The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer

The post The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Avoiding photographing people

My dad had a lovely Zeiss camera. The kind with bellows that folded up into a compact unit. It took 120 roll film. I used this camera to photograph my brother’s band, playing an outdoor gig when I was 17. These 12 exposures filled my first roll of film.

Photography became my passion. Having a camera in my hand excited me and taught me to view the world around me in new ways. I would visualize and compose photos in my imagination even when I didn’t have my camera with me.

I photographed old rusty things, beaches, skies, mountains, and flowers, among other subjects – but never people.

rusty wheel DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Cira. 1983 Scanned from slide film © Kevin Landwer-Johan

People were well outside of my comfort zone – especially strangers.

Dealing with that uncomfortable feeling

“I don’t want to impose on others.”

This is the most common reason I hear from photographers about why they don’t photograph people.

Overcoming the fear of imposing, and settling the butterflies in your stomach is possible. Focused effort is required, but the results are well worth it.

The purpose of this Ultimate Guide is to teach you practical methods for photographing people, no matter how shy you are.

Photography is so much more than choosing the best lens and camera settings. Connecting with your subject is vital, particularly when you’re photographing people. If this is challenging for you, digging deep is essential – deep into your feelings of fear that invade your mind when you want to make a portrait.

Concentrate on the positive. Focus in on what’s attracted you. Why do you want to make that person’s portrait? Before you even approach someone or put your camera to your eye, clear your mind of doubt. Settle your thoughts and have a positive attitude towards what you are doing. Training your mind to think like this you will in time be able to control the feelings of self-doubt and fear of imposing.

Learn to recognize your negative thoughts that disrupt your intentions. Jump on them fast. The more consistently you can do this, the more successful you will be.

Only entertain your positive thoughts. As you do, your actions become automatic and relaxed. You will find it’s not stressful to approach people and to photograph them.

The more you do anything, the easier it becomes.

Practice training your mind to replace the fear of imposing with positive thoughts. Think about having a pleasant interaction with your subject. Reinforce your initial ideas of why you’ve chosen to photograph them. Let your mind fill with the intent to succeed.

Make yourself concentrate on the photo you are planning to make. Zone in on your composition, lighting, exposure, and timing. When you do this, the rest of the world disappears for a while. Be in your own creative space in your head and heart, and nothing else will matter.

This may sound a little abstract and not what you’re used to reading in a photography article, but I assure you, as you focus your mind and practice these techniques, you will become a better photographer.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Woman Meditating on a red sofa

Focus your mind. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Start with your camera

Knowing how to use your camera with confidence is your first step. If you’re not comfortable using your camera you’re not likely to enjoy photographing people.

Use your camera every day. Make a habit of taking at least one or two photos a day. You’ll find it’s addictive in the very best ways. Having a creative release is good for your soul. Your creative imagination will develop as you use it. The more you practice, the more your artistic style will begin to emerge.

Frequent contact is key. Have your camera in your hands at least once a day. You will become intimate with it. Your fingers and thumbs will feel the shapes of the dials and buttons. You will develop your subconscious memory of where each control is. As you learned fast enough where the on/off switch is, you’ll be able to find all the essential camera controls before long.

Pick a time each day to use your camera. I am sure if you think about it you will fit in ten or twenty minutes to be creative. Perhaps when you commute to work or school, during your lunch break or before dinner. Making it the same time each day helps you to form this good habit. Routine, especially at first, is helpful. I know if you work at this, by the end of the first month you will have a good foundation to build on. You will have developed a positive new habit. Moreover, you will see the quality of your photography improve.

The subject matter is not as relevant at first. Don’t even think about photographing people. Your goal in taking photos every day is to learn to love your camera and use it with confidence.

Experiment. Imagine. Express what you see. This will become a natural time of learning and growth. Sometimes you may feel frustrated at not being able to create the image that’s in your head. This is the time to learn more about controlling your camera so you can make it do what you want it to. Use various lens focal lengths. Choose different angles and composition techniques.

Combining some photography study often will result in more rapid growth. There are so many books, magazines, websites, and courses you can learn from. Find a way of learning that you’re comfortable with and set to study a little and often.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Asian woman photographer

Experiment. Imagine. Express what you see. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Now focus on your subject

Building proficiency using your camera will often prepare you to photograph people. You need to be comfortable and confident you have the settings right.

Concentrating on your camera more than your subject is a common mistake. It’s easy to be distracted by your camera, especially for shy people. Not engaging with someone when you want to make their portrait leads to a disconnect. This is often noticeable in the resulting portrait.

You don’t want to leave the person looking at the top of your head as you peer down at your camera as you make adjustments.

Set your camera as much as possible before you engage with your subject. Then you will be giving them your attention without distraction. Don’t make your camera an excuse not to communicate. It’s not there to shield you from the world. Use it as a bridge to help you connect with your subjects.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Asian woman photographer

Be comfortable and confident. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

How to overcome your insecurities

“One of the easiest ways to overcome shyness is to become a photographer.” – David Hurn, photographer

Years ago, I heard an interview with a photographer saying they thought shy people make the best portrait photographers. This was because the resulting photo will be more about the subject than about the photographer. As a shy person who liked photography, this interested me. It challenged me.

