Styled Photo Shoots with Suppliers: How, Why and What You Get

The post Styled Photo Shoots with Suppliers: How, Why and What You Get appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

A bride poses on the beach with props.

This is the result of a group of talented suppliers coming together. When you see the results, any issues melt away.

When it comes to business, the word-of-mouth referral is still king (or queen). Obviously, your past clients will be a great source of referrals, but one of the best sources of leads for a working photographer is to get referrals from other suppliers. But what can you do to make sure that you are the first business on the lips of local suppliers? The simple answer is to work with them. The best way to do this is with styled photo shoots.

Now, as I mainly work in wedding photography, I will base this article on wedding suppliers. However, this can easily transfer over to portraits and, with a little imagination, various other fields of photography.

How do I begin?

Well the first stage is a portfolio – this is key to working with suppliers. They will want to know that you can deliver the images and that they aren’t wasting their time (and in many cases money) working with you.

What do I mean by their money?

Well, a wedding dress will generally need dry cleaning after a shoot, a florist will have to prepare flowers for the shoot that will die pretty soon afterward. Also, a venue will have to turn down bookings for the day that you hold the shoot there.

Obviously, there are time factors involved for everyone (including you), so bear this in mind. You will tend to work after the shoot on editing, whereas others will be working in the lead up to the day.

If you don’t have a portfolio, you can use friends and family to create your own styled photo shoots. Use a venue you have access to, and minimize your outlay in other ways too. Use supermarket flowers instead of paying for styled bouquets, for example. It’s a hard reality, but without work that you can show people, you won’t get very far.

You have to remember that these people are professionals. Most people do not have time to risk on a styled photo shoot with somebody with no portfolio. It takes time to build, but it is not a stage you can skip.

styled-photo-shoots-with-suppliers-dps

This totally unplanned styled photo shoot took place at a wedding fair. Having your gear and simply asking the question can get you great results.

The contact

Next is the hard part for some, contact a supplier you want to work with. I generally find email works best. Politely offer to meet up (I also bribe them with cake) and discuss an idea you have for a styled photo shoot. Make sure you compliment them on their work and be charming and polite.

Be prepared for a lot of “thanks, but no thanks” or sometimes no reply at all. By all means, follow up with a short, polite email a few days later, but that’s it. Some people don’t have time, some have people they already work with, and some simply don’t like your style.

Grow a thick skin, accept it, and move on. Eventually, though, you will find someone willing to chat. Just be patient and try not to get down in the dumps with rejections. It’s nothing personal; it’s business.

The initial meeting

Congrats, you have someone interested. The next step is meeting up.

The important thing here is to go with ideas, but be flexible. Always send a courtesy text or email the day before. A little tip is to call them when you are nearby and see if they want a coffee bringing in, or turn up with some treats. It’s just a nice thing to do, and, personally, I always remember people who give me free treats!

You will probably be nervous, but remember, they wouldn’t have come if they didn’t want to be involved. Talk over ideas and develop an outline plan. If they agree, you are on your way! Always follow meetings up with an email so that everyone is clear about what the idea is.

If you are starting out, a great way to expand your network is to ask the person you’re meeting if they have other suppliers they work with, people who model for them before, etc. Not only does this save you some hassle, but it expands your network as the other suppliers are being introduced to you by someone they trust.

Reading that last sentence back, it sounds like the wedding industry equivalent of the mafia.

styled-photo-shoots-with-suppliers-dps

Not Exactly the Mafia, but a great group of people to work with.

Once you have one…

Once you have one supplier on board, it always seems to get easier. Your initial supplier may recommend some other people to involve. Alternatively, you can now email people telling them “Brand X and I are planning a styled photo shoot…”. 

Pretty soon, things will come together and you will have a team of people on board. Now comes the hard parts.

Co-ordination

Having a group of people wanting to work on a project is great. But, now comes the hard part – coordinating them all!

This can be a nightmare.

My advice is to set up a chat on your social media of choice, where everyone can chime in.

The most important part of the coordination is sorting out a date that works for everyone, which can be a nightmare in itself. There is no advice I can give here. You simply need to throw out dates until you can all agree.

There can be a case for swapping out a supplier if one person cannot make a date. But it is hard to tell people who have committed that you need to look for someone else who is more available.

Patience is key. Be prepared to keep working until you get the date.

Plan B (and C and D)

Problems are par for the course on styled photo shoots, no matter how amazing the final images look across social media.

In my experience, models are most likely to drop out of shoots first, but it can be anyone at any time, for any reason. Try to plan for issues as best as you can. What will you do if it rains on the day you planned your outdoor shoot? Not a problem, you have 3 more dates locked in for such things. What happens if you turn up to your woodland location, and there is a cycle race? (This actually happened to me.) Not a problem, you have two other locations where you can shoot.

Problems can (and will) occur. Just plan for them and be prepared to change to plan B at a moment’s notice. Usually, you can overcome these problems, but only with planning. Speaking of…

styled-photo-shoots-with-suppliers-dps

This wasn’t the original model. She only came on board two days before the shoot. However, you could not have asked for a better model to work with.

Entertaining everyone’s ideas

You need to nail down the overarching theme for the shoot quickly. The person who organizes the shoot (i.e., you) will decide on the theme and its use when initially chatting about the plan.

Once decided, Pinterest is a godsend. Set up a shared board, then get everyone to add things to it. From here, you can all pick a favorite selection to become the final mood-board.

Things will need to be flexible, as everyone has a slightly different vision. Just make sure that everyone feels part of this process. By being invested in the planning stages, people tend to bring their A-game to the final shoot. Make sure everyone is on board, has had their say, and you have come to the final vision together.

Show them who’s boss (or know who is)

Somebody has to be the boss, and as the photographer, often people will look to you for guidance or to take charge. Be firm, but accommodating. You need to be the one to smooth things out when the stylist brings something floral she really wants in the shoot. Or the makeup artist tweaks the hair just a little. People can get stressed, and as the person in charge, your job is to keep everyone relaxed and keep the shoot rolling.

You are part teacher, part parent, part best friend to everyone on the shoot. Just be mindful of everyone’s feelings and try your best.

Now, this may not be your strong suit. You may agree that someone else takes needs to take the lead, but you do need to make sure someone is in charge of final decisions. Otherwise, the little issues can end up in an argument, and everything will go downhill from there.

One of the key things you need to do is get everyone’s details. You need a list of all suppliers, all their social media links, all websites, etc. because everyone who worked on the project should get be credited with any use of the images. Be sure that everyone agrees to this before they use the images.

A model in a bridal dress looks down, showing her makeup.

This shot was solely for the makeup artist. Making a list of shots people want before the shoot is always helpful, especially when you’re starting out.

On the day

Hopefully, everyone turns up at the right time and the right location. Depending on your shoot, you may have all of the suppliers stay for the whole shoot or just a few of them. Obviously, it can be nerve-racking shooting with people around (especially when starting out), but it is something you need to get used to.

Remember, you are the expert (even if you don’t feel like it), and you will create images that everyone loves. Think positively, act positively, and believe in yourself. As a pessimistic introvert, I find this hard, but there is no alternative. Be charming, polite, helpful, and try not to let any panic show.

Once on the shoot, you need to work smoothly. You may be panicking, and the camera may be having a meltdown. Internalize it! No matter what happens, you need to come across with an air of calm and show that everything is fine. Even if you are not the person taking charge of the shoot, as the photographer, you are the person who is in charge of the final product.

Before you shoot, take your time and make sure you are happy with the lighting, etc. Lastly, make sure that you check the details. There is nothing worse than realizing somebody left a plastic bag in the background of the shot that you didn’t notice. Just check carefully and try not to get carried away.

Whilst I would not advise showing every shot to those on the shoot, I would advise to show them some that you nail. Especially early on. By doing this, it shows everyone you have got some great images, and it will relax everyone, yet make them work harder. Always check with the model too. Make sure they are happy with the photos. They may notice some things that you miss. They also tend to relax when they see the first photo of the shoot they like.

styled-photo-shoots-with-suppliers-dps

A public location can cause problems. Just out of shot are a couple of hecklers. On the plus side, the model did get a couple of marriage proposals.

After the event

Get the images to everyone for picks as soon as you can after the shoot. It is tempting to put all images up and let people choose, but if you are not careful, you can end up with people all choosing different shots and leaving you with a mammoth editing job.

Really trim the images down. I aim for around 40 maximum from a styled shoot. This way, I put out images that I love. If you add images you are not sure about, someone will choose it as a favorite, and you will regret adding it to the initial edit.

From here, get everyone to make some selections. The key is to ask people to choose 3-5 each that they love. That way, you are not left with a massive editing job. If you tell everyone to pick as many as they wish, you will generally end up having to edit about 90% of the images you show them.

When it comes to editing, start with the ones that multiple people have chosen, then work your way through the rest. Again, the key here is letting everyone know where you are up to.

Try to get a few out straight away, but if life or work stops you from being able to edit the rest quickly, just let everyone know. They will be understanding. But if you don’t let them know, they will begin to wonder. Communication is key in a styled photo shoot, from the first conversation to the delivery of the last image.

When you share images, make sure you credit everyone. Make sure you do exactly what you said you would and make sure that you check everyone is happy. That way, it leaves a good lasting impression, which is what you want.

What do you get?

There is a lot of time, effort, and occasional headaches involved in a styled photo shoot. Is it worth it? Yes.

The aim of this is to spread your name. If the dress shop has an appointment the next day, they may strike up a conversation about photography. If they do, they will likely speak of you. If you do a good job, your name will be the first one that comes up whenever they discuss photographers.

You will be seen on several companies’ social media, which again can turn into followers and customers.

Most importantly, you are putting your name out there as someone who takes great photos, is great to work with and you are widening your network. It may not count as money in the bank straight away, but it will eventually.

The more people who know your name, the more people will speak it. The more who speak it, the better known you become. Add in the fact that they will speak of you in high regard (if you delivered on the shoot), and you have a recipe for success.

Have you worked on styled photo shoots with others? What was your experience? Share with us in the comments section below.

The post Styled Photo Shoots with Suppliers: How, Why and What You Get appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere?

The post Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Loupedeck+ Review - the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere?

There is something undeniably cool about Hollywood editing studios. I remember seeing one in a magazine as a child and wanting to play with it. Thinking how cool it would be to figure out what all the dials did and edit Hollywood Blockbusters. I never made it in Hollywood, but I can remember my first editing console. Purchased from the high street, it allowed me to link 2 VCR players and have a fade and wipe slider for video. It even had an audio fader that allowed me to (surprisingly) fade audio. At the time it was amazing! I made a lot of skateboard videos using that console.

Obviously we’ve moved to digital everything, but there is something about using knobs and dials to edit that I have always liked. So, when I was given the opportunity to try the Loupedeck+, I jumped at the chance to get hands-on with it. 

What is it?

Simply put, Loupedeck+ is a keyboard-sized photo editing console. The main editing functions are controlled via a series of knobs and buttons.

