Episode 3: Photography Clients are Like Dogs

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The third episode of the Improve Photography Podcast takes on photography questions from listeners around the world–and Dustin calls his photography clients “dogs.”  You’ll learn how to photograph people with glasses without getting glare, how to make your subject feel more comfortable, and all about flash brackets.

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Guide to Episode 3

[0:48] Photo Gossip (Photography News)

Canon announced the new Canon 24-70mm f/4 lens.  Jim and Dustin joke that this lens is likely to get as much excitement from the photo community as a bunch of crickets chirping in the field.  Canon recently refreshed the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II and also offers a Canon 24-104mm f/4 lens, so it doesn’t make much sense to purchase this lens.

[3:50] In other news, Canon announced that they have redesigned their lens caps so that you can squeeze them from the middle instead of the edges.  Nikon lens caps have always been this way.

[4:50]  Listener Questions

You can submit your questions to be on the show by going to http://improvephotography.com/podcastquestion

[5:00] A listener in Florida asks what f-stop he should use to shoot lightning

Jim says that since the lightning is far away from the camera (hopefully), it doesn’t matter what f-stop you use since you’ll have plenty of depth-0f-field.  The caveat to this is when you want to include foreground elements, when the f-stop begins to play more of a significant role.  Jim also mentions that if you’re shooting during the night, it’s easier to shoot lightning because the shutter speed is open for so long that lightning can strike any time in the 30 seconds and you’ll capture it.  When shooting during the day, you usually want to use a high f-stop so that the shutter speed is longer–making it easier to capture the lightning.

[9:50] A listener asks what histograms are, how to use them, and if they can be tweaked in Photoshop

Dustin answers that a histogram is a graph showing the brightness levels in the photo.  If any of the detail touches the left side of the graph, then a portion of the photo has clipped shadow.  A clipped shadow means that there is no detail in that portion of the shadow because it is entirely black.  The opposite is true with the right side of the histogram, which represents the highlights in the scene.  Jim and Dustin both mention that the histogram is a valuable tool for some types of photography, but not to get too crazy about using the histogram for each shot.

Dustin says that, in Photoshop, you can adjust minor exposure problems easily.  Jim mentions to be careful adjusting exposure issues in Photoshop too much, as it can create noise.

Jim mentions that there is A LOT of more information to learn about histograms.  He mentions that he has a video in his Online Intermediate Photography Class where he teaches about RGB histograms and how to prevent blowing out a color channel.

[17:00] A listener asks what he should charge for a family photo shoot

Dustin and Jim say they cannot suggest a price that the industry follow as it is a violation of U.S. price fixing laws.  However, they offer insight as to how they have arrived at their prices and the guidelines that many photographers follow.

Dustin suggests you look at the prices of local  full-time photographers.  Do not look at the part-time photographers because their prices are sometimes so low that they will not stand a chance at making a reasonable profit.

Jim says, if you’re afraid to charge higher prices because you’re still new, then offer a 100% money-back guarantee.  That way you don’t have to feel bad about charging $750 for a senior portrait, because if the client doesn’t like the photos, they can get their money back and won’t lose a dime.

[24:00]  A listener from Colorado asks how to take photos of a person who is wearing glasses without getting glare on the lenses

Jim ran into this situation on one of his first paid gigs as a photographer, so he can empathize with the caller.  He says to move the flash side-to-side until the reflection is minimized.  Then, adjust the flash up and down until the reflection is further minimized.  Then, you can have the subject tip his or her head down slightly to further minimize the reflection.

Jim and Dustin tested yesterday to see if using a polarizer will cut out the reflection on glasses and found out that it does minimize the glare, although it is not a panacea.

[26:28] A listener asks how to follow the rule of thirds when his camera doesn’t have focus points that lie on the intersection of the third lines

Dustin empathizes with the caller because Canon cameras notoriously don’t have many focus points.  He suggests focusing and recomposing.

[28:10] A listener asks how to do lighting for food photography

Dustin says he likes to use one simple flash and a Rogue Flashbender placed right above the food.  Jim said his setup is to use a white shoot-through umbrella backlighting the food and then put small white reflectors around the food to light up any undesirable shadows.  Jim and Dustin agree that the best way to get started in food photography is simply to use a large window as a light source and then fill in shadows with reflectors.

[32:00]  A listener asks how to make the subject comfortable during a shoot

Dustin says clients are like dogs–they can smell fear.  If you decide to be confident in your shoot and have fun, it will do far more to help the model feel comfortable than anything else.

Jim often jumps in the place of the model and does silly poses during the shoot to give the shoot a lighter feeling so the model doesn’t feel afraid.

Dustin and Jim both agree that it is very important to show photos to the subject during the shoot.  This has been key to how they work with models in the studio.

[38:00] The Improve Photography Minute

Improve Photography is doing a photography contest on their Facebook fan page beginning on Monday, November 12.  The theme is “Shallow Depth-of-Field.”  You can enter by posting your photo to the facebook wall any time after Monday.  The winner will win a Lensbaby Spark.

