5 Creative Ways to Use Hard Light in Your Portrait Photography

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

I always teach my students that the light is the most important component of a good photo.  This always begs the question, “What makes good lighting?”  Generally, photographers say that good light is soft light.  That’s often true, and if you want soft light, I wrote an article on how to achieve soft light. Unfortunately, …

10 Tips for Beautiful Sunset Portrait Photography

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

Since I live only a few minutes away from the beach, many of my portrait photography clients want their photo taken on the beach.  In response to a a question from one of the students in my online photography class, I wrote this list of 10 tips for sunset portrait photography. Sunset Portrait Tip #1: …

Give it a tilt! (Portrait photography composition)

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

I’ve noticed two things when I give my clients photos from a portrait shoot.  First, they don’t really care about the technical photography junk.  All they care about is whether or not they look good…and their definition of looking good is usually very different than my assessment of whether or not they look good. The …

How to use spot metering for portraits

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

I recently read a blog post from a pretty competent photographer who said that there is no reason to use spot metering.  Spot metering is where the camera determines a proper exposure not on the average brightness levels of the whole frame, but just of one specific spot.  This photographer, like me, is principally a …

Self-control with depth-of-field

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

I get it.  Depth of field is fun to play with and makes our pictures look amazing, but I’m here to say that more of a good thing is not always better. Look at the image featured on this page of my beautiful wife, Emily.  The depth-of-field adds to this image to make her stand …

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How the Most Popular Photo on Flickr was taken: An Interview

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

1,895 faves, 83,303 views, 574 comments.  Tens of thousands of photographers can’t be wrong in holding the picture featured on this page as one of the best photos ever placed on the popular photo sharing website Flickr.  With the endorsement of so many thousands of photographers, we must have something to learn from Alex Bell, …

Flash Sync Speeds… No Experience Necessary

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

First, a disclaimer.  This is a very complex and scientific subject, and I’m going to do my best to explain this topic in very simple terms because this is an oft-misunderstood subject.  So if you’re an advanced super-photographer, just feel free to tell me what I missed in the comments below, but know that I …

Tips for photographing little babies

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

Taking pictures of kids is easy when compared to photographing babies.  Kids are always smiling and running around and doing cute things anyway, so photographers have only to stay out of the way and shoot in order to get fun shots.  Photographing babies is much tougher because they sleep most of the time and only …

FUNdamentals of soft light for portrait photography

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

When you start talking about teaching the fundamentals of anything, people tune out.  I’m hoping I got you here with the whole FUNdamentals thing.  Seriously, this post is gonna be a lot of fun (no, not really). Soft light vs. Hard light We’ve all heard people use these terms and many of us probably know …

Wide-angle portraits

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

Most people think of standard or telephoto lenses as being best suited for portrait photography, but never dare experiment with wide-angle lenses.  If your portrait photography is beginning to feel a bit stale, then try this new technique. Wide-angle lenses distort distances.  What is close to the lens seems unusually large, and what is far …

Bite-sized composition in photography

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

We’ve all heard the old maxim “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”  It is solid sage wisdom and deserves every photographer’s attention.  When photographers discuss composition and framing, we usually think of the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, and the golden mean; however, it can be helpful to apply the age-old wisdom …

What’s the big deal about catch-lights?

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

Portrait photographers and wildlife photographers are both crazy about catch-lights, but if the two groups were to fight it out, I have to say that wildlife photographers are even crazier about catch-lights than portrait photographers. Catch-lights are specular highlights in the eyes of an animal or a person.  Look around you for something shiny and …