Loupedeck started life on Indiegogo. The initial Loupedeck was marketed as a photo editing console just for Lightroom. With the Loupedeck+, however, it has become much more than that. The new version has support for several different software platforms too.

This device is still aimed primarily at Adobe users, with support for most of the Creative Suite. There is also support for Apple’s Final Cut and Aurora HDR and is also currently in Beta testing with Capture One Pro, which is my preferred choice of photo editor.

Out of the box

In terms of looks, it is beautifully packaged. However, that doesn’t mean anything if the product itself is not up to scratch. The Loupedeck however, definitely is. Although fully plastic, everything is solid and feels like it will survive long term usage. The only exception to this is the control dial, which does feel a little flimsy compared to the rest of the device.

In terms of the buttons, when making notes, I put down that they are squishy but solid. I still think that’s the best way to describe them. There is also a nice little detail for the cable to connect the Loupedeck. There are grooves that allow you to place it to work with how your computer is setup. It’s not a deal-breaker, but attention to detail like this tends to show the makers care about the end-user. 

dpsloupedeck+-review

The Loupedeck+ is well built apart from the control dial. It just feels a little flimsy. However, in use, it has been flawless so far.

Getting set up 

Once you have unpackaged your Loupedeck, the next stage is setting it up. To do this, you need to install the Loupedeck software. This is a simple download from the Loupedeck website, which then allows you to customize the Loupedeck to your specific editing preferences.

I have left it is standard for now, but I can definitely see me looking into this again to fine-tune it to how I edit.

Once you have the software installed, it is as simple as choosing which software you want to use the Loupedeck with and off you go. Loupedeck has a series of guides for each piece of software that it is compatible with. I recommend having these on hand, especially when using software other than Lightroom. Even with Lightroom though, it is worth having nearby to see what extras you may find yourself reaching for.

The fact that the user guide for Lightroom alone is 31 pages tells you what level of customization is possible.

Image: To get started with Loupedeck+ you need to download the software from the Loupedeck website....

To get started with Loupedeck+ you need to download the software from the Loupedeck website. Once installed, choose your software and away you go.

The learning curve

The learning curve is in two parts; getting used to the Loupedeck from your usual editing routine, and how Loupedeck reduces the learning curve of the software.

To test this, I got my wife to use Loupedeck to work on a wedding we had recently shot. She normally helps make picks, but she has very limited editing experience. She can just about manage to tweak exposure a little, but that’s it.

I put her at the Loupedeck and asked her to try and edit images she thought needed work. After about 2 minutes of me explaining the device, she started. Two more minutes passed before she explained how brilliant it was.

By removing the need to search through the menus (of Capture One in our case), she was able to edit photos easily and without needing constant reminders of the locations of buttons or sliders. It made her experiment more, and within an hour, she felt completely confident using the Loupedeck.

For beginners, this will make the process of learning to edit (especially in Lightroom) so much easier. Everything is at hand, and the layout makes it simpler for beginners to experiment. They can use more of the features of the program without the need to remember the locations in the menus.

For me, as a power user of Capture One, the learning curve was a little steeper. I’ve put this down to Capture One currently being in Beta testing. There are some quirks I needed to get used to when editing, such as using the color balance tool.

There is also the fact that when you use the software every day, you acquire muscle memory from the keyboard shortcuts you use most often. Moving to dials does take a while to get used to.

I do feel that even for Lightroom users (whom this deck was designed for), the change to Loupedeck will mean your editing is slower until you get up to speed. However, I am talking only hours here, not days.

Loupedeck+ and Lightroom

Obviously I wanted to start this test with Lightroom as this is really the program the device is designed for. Now I am not a Lightroom user, so having me use this is more like an inexperienced Lightroom editor versus someone who uses it every day.

I loaded up a selection of images into a catalog and began editing. Using the Loupedeck was completely intuitive. I simply started to edit images without the need to try and remember control locations. It was as easy as twisting the dials with the required name on them. In my experience, the Loupdeck+ and Lightroom work flawlessly together. There is no lag, and the degree of control with each twist feels perfect. Everything is at hand, and if you do find yourself needing something that is not here, you can customize the software until your heart’s content.

It made the process of editing in Lightroom a pleasure and, as a hardcore Capture One user, that is the highest praise I can give it.

dps-loupedeck+-review

It is easy to see that the Loupedeck+ is designed with Lightroom users in mind.

Loupedeck+ and Capture One Pro

Because I’m not a Lightroom user, I went down the road that is Beta testing to put the Loupedeck in my day-to-day editing software. 

Now compared to Lightroom, I found editing in Capture One Pro to be a more clunky affair. The problem is that in its current Beta state, the Loupedeck doesn’t offer the same level of functionality. This is something that Loupedeck are working on and are currently looking for feedback from any Capture One users to help improve the experience.

The basic adjustments work perfectly well in Capture One. To adjust white balance and exposure is just as good as Lightroom. However, there are elements, such as resetting adjustments, that are not there.

The issue here is that the Loupedeck was designed with Lightroom in mind and Capture One works differently. The most obvious example of this is the P1-P8 buttons. In Lightroom, these assign to presets; however, in Capture One, they are simply not set up.

Shooting Fuji, I would love to map this to my film curves, where it would be great to choose the look of my image. However, at present, this is not possible. For more advanced editing, it can be frustrating, and I find myself reaching for the mouse and keyboard more often than I would like.

It’s not perfect by any means, and it does sound a little doom and gloom, but in terms of basic edits, it really did speed up my workflow. I have now edited two weddings with the Loupedeck, and it has definitely saved me some time. Also being super simple for basic adjustments, it really has allowed my wife to do basic edits for things such as exposure.
When editing a wedding, I reach for it straight away. It really is something that after using it, I wouldn’t be without.

The best thing about using Loupedeck+ with Capture One is that I know it can only get better from here. Once there are some more options added, and a few things ironed out from the beta testing, I feel this will be a powerful editing tool.

Loupedeck+ and Photoshop

This is where things start to feel like I was using the Loupedeck for the sake of it. When editing a RAW file, it was great, but after that, I really felt no benefit from using it. When editing in Photoshop, you tend to use your mouse or tablet much more.

You can use it for working with curves, but you need to work with the mouse too, and I found it just too clunky. Other things like zoom in and out, which are mapped to knobs, simply do not work as well as using the middle mouse button.

Unlike using it in Lightroom and Capture One, when working in Photoshop, I found myself using it for the sake of it, rather than reaping any real benefit. I do feel that the Loupedeck+ working with more software is good. However, I feel that, in some cases, it just feels like it is added for marketing over actual functionality. 

Loupedeck+ and Premiere

The ability for Loupedeck to work with Premiere was something that I found myself excited to try. I am by no means a power user, but I know my way around Premiere and edit with it enough to consider myself proficient.

Using Loupedeck with Premiere, though, is where things go a little too far for me. When using it to edit a video, it was just too hard for me to remember what all the functions did. It could be due to my lack of time spent in Premiere, but I think it’s more than that. When photo editing, things like exposure, and contrast are the same no matter which program you use. Video editing, however, uses a completely different language.

It is not that you can’t learn how to use Loupedeck with Premiere. I think once you got used to what each button and dial was mapped to, it would really speed things up. However, as someone who uses the software occasionally, I would find it hard to remember the settings for Premiere.

I think the best way to sum it up is that if you are buying a Loupdeck+ solely for Premiere use, you may face a steep learning curve. For me, to have it as a bonus is nice, even though I can’t really see myself using it.

loupedeck+-review

As you can see from the layout above, Loupedeck is not as intuitive in Premiere.

Conclusion

It’s hard to sum up the Loupedeck+.

Some may see this as a gimmick you will buy, only to put it in the cupboard after a few months to gather dust. But that really isn’t how it is. It’s a well-made, high-quality device that really is a time-saver, especially in basic edits.

I use the Loupedeck+ on every edit now. That must say something. It has sped up my editing (it needs to, I am currently behind on editing a wedding and am writing this article rather than doing that). However, I do still find myself reaching for the keyboard or mouse quite often. I think the best way is to give three different outcomes, depending on what software you use.

If you’re a Capture One user like me, you may find it frustrating. It is almost there, close to being great, but then there are silly little things that are really annoying! However, this is in beta testing, which means things are still ironing out. I am sure this is going to improve moving forward. It’s just a question of whether you are willing to pay for something that doesn’t quite work as you would like it to.

If you’re using this on Premiere or Final Cut, you will need to spend some serious time with the manual. It really is not intuitive in the same way it is for photo editing. If you are willing to put in the time, I am sure it will speed up your workflow. I do question how long it would take to get to this point though.

Lastly, Lightroom. This is still what they designed the Loupedeck for. If you are a Lightroom user, I would definitely suggest getting your hands on a Loupedeck+ – It really does make editing much faster. It worked incredibly well in use, and I enjoyed editing in Lightroom. This really is the highest praise I can give it.

However, where this console really shines is for new users. If you are new to editing, I cannot recommend this enough. I wish something like this had existed when I started editing. It makes the process of understanding how tools work so much more organic. Beginners will get a lot out of using a device like this – It just makes editing more intuitive. My wife managed to edit much better than ever before in minutes.

Moving forward, I will continue to use a Loupedeck+ to edit. Maybe it’s just my old ways. Maybe it means I get to pretend I am in a film studio editing suite. Or maybe, it’s something that I never really thought I would want, but now don’t want to stop using.

In all honesty, I think it’s all three.

 

loupedeck+-review

The post Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe?

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The FJ400 flash and trigger

Wait? How Much? Did Westcott just outdo Godox?

Westcott has just announced the FJ400 Strobe, which on first glance is not that exciting. Then you see the price, only $569! That is $80 cheaper than the ultra-popular Godox AD400. That’s before you get to the universal trigger system. Has Wescott done the impossible? Has Westcott out Godoxed Godox?

Specs

Let’s get this stuff out of the way. If you want the headline numbers, here they are:

FJ400 Strobe

  • 400 watt-second AC/DC strobe
  • 9 F-stop range in 0.1 and 1.0 increments
  • Mains power adapter included
  • 0.9 recycle time at full power
  • 480+ full-power flashes per strobe
  • 0.05 second recycle time at the lowest power setting
  • 20 watt LED modeling lamp (Daylight balanced)
  • High-Speed Sync up to 1/8000th second, TTL and rear curtain sync
  • Bowens Mount
  • Series of gels (full CTO, has CTO, window green and diffusion) included. These attach by magnets
  • Color Screen

X2-M trigger

  • Universal wireless radio trigger for FJ400 strobe
  • Compatible with many Canon, Nikon, Sony (with adapter), Fuji, Panasonic Lumix and Olympus cameras (more are being tested by Westcott)
  • Integrated long-lasting lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 200,000 flashes per charge cycle
  • Wireless communication range of up to 985 feet (300m)
  • Bluetooth compatible with free mobile app
  • USB Type-C to USB-A cord for quick charging and firmware updates
  • 6 groups and 16 wireless channels
  • Color LCD screen

This is a serious specification list that clearly shows that Westcott is after potential Godox users. 