[39:35] Doodad of the week

Jim recommends the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack so that you can see a jpeg preview of the RAW files on your PC.  This speeds up finding an image on your hard drive dramatically.  You can download it for free.  Jim learned about this updated to the Codec Pack with new camera profiles on the TWiP Podcast.

Dustin recommends the Canon 6D, a new and relatively inexpensive full-frame camera.

[43:00]  How to win a free Online Photography Class

The winner from this last week was Heather Seldomridge.  She should email Jim and Dustin at prize@improvephotography.com to redeem.

Anyone who submits a review of the podcast this week on iTunes will be entered to win an online photography class from ImprovePhotography.com.  Go to the podcast on iTunes and write a quick review in order to enter.  While Jim and Dustin really appreciate 5-star reviews, ANY review will get you entered in the contest.

Transcription of Episode 3

Episode 3: Photography Clients are Like
Dogs

From the Improve Photography Studio in Caldwell, Idaho. This is the Improve Photography Podcast. It’s
your weekly dose of photography knowledge delivered straight in your ear buds. And now, your host,
Jim Harmer.

Hey everybody. I’m Jim Harmer, and I am joined today by Dustin Olsen.

Hey, guys. It’s great to be back.

We are back on our third episode, and we are already, in less than a week, to 16,000 downloads. I’m
really excited about.

That is so awesome.

Yeah, we are glad that a lot of people are taking advantage of this new resource, and hopefully enjoying
it. So, let’s go to Photo Gossip.

Photo Gossip: Photo news and other shiny things that won’t improve your photography.

We’ll the big news this week definitely came from Canon. Nikon did not do too much of a stir this
week. Most of the big trade shows are over for the year so nobody is expected to see much of an
announcement coming this late in the year. But Canon held an event in Japan, to announce a brand new
lens. And it was just kind of pandemonium in the industry when this lens came out, because it was such
a surprise for such a popular lens to be announced. In fact, I think we can go to the audio now of the
press’ reaction to that lens’ announcement (crickets chirping).

Crickets. Really not much to be said there, because – what was the lens?

It’s the Canon 24 to 70 F/4 lens. There is already an F2.8 version, this is the F4.

The F4, why do we do F4? That is what everybody is wondering at this point because the 24 to 70 is
probably the most popular pro lens on any camera system: Canon, Nikon, Sony – you name it. The 24 to
70 is a very popular lens. The 24 to 70 F2.8 I should say, is a very very popular lens. Canon just refreshed
their 24 to 70 L version 2 and it looks like a nice upgrade. A month later, they are coming out with
this 24 to 70 F/4 and so it is a slower lens. It’s still crazy expensive, $1500, and so everyone is kind of
wondering, why would anyone buy this lens. It’s not as fast as the other one, and it’s only a little bit
less. If you wanted an F4 lens, why not just buy the Canon 24 to 105 that’s really sharp, and been a very
popular lens. So this lens, I don’t see it making sense for anybody.

Not really, other than the price point. That’s the only thing that I see that could make sense for someone
– I don’t know.

Yeah, and I am very sensitive to the price point, if I can save 500 bucks and this is $500 cheaper than
F2.8 version, but it is already $1500 lens. So it is not cheap. And if I were trying to save my pennies
on the lens, I’d buy the 24 to 105. It is less expensive and gives you a bigger focal range. It just really
boggled the mind what they were thinking on this one.

Yeah, the 24 to 105 is F/4 as well and is $400 cheaper than this one and you get more focal range.

Anyway, I got a good laugh out of this announcement. This is like, they just picked a lens out of a hack
to make an F/4 version of, and it is not the weight either because this is not a heavy lens. The 24 to
70 is not a heavy lens, kind of crazy. But there was good news from Canon this week, and that is, the
new Canon lens caps – the little release tabs that you have to squeeze when to take it off your lens. It’s
always been on the edges where you have to grip the little tabs to squeeze it in, and if you have a lens
on or some filter, that can get a little bit out of the way, it can be a little bit cumbersome. So the new
Canon lens caps, are now, you squeeze from the middle.

Just like the Nikon’s.

Just like the Nikon’s have always been. So we don’t need to get too down on Canon. The news that came
from Canon this week was really humorous. I mean, you got to be a serious photo geek to be interested
– cap squeezing from the middle.

Listener questions. Submit your questions at improvephotography.com/podcastquestion.

Hi. My name is Steve Tite. I am from Cali, Florida. And I would like to take lightning pictures, so I
would like to know what F-stop you would suggest I use to do this. Thank you.

