax and take comfort in knowing this event is tailored to best fit your educational understanding.

Your day will include: To start the day you will learn lighting techniques that apply to portrait, advertising and fashion photography. You will learn how to direct a model and take control of YOUR shoot from styling the model (model and make up artist provided) to pushing the shutter.  Choose a day in the studio to learn strobe lighting  or a day outdoor to learn location lighting, or you can have BOTH by splitting your day in half. After the shooting time Jerry will personally teach you his digital workflow solutions for post production of your images. Before the end of your day you will have learned how to promote yourself, your imagery, and how to work with professional models and make-up artists.  The knowledge is not that only thing to leave with you as in your hand you shall have hi-res images on a DVD from your shoot, digitally enhanced, and were even reviewed by world renowned photography Jerry Avenaim. Learn how to get models from agencies, marketing yourself and business? Book your private photography workshop now by contacting Jerry Avenaim Studio!

To contact via telephone call 323-876-3374 or send an email to discuss your needs.

Regards,

Jerry Avenaim

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Photo Plus Expo Wrap Up

The Buzz
The big buzz was about digital video on DSLRs, and editing that video. I saw a number of vendors selling different mounts and stedicam-like brackets for getting smooth hand-held HD video from DSLRs, and everybody was talking video (which is weird for a photo tradeshow). Lightroom 3 was getting some buzz, but since Adobe wasn’t exhibiting, a lot of the buzz was “Where’s Adobe?” Nikon’s D3s and Canon’s 7D were both getting a lot of buzz, too. I saw lots of booths from companies offering: (a) online portfolios (b) printed photo and wedding books (c) printing on different mediums (metal, aluminum, etc).

The Attendance
I have no idea what the official attendance number was, but the show seemed very crowded the entire time, and the aisles were always busy. We had a NAPP booth at the show, and had one of our best shows in years, and every vendor I talked with seemed really upbeat and busy, and that’s a good thing.

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Cool Stuff I Saw
JVC had a 3D television (you had to wear 3D glasses), that was really cool. I went byThink Tank Photo’s booth three times to try and finally meet someone from Think Tank in person, but it was so crazy in their booth, you couldn’t move. You’d think they were handing out $20 bills (that’s their booth above–photo by Rafael). Moo.com was there with their photo business cards (where you can get up to 50 cards business cards, each with a different photo), and it seems like I’m the last one on earth to have heard about them, because everybody had Moo.com cards already. Olympus had a pretty cool almost-point-and-shoot camera called the Pen that people were talking about. Nikon had a packed house for their Capture NX 2 theater, and their booth was a mob-scene morning til night. Nik Software had ‘em wall to wall checking out Viveza 2 (totally amazing) in their theater, and I saw quite a few microstock companies there as well.

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Awesome Demos
Matt Kloskowski and I both did demos over at the Elinchrom booth (that’s Matt seen during his demo in the “taken with my iPhone” photo above). Jim Smelzer was pulling a huge crowd for three solid days for his lighting demos in the Westcott booth, and people were eating his stuff up (that’s Jim holding the softbox above).

ppe_lexar

Saw a great presentation from celebrity fashion photographer Jerry Avenaim at the Lexar booth. (Jerry Avenaim photographed at Lexar with iPhone effects seen above). Also, UK-based fashion photographer Mark Cleghorn was doing live lighting demos at the Lastolite booth and he had ‘em packed in. I just caught the end of a demo at the Asukabook booth, but they had a bride and groom in the booth, with a photographer giving posing tips, and what I saw was really interesting. Saw a great presentation from Tyler Stableford at the Canon booth, who had some incredible adventure sports photography and portraits, and I saw Douglas Kirkland doing a fashion lighting demo for Canon that was very interesting and entertaining. There were so many great presentations all over—I wish I had more time to check them out.

Thank you Scott Kelby for a great blog post, I wish I could have just done a “pingback”? But, I just heard about that one yesterday and can’t figure it out. (I should just stick to shooting pictures) Thanks again, you rock!

Jerry Avenaim

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Photography and Video

polaroid-camera1Polaroid announced at a press conference in Hong Kong earlier this week that it will relaunch its instant cameras and film, with distribution expected in mid 2010. The announcement came largely in response to The Impossible Project, a group of Polaroid enthusiasts in the Netherlands that has been trying to recreate the magic of the film on a low budget and is now tasked with recreating it for Polaroid. As a fashion photographer this is music to my ears. I’ve been shooting 8X10 Polaroid for 20 years and miss the days. I do hope that Polaroid will reintroduce this product as well.

Rob Haggart at A Photo Editor pointed my friend Andy Patrick of livebooks to two impressive documentary videos seen here (or watch below) shot with the Canon 5D Mark II by Danfung Dennis and Yassine Ouhilal, respectively, Check out Rob’s behind-the-scene interview with Yazzy in particular. As a celebrity photographer, I myself have always had a love of cinema. These two masterpieces are opening brave new worlds everywhere.

Battle for Hearts and Minds Trailer from Danfung Dennis on Vimeo.