The Flash

westcott-fj400-strobe-Wescott FJ400 flash with bag and filters

The headline specs on this are huge. Not only is the flash cheaper than the Godox AD400, but it has a larger battery allowing for more flashes (480 for the Westcott vs. 390 for the Godox). This is at the expense of size, with the Westcott being slightly larger than the Godox. I would personally happily trade the size (and accompanying weight) difference for the extra flashes. 

The other really impressive feature is that the Westcott includes a mains cable, allowing you to plug in the Westcott FJ400 Strobe and use it as a standard studio strobe. For the Godox this is an additional extra. 

Lastly, the mount is Bowens (as is Godox), which allows you to use several different modifiers at all different price points. It also has an adapter for the Rapid Box system, meaning you can easily use the excellent Westcott modifiers

The Trigger

westcott-fj400-strobe-Westcott X2-M Trigger

The universal trigger is something that is going to be incredibly useful to many people. I shoot both Canon and Fuji and currently have two triggers that I have to remember each time I shoot. The fact that this system has a universal system is really exciting for those of us who shoot different brands. 

I also like the movement in the trigger. The fact that I can flick it up when setting my lights, then flick it back down to keep a more compact footprint is exciting. The LCD screen size is nice and big meaning it will be easy to change settings. The included Li-Ion battery is good for 200,000 flashes. This is great, but I do like using AA batteries on my triggers. It’s the peace of mind that I can get batteries no matter where I am. 

For those of you who use Sony cameras, you will need to buy an adapter. However, this is only $20. 

Isn’t this just a rebadged Jinbei?

It certainly looks like these strobes are based on the Jinbei. It is not totally surprising that the FJ400 Strobe has been based around an existing system. The price point Westcott has brought this unit out at would be incredibly difficult if they had to create the whole system from scratch. 

I am not an expert on electronic engineering, so cannot comment on the exact differences, but I have a hunch that the Westcott FJ400 will be built to a slightly higher specification. How much, however, is to be determined. The filter system included with the Westcott is more practical than those I have seen included with the Jinbei system. 

Also, Westcott has excellent customer service. You get to talk to a real person on the phone and things are US-based.  For many photographers, and especially professionals, great customer service is worth its weight in gold.

When can I get it?

Westcott expects to be shipping the FJ400 Strobe for the end of October. 

If you want to get yourself more excited, you can check out the announcement video below.

So, are you excited by the FJ400? Is it enough to persuade you to look at the switch from Godox? As always, let me know in the comments! 

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake?

The post The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Image: A marvelous innovation or a stupid mistake? Whatever your opinion, the new Fuji X-Pro 3 defin...

A marvelous innovation or a stupid mistake? Whatever your opinion, the new Fuji X-Pro 3 definitely has people talking.

Cameras are pretty similar these days. We all want the same things. Better dynamic range, better high ISO performance, and better autofocus. 

Really, if you look at the majority of cameras out there at the moment, there are few things that set them apart. That was until Fuji dropped the X-Pro 3. 

They did what with the screen?

In an incredibly bold move (or stupid, depending on which blogs you read), Fuji has done away with the standard rear LCD screen of the camera. They’ve replaced it with a much smaller screen.

It simply displays the key exposure information, or in a nod to the film cameras of days gone by, an image of the film simulation you are using.

The rear screen is not entirely gone though (although they apparently considered it). Instead, it is hidden from view and accessed via flipping it down from the rear of the camera.

Fuji claim this is to stop photographers spending time “chimping” and spending more time with the viewfinder to their eye instead, concentrating on making images.

Pure photography

Fuji launched the camera at the recent Fuji Summit where the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 was announced with a theory of Pure Photography.

The 3 elements of pure photography are:

Carry and access

You need to carry the camera and access the subject. This stated the camera has to be small, light and discreet. They state the camera should be an extension of your eye. This is then followed by talking about the durability of cameras.

Find and frame

You need to find the subject and frame it to get the best composition. Fuji stated that the viewfinder is the most important part of finding your composition.

Shoot to express

This is simply pressing the shutter and capturing the photograph. You don’t need to check a rear screen or distract yourself, you simply need to press the shutter. 

This concept is definitely summed up in the Fujifilm X-Pro 3. Personally, the idea of removing distraction is appealing, and I’m sure I’m not alone. However, whether this camera has mass-market appeal remains to be seen. Fuji’s X-Pro line (including the x-Pro 1 and X-Pro 2) has always been a favorite of street photographers, and this is how Fujifilm are marketing the camera and the pure photography concept. They are marketing to those who want discretion and to focus purely on making the image.

I can imagine many wedding photographers loving this camera too. Not only for the discretion it offers when shooting, but for the fact that you will be thankful for the lack of a screen every time a tipsy relative asks, “give us a look.” It may even suit travel photographers.

OK, they killed the screen, but what else?

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 had a couple of other things that are worth mentioning – starting with the choice of materials.

The use of titanium is something that Fuji has surprised many with. Titanium is more durable and lighter than the alloys seen in most modern cameras. Titanium is also notoriously hard material to work with, so we should applaud Fuji by the use of this in the X-Pro 3.

This means that the XPro 3 should stand up to the beating a working professional will give it.

Not only is it made of titanium, but it gives you three color options. You can get the X-Pro 3 in black, DURA black and DURA silver. DURA is a special type of coating that is ten times stronger than stainless steel in terms of scratch resistance.

It feels like Fuji built this camera for war zones.

Image: Available in 3 different finishes, two of which are designed to make the titanium body even m...

Available in 3 different finishes, two of which are designed to make the titanium body even more resistant to wear and tear.

The X-Pro 3 has Fuji’s hybrid viewfinder system. Fuji has upgraded this for the new model. It is set to be clearer, with a wider field of view and less distortion than previous models. The electronic viewfinder is also upgraded (as you would expect) to offer a higher frame rate, higher contrast, and a wider color space – finally, a set of specs that fit into the traditional camera upgrade.

The lack of a screen is something that differentiates the X-Pro 3 in Fuji’s camera lineup. In fact, this differentiates them from the camera market as a whole right now. Fuji has aimed this camera at a specific type of photographer. It remains to be seen whether there are enough of their market to allow this camera success.

If you want to watch the whole of the XSummit announcement, you can view it below. If you’re just interested in the X-Pro 3, skip to about 1:10 or so.

What are your thoughts on the Fujifilm X-Pro 3? Is it something that you are intrigued by? Or, did Fuji just make one hell of a mistake? Let me know in the comments below.

fujifilm-x-pro-3

The post The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

ACDSee Video Studio 4 Review – An Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Video Editing Software

The post ACDSee Video Studio 4 Review – An Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Video Editing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

In this review, we take a look at the new video-editing software – ACDSee Video Studio 4.

Video is something that, as photographers, we seem to be delving into more and more. Whether that be capturing behind the scenes of photoshoots to create marketing material or simply a video of your photo adventures with friends, video is something many of us are either doing or may want to do. However, it’s not always as easy as that.

Image: Video Studio 4 is great for editing short clips for social media or uploading to YouTube. It...

Video Studio 4 is great for editing short clips for social media or uploading to YouTube. It will not, however, enhance your skills in front of the camera, as you will see later in this review!

The main problem with video content isn’t necessarily shooting the video, but the editing process. I am sure some of you have lots of video footage that you always intend to make into a video (as I have), but it never gets made. You start with good intentions, but the editing always seems to be the sticking point. For those who don’t edit very often or are new to video, editing can be hard and so much software lacks user-friendliness.

Video software usually comes with a steep learning curve too. Those that many consider the standard, Premiere and Final Cut, aren’t particularly user-friendly to the novice user. You will end up spending hours of your time watching YouTube videos to simply understand the basics of how to create a simple edit for either of those pieces of software.

ACDSee has set out to change that. With their latest software, Video Studio 4, you get powerful video editing built into a software that is intuitive and simple to use.

Opening it up

When you launch the software, the layout you see may resemble others. However, with ACDSee Video Studio 4, this layout is streamlined, and the most useful stuff is there, ready and waiting.

On the left side, there are 10 different options for you to work with. They are laid out in a way that guides you through the process of editing from start to finish.

Let’s go through them to see how you can use each one.

The left panel

Media

Video Studio 4 accepts a wide variety of formats for audio, video, and images. These are:

  • Image formats: JPG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, HEIC
  • Audio formats: WMA, MP3, AAC, WAV, AC3, OGG, M4A
  • Video formats: AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MOV, TS, MTS, M2TS, ASF, M4V, MPG, MPEG

As you can see, the software can handle pretty much any format you want to use. It is great to see such a wide range of options available. It means you don’t need to worry about converting files before editing.

Image: Here is a variety of a png, JPEGs and HEVC iPhone footage. ACDSee Video Studio 4 handled them...

Here is a variety of a png, JPEGs and HEVC iPhone footage. ACDSee Video Studio 4 handled them flawlessly.

Captions

Adding in titles and captions is simple and easy. A wide variety of fonts and placement options means you can create a title for your videos quickly.

Image: There are several different styles to work with when it comes to adding titles and captions.

There are several different styles to work with when it comes to adding titles and captions.

Audio Recorder

If you make videos, sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you need to record a voiceover. With ACDSee Video Studio 4, you can record audio directly into the software, thus, keeping everything together. This means you don’t have to move between programs to record extra audio. A really fantastic little tool that you may not think is useful – until you need it.

Transitions

With 30 different transitions to choose from, you can easily apply transitions between video clips. Tweaking these to your desired length is simply a matter of dragging them onto the timeline. Some are cheesy, some are incredibly cheesy, but you have options. I am a simple “fade” guy, but if you want something different, you will definitely find it here.

Image: Whilst there are several to choose from, I rarely tend to look past a “fade” or...

Whilst there are several to choose from, I rarely tend to look past a “fade” or “fade to black” transition. If you do, there are several options.

Audio Effects

Adding fade in and outs to your audio tracks is simple and easy too. You can do it manually, but by using the presets and then tweaking to get the desired effect, you can really save some time. You’ll also get your content created much quicker and easier than ever.

Image: It is easy to add fade in and outs with audio in the program.

It is easy to add fade in and outs with audio in the program.

Animations

New in this version of ACDSee Video Studio 4 is the ability to use keyframes to make custom animations. This allows you to create bespoke animations for your clips, which is great when using a still image in your video.

There are also some great presets to use as starting points, which you can fine-tune to get your clips just how you want them.

Image: You can start with one of the inbuilt animations or start from scratch.

You can start with one of the inbuilt animations or start from scratch.

Behavior

Behaviors are customizable entrance and exit effects. You can use these on a clip to really emphasize the clips’ start and end. Simply tweak each effect to customize it to your taste.

I really didn’t see where I would use this, and it feels a little gimmicky. This is a feature most people will not use too often, but in the right hands, I am sure you can do something cool with it.