This is something that newer photographers fall for every time, huh Dustin? It’s true. Whenever we are
teaching night photography specially, and you are shooting the moon, or in this case, lightning, that’s
hopefully very far away. Or else your pictures are going to look amazing. Anyway, usually, these things
are very far away. You are shooting the moon, you are shooting stars, you are shooting the sun setting
over the horizon, anything far away from the camera, you work with a student, you say, “Ok, you need
to set your F stop”. So if you want a lot of depth-of-field, you need a high F-stop number, you know, F/
16, F/22. If you want shallow depth-of-field like in a portrait with a blurry background, you put your
aperture down low at 2.8, F/4, F5.6. And so we all kind of come into photography with that knowledge,
and so, we’ll see people – even people who have been doing photography for couple of years would still
get this principle wrong, that we go to shoot the moon or lightning, and we’ll say, “that’s far away, I’ll
need a lot of for this landscape”. So you, go to F22 to shoot lightning in this case, and it is totally
unnecessary. Completely unnecessary, because when you focus that far out from the camera, you’ve
focus to infinity,which is as far as the lens needs to change in order for you to be focused forever. Once
you’ve focused to infinity, you have full depth-of-field, whether it’s half a mile away or 10 light years

away. The focus is going to be the same. And so in the case of lightning, we are hoping it is far from the
camera, so it doesn’t matter which F-stop you choose, you are going to have plenty of depth-of-field. So,
depth-of-field is off the table for this, unless, you are in a specific situation. For example, you are
shooting lightning but you would like to include the foreground. You said you are in Florida, and so
maybe you are at the beach. And you would want to include part of the beach and appear to have a
lightning in the background. In that case, you are going to need a higher depth-of-field because you have
___close and far, that changes the situation. So, in that situation, F/16, F/22 will be safe F-stops to get a
full depth-of-field. And then there is one more twist to the situation, and that is, if you are shooting
lightning during the day versus at night. If you are shooting at night, your aperture doesn’t matter what
it is going to be specially, if depth-of-field is off the table. You could choose that F2.8 or F22, it’s going to
be very very similar, because the picture is going to be substantially dark, or black until that lightning
strikes. So that is not going to matter too much. What does matter is, if you are shooting in the day – if
you are shooting lightning during the day, it’s tough to get a long shutter speed. When you shoot
lightning at night, you just open your shutter for 30 seconds, and sometime in there, the lighting is going
to strike so you get level time. You will never miss the lightning. During the day, you have very short
shutter speed so it’s incredibly tough to time the lightning photo. And so in that case, you would like a
really high F-stop so that you can get a longer shutter speed, and you might want neutral density filters
and stuff like that to really slow it down. So what F-stop do you want kind of depends on your situation.
It probably doesn’t matter, and if it doesn’t matter I’d stick with something like F/8 that’s generally
going to be a sharper aperture.

Yep, exactly. And for Canon people, you probably are wondering, where is the infinity on your lens?
They don’t put that little infinity sign. Nikon lenses would actually put that little infinity symbol on
their lenses, most of them anyway. At least the pro lenses. Yeah, the pro lenses. So usually, if you just
turn your focus, zoom, all the way to as far away as possible and then just come back a little bit. That’s
about infinity. So keep that in mind if you try the zoom to infinity. And if manual focus is a little bit too
intimidating for you, just focus the camera on the moon. It’s always going to be at infinity. If you see
a light pole that looks a mile away, in a distance, focus on that, it’s definitely going to be at infinity.
Sometimes, just focusing on something really far away and then locking the focus then you got your
focus to infinity for the rest of the shoot. You are set to go.

Hi. This is Carlyn from St. Claire, Michigan. I was going to ask if you could give a brief overview
on histograms. I’m just beginning to learn the mechanics of my camera, and learning how to take
pictures in the manual settings. I see histograms on my camera and I am not exactly sure what
information they provide, and if I can look at histogram and tell that my picture is not going to yield a
good end product. And is it possible to tweak that histogram once I am in Photoshop. So if you could
go over the histogram in brief, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

The histogram is simply a graph that is displayed on your camera when in Photoshop to show the

brightness levels of the photo. The way the photographers use a histogram is when you see the photos

on the back of the LCD of your DSLR, you just press the display or info button or sometimes you press

the up button, the up arrow – depending on what camera model you are using, and it is going to allow

you to see some information about the photo. One of those options is going to be the histogram. so,

it’s just a little black and white graph, and the information showing is of brightness level so if any of the

lines is poking up – if any of those little graph marks touch all the way to the left like touching the end,

then it’s a clipped shadow. That means you don’t have any detail at all in that portion of the photo. On

the far right, if any of the graph peaks on the right, it’s touching the right side of the graph, then you

know you have clipped highlights that means some part of the photo is perfectly white with no detail.

Like a cloud that’s just a sheet of white instead of having little details in it. It’s important when you’re

looking at a histogram to start out that you don’t get tricked by touching right, touching left, because

if the data is pushed to the right or push to the left that can be just fine. That might not be a problem

at all. The problem is only if it touches the right end, and sometimes that can be tough to see. I think

we should have something to boycott or something for the camera manufacturers to have a bigger full

screen graph that will light to show a little red dot or something if it’s touching the end. Sometimes it is

really hard to see if it is the touching or not.

Yeah, that’s a great suggestion. Hopefully those guys are listening to our podcast.