Bravo!

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Fashion Photographer on Germany’s Next Top Model

Mexx magazine advertisement of Mandy for GNTM © Jerry Avenaim

Mexx magazine advertisement of Mandy for GNTM © Jerry Avenaim

What a great summer it has been. I wish I could have been more proactive in my writing but that has been quite the challenge with all the assignments and television shows I’ve been doing this year. I will do my best to follow this up with all the goings on since my last entry. But just to hold you over until I can really sit down and write the pages I really want to get to, this will have to do for now. 🙂

The season started with an amazing opportunity and experience. I was asked to be on Germany’s Next Top Model with Heidi Klum.

It all started in the spring when I was contacted by Dorland and Gray in Berlin (this was the ad agency for the assignment) to shoot a campaign and direct an international Mexx campaign (this is Cover Girl for eastern europe). I was elated to find out it would be for a winner of a competition on Germany’s Next Top Model. One that I would help choose as I sat on the jury panel.


Here is a video clip of the jury panel

So, I was part of the television show as well. It lasted ten days and took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. When we weren’t sitting poolside having drinks, or out to dinner with a couple dozen people we were all hard at work! Whether we were shooting on the set of LOST or Waikiki beach it was tough work, but some poor photographer / director had to do it 😉


Here is a making of video; courtesy of Mexx and Germany’s Next Top Model

Click here for a behind the scenes photo gallery.

More to come!

Jerry Avenaim

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Getting Noticed in Fashion Photography

My first Vogue cover of Cindy Crawford shot when I was 24 years old

My first Vogue cover of Cindy Crawford shot when I was 24 years old

Fashion photographers have a hard time getting noticed these days. There’s just too damn many out there, even for seasoned veterans it’s a cut throat era.

I was asked a question this morning by a young photographer, and since I have not had the time to do any writing (more about why in my later writings *hehe*).

The young photographer a world away asked…
Hey just a question??
How on earth do you ever get noticed 🙁
do tell about your sucess 🙂

So I thought, well this is an easy enough answer if I give the short version, at least it was for me on my chosen path.

“In one word it would be tenacity. That said,  do things extra-ordinarily and then get in people faces with it. Be charming, but never take no for an answer, everyone want’s to be noticed… But it’s as simple as telling an art director or editor, “I want to work for your magazine” if they so no reply with “then please tell me how to work for your magazine.” And so on, you keep showing that person your passion and desire and they will eventually say yes…

A footnote: Just remember you must have the goods (portfolio) to back it up!

Jerry Avenaim

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Fine Art Nude Photography: Let’s Get Naked

Helena © Jerry Avenaim

Helena © Jerry Avenaim

Jerry has devoted over ten years to a personal project titled “Naked Truth,” which showcases the human form in the organic environment of our natural landscape. This beautiful collection of images is shot wholly on film, with nothing retouched, and is slated for completion this year.

If you want to be like Jerry, perhaps I can help by lending a model’s perspective on how to get a girl naked in front of your camera (that is why you own the camera in the first place, isn’t it?) and once you’ve got her naked, how to conduct a comfortable shoot.

SECURING THE SHOOT

1. Make No Assumptions: Never assume that just because a model has posed nude for someone else, she will pose nude for you.

2. Success Lies in the Details: Take a moment to introduce yourself, explain your concept, provide all pertinent details relating to the shoot and tell the model why you think she’d be a great fit for your project.

3. Your Work Speaks for Itself: The odds that a model will agree to do a fine art shoot with you increase exponentially if you can show her a substantial body of similar work.

Mimi © Jerry Avenaim

Mimi © Jerry Avenaim

If you have never shot fine art, clearly conceptualize exactly what you’re going for. Then pull together a collection of similar images by other photographers whose work you admire. Present those to the model and either convince her that you have the skill to replicate them, or tell her honestly that you have no idea how your stuff will come out but you’re looking for a muse who is willing to experiment with you. Either way, clear communication is the key.

DURING THE SHOOT

1. Modesty Matters: Models have varying degrees of modesty, just like anyone else. Take the extra minute to make sure the model is comfortable stripping down in whatever environment you may be using.

2. Bite Your Tongue: Even the most jaw-droppingly beautiful women sometimes harbor insecurities and body image issues. Snorts of, “Thank god for Photoshop” are never welcome, least of all by a woman who has generously agreed to bare all in front of your lens.

3. Professionalism is Paramount: When you’re fully clothed and the model you’re shooting is nude, excessive flattery intended to bolster her confidence may become uncomfortable for both parties.

If anyone has questions related to fine art photography that they’d like answered from a model’s perspective, please feel free to leave them in your comments and I will happily address them. And launch questions you’d like answered from a photographer’s perspective to Jerry. Or if any of you have any secrets, successes or nightmares in this arena that you’d like to share, have at it.

Enjoy shooting naked!

Deborah Fujiwara photo by Renee Jacobs

Deborah Fujiwara photo by Renee Jacobs

This entry written by: Deborah Fujiwara

Many thanks, Jerry Avenaim

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