Filters 

ACDSee Video Studio 4 gives you many filter options to tweak the look of your clip. When applied, these filters tweak things like the clips color, and exposure. There are also several creative effects for quick and easy effects for your footage.

There are several options to explore here. Which ones you choose depends on your taste and preference, but there is something to please most people here. You will no doubt find your favorites when you have used the software a few times, and these will become your go-to filters.

You can add multiple filters should you need or want to. They stack on top of each other in the clip, and you can edit them individually.

Image: This shows the exposure filter in action. It worked well on a clip that was underexposed. The...

This shows the exposure filter in action. It worked well on a clip that was underexposed. There are many others – some good, some that you probably won’t use.

Overlays

Overlays are effects that sit on top of your clips. Some of these, such as the animated hearts and bubbles, are an acquired taste and most of you probably won’t touch them (but will no doubt serve a great purpose for the young generation). However, light leaks and film scratches can give a great effect, depending on the look you are going for with your project.

Image: You can add filters to give your footage a certain look. Some are a little cheesy IMHO, but t...

You can add filters to give your footage a certain look. Some are a little cheesy IMHO, but there are some really nice ones, such as old film, which I used here.

Advanced Effects

This is where the software gets seriously impressive. Here you will find some features most commonly found in high-end editing software, yet they come with the ease and simplicity of use that makes Video Studio 4 so user-friendly.

Starting with one of the new features in Video Studio 4 is Remove Color. This is most commonly used for green screen work. This allows you to shoot against a green screen (or other color backgrounds) and remove it from the clip. You can then add in a background of your choice. This is great for YouTube videos, where you can buy a cheap green screen (or even use a green sheet) and then add in a background you created in Photoshop or similar. It can give you a host of creative options, is incredibly simple to use, and really powerful.

A new cool feature is Color LUTS. These allow you to add a variety of different color grade options to your footage to enhance their look.

Another new addition allows you to adjust the speed of your footage. You can create time effects such as slow-motion, or speed up the timing of your clip.

The last new addition is Mosaic, which is great to blur out items in clips, such as car number plates. This can then be sized and tweaked to match your clip. Again this is one of those tools that you probably won’t use very often, but when you do need it, you will be glad the software includes this handy tool.

Image: You can add LUTS to color your footage. Start with a preset or upload your own. For the short...

You can add LUTS to color your footage. Start with a preset or upload your own. For the short video I created, I used Tinsel.

Using ACDSEE Video Studio 4

It’s one thing to list all the features of a software, but it is another thing entirely to put it in practice. With this in mind, I put a few things together in ACDSee Video Studio 4.

The first project involved taking a couple of clips from a photoshoot on my iPhone and making them into a quick clip for Instagram. I also wanted to try out the screen recording software that comes with Video Studio 4 so I used this to make a quick tutorial on creating custom animations in the software.

Lastly, I wanted to test one of the key new features, Remove Color.

Green screen test

As this was one of the new features of the software, I was keen to test it out. However, rather than test this with a perfectly lit green screen, I tested it in a more common situation. At first, I tried against a blue block wall, not expecting it to work at all.

Then I used a green screen I borrowed from a friend. Now, this is by no means a high-end green screen. In fact, one of the stands fell to pieces when we were putting it up and had to be held together with tape! I also didn’t iron the green material (as you can see in the clip). It was a very cheap eBay purchase, but it is the type of setup the most people will use when starting with a green screen, so I wanted to see the results.

I used no specialist lighting in the setup either. Again, with the right type of equipment, this is super easy, both for the editor and the software. But, I wanted to push it a little…

Here are the results:

As you can see, the software worked pretty well on the green screen (just a slight issue with the reflection in my glasses) and surprisingly well on the blue wall, even if it didn’t manage to get it quite perfect. I think that a simple, smooth painted wall, with decent natural light, would work perfectly well for this type of work. Moreover, with an ideal studio lighting setup, it would work great.

The tutorial video

ACDSee Video Studio 4 also comes with software that allows you to record your screen, which I wanted to test to create a simple instructional video. As I am reviewing the software, I decided to make a quick tutorial on creating a logo animation. I simply selected the inbuilt Mic and Webcam and hit the record button.

When you have finished recording your footage, it drops it directly into Video Studio 4 ready to edit. Editing is then simple.

Here is the result:

If you are looking to get into creating tutorial videos for your photography, or tutorials for any software, Video Studio 4 is great. 

The Insta edit

What I see as the biggest possible use of this software is for quick, simple edits for Instagram. This software is perfect for that purpose –one of those situations where you just want to put a few clips together and make an edit as quickly as possible.

In this example, I had three phone clips I wanted to use. I also had my logo and background I created in Photoshop. With all I needed ready to go, I jumped into Video Studio 4 for the first time.

It is super simple to use, and within minutes I had a completed video.

The first thing I wanted to do was to create a quick intro using my logo. I saved my logo as a .png file so that I could keep the background transparent so it would work with layers. Then I placed both the background and the logo into the software. To add some animation, I used the custom animation feature in Video Studio 4. By dragging and dropping this onto the logo, I was able to quickly add two 360-degree motions to the logo to add interest.

It was easier than I imagined. Within 20 seconds, I had my animated logo.

Then I added transitions to the start and end of the clip as well as adding an old film overlay. That was it. One minute and I had a finished animated logo. If I wanted to, I could export this clip and use it in all future videos as an intro. That saves even more time when creating clips like this.

Next, I needed to insert my clips. Again, it was simply a matter of drag and dropping them to get them onto the timeline. To trim the clips to the required length, you have two options:

  • drag the ends of the clip to where you want them, or
  • split the clip where you want the edit and delete the part that you want to trim.

I found this splitting quicker, and this is what I did for the rest of the clip.

With my clips trimmed, I also needed to remove the audio. There are two ways you can do this: Method one is to adjust the sound level of the clip by right-clicking on it and selecting Edit Audio. This is great when you want to adjust the sound levels of a clip. In this case, however, I didn’t need the audio at all, so split the clip into separate audio and video tracks. This way, I was able to delete the audio from the clip quite simply.

Image: You can either edit the audio level of clips or split the audio, which is what I did here. As...

You can either edit the audio level of clips or split the audio, which is what I did here. As I didn’t need sound, I simply deleted the audio from the clips.

I then added transitions between clips. While there are loads to choose from, you will probably find yourself going back to a select few. In my case, I have always tended to use Fade to Black or Cross Fade (called Fade in Video Studio 4).

For the last stage, I easily added a LUT to the footage. There are several LUTs in Video Studio 4, or you can upload them into the software. I decided to use the Tinsel LUT, which adds a color grade to the footage.

Adding music

When I watched the footage back, I decided I wanted to add some music.  I used a track by A Himitsu, the details of which are as follows:

Adventures by A Himitsu, Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 

Music released by Argofox Music provided by Audio Library

Once I had the music in, I wanted to move my edits a little to match the music. Even though I had LUTs applied and fades in place, this was easy, and there was no lag when dragging clips around. The software felt speedy throughout using it, which was reassuring. With the music added, and clips altered, I just needed to add an audio transition to fade the music out, which I then tweaked until I was happy with it.

All complete, it was time to export my project. You can see the final edit below.

Export

Exporting is quick and easy and helped by Video Studio 4 holding your hand through the process. You can export and save to a file, or you can upload directly to YouTube or Vimeo. Just log in to YouTube and follow the instructions. In terms of time, the software exported quickly, and I didn’t notice a difference in export times compared to using other editing software.

You can also export to an animated gif, which is ideal for things like action sports clips.

As you can probably guess, the theme of simple and easy continues here. Video Studio 4 guides you through things in the beginning while allowing you the ability to be more creative as your confidence grows.

Image: Video Studio 4 guides you through the export process. You can export to file or upload direct...

Video Studio 4 guides you through the export process. You can export to file or upload directly to YouTube, which is what I did. It was simple and worked perfectly.

Support

ACDSee has some great training videos for their software on their website. For those of you new to video editing, these are well worth a watch to get you started with Video Studio 4. I am sure that more will be added over time, but they have everything you need to get started. There is also great technical support should you have any other issues.

Below is an example of their training videos with Director of Photography, Alex Watson. Before anyone says it in the comments, I know his delivery is a little better than mine.

Who is this software for?

If you use Premiere or Final Cut, you will have more than likely not even made it this far. It is not as fully featured as these programs and is in no way a replacement, but that is not the purpose of this software.

ACDSee Video Studio 4 is for those who are new to video editing or who just want to create quality content without having to spend large amounts of time learning to use software.

While Video Studio 4 is incredibly user-friendly for the beginner, it also contains many features for those wanting to delve deeper and use more advanced features such as the green screen.

In a nutshell, the aim of Video Studio 4 is to create professional videos quickly and easily for those new to video. It does this impressively well.
It is really competitively priced, and for those who are new to video and use PC, I can’t think of a better alternative.

Final thoughts

ACDSee Video Studio 4 is a simple to use, yet surprisingly powerful video editor. It is not a replacement for Premiere, nor is it intended to be. There are some really powerful features in here, but it also contains some stuff that I would personally never use. For example, some of the fades and overlays feel cheesy and overdone. Then again, as a teen starting out with video editing, these will more than likely be fun, and I am sure they will get used in creative ways. Maybe it’s more me being an old stick in the mud for the classics?

If you have been thinking about adding video to what you do, I would recommend you try Video Studio 4. This is simple to do as ACDSee have a free trial, allowing you to try before you buy. When it comes to purchasing, you also have options. You can purchase the software outright, or you can get it as part of the ACDSee 365 plan, which also includes ACDSee’s Photo Studio software for a simple monthly payment.

ACDSee is known for offering alternative software that is feature-packed, simple to use, with a great price tag. With Video Studio 4, ACDSee has definitely cemented that reputation.

ACDSee is a paid partner of dPS.

The post ACDSee Video Studio 4 Review – An Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Video Editing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

Buying a new computer can be a minefield. There are so many models to choose from with wildly varying budgets. How do you get the best performance for your budget? Where should you invest your cash (and where can you save)?

This article is straight forward, jargon-free advice on what to think about when buying a computer for photo editing. If you are looking for an in-depth analysis, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking to upgrade your current computer, but are unsure of how to spend your cash wisely, then this article will be a great starting point.

Mac vs. PC

I didn’t want to open this up with something that can descend into arguments. Instead, I thought I’d start with the one topic that everyone can agree on (or not) – Mac vs. PC. Seriously though, I thought it best to get this out of the way first. I’m a Mac guy. I have been for years. I am heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, and it works best for me.

However, I will put it on record (and be held to it from this day forward), there is very little difference between Mac and PC. Software in the modern world is platform agnostic and very few programs are Mac-only or PC-only. The price difference is not always as large as people make out, and you will generally be invested in one platform or the other already.

I know there is the old argument that most creatives use Macs over PC, but this is outdated and not strictly true. My personal theory is that Mac products tend to look better (thanks to Johnny Ive) and creative people tend to like to surround themselves with beautiful objects. If you go into a high-end design office, Macs tend to fit with the aesthetic better, hence why we see more Macs in these situations.