Oh you know they are. So we’ll get the word out. You know they are. Anyway, so that would be really

useful both on the highlight and shadow side. Now you can turn on highlight clipping indicators, which

when you look at the photo it’ll just be blinkies. In fact, a lot of photographers just called this the blinky

setting. So if the clouds are over exposed, it will just blink the clouds to show you that part is over

exposed. It would be nice to have a highlight shadow indicator on that histogram, I think. Anyway, so

that’s what the histogram does. Don’t get too wild on the histogram. Photography is not a science. As

much as we tech people wanted it to be, it’s just not. And so you know you are a photographer savve,

you want your histogram to push to the right, that’s fine, if you’re shooting a gray card. But the fact is

the most photos have a lot of contrast in them, and so your graph isn’t always going to be pushed to the

right as it’s, “supposed to be”. There may be times where you can do that, but don’t get too wild on the

histograms. If you can choose when shooting a scene without a lot of dynamic range, it sure be nice to

go to push it over to the right side of the histogram but most that’s just not possible just make sure you

don’t clip the highlights or clip the shadows. The time that I would use the histogram most is night

photography. I’ll never go shoot night photos without looking at the histogram, because it’s black where

you are shooting, it’s really dark outside and you’re looking at a screen. Now the screen is a bunch of

lights flashing at you. So everything is going to look brighter than it actually is, I mean dramatically

brighter. And so all the time, I’m13:56 in to night photography if I don’t look at the histogram of say, all

photos look great as soon as I get them to the computer they are just way under exposed. so you have

to look that histogram and push that information so that we have that data closer to the right side even

though sometimes it’s going to be impossible. Yeah, so that I think histograms had their placing can be

helpful, with digital technology they can instantly see the photo we are taking. If it looks too bright,

adjust your settings. If it’s too dark, adjust your settings. That is really helpful, and the histogram can tell

you if it’s too far one way or the other. But because of digital technology we can take it into Photoshop

or Lightroom, and change a little bit of what happen in camera especially if you are shooting raw. You

can really I change it as if you did it in the camera. Yeah, so, you should have photo that’s too dark. And

Photoshop, you can push it quite a bit, and kind of fix those minor exposure problems for sure. One

thing that we see a lot from our online student is they will submit photos to us and say, I did a shoot this

weekend, the photos turned out really noisy. What happened? We will look at the photo and it’s really

noisy no doubt about it. When we look at their exsive 15:17data, that would open the photo and see

what camera settings they use to make the photo, often, they use ISO100, ISO200, there shouldn’t be

any noise in the photo. and so, we wondered for a long time what was happening then we realizing

more more that most of the time when the photos are noisy, it wasn’t the ISO that was the problem.

The problem was they

with exposure and other settings.

image quality. so don’t push that exposure too far until you are kind of use to what the limits of

Photoshop are. Also, in our intermediate photography class, we teach a lot about kind of more advanced

things about histograms. It’s not just about the rightness histogram, if you press your up button again

and again, forward display again and again, you also get an histogram, which is going to show you if you

if you blew out a channel of color. Like you are shooting a field red flowers, and so the red and green

colors – green from the stems of the flowers are really going to be saturated and if you blow them out

you won’t get any color detail in that part of the photo. There’s a lot more advanced stuff that you can

learn about histograms. Most people learn about the brightness.

Hi Jim. I’m Matt from Seattle, Washington. I love the show. My question come, well I guess, from a

question I got this week, that left me kind of dumbfounded. Someone asked me if I do photo shoots

for clients, they wanted to hire me but I didn’t know what to say when they asked me how much I

charge. So my question is how much should I charge for a family photo shoot? What a great question

however Jim went to law school, and there was lot that we actually cannot tell you. What to charge?

Everytime we get this question I’d say, Dustin don’t answer. There are some laws in the US to prevent

price fixing, so we do have to be a little bit careful in saying, this is what to charge, that is what to

charge. We can’t tell you. We can give you some guidelines, what we do, how we run our business,

and how you can arrive at your own prices. But that we just certainly don’t want to make it seem as if

we’re forcing a price on the industry or suggesting that price to the industry.

Exactly. So, when I start as a portrait photographer and taking clients, to avoid the question what do I

charge or the bill, to answer the question whether I did some local research. I try to find out what local

photographers, here’s a 18:02 photographers who make a living taking portraits, not someone who…

marries photography on Facebook. Yeah. So, someone who actually makes a living with this, I would

took the photo into Photoshop or Lightroom and they made dramatic changes

That’s going to cause artifacting noise and really destroy your

research them and see what they were charging, if they are sharing their prices online or something,

and then I would base my prices off that. I would try to come really close, maybe not charge as much as

these professionals were but come close, and then offer a discounts, like a get-to-know-you discount or

something that would kind of bring my prices down a little bit and not charges much for that. So it’s you

want to charge based on a local demographic and be competitive. That way – like for Jim from Florida.

