3 Photography Blogs for You to Follow

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 November 2014

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First Years' Focus and Fire

http://firstyearsfocusandfire.blogspot.com/

Melanie Fiander is a senior full-time faculty member at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division, where she teaches photography and time-based media. Her blog, First Years’ Focus and Fire, is intended to supplement what students can learn in the first few years of their diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree program. She typically publishes three posts per week:

Make it Mondays, with tutorials, advice for class, photographers tips, and more
Website Wednesdays, which highlights a variety of educational and inspirational sites
Pho-Tog Fridays, which can introduce you to new and talented photographers

The Blog of Professor Phillips

http://professorphillips.blogspot.com/

Stephen John Phillips is a faculty member teaching photography at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division as well as a freelance photo illustrator. He has been teaching and taking photographs for over 30 years. His blog is intended for those students who have graduated recently as well as those nearing graduation, with the goal of helping these individuals prepare to enter photography careers.

To name just a few, his clients have included:

• The Baltimore Sun
• Crown Random House
• The Discovery Channel Magazine
• Marvel Comics
• The Maryland Ballet
• Simpson Racing (NASCAR)
• World Wildlife Fund

Student Ambassador's Blog

http://pspnmentor.blogspot.com/

The Photography Students Professional Network regularly selects current students to write for this blog as Student Ambassadors. The posts on this blog include helpful advice on coursework, photography projects, online communication, and more! Every day of the week typically has an assigned ambassador, so readers get to hear from a variety of people with diverse opinions and interests!

Check out these blogs or explore our programs in the area of photography today!

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any website linked to this website/newsletter. The links are provided for your information and convenience only. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division does not endorse, support or sponsor the content of any linked websites. If you access or use any third party Web sites linked to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division’s website, you do so at your own risk. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division makes no representation or warranty that any other Web site is free from viruses, worms or other software that may have a destructive nature.

3 Clues to Building Better Photographer-Client Relationships

written by Georgia Schumacher 6 November 2014

While interacting with your clients can be a blast, photographers also regularly face challenges in this aspect of their job. Since clients aren't usually models or actors, a photographer can't assume their clients will know what to expect or how to act. It's one thing to give directions—such as telling them to act naturally—and another thing to get a natural-looking photo. The camera might not actually add pounds, but it does often produce insecurity and doubt.

Here are a few tips for those pursuing photography careers or taking photography classes to help you create a positive space for your clients to feel at ease.

Photographer with Bridal Client

1. Get to know each other

You will likely need to break the ice to get your client comfortable in front of the camera. Clients who don't know their photographers well are more likely to reserve their emotions when the flash goes off. For this reason, it's important to establish a personal relationship before moving on to planning the photo shoot. When director Christopher Nolan met with Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, the two spent hours talking about everything except the movie. This, Nolan explained, was to get a feel for the relationship he and his future star would have while shooting.

2. Set the right expectations

When it's time to discuss business, set positive expectations for your clients. Don't make promises you can't keep, or otherwise set yourself (and the client) up for major disappointment. It's always better to over-deliver than to over-promise.

Talk with your clients either on the phone or in person beforehand in order to go over their expectations. What are your plans for the photos as the photographer? What do they expect from working with you? Discover a theme or mood your clients are getting at, or offer your own themes based on what you glean from the conversation.

From there, you can ask if there are any props or particular wardrobe choices they may like to incorporate. If it's a group shot, you might advise a certain color scheme for them to follow but to wear whatever makes them comfortable. This helps them relax because they'll be more prepared and will know exactly what to expect. Also, let them pick the location for the shoot, whether at their home or in a public place such as a park or a beach. This way, they'll feel at ease in their surroundings.

3. Bring them into the process

On the day of the actual shoot, get there early to set up. When your clients arrive, explain the kind of shots you plan to take and give them a timeline for the process. Show them the props, how you plan to incorporate them, and let them choose which ones they'd like to use. This interaction allows them to feel included and in control of the process. Your clients can now begin to feel like collaborators rather than just another prop.

To learn more about photography, explore our online degree programs and see what you could be learning in our photography classes!

How to Take Stunning Black and White Photos

written by Georgia Schumacher 14 October 2014

In today's digital world, taking a photograph may seem easier than ever. For the more advanced photographers, there’s Photoshop, but, even for the novice, there are countless apps that can add colors, tints, and filters to photos to give photos a unique, colorful flair. In reality, however, there's nothing more classic than the traditional black & white photo -- the original two-tone photo that made photography a classic art form in the first place.

Want to know more about taking black and white photos? Check out these simple tips below. For more in-depth information and guidance from our experienced instructors, consider enrolling in our photography classes and earning your degree or certificate.

1. Learn to look for lines

In a color photograph, color can guide a person's eye. The same isn't so with black and white photographs. Thus, to capture an impressive image, you should observe lines, shapes and shadows -- not color. A great way to practice is to watch black and white movies and see what images in the movie are visually pleasing.

2. Take advantage of texture

Because you won't have color to give your photos dimension, photographing a subject with texture helps make your photo stand out. Consider antique objects that are worn, brick walls and other objects with contrasting textures.

3. Contrast helps

Color photos with tons of high contrast are often unpleasant to look at. The opposite occurs for black and white photos, where high contrast can create staggering differences between blacks and whites and give the photo extra dimension. You can also bump up the contrast in your photo through the editing process if you're not happy with the original image's contrast.