Both platforms have their quirks. Both are capable of great results. With a similar spec and finish, there will be a similar price involved.

I am sure there will be some discussion in the comments about this, but I really want to leave this argument here. It is boring, and nobody will ever win. We are on the Internet, after all.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, the monitor stand costs more than most monitors. But if these are things you are worried about, this machine (the Mac Pro) is not for you.

Monitor first

Before you begin to look for a computer, invest in a monitor – and for goodness sake, calibrate it. As photographers, we concern ourselves with the best image quality we can achieve. If you are editing the image on a screen with a limited color range and that is way too bright, you will tend to be disappointed when you print your images. They simply will not match what you see on the screen. When looking for a new computer, it is easy get carried away in what processor to go for, or whether we should invest in a larger hard drive. But, surprisingly, a monitor can be, in many cases, an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.

When looking to buy a monitor, you should really aim for one with a wide color gamut and if you can afford it, go for an IPS panel.

Lastly, in terms of resolution, a 4K screen is great but comes with a higher price tag. My advice is color over resolution. 4k is nice, but it is not anywhere near as important as color consistency. I edit on a 2560 x 1440 monitor as when I was looking I could not get the consistency of color I wanted within budget in a 4K screen. I have never wished for more resolution yet.

Image: A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

Laptop or Desktop

This is something that depends on your situation. Modern laptops are hugely powerful. The main thing that holds them back is the graphics card. However, with the rise of the external graphics card, this is starting to be negated.

Obviously, the benefit of a laptop is portability. Traveling with your laptop is great as you can edit whilst out and about. You can also get the images off your memory cards (always back them up before you format the card though). For me, as a wedding photographer, being able to import images into the computer whilst I get a break saves me time when I get home. I can also create a preview for the couple on the day of the wedding. This is something that is not possible with a standard PC or iMac. Also, when shooting multi-day music festivals, most outlets require a same-day turnaround of images. In this situation, a laptop is essential.

With modern laptops, the ability to have it transform into your desktop machine has never been easier. I have a 2018 13” MacBook Pro which, with the use of a dock, simply requires me to plug in one cable to connect it to my monitor and external hard drives and charge it. I have a fully-functioning desktop in seconds.

However, this portability comes at a financial cost. You will always pay more for a laptop than a similar specification desktop PC. If you have no need for the mobility advantages of a laptop, you can get a desktop with similar specs for less money.

What you should buy depends on your requirements and your budget. If your budget is small, I would always recommend a desktop PC, as you will get more bang for your buck.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

Desktop or laptop? It depends on your needs.

Processor

The processor is the brain of your system. When looking at a computer for photo editing, the processor is where you need to be looking to max out as much as your budget can afford. The key thing to look for in processors is the cores. In simple terms, a processor is split into cores. Each core can work on a separate task, so therefore, the more cores you have, the more multi-tasking the computer can do (or the better its ability to split tasks down into smaller parts to complete it quicker).

Ideally, you want to be looking at a quad-core to a six-core processor. A quad-core processor hits this sweet spot of performance to price ratio, but if you can afford to upgrade to a six-core processor, you will see increased performance. After this, unless you are a particularly heavy user, you will see little benefit in more cores.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

A processor is where you really need to max out when choosing a new computer.

RAM

This is where you may be surprised. If you are using your computer solely for editing photographs and you are not applying several layers and effects in Photoshop, you can easily get away with 8GB of RAM. If you want to push the boat out a little, or are planning on getting a camera with a huge megapixel count, such as the new 64MP Sony, you really need to push this to 16GB.

RAM tends to be one of the cheaper upgrades when configuring a computer. Whilst you may not be needing 16 or 32GB right now, as with all things computer-related, buy the best spec you can afford. This allows you to be happy with your computer for longer. RAM is one of the simple upgrade tasks to do yourself. However, note that in some computers, laptops especially, (yes, I’m looking at you Apple) it is not something that can be done after you have purchased the computer.

Graphics Card

Your graphics card (or GPU) is the thing that fools some people. For photography, you really do not need a hugely powerful graphics card. It is something that has one main purpose, which is running your monitor. Now if you are planning on running a dual monitor 4K setup, then it is worth investing a little in your graphics card, but unless you are planning on doing some hardcore gaming, you will not really notice the benefit of the high-end graphics cards in almost all photo editing situations.

When using certain photo editing tools, the graphics card will speed things up a little, but the price to performance ratio of a higher-end graphics card is not as beneficial as spending the money elsewhere, such as an upgrade to your processor.

Now, if you do video editing as well as photo editing, this is where you will see the benefit from a good quality graphics card. If you are doing any type of motion graphics on your videos, you will see an even bigger boost. This is where graphics cards will make a difference. If you are doing video work (or plan to) then you do need to allow some budget for a dedicated graphics card, or GPU if you are going down the laptop route.

Hard Drive

There are two types of hard drives: Solid State (also known as SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (known as HDD). They work in different ways, both of which have advantages and disadvantages.

Hard Disk Drives have been around for years. Data is stored on a rotating platter, which is then accessed by a read/write head to access or write the data. Most hard drives spin at 5400 or 7200 rpm. Simply put, the faster the rpm, the faster the drive can read/write data. Because they have been around for so long, the cost is much lower than a Solid State Drive. This makes this type of drive ideal if you are looking for a large amount of storage. It also means computers with HDD drives tend to be cheaper.

Solid State Drives are much newer technology. You will be most used to them as the storage in your phone and tablet. They work via an inbuilt processor called a Controller that performs the tasks of reading and writing data. The better the quality of the Controller, the faster the drive. They are much faster than Hard Disk Drives, but have one major disadvantage – the price.

The cost per gigabyte of storage Is much greater on SSD drives. On average, it is up to five times more expensive. However, that is really the only downside. SSD drives are much faster, less noisy (an SSD drive has no moving parts, unlike an HDD) and generally a little tougher (the head on an HDD does not like being banged about).

How much faster? Well, on an average computer, the start-up time will generally be over four times faster with an SSD. Programs will load much quicker, and the whole experience just feels snappier.

This is one of those speed boosts that you will not necessarily miss until you have used an SSD-based system. Once you have experienced it, I guarantee, you will not want to go back from it. Upgrading to an SSD on your current computer will give you a great upgrade for relatively little money.

I would always recommend an SSD as your main hard drive and then using larger HDD drives for your storage, either internally or externally. This way, you will have the best of both worlds. If you can afford it, I would suggest a 1TB SSD drive, as this means you can keep current work on the SSD drive to feel the benefits. Then your archive can be kept on HDD to access when you need it.

You also need a backup strategy in place. If you haven’t, please do yourself a favor and read up on how to backup your photos. I would hate the thought of any of you crying over lost photos.

Image: Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD d...

Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD drive will give you a big speed boost.

Summary

I could now list some machines that are currently considered the best for photo editing. If you Google the phrase “best computer for photo editing 2019” you will find several lists. However, I don’t want to do that. Not least because if you are reading this 6 months after I wrote it, it will already be out of date. Instead, I thought I would leave you with the top 6 things to think about when choosing the right computer.

  1. Buy the best processor you can afford. The majority of the work for photo editing relies heavily on the processor. Depending on what machine you buy, RAM is something you can upgrade yourself cheaply in the future. If you can afford 16GB then go for it. Just make sure before you stick at 8GB to save some budget, you can upgrade it later.
  2. Go for an SSD, but don’t go crazy for size. Try to go for a 1TB drive, or if on a tighter budget, a 512GB drive. Then invest in a larger 7200RPM external drive for more space. This way you can get the speed benefits of an SSD for your current editing and keep your work stored on a still fast, but cheaper external drive. And pretty please, with a cherry on top, invest in a backup!
  3. Don’t buy a laptop if you’re not going to use your computer out and about. You can get much better value from a desktop. So, if you only edit at home, get the most power for your money.
  4. Invest in a decent monitor. Then invest in a calibration device. Then invest in your computer. A good, calibrated monitor will not only last you longer, but it will also make your photos look better. Not just to you, but to everyone else as well.
  5. Keep your eyes open for deals. These are usually highest when new models are coming out. If you are happy to invest some time searching, you can find some great bargains.
  6. Lastly, don’t be afraid of secondhand or refurb, especially if you are on a budget. I have purchased most of my equipment refurbished by Apple (and saved a lot of money). You can also save huge amounts of money buying secondhand. You can buy some slightly older equipment that will be perfectly adequate for a fraction of the price. For example, lots of gamers often update their graphics cards. You can then pick it up to boost your computer for a fraction of the retail price. Obviously, this method is not without some risks. However, it is a way to get great value for money if you’re on a tight budget.

Lastly to go back to the start, Mac or PC? It really doesn’t matter! Unless you can afford to buy a Mac. In which case, you should always buy a Mac! (Sorry PC fanboys and girls, I couldn’t resist. I await my roasting in the comments 🙂

 

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The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands

The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

I have finally started to change camera brands. I’ve been shooting Canon since my first ever SLR I got back when I was 16. I wanted to stay with Canon, but their current bodies do nothing for me. Also, the lens prices of the new R-mount system are insane. After spending a lot of time researching, as well as some hands-on time with the cameras I was considering (Sony, Panasonic & Fuji), I ended up moving towards Fuji.

I’ve purchased a Fuji XT3 with the kit lens and a 35mm f2. It has been a decision that I made on several factors, and so far I am really enjoying the images I am getting out of the Fuji. I haven’t sold off my Canon gear yet (nor will I likely do so in the immediate future) but I can definitely see me moving a lot of my kit in Fuji’s direction.

However, the move has thrown up a few surprises, which I wanted to share with you in this article. So without further ado, here are six things to consider before you change camera brands.

1. Know why

The question you must ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve by moving camera brand? Changing brands is a long, sometimes painful experience that can be as frustrating as it is fun. It is also certainly going to be expensive. However, if you are considering a full-blown brand swap, there has never been a better time. The big two (Nikon & Canon) have changed mounts. This means, even staying with your current brand, you will eventually be changing your whole kit. So for many people, if you are going to move, the time is now.

Why did I move towards Fuji? Three reasons; the weight, the size, and the video functions.

I shoot weddings, and the appeal of lighter gear hanging off me all day is huge. Secondly, as I shoot in a documentary style, the size of the Fuji means the camera is not as intimidating as my 5DMkIV when in close situations. I have noticed in my son already that he is much more himself with the small Fuji camera, as opposed to my DSLR. This is what I see on paid shoots too. When shooting with the Fuji up close on a recent engagement shoot, the couple seemed to relax more. It is hard to put into words, but there is definitely something about the smaller form factor.

Lastly; video. Canon is purposefully, it seems, not putting the video features into its DSLR’s that Sony, Fuji & Panasonic are. I want to shoot more video and am starting to offer it to clients. Fuji beats Canon hands down here and was the deciding factor.