It’s a completely different ballgame. oh yeah. A wedding in Florida, 4,000 is very very common especially

in kind of rich retirement community where I was for college. That is very common. You come to Boise

and you charge 4,000 for a wedding, that’s only going to apply to one out of a thousand weddings. You

can’t charge that kind of price in Boise for a typical wedding package. People just won’t pay. For most

clients, certainly there’s always the upper end that will pay that and more. But generally, that’s not

going to happen. So I think, what Dustin said about basing your prices off a professional full time

photographer, is really important. And that’s not at all discouraging or looking down on the newer

photographers. Everybody starts somewhere. We started somewhere. It’s tough to get going and so I

understand. Some people feel that they need their prices low. I hope that doesn’t seem like a knock,

because we totally respect that. What we are saying now is that most photographer that we see, who

are just starting photography on a Facebook fan page, just getting their name out there, are charging so

little that it will be impossible for the business to succeed, just not possible. My first real quick shouldn’t

charge 50 bucks. It was like 6 hours work to shoot it, and then edit the photos, and then turn them

around, and get them on a disc and give it to the people. There’s no chance I could ever make a living

doing that. And that’s what we’re encouraging people to avoid, is that mistake of just charging way too

little. Remember you are building your client list was right now and so, if you build a list around the 50

dollar shoot, when you then change to the $1000 shoot, you lost all your customers. The moment you

think you are building by having these introductory prices is not momentum at all because you’re going

to have to reinvent the wheel and get new customer who will pay an industry standard reasonable price,

for you to make a decent profit on what you’re working really hard for. So I think that is a good practice,

go and see what professional photographers are charging in your area. And then, like what Dustin said,

adapt it to your personal situation. The fear that most photographers have is ,they say, “ But I am not a

thousand per hour photographer. I can’t charge 2000 for a wedding because I am not that good.” And I

think for a lot of people, that’s honest. I like that. I like it from people. They don’t want to overcharge

and be unreasonable with their clients. But you have to find other ways to do that. If you are afraid that

other people will not like the senior portrait that you are charging $700 for, then offer a 100% money

back guarantee. That’s what we do still. In every shoot that we do, we offer a 100% money back. If you

don’t like the photos, you don’t have to buy our photos. And then you can go to another photographer,

and get your senior portraits or get your family photos or whatever else you are doing.

It gives us peace of mind. It’s honest with our customers, they don’t have to pay something that they

don’t like . And it makes me not feel bad to charge the prices that I need to charge around the business.

Because if they don’t like it, I know that they won’t be out with the money. And so that makes me feel

good about, and be honest about my pricing and still make the profit that I deserve because I am

putting in hard work. Yeah, exactly. I think, as you try to define what your prices are, ask yourself the

question, “How much money do I want to make?” With what Jim said, he charge 50 bucks for his first

shoot, but I tell you, the factor of the number of hours the work he did, the talent that went into it, he is

making less than the minimum wage, especially, if you include gear in that. And so, you have to decide,

are you making $50,000 this year, a $100,000 or what is it going to take for you to do that. What kind of

prices do you have to charge for that? How many shoots do you have to do? So can you just decide, if

you want to make $6 an hour, or 20, or more. So, kind of think in that way. And, if you are just starting

out as a weekend photographer, you are just shooting family portraits and you are not going to be full

time, maybe because you don’t want to or maybe that’s just a long way off. And so, you say, but I’d be

happy to go out and shoot and spend 3 hours, and earn a 150 bucks. I’ll be happy with that. A little extra

spending money, then maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s what you choose, but I still feel like if you are

going to progress as a photographer, and you are serious about earning money in the business, it just

won’t work for long. And you are training the wrong kind of clients. It’s better to have fewer clients, who

are paying a reasonable price than the cheap $50 event that always seems to go wrong – And I’ve been

through a lot of them.

Hi. This is Clark Hodges from Lyon, Colorado. I‘d like to find a good way – I’ve got a subject that I take
his picture and he has got super strong prescription on his glasses, and once I got it dead on, I got
a huge cut in on his face as a reflection of the glasses basically, as he moves his whole body. Any
thoughts and suggestion on that, I will appreciate it. Thanks.

This is really tough. We were just talking about getting started in photography. One of the first serious
events that I shot was a black tie thing at a country club with a bunch of old rich guys. And, all of them
had glasses with, like you said, super strong prescriptions. And so, the flashes that I had out there were
just causing crazy glare, and I panicked. I was like, what do I do about this? I’ve never really ran into
that situation. And I’ve learned since then that the way to do it is, you have to think of the angle of
incidence is the angle of reflection. So if the flash is 15 degrees to your right, the reflection is going to be
15 degrees to your left. That works great if the lenses are flat, but most lenses are curved on glasses. So
it doesn’t really matter where you put the flash side to side, it’s still going to reflect at some part of the
glasses on to the camera. There’s going to be that reflection at some point because it is curve. So you
will put the flash and need to move it, a little bit, little bit, little bit and see where’s the least reflection
is side to side. And then, you move that flash up higher, and higher, so that it’s also the least reflection
going up and down. Once you get it there, there’s going to be very little glare on the glasses. It also helps
to tilt the person’s chin down or have them kind of tilt their glasses to the top of the frame, forward a
little bit and that’s going to help reduce it. And by that point, there is probably no glare. Now, we did
test in the studio yesterday after we received this question just to see for sure if this would help, if you
put a polarizer on your lens, a polarizing filter, it’s not the 26:10 for this problem, it’s not going to cut out
all the reflection but it definitely takes the edge off. So, if you follow those best practices and then also
throw on the polarizer, I think you are going to have no problem at all.