4. Photograph patterns

Items with patterns are great subjects for black and white photos. Color is an extra dimension in a photo of a pattern, and it often distracts the human eye from fully processing the beautiful symmetry of the pattern. In black and white, patterns tend to be extremely eye-catching and dramatic.

5. Go for gloomy days

Of course it's possible to take good black and white photos on sunny days, but the best days for black and white photography are often gloomy, gray days when the light is flat or soft. This is the opposite of color photography, which often benefits from bright sunlight.

Interested in photography classes? Find a program that’s right for you!

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6 Photography Projects to Try This Weekend

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 August 2014

Ah, the upcoming weekend -- a time to relax, unwind, and indulge in extracurricular pursuits. For those of you in photography classes (or if you’re just a photography enthusiast), the weekend presents an excellent opportunity to hone those camera skills with some creative photography projects. Here are 6 unique projects to take on this weekend with your camera.

1. Street candid

Carnivals, fairs, and general outdoor activities all provide ample opportunities to snap candid photographs of people in interesting environments. Candid shots are not only unexpected and intriguing, but they also allow the photographer to experiment with creativity, composition, and themes.

Tip: Acclaimed photojournalist Robert Capa said, "If your photos aren't good enough, then you're not close enough." Don't be afraid to get close to your subjects.

2. Abandoned building

Abdandoned building photo At the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes the absence of humans can enhance a photograph. Abandoned buildings make excellent settings for times when you want to capture a spooky or mysterious mood.

Tip: A flashlight makes an excellent accessory for both navigating throughout the building and adding lighting effects. A wide-angle lens is also helpful for capturing larger rooms in their entirety.

3. Silhouette shot

Silhouette photography is a simple, yet stunning way to capture a scene. With this method, the subject of the shot is underexposed to the point of appearing black against a lit background. While silhouettes are often associated with human subjects, don't hesitate to capture flowers, buildings, or animals with this technique.

Tip: Dress your model in sheer clothing for an experiment in textural layers, and make sure to get the exposure right to enhance the silhouette.

Leaves - Macro

4. Macro shot

A macro shot involves taking a detailed, close-up image of an object, such as an insect, flower, or circuitry. Generally, you'll want to get within a foot of your subject to capture its intricacies.

Tip: Make sure to use a lens that's equipped for macro focus. Most digital cameras have macro modes built in, while professional cameras require a separate macro lens.

5. Light writing

Another innovative way to play with lighting is light writing, which involves capturing moving light against a darker background. Use a long exposure and either a self-timer or remote shutter if you're working alone. Move a singular-point light source (such as a laser pointer, flashlight, sparkler, or glow stick) through the space to write words, make a halo, or outline a silhouette.

Tip: Your background doesn't have to be completely black, and it can often help to make the photograph more intricate. Use your creativity to incorporate the background into the overall content of the picture.

6. Astrophotography

Nothing is more beautiful than the night sky, but a heavy concentration of city lights blocks stars from view. In order to photograph the stars, seek out a location with as little light pollution as possible. A long exposure with a fast lens will help to capture the image, and, considering that the planet is constantly moving, a wider field of view is helpful for beginners.

Tip: Follow the "Rule of 600," which says that in order to avoid blurry star trails, you can calculate your exposure time in seconds by dividing 600 by the focal length of the lens used.

Interested in photography? Find out what you could learn and what photography classes you could take as a student in one of our programs!

How to Capture Mouth-Watering Food Photographs

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 June 2014

Do you delight in creating new appetizing masterpieces in the kitchen? Do you take pride in the color and appearance of your culinary accomplishments? If you want to remember more than the lingering flavors after a meal, perhaps you might consider trying your hand at food photography. With some guidance, the proper technology and techniques, and a bit of practice, you too can produce fabulous images that let you document the gastronomical miracles occurring within your kitchen, or someone else’s.

Get started with these tips, consider taking photography classes to expand your skill set, and practice with other enthusiasts.

Choose a camera with a good macro setting.

Most of your food photography is up close and personal to capture the textures, colors, and shapes of the food. A camera with a good macro lens and feature set allows you to take the focal range within a few inches of the subject you’re photographing. This brings all of those details into crisp, clear relief in the photos.

Master basic lighting skills.

Most photography classes provide extensive information on lighting techniques, the appropriate type of lighting for different situations, and tools you can use to direct the light. White paper and even cheesecloth help out with food photography in the kitchen. Ideally, a kitchen would have a great deal of natural light, but if it doesn’t or you’re working in a professional kitchen, daylight light bulbs provide a similar lighting environment. Consider using a tripod when light conditions aren’t ideal and increasing the shutter speed so you have an appropriate amount of light coming through the aperture.

Work on your plating.

If you want to create exceptional food photography, look at the plating designs that high-end restaurants use to make their food look irresistible. You might not have a food stylist waiting around for your photo shoot, but you can use their techniques to help elevate your home food photography to the next level.

Mix and match serving platters and backdrops.

Some food simply looks better on a plain white plate; others look good with a complex backdrop. It requires a bit of trial and error, but taking a look at some of the popular food photography blogs will give you plenty of composition ideas.

Capture the entire process.

Don’t just snap a picture of the cooking conclusion. Take photos of the ingredients, the preparation, and the cooking process. This helps the viewer get an idea of how the entire cooking process goes, instead of guessing at the way the dish comes together.

Keep it clean.

Wipe away any drips, grease, and smudges that may end up on the edge of your plates when you’re putting the food together. You want every part of the food placement on the plate to be deliberate, so take a second look at your plating before you start snapping pictures.

Explore our photography programs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division.