That’s not to say that other things such as Eye AF, a flip-out screen and 100% coverage with AF points are not things I want, they are, but they alone were not enough for me to make the switch.

A king on a chess board with a young player in the bokeh

You will find yourself shooting more to test your new gear out. Here I am testing the bokeh of the 35mm f2, whilst teaching my son to play chess. The smaller size means he acts more natural than when I point my DSLR at him.

2. Be prepared to start again

Unless you are willing to sell off all of your gear to fund your new purchase, you will no doubt (like me) dip your toe in the water first. As a professional, I simply cannot just go all-in on a new system. So it will be a switch over time. The lack of kit is in some ways quite refreshing. It is also making me think about what kit I will need as I begin to build up my new system. However, sometimes I do find myself reaching for my Canon as it has the lens option I want.

A change of system will be expensive and, in the interim at least, you will probably have less gear than you previously had. Remember, it is more than cameras and lenses – you will need to change things like flashes and flash triggers as well.

Little side note here. Pixapro (rebadged UK version of Godox) triggers for Fuji & Canon look identical. The method I’ve used to differentiate them is to color the little quality control sticker red on the Fuji trigger. A quick, simple way to overcome an annoying little problem.

Changing brands and starting again can definitely have a positive impact. As you begin to build a new system, you will think more about what gear you don’t use as well as what you find yourself missing. This means you can save some money in the switching process and lighten the load of your gear bag at the same time.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

This was my new kit for 3 weeks. No high-end primes, no myriad of lens options. Just a kit lens. Frustrating, but it did make me think about photography in a way I hadn’t in some time.

3. Retraining the muscle memory

There is nothing worse than the downright dread of coming to grips with a new menu system. Trying to remember which button is the one you mapped for changing autofocus is somewhat frustrating. The remapping of your brain to work with your new camera system is one of those things that is initially fun and exciting.

However, that initial joy soon gives way to frustration. It is surprising how difficult it can be to move systems and retrain your brain to work with the new menu system. It gets easier quite quickly, but you will initially miss shots you would have got, simply because you forgot which button you needed to press.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

This has been my workhorse for years. I can operate it in the dark without thinking. I will get there with the Fuji, but it will take time.

4. The cost of switching

It is easy to get carried away in thinking that if you sell off your gear, you will be able to switch systems without a huge outlay. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. Moving camera system will come with a financial cost, and it will probably be more than you think. To move system and a new body and a set of lenses (24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a fast prime) you will be looking in the ballpark of £1000-£4000. You can reduce the costs of this by buying secondhand glass. However, with the new mirrorless systems by both Nikon & Canon, the price of secondhand glass is still incredibly high and hard to find.

To give an example, I own the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS I lens. I could look to get around £700 for this secondhand at current value. To move to the new Sony G Master of the same focal length, I would need an extra £1700. To pick up a secondhand copy, I would still need £1000, and that is simply for one lens.

When you look at the numbers like that you have to ask yourself, will a change of system for this function be worth £3000? Is eye autofocus, in-body stabilization, and 100% AF points coverage really worth that much? For you, it may be, but do not think there will not be a cost involved in getting the features you need.

Many of you (like me) will be considering a move to a mirrorless-based system. Even changing to the same brand is now going to come with considerable costs as both Canon & Nikon have new lens mounts. I know that you can adapt existing glass for both these systems, but it will not work as well as the new glass designed specifically for the new mounts.

In both cases, the lenses for these systems are commanding top prices. Over time, these will drop, and there will be a larger secondhand market. But at the moment, switching to a Canon or Nikon mirrorless system, complete with native lenses for the system, is no cheaper than a complete change of brand.

I think the mirrorless camera revolution will see many people taking the plunge with different brands. Switching from a 5D Mk IV to an EOS-R is, in reality, the same kind of investment you will make moving to Sony or Nikon.

Again, most brands now have good quality adapters to use glass from other systems, so it does help you take those baby steps. However, the native glass will always give the best performance. Unless you have a great relationship with your bank manager (and/or partner), you may need to transition slowly to cushion the financial impact.

A cow in a field at sunset

This was meant to be shot on my Fuji. However, the battery died and I had no spares. Luckily, my trusty Canon (and 4 spare batteries) to the rescue.

5. Will the grass be greener?

There is the honeymoon phase in any relationship. I am currently in it with my Fuji. No matter what the sensible part of your brain says, having new gear makes you get out and use it. The more photos you take, the more your photography improves. So, therefore, changing camera gear will make things better right? Well, maybe. If you changed for a specific reason and your new gear addresses it, then, yes, it may be better.

What is more likely, though, is that after the honeymoon phase, your camera will get used no more than your current kit. Your photography will not improve simply because of your choice to change systems. You will again find things that you don’t like about your new system and things you miss about your old one. This is simply because there is no perfect camera.

6. Could you spend money more wisely to advance your photography?

The biggest reason to pause and think about changing systems is whether you could make a different investment that will improve your photography more than a change of brand. It is well documented that lenses are a wiser investment than a new camera body. I have seen countless photographers move towards a full-frame camera, rather than invest in lenses, which is definitely a mistake. Lenses hold their value, will instantly give you better results and will last you way longer than a new camera body.

If you look at a minimum of £1000 to change camera brands, then think of what else you could invest that money in to improve your photography. Portrait photographers, that could buy you a great off-camera flash system with modifiers that will take your portraits to a new level. You could invest in new lenses for your current camera that helps you shoot better in low light, or give you more reach as a wildlife photographer.

However, look beyond gear. What could £1000 worth of education do for your photography? How about spending £1000 on a trip to locations that you have always wanted to photograph? In many cases, changing your camera system is possibly the least likely thing to advance your photography.

For most of us, we simply got caught in the hype and Facebook chatter about a new camera. We think it will be a magic bullet that makes us take more photos or better photos. But in reality, it won’t. You will have a shiny new toy that you love, until the Mark 2 comes out and you will convince yourself again that you need to upgrade.

There are lots of legitimate reasons to change systems. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with switching to a new camera system simply because you want to. Just beware of the hype that it will make your photos better because it won’t.

A tipi near a pond with a tree growing out of it.

The Fuji will make me money. Will I make more money than if I had kept my Canon? No. My back, however, will thank me for the lighter weight.

I’m not trying to convince you either way (you probably wouldn’t listen if I did). I am just giving you some things to think about if you are looking to move from your current camera system. Happy shopping.

Have you made the switch to a new camera system or considering it? Share with us in the comments section below!

 

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The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy?

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy

The autofocus on the Sony A9 is amazing! Set it to eye AF, point in direction of the subject and let it do the rest. It’s almost too easy.

Everyone is a Photographer these days. It has never been easier or cheaper to create good quality photographs. People sincerely believe that the camera is what takes these amazing images. I am sure you have heard this as many times as I have; “You take beautiful photos, you must have a great camera.”

With the technology we see now though, I sometimes wonder, do they have a point?

We now have cameras in mobile phones, that not long ago professional photographers, paying thousands for their cameras would have dreamed of being able to use. Look at the ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign, and look at Instagram daily. People can take amazing photographs, with a couple of clicks and minimal effort.

Has modern technology democratized photography, or does it mean photography has become easy?

Technology continues to make things easier. But that didn’t start with digital!

Technology has always pushed to make things simpler. Be that the TV remote control or the digital camera. The digital camera was simply the technology industry’s answer to the market forces. Consumers wanted a camera that could take endless photographs. Businesses, noting this need, used the emerging technology to answer their customer cries. Thus, creating digital cameras and changing the face of photography forever.

Let’s get this out of the way early. There was no comparison between shooting digital and shooting film. After the first generations with their inevitable teething problems and huge price tag,  photography became incredibly easy with digital. Instant feedback told you whether you had the shot or not. You were not limited by 24 or 36 exposures (or less if you shot medium format). Lastly, after the initial outlay, photography became much cheaper as there were simply no processing bills.

Depending on whom you ask, the digital evolution is either the moment someone got into photography or the beginning of the decline. However, let’s think back a little. If you had shot wet plates, imagine how easy those punks using 35mm film had it.

Imagine when autofocus cameras meant you no longer needed the skill of manual focus? Well, that is just ridiculous! Imagine a flash that didn’t need the incredibly dangerous use of flash powder for goodness sakes. The ability to refocus after the photo is in its infancy, but I can see it being a mainstay of every camera in less than ten years.

Technology helps make life better for humans. The most common way to make things better is often making things easier. In the modern world, we adapt quickly and then quickly rely on the new tech we use. It becomes part of our lives and frees up vital brain space. Every photography innovation, from the first camera onwards, has been about making it easier to preserve a moment in time.

Remember when we only had 18 megapixels, or 12, or six! How did we manage with only nine autofocus points rather than focus points over the entire sensor? Focus points that you don’t really need to use because the camera finds the eyes of humans (or animals), locks on, and all you need to do is decide which eye you want in focus.

I mean imagine how photojournalists in the ’80s would react to a modern digital camera? Moving even further back, imagine telling painters in the 1500s that one day there would be a box that captured the image of the person in minute detail and all you needed to do was to allow light into a box?

I remember the first 0.5MP digital camera I ever used. It was like magic. You could see the photograph instantly, and you never needed to pay for the processing. I was hooked instantly. Even though I had a crappy job, I saved hard for a digital point and shoot and began capturing photos again. I occasionally shot on an SLR camera, but could rarely afford to buy film and process it. I even took a night school class to get access to a darkroom and shot everything in black and white.

The Pentax 3-Megapixel camera I had been saving for months to own, changed my world. The quality wasn’t as good. I had no control over the shutter speed or aperture, but I could take photos. Hundreds of them. All the time. It was life-changing. I had moved more into film making, but this digital camera brought me back. I got hooked again. If it were not for that 0.5 Megapixel camera I got to use in my job, I would probably not even be writing this.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Lancaster bomber coming inn to land

The right place, the right time, but only a phone and no DSLR. Yet I still get an image like this.

Does gear make you a better Photographer?

We are photographers, and we love to lust over gear. The newest this, the better that. Camera companies spend millions trying to persuade us that we need new gear. Will the latest Sony with the mind-blowing eye autofocus really make your photos better? No. Will it make them easier? Undoubtedly, yes.

But, thanks to another wonderful technological invention – the internet – many of us spend more time talking about megapixels than actually using them.

We are as guilty as the influencers who “don’t even use a real camera” because we are the opposite. Instead, we sit pixel peeping the corner sharpness at four million percent and then badmouth how a manufacturer could release such a piece of crap.

A phone camera can take the most breathtaking image, worthy of an art gallery. Conversely, a multi-megapixel medium format camera with the best lens can take a snapshot.

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50 years ago this photo was shot on a modified film camera. Gear does not matter as much as you think. Image courtesy of NASA.

Digital makes it easy, but so much harder to stand out

Estimates suggest that over one trillion photographs were taken in 2018 (if you want to see the zeros, one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000). Ninety-five million photos get uploaded to Instagram every day. Add to that the three hundred hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute and the number of photographs and videos we are producing is simply staggering. Now whilst you cannot deny that digital made this possible, digital has also made it much harder to stand out.