I want to follow the rule of thirds but I don’t have any focus points where I should be focusing, so how
hard is it? Thanks.

That’s a great question and since the theme is definitely Canon today – we know your pain, because

there’s just not so many focus points there but, what I do, because I am a Canon shooter, is I will just use

my center focus point and focus where I want, like, on the eyes of my model and then I will recompose

the shot to get that composition I am looking for. That is, for me, by far the fastest and the easiest than

trying to find one of the few focus points. They keep me in the area of where the rule of third is at. So

that’s what I suggest, I find that’s easier to just use the center focus points especially for Canon users,

and then just focus where you want, and then recompose. It works pretty good that way. If you shoot

on Nikon cameras you’re probably less understanding of this question because Nikon cameras will

frequently have doubled the focus points as a Canon camera, comparable Canon camera, the same price

point. The Nikon almost always has quite a bit more focus points than the Canon. So, on Canon, when

you have 9 or 11 focus points, it’s going to be rare that they’re going to be on those outside corners.

And that is actually technical engineering kind of problem, it’s very tough to get those focus points out

to the corners and that’s why the problem exists. So I think that’s a good work around, the way that you

do.

Hi. My name is Stephanie, and I am calling from ?28:03??,Wisconsin. My question is about food

photography. I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit about lighting in the kitchen, I like to

make food and cooks food, and I like to blog, something like that, as I make it. I’m just wondering

about some lighting in the kitchen.

That’s an awesome question. I have a friend, she actually blogs food recipes that she it makes, and her

very often complains is that it takes forever before they can eat because every step of the meal has to

be photographed. And so I see both sides, you get to create great photos and you get to create great

food but it takes a long time. As far as the lighting in the kitchen goes, some of the best food photos that

I’ve seen are ones that look like they have a natural light. So if you have a kitchen with nice windows

nearby, then I think the light just falls on it really, really nice, it just looks really good. The times that I

don’t have a big window handy or, it’s like night time there’s no light coming through, is I love to get my

Speedlight with the Rouge Flashbender on it and a diffusing panel. I just hold the light right above the

food so the light shines straight down, and it’s so close that it actually kind of gives that daylight effect.

I try to get enough Ambilight in the background in the kitchen so that it’s not dark, it kind of get the

daylight feel going on.

Yeah and if you are going to include the ambient light, make sure that you don’t have incandescent

lights in your room, or else it’s going to be an ugly yellow light in the background. My set up for food

photography is usually just a white shoot through umbrella, and I usually put that behind so the food

is backlit. And then, you put little reflectors which foam core, like for your kids science projects, if you

cut it up into like 1 foot by 1 foot pieces, and then kind of wind it up around the food to reflect into

whatever you have some ugly shadows. That works really, really nicely. Lighting for food photography

is so simple that often a window really is your best light source, even better than a flash. Usually food

photography uses pretty simple lighting, and then you just bounce reflectors wherever there are

problem areas. It shouldn’t be too difficult.

Yeah. The only thing with lighting, that I try to adjust if I can control myself, is the shadows because

some food has a lot texture and they get too many shadows that it doesn’t look as appetizing. So if

you have too many shadows, try to adjust the lighting the best you can or get something to reflect light

under the other side to fill those shadows in.

Hi Jim. I’m excited to listen to your new podcast. A really simple question, I keep hearing about flash

brackets but I’m not really sure what it is or where it is used. What is a flash bracket?

It’s pretty simple question. A flash bracket is anything that will hold the flash and attached it to

something else. So generally, the way we see a flash bracket is, the Justin Bieber paparazzi guys, that are

chasing Celine Dion down the street, trying to get a photo, There’s a bracket that goes from the tripod

mount to your camera and then it will go out and up just a few inches away from the camera, and it will

just hold your speedlight there. The purpose of it, is just to get the light slightly off camera in a situation

where it’s impossible to set up off camera flash. It will just reduced the red eye, and improve the light

just slightly by getting it a little bit off the camera. Another way that you can use a flash bracket, or a

different type of flash bracket, is when you are setting up off camera flash. A lot of people, would call

the speed light holder that connects the speedlight to the light stand, will call that a flash bracket. It’s

just anything that will hold the flash, pretty simple.

Hello. My name is Corlyn from 32:15 ,New York. I have a question. I was wondering, I have a senior
session coming up, and I want to seek some help on how you get your subject to feel comfortable,
loosen up while you are shooting them. Thank you so much. Bye.