Camera manufacturers are great at making people believe that they are artists – that everyone has an amazing movie. In the same way that everyone has a great novel, song, or painting inside of them begging to get out. In reality, that isn’t the truth. Photography (to me at least) is art. And art is, for better or worst, elitist.

Some people are not great artists and some are not great songwriters. And many people are not great photographers.

The problem is, with so much poor and average stuff out there, how do you get to see the good stuff? In some cases, you don’t. There are photographers out there, who are taking photographs that are simply some of the best ever taken. However, we will never see them. There are filmmakers out there creating short films that should see them breaking down the doors of Hollywood, but they don’t. Instead, our feeds are filled up with yet more cat memes and average photos we have seen thousands of times before.

We are drowning in content.

It is to the point where photography seems to be a popularity contest, rather than about artistry.

Look at how Canon treated Yvette Roman because she didn’t have 50,000 followers or more on YouTube. Let that sink in. A photographer whose style they loved for a job, who they agreed to hire, was replaced simply due to her lack of numbers. That shows you how companies want to hire photographers who can use their social channels to add to the marketing campaign.

We live in the influencer age, where amazing photographers are turned down for jobs due to not having followers. On the flip side of that, someone who only uses their phone for photography can be given thousands for merely showing that they use a particular piece of gear. They travel the world for free simply because they are popular on Instagram.

This system makes perfect sense when looked at from a marketing perspective. However, these platforms are where most of us spend our time and where we discover new content. Therefore, algorithms now control the amount of photography we get exposed to.

An algorithm doesn’t care about quality; it cares about metrics. The aim is to find popular content and put it out there for more people to find. Does this mean that photography is being reduced to likes? In many ways, yes, but it also shows the power of a story.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy 4

My 6-year-old took this photo. Sharp, well exposed and decent color. Not even a DSLR, just a compact.

A camera does not know how to tell a story yet

We live in an age where you can throw your work out for all the world to see. The level of photography has never been higher. I can give my six-year-old a camera, and he can take sharp, well-exposed photos, telling the stories of his lego figures. But a camera, in fact, no technology, can yet create an image that tells a story.

A great photograph always tells a story. It makes us want to know more about the moment. It allows us to create our own story based on what we see in the image and our world view. The story I see in a photograph will be different from yours. In fact, you may hate a photograph I love and vice versa.

This is simply not possible with even the greatest camera. There is no Ai that will pick the perfect moment for you to click the shutter button. Yes, cameras may do 20 frames per second or more, but even then, you cannot continually record every second of the day. You need to find the angle, frame your subject in the way that tells your story and then press the shutter. Really, the technical aspect (no matter how much the camera companies persuade us otherwise) is not where the photograph is made. It is not in the corner sharpness – many great photos are not sharp. It is the story you tell.

The story is what you need to learn. Telling a story is hard. It has always been hard, and technology is nowhere near being able to do it for us.

You make the decisions before you press the shutter. You use the light, the subject, and find the angle. Then you open a box and let in some light for a little bit. It has always been the same. It’s just that technology over the years has made it easier to let the light in the box and get the image sharp if that is important to you.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Guitarist playing solo

No matter what the camera, knowing the moment to press the shutter is still a skill that is not computer controlled, yet.

The future

I am sure you all saw it? It finally happened – a couple hired a robot to shoot their wedding! Yes, I know it is just a photo-booth style alternative for now, but it does hint to the future. Are we going to be used to weddings where drones automatically take photographs that are better than a human can capture? Photographs that can then be instantly customized by the bride and groom at the touch of a button (or voice command)? Will this mean that people will become obsolete in many photography fields? Will they only need a device; a robot?

Will my future as a photography business owner involve owning several robots? The ten-year-old version of me prays that this is true.  Alternatively, will people not need to hire anyone? Perhaps photography will be built into their daily devices? Will we become so vain that a device follows us around capturing our daily lives and then picks the best moments via an algorithm to share on social media for us? (Let’s hope not! – Editor)

What do you think? Share your comments with us below.

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The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers?

The post Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

Unsplash is killing photography! I am sure you will have read this somewhere? After all, photography blogs have been full of articles like this. You may agree – you may hate Unsplash. You may want to educate every photographer you meet on why they should not upload their photos to the platform. However, despite photographers and websites rallying against it, the platform continues to thrive. But is Unsplash really wrecking the photography industry? 

A little history

Unsplash started back in 2013 by Mikael Cho. Cho was the founder of the company Crew – a company designed as a marketplace for freelancers. Cho needed images for the home page of his business website but was unable to find the type of images he wanted online and within his price range. To get the images he wanted, he hired a photographer to create the imagery for the brand.

After the shoot, there were several leftover images. So Cho decided to post them on his Tumblr, allowing others to download them for free and use as they wished. Cho uploaded ten free images every ten days. The blog (which also directed people to Crew) was launched on Hacker News and instantly became the top story.

It took off.

Soon millions of people were searching for the images, and thousands were redirected to Crew.

Unsplash launched in May 2013, and by September it had hit one million downloads. In the first 12 months, it reached ten million downloads. This is when Unsplash moved away from Tumblr and launched an independent website.

Since then, it has continued to grow at an alarming rate. I checked the latest Unsplash stats whilst preparing for this article and the numbers are mind-blowing. 21 photos are downloaded from the platform every second!

Unsplash has a community of over 121,000 photographers whose photos have been downloaded heading for one billion times. A partnership with Squarespace allows users to place Unsplash images into their site directly from one of the most popular website builders. Like it or not, Unsplash has changed the photography industry.

Built into Squarespace. It is simple and easy to get copyright-free images.

How is Unsplash affecting photographers?

It is pretty easy to see how Unsplash is affecting the world of commercial photography. The Squarespace/Unsplash partnership is the perfect example of this. As the screenshot below shows, I can go into Unsplash, search for anything and usually find an image. Not just an image, though – a really good quality image. It is easy to see why photographers might be upset about this.

Why pay for a photographer, when I can get something similar to what I want? Want a photo of a beautiful shoreline for an article on the World’s best beaches? Unsplash has the answer. Want a magazine cover for an issue about coffee? They have that too. It is simple to get photographs of pretty much anything – on demand, and for free. Perfect for an editor, but not so much for a photographer.

The issue with Unsplash is that it devalues photography.

High-quality photography is now literally free.

You do not need to budget for it, which is great for small companies who cannot afford bespoke photography. It also means, in the age of good enough is good enough, the bigger companies who can afford great photography, simply don’t see the need.

For every blogger out there who makes no money from their blogs, but wants to be ethical and use images legally, there is also a large media company who simply want to maximize profits.

This problem isn’t new though. In case you have forgotten, the disruption started with the introduction of microstock.

Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

Microstock

Remember when microstock burst onto the scene? There was an uproar by so many photographers about how it destroyed the stock industry. When researching this article, I found several rants on websites about how microstock was destroying the photography industry. I found stories of people who made a good living in stock photography having their livelihood ruined by the likes of sites like iStock photo. As one photographer wrote about microstock in 2009 “they came in like a drunk bull in a china shop with careless regard for the devastation of the existing market”.

The rise of microstock and the rise of affordable, high-quality digital cameras are easily linked. Technology changed the game – especially the stock photography game – and many didn’t adapt.

The industry changed, rapidly, and many got left behind. When we look at Unsplash, it is hard not to look at microstock. As many photographers use Adobe products, I looked at Adobe stock to see what was happening in the microstock world.

In terms of quality, there is some great stuff on Adobe stock. But whilst it is not free, the pricing structure is hardly enough to make a business out of it.

Looking on their site now, Adobe can purchase 10 images a month for £19.99 (roughly £2.00 per image) or 40 for £47.99 (roughly £1.20 per image). In the UK, the minimum wage is £8.21 per hour meaning that even if the photographer got 100% of the £1.20 per image, they would need to sell roughly 260 images per week to make the UK minimum wage.

I know that if you want to use the image commercially to sell products, the license fee is larger. But still, it is not enough to live off without selling a huge volume.

Yet when was the last time we saw the major photo websites writing hate-filled articles about Adobe ruining photography? Okay, I stand corrected. It all kicked off when it looked like they would increase the photography subscription fee.

But seriously, almost all photographers use Adobe. Even though you can make a little pocket money, Adobe has a business that is strikingly similar to Unsplash, yet nobody mentions it.

The question is though, do we not mention it because we agree with this model, or do we see it as normal now?

I think it is because we see it as normal.

The outrage, the rallying cry of photographers, was drowned out by market forces. This is what is happening with Unsplash. One billion downloads prove that despite the passionate reasoning, arguing, and pleading, once again the market has spoken. They don’t care about your business model; they care about their bottom line.

It appears that the main market that will be affected by Unsplash is microstock. As I said before, microstock was not a way to make a living before Unsplash, so effectively nothing has changed.

Charles ?? on Unsplash

Are photographers hypocrites?

This is the point that tends to make hypocrites of photographers (and the websites) rallying against Unsplash. Many photographers do the exact same thing.

How many photography videos do you see with free-use music in them? Who has used Fiverr for a logo rather than pay a professional designer? Why do we use templates for web design rather than pay a professional web designer to create a bespoke site for us? Photographers do this with other services frequently. What is the difference between free photographs and free music?

Unfortunately, the answer lies in ourselves. We only tend to see the impact of changing business models affecting our own industry. We happily use free music (or the microstock equivalent) without thinking about it, because that’s how it is. Unsplash is now how it is for us. As I said earlier, we adapt, or we die.

My favorite example of hypocrisy was when one of the biggest photography blogs wrote an article about the damage Unsplash is doing to photography. However, in the same article, they admitted that their site had used images from Unsplash for their articles. If that isn’t the perfect description of irony, I don’t know what is.

Education (or ranting at people who couldn’t care less)

I have heard many terms like, ‘we need to educate people about this,’ ‘people need to stop being so stupid,’ ‘how can people let their photography be exploited?’

Whilst this is a noble cause, there are huge issues here.

The biggest is the fact that rather than educate, people tend to rant and belittle. Calling people stupid does not help educate them. The fact is, many of them are educated on the facts and choose to do it regardless. They don’t need your approval and trying to tell them they are wrong will achieve nothing but make an enemy of them.

Many people do not want photography careers. Many love the fact that people appreciate their imagery, and that is enough for them.

Photography for many is a passion and an art. Charging for their work takes away their reasons for doing it. Uploading to Unsplash, Pexels or to Flickr with a Creative Commons zero license is a way to get more peoples eyes on their work. And the feedback and likes are their rewards.

This is not wrong. Some people have to accept that others live their lives by different rules, with their own set of morals and they can do whatever they want with their photos. You might not agree, but that is life.

Finally, even if you are right (in your opinion), you cannot educate everybody. It is the equivalent of trying to push water uphill. Many will admire your determination, but unfortunately, in the end, it is futile.

Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Should I upload to Unsplash?

Rather than give a yes or no answer to this (I will leave that to you guys in the comments), I thought the best way to conclude this article was to look at what you need to be aware of when uploading to Unsplash. Things that you might not know that could help you make informed choices.

Exposure doesn’t pay the bills

Lots of photographers will have heard some variation of the following phrase: “We can’t afford to pay you, but it will be great exposure.”

The problem is, exposure doesn’t pay the bills. I can’t pay for my electricity with a photo credit. And, I can’t pay for my food with exposure either.

However, I have done work for exposure, to get in with the right people, that has lead to paid work. I wrote about this in a previous blog post.

There is no doubt that Unsplash provides photographers with great exposure. Unsplash is used by influential people every day. Being on the platform is a great way to get your work seen by these people. There are stories of people out there who, through their work on Unsplash, have been offered high-paid jobs with major clients. However, this is not the norm.

Unsplash, will more than likely not make you any money. Microstock may make you a small amount of money, but without a huge library, this is not an income you can use to start saving for a Ferrari. In fact, you will probably struggle to buy a toy Ferrari.

It is important to go into this with this in mind.

You will not get the respect you deserve

People who use your images will generally not bother to credit you. Most of them will not even care about you. You may end up on the cover of a high-end magazine and never even know about it. For better or worse, this is how Unsplash works. Your photos are free, and they will be treated as such. Your work (and by extension you) will generally be given zero respect.

Zack Arias summed this up best in one of his videos on the subject of Unsplash. He tells the story of a woman whose photo was used on a gift guide for a major UK bridal publication. The photographer was not informed about this or offered a copy of the magazine for her portfolio. Instead, she simply happened to stumble across it when browsing magazines in a coffee shop. This magazine’s full-page ad rate is £10,000, and she did not even get a photo credit or an email to thank her. This shows you the value placed on your work.

The thrill of getting featured can lose a little shine when you look at it like this.

Sasha • Stories on Unsplash

The people problem

This is the educational part. The Unsplash license does not cover the use of an identifiable person in a commercial setting. You, as the photographer, are liable. If a photo ends up being used commercially via Unsplash and you do not have a model release, then you had better have deep pockets (and a good legal team), because if the subject in the photo objects, you are in big trouble.

A model release should be completed by anyone whose photo you plan to upload to Unsplash, even family members or partners. A partner can soon become an angry ex-partner with a grudge. If a photo of them you uploaded to Unsplash gets used commercially, you may end up in a world of pain.

A simple Google search will help you find an appropriate model release. There are also many model release apps. This allows you to digitally store the release and allow the model to sign it on your phone. Simply put, there is no excuse for not using a model release; you need to protect yourself. This should be something you always do when photographing models, Unsplash or not.

Is Unsplash really ruining photography?

Is Unsplash ruining photography? No. It’s changing it.

Photography, like many industries, is in constant flux. It is disrupting traditional income models, but I think microstock was much more disruptive.

Is Unsplash taking advantage of people? Again, it depends on your point of view.

The people who upload to Unsplash know what they are doing. Some may be naive in thinking this is the easy way to photography stardom. However, I bet that for some of them, it will be the start of a great career. Just because it is different, doesn’t always make it wrong.

What do you think? Share with us in the comments below.

 

Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers?

The post Is Unsplash Really an Issue for Photographers? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography?

The post How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

An image from my first wedding. One of the scariest days of my life.

How do you know when you’re ready to start charging for your photography?

When someone is willing to pay you for them.

There you go. In twenty-two words, I have answered one of the most-asked questions in photography.

In all seriousness though, that is pretty much it.

You only have to look at the story of many photographers and how they started. They simply took an offer to get paid, fearing they were not ready.

Let’s be honest right out of the gate. You will be nervous as hell – probably convinced you are a fraud – and will be fearful of delivering the images to the client. Awaiting their reaction, you may wonder why anyone would pay you to take photos. This is natural and is more commonly known as “imposter syndrome.”

Imposter syndrome

To put it simply, it is the feeling that your work isn’t very good and doesn’t deserve the attention it gets. Albert Einstein also suffered from this, so if this sounds like you, you are in good company.

The truth is, people who are highly skilled or accomplished tend to think others are just as skilled. Because you see what you do as simple, you don’t see the vast amount of skill involved in the work you do. You take it for granted because it comes so easily to you.

It is also human nature to be more critical of your own work than that of others. Put this into a world of social media where everyone is #livingtheirbestlife, and there is what appears to be a never-ending stream of amazing images you see as better than yours. Now you have the perfect storm.

The fact that Einstein suffered from this shows there seems to be no level of accomplishment that makes you able to see worth in what you do. In some cases, higher accolades and awards make things worse.

You just need to remember you are skilled in what you do and your work is good.

Unfortunately, if you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may never be able to rid yourself of it. However, there are things you can do to make it easier. Tactics include talking with others about your issues and taking note of the positive feedback you get. People don’t have to say nice things about your work; they say them because they mean it!

Most importantly, remember that almost everybody suffers from this in one respect or another. I suffer from this badly. Repeatedly, I think my work is awful and wonder why people want to pay me to take their photographs. I convince myself that unless I have taken the best photograph in the history of photography of whatever I am shooting, then it is a failure.

Luckily, I have a great family who support me through the tough times and remind me that people pay for my work because I am a good photographer.

Band portrait again grunge background

I had shot lots of bands, but few band portraits at this point. They were nervous as I had photographed artists they loved. I was nervous because they were paying me for portraits. Imposter syndrome at its finest.

Fake it til you make it – except for weddings! 

There is always a huge element of “fake it til you make it.” You sometimes need to have faith in yourself and go for it. Standing at the edge of the diving board is the worst place to be because you have time to think. Sometimes you need to jump off and try your best. At times it will be graceful, sometimes you may bellyflop. However, in reality, all that is hurt is your pride (and your belly obviously).

Let’s say a friend asks you to photograph their kids because they have seen photos on your Facebook and want some of their kids. They are happy to pay you for the photos too.

My advice is to go for it.

Let’s say the worst happens, and the photos turn out to all be awful (this is more than likely not going to happen. Even if you do not get loads of great shots, you should get a few keepers).  All you do is own up and say you are not happy with the photos and they deserve better. The only thing that is an issue is you have to give up more time to retake the photos.

Photographing a family portrait is the perfect example of when fake it until you make it is okay. Shooting a wedding, however, is not!

The fact that weddings are a one-off event and if you are not 100% certain you can deliver, then you shouldn’t do it.

I have seen (as I am sure many of you have) people on Facebook groups asking questions like “I’m photographing my first wedding next week, I have this lens and that lens. Which will be better? Also, do I need a flash?”

This is irresponsible. You need a certain level of skill and knowledge to photograph a wedding, especially if you are getting paid for it. You cannot gain the knowledge to photograph a wedding by asking questions in a Facebook group a few days before the event. You need to have it before you take on a wedding.

There are always news stories about a wedding photographer getting sued for ruining a couple’s wedding day. Please don’t become one of those. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to photograph a wedding, you probably aren’t.

With that said, your knowledge does not have to be in wedding photography. I know lots of photographers who have never photographed a wedding, but I am sure they would do an awesome job. As a starting point, you need to know how to photograph in a variety of lighting situations. You need to know how to solve exposure issues your camera may throw up, and you need some spare gear in case your main camera dies.

You need a headshot to apply to acting school? Of course, I can (I had no idea).

What equipment do I need if I’m NOT shooting a wedding?

For most photography there are three simple questions:

  • Do you have a camera?
  • Do you have a lens?
  • Do you have a memory card?

If you answered yes to the above three questions, then you have the right equipment to be paid for your photography. Will a variety of lenses and gear make things easier? Yes, but a beginner DSLR with a kit lens is more than capable of producing beautiful images people will be happy to pay you for. 

What equipment do I need if I’m shooting a wedding?

As with the knowledge requirements above, the gear requirements for shooting a wedding are different. A wedding requires a different amount of equipment. The most important is to have two camera bodies. If you have one camera body and something goes wrong, you are in a mess. A spare camera body may not be needed, but it is better not to need something and have it there than to need it desperately and it not be there.

In terms of lenses, most wedding photographers tend to go for two f/2.8 zoom lenses or two to three prime lenses. What is best for you depends on how you like to shoot. Fast lenses are always best for weddings as you can use wider apertures to get more light into the camera in low light scenarios such as dark churches.

For those of you looking for specifics, a zoom lens shooter will use a 24-70 f/2.8 and a 70-200 f/2.8. They may also have a prime lens with an even larger aperture for situations where there is really poor light.

A prime lens shooter mostly works with a 35mm and an 85mm. They may also have a 135mm or a 24mm. These are generally f/1.8 or faster.

Now again these are the basics. I have not included flashes, memory cards, hard drive backups, etc.

I will take this opportunity to remind you again; you really do need a high level of skill and equipment to be able to shoot a wedding. It is hard work if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, it is like a 12-hour waking nightmare.

camping pods in rural England

Want me to shoot your camping space. Of course, I can. It will be…The first part of the sentence was easy. Asking for the money was always harder. In this case, the client said, “I was expecting to pay more than that.”

What should I charge?

Now for those of you starting to charge, you will always wonder how much should I ask? When you are first starting, you may photograph for an incredibly low rate, and that’s fine.

No matter what some may say, you are not ruining the photography industry by charging $100 including all the images when you are starting out. The truth is, people looking for photography at that price point are not going to be purchasing from photographers who charge thousands of dollars for a photo shoot.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer. My first family shoot I charged £50 including the images. My first full wedding I charged £500. Would I charge that now? Of course not. However, at the time, I got some cash, I built my portfolio, and most importantly it built my confidence.

The follow on question is how do you know when you are ready to charge more? Again this is down to you, your ability to deliver beautiful images and your confidence.

The moment I decided to raise my prices was when I was paid £600 to photograph a wedding where the couple had spent over £10,000. They didn’t book me for my price; they loved my work.

After that wedding, I doubled my wedding prices.

This led to more inquiries. Not only that, but I also received inquiries for the type of weddings I wanted to photograph. Was I convinced that raising my prices that much would mean no-one would book me? Of course, but they did, and I eventually raised them again. You just have to be confident, and remember, your prices are something you can easily change.

A photo from one of my first family photoshoots. I got paid the grand total of £50 including all images. Even then, I convinced myself I might be overcharging.

Conclusion

There you have it. You are now ready to start charging. Or, maybe you’re not.

The fact remains that in most situations when people offer to pay you, you are ready. The only thing that might mean you are not is you and your confidence.

You might be the type of person who will happily throw yourself off the 10m diving board and see what happens. Or, you might be the type of person who starts on the side of the pool and works your way up until you are at the 10m mark, confident you won’t bellyflop.

However, at some point, you need to leap. It will be scary, but I promise you, it won’t be as scary as it is in your head.

 

The post How Do You Know When You’re Ready to Start Charging for Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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