What a great, great question. I think the biggest piece of advice that I can probably give right now is to
be confident. Jim and I were talking that clients are kind of, like dogs, not in a condescending way but
they sense fear. If they sense that you are just shaking in your shoes, trying to figure out camera
settings, they’re really going to question whether or not you know what you are doing. And so, being
confident is huge. Not only with your camera, but also communicating with them, just like posing them
and directing them to do different things that you want them to do. Yeah, and that is easy to say and
tough to implement. You just have to allow yourself to be confident. It is not something you learn, it is

something that you just decide to do. That when you get on the shoot, you are not going to hohum
around, what pose should I do? I am not sure how to do this. Ah, that doesn’t quite look good. Just have
confidence in everything you do, stay desertive, and allow yourself to have fun on the shoot. We had a
client, a week or so ago who is shooting photos and you could tell she was really uncomfortable in the
studio. She didn’t really want to be in front of the camera, but needed the photos. One thing that we did
with her, and a lot of different clients is – including when we have models in the studio, is we will seek
for opportunities to tell they were not just quite kidding in that pose, or it feels awkward to them. We’ll
say “all right, step out of the way. Step out of the way. Dustin, you take the camera,”and I’ll just step in
there and just loo goofey and just do the poses. Allowing yourself just to have fun and just do silly things
during the shoot really makes a big difference. Now, most people take that advice and say, “Okay, I just
don’t feel confident”. You know, if you want your model to feel confident, you will just have to make
that decision and just make it happen. Confidence, it does not equate knowledge. I mean, you don’t
have to know anything, but if you are confident about believing that you know everything then people
will believe that as well. Another thing that Jim and I would do with our clients, to help them feel more
comfortable apart from kicking them out of the shoot and taking our own photos, is we’ll show them
some of the photos on the back of the camera of what we’ve taken of them. And, I can’t tell you how
many times that has made a tremendous difference. And, there are photographers out there who would
say, “I don’t do that. Not a chance on this earth will I show my client a photo during a shoot”. A lot of
photographers say that because they are afraid that they will see the photos that is un-Photoshop,
unfinished, unpolished and then, they will say, this is not a good photographer, the shoot is not going
well. I have never seen that happen. I have never seen somebody at the back of the camera and said,
“Arrrrgh”, and then tell that they were not happy with the shoot. Everytime, it fixes the problem in the
shoot, doesn’t it? You know, you will be shooting a wedding, my wife wishes our photographer would’ve
done this, you know, you will be shooting a wedding and the bride might – you know, the photos look
great, the poses look great, everything looks good but what she didn’t like was her hair. How are you
going to know that she doesn’t like her hair? Sometimes you just have to show them the photo so that
they can see how they look, and they can fix how they look. “Oh, my smile looks corny”, and they’ll fix it.
And then, the rest of the photos, they are going to be happy with them. My wife, she didn’t like it. She
was holding her bouquet too high in the photos. It felt natural, but it looked funny in the photos, so she
wanted to hold it lower. So, little things like that, you can’t know until you show them the photos. And if
you show them the photos when the shoot is over, it’s too late. I think that you just have to do it. I think
it’s very important, I feel very strongly about that. A lot of photographers like to show the polished
photo, that’s great too but you are going to miss out on these advantages. So going back to the shoot
that Jim and I did a week or so ago, we were trying to replicate a type of photo we found online and the
poses are kind of like twisted, like sideways, we are not quite sure, and it fell awkward. And when we
took the photo, it didn’t look like she is actually doing it. And, we showed it to her and she was like, “Oh
man”. And that resolved it. We have to do it more. It might hurt, but just have to do more of that and
we eventually got it, and she used that photo for her website and everything now. Because we showed
her the back of the camera, okay, this is how it looks like. “Oh, it’s not going to work. We got to do it
more.” So, it just saved the shoot because otherwise, we would have given her a photo and a shot that
wasn’t even what she wanted. I totally agree. I think it’s essential. In fact, one thing that we would really

want to do is shoot with the camera that wirelessly transfers the photos to the iPad. And then, one of
us, or if her parent were there, or somebody else was on the shoot, or even client – you have the iPad
there, and you can just say, “Here is the photo, mom”. Then mom can watch the photos while you are
doing it and then she is not bugging her daughter during the senior portrait that she will do which
always ruin things. That’s another great way to show your photos during the shoot. Exactly.

All right, let’s go to the improve photography minute.

The improvephotography.com minute: scuttlebutt from the improve Photography website

What’s a scuttle butt on our website this week? We had some technical issues that we really had to fight
though this week, but we have some pretty exciting things coming up. First, on Monday, we are starting
a contest on our Facebook page – Facebook.com/improvephotography. And we had almost a thousand
people, when we announced that the contest was going to start on Monday, who liked that post. People
are pretty excited about it. The theme is “depth-of-field”. So I think, we are going to see mostly, shallow
depth-of-field in the contest. I think, this is going to be a fun contest, so, submit your photos. Write on
the Facebook page, just by posting it on the wall. And then we will choose. The contest will run through
till Friday and then sometime the next week, we should be announcing the winner of 2 Lensbaby lenses.
We are happy that Lensbaby was willing to cheap in a prize for the contest. So that’s November12.
Monday, November 12, the contest will start. Awesome. And should mention, whenever we talk about
companies, we don’t advertise any specific company and we are not sponsored by any specific company.
So when we talk about products, it’s because we like them. And lens baby was really cool to sponsor this
contest, to give away the prizes. It is not something that we accept any money for. I just think, it will be
a fun prize for the winners, and so we are glad to work with the others in the industry.

Plug of the week: Recommended photography websites, products and other clever doodads.

My plug of the week is the Microsoft Camera Codec pack. When you look at photos on your computer, if
you shoot in raw, you will see that raw file, and you will not see that jpeg preview. You will not see what
the photo is of, on a Windows machine. So the Camera Codec Pack was updated not too long ago and
you can download it free from Microsoft.com. Come to improvephotography.com, and look at the show
notes for Episode 3, and I’ll give you a link there. And then, on your computer, when you see a bunch of
raw files in a folder, you will now see a little jpeg preview of the thumbnail so you’ll know what the
photo is. You can open up the right one to work in on Photoshop instead of filtering through a hundred
photos just to try to find the right raw file. So, it’s a really, really nice thing. I’ve heard about that from
the TWIP podcast this weekend photography, which I really enjoy. So for PC users, I would definitely go
download that. Apple users, – oh here it is – you don’t have to worry about it. Dustin’s an Apple guy, and
sometimes it’s tough to give him 40:42. The only thing, though, keep your software up-to-date and
you’ll never have to worry about running into that problem. Got a plug of the week for us? Done

bragging on Apple? Are you ready for something? I am done with Apple. Okay, because we are gone
with the Canon theme, I have kind of been watching 6D a little bit and see what they are up to with that,
because they announced it but nobody knows when is it coming out. I’ve checked on Canon website,
I’ve checked on Amazon and BNH is the only one that gives an estimated ship date, which is December
10. So if you are looking for Christmas, hopefully, BNH is right, and they will come. But the coolest thing
about the 6D is that they are coming out with what they call the EOS remote app for IOs and Android,
and you can control this camera right from your phone or iPad. It’s like tethered shooting, you can see
the screen, you can take photos with it, you can show the photos that you’ve taken on the camera. It
looks awesome. So if you want it, you might get it for Christmas. And if you are looking for the best place
to order cameras, a lot of times we have ordered cameras, and you know it is that wait, months of wait.
I love ordering my gear from Amazon. I get almost everything from Amazon. But if it’s a pre-order
situation, I usually find that Amazon’s cameras come significantly later than the retailers. So, I always
buy my cameras on Amazon if it is one its already on production. But if it is a pre-order deal, I’ll go to
BNH or another website, at least in the US, who gets cameras really fast, is Best Buy. If you buy from
BestBuy.com, they’re usually here really, really fast. So good places to check.

Prizes for reviews. Prizes for those who write a review of the podcast, because we appreciate you.

In the last week, and we are guilty of sitting there for hours at a time on iTunes just refreshing the
page because we so want to see the reviews come in, and to see the people like the podcast. We
offered a free online photography course for someone who submitted a review this week. And we
picked a random winner, and the winner was Heather Seldomridge. And so Heather, if you’ll email
us at prize@improvephotography.com, we’ll get to set up with yours, and we are continuing that on
each week of the podcast. If you are going to iTunes and submit a review, each week we are going to
choose a random winner. You will win an online photography class with us. Which is very awesome. And
speaking of online classes, we just started our beginner and intermediate course, which is very popular.
But if you are interested and hoping to win an online class, the portrait one, or our portrait lighting class.
That starts next week so go write a review. I think that’s a really useful class because it starts as if you
know nothing about lighting and we’ll talk about what speedlight to get. Should I use an umbrella or
soft box? How do I work with outdoor flash? It’s just that a lot of people are interested in right now,
is learning how to do that lighting from the ground up, and make it look good. And we recommend
products that are cheap. You can get the videos that we do in that class – the training videos, almost all
of the videos were done with a $150 worth of flash gear including the speedlight flash. When you get
inexpensive gear, you get incredible results. So I think, that’s a fun class. So go write us a review, and let
us which class you want if you win. Great! And just log on to iTunes, submit a two sentence review. Just
something real short here. We hope it’s 5-stars, but even if it’s a 1-star review, you are still entered into
the contest. Thanks for joining us on this episode. We are glad to have you, and we’ll see you next week.

See you next week. Enjoy the music.

 

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Noel Bunce says

    Hi guy’s have really enjoyed your podcasts to date. The info., even if a particular item isn’t up your alley or what you might be really interested in is very informative.

    I know you have just started the podcasts and no doubt you will be looking to improve things …but gee it would be great if we could see both doing the show, it would another dimension.

    Kind Regards,
    Noel

  2. says

    Jim and Dustin I really appreciate your down to earth help with photography. I was happy to get the info about shooting people with glasses and the info about the Canon lens and 6D. Thanks again for your help!

  3. John says

    You guys are awesome. This is exactly what I need to improve my photography. I’ve been searching for podcasts about photography and your podcast is perfect.

    Even better is that you have a website with a tons of great information. Thanks so much for all the great tips and advice.

    John

  4. Jeff says

    Hi!
    I just discovered your podcast. I’m learning a lot. One of your listeners asks how much to charge. I just wanted to add, don’t forget to add the cost of your gear, this can be hard to figure, but as i have been working on my buisness plan I have found it helpful to look at the daily rental prices of my gear (and planed gear) and use their rates as a guideline for estimating my overhead.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work
    -Jeff

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