British photographer, David Hurn, talks about being shy in this interview with Huck magazine.

“I’m incredibly shy. Photography is the best thing for shy people because you have something to hide behind. The problem with shy people is that you don’t want to be rejected. So your safeguard is that you go into yourself. But with a camera, you have an excuse to be somewhere. So when you’re walking down the street and looking in a doorway at a whole load of people, being tattooed or something, with a camera, you can walk in and suddenly say, ‘Do you mind if I shoot some pictures?’ And if you show a genuine interest in what people are doing, I have never known anyone to say no. People love you being interested in them. The camera gives you that excuse to be there. It breaks through that barrier.”

Why do you think David Hurn never had anyone say no to him? I believe it’s because of his approach. He has determination and a gentle manner.

He knows what he wants to achieve and the photos he wants to capture. Concentrating on his goal, he uses the camera as his reason to step into people’s situations, and into their lives. He is sure about what he wants, and he works with focused confidence to do it.

Having purpose will push you further, faster, in anything you want to achieve in life. It is no different for photography. If you have a well-defined purpose for what you want to accomplish, it can become a reality. If you drift about without direction, it takes a long time to achieve anything.

Photographer and Model DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Photography is the best thing for shy people. © Pansa Landwer-Johan

Take your time

Taking your time is not a bad thing. If you’re worried you will miss the photo, it means you haven’t started your preparation soon enough. Every genre of photography requires patience and anticipation. The better you know your camera, the faster you’ll have it set and ready in any circumstance. Take time to learn manual mode. This will not only give you more control of your exposures, but it will also help you see life at a different pace.

It is true that automatic settings on your camera can help you take photos faster. You may be able to capture the action, but not the mood. Slow down and take notice of more than your camera settings. This is how you will learn to capture atmosphere.

Don’t think you always have to be fast with your camera. Doing so can be a distraction from truly experiencing photography.

Some of the best street photography appears to have happened in a snap, but this is rarely so. Planning and preparation. Choice of light and location. Waiting. These qualities factor into more great street photos than sheer speed. Those fleeting moments when all the elements align in the viewfinder are anticipated.

Fishermen on a bridge DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Take your time. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your camera will help overcome your reluctance

Your camera is your bridge to the other side of shyness. It allows you to traverse the distance between your intention to photograph someone and the actual portrait. It not only makes the picture, but it connects you with your subject.

Speaking to a stranger for no particular reason is very difficult for many people. Having a camera in your hands is a wonderful reason to speak with someone. Your camera is the solution to your problem of not wanting to approach people. When you come to realize this and learn to use your camera as a bridge, you will cross over into a whole new world of wonderful, creative experience.

Photographing people when your mind is focused on them, and not on your camera, transforms the experience.

My camera gets me to the other side, away from my insecure thoughts and into a conversation with the person. It is a reason for me to be where I am and to start conversations.

Use your camera as a means to introduce yourself and begin an interesting discussion. Don’t hide behind your camera fiddling with its controls. Be prepared and bold with it. Your camera will fulfill your purpose.

Express your intention to take a photograph with an appropriate amount of confidence. Doing this will open the way for you. Focus on your subject and their response to you.

When you approach someone in a self-assured way, it will be evident. If you appear to be unsure of yourself, your subject will often reflect this behavior back to you.

Self-assured communication with your subjects is important. It is as necessary as being confident with the technical aspects of photography.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers street market photographer interacting with a vendor

Your camera is your bridge to the other side of shyness. © Pansa Landwer-Johan

Choose who you want to photograph based on how receptive they will be

Stepping into the street to photograph strangers for the first time is a daunting prospect.  It is not something many people find particularly easy. Don’t start there. Begin photographing someone you know and who appreciates what you are doing.

Friends or family members can be your best option. Someone you know and who enjoys having their photograph taken. People who like seeing their image are always the easiest to make portraits of. They are relaxed in front of the camera and are more likely to give you expressive feedback on your photos.

Finding someone you can photograph on a number of different occasions will help you learn. You will connect with them more each time you meet for a photo session. As you grow in confidence using your camera, you will find it becomes more natural to connect with people.

Take your camera to social gatherings – birthdays and other celebrations. Weddings, graduations, parties, church barbecues or the pub. Whatever social activities you engage in. Over time, you will begin to get more of a feel for the people who are easy to photograph.

Take your time. Make a start. Remain determined and practice as often as you can. Repetition will build your camera and your communication skills.

As you practice, be aware of how you are connecting, and the types of response people give you. Learn to read and understand the social dynamic having your camera in hand creates. Naturally, people will respond to you differently than if you are only having a conversation. Developing your perception of people’s reactions to your camera will help you when you come to photograph strangers.

Kevin Landwer-Johan Showing Akha people their photos DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Repetition will build your camera and your communication skills. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Communicate well

Communicating your desire to photograph someone in an apt manner is imperative. This is a point of failure for many people. I cringe when I hear photographers speak inappropriately to the people they are photographing. Your portrait depends so much on the relationship you have with your subject. Even if that relationship only lasts a minute or two.

Being pleasant is vital to becoming a good people photographer – particularly if you want to become a wedding and portrait photographer. The way you communicate, your manner, and even your body language are important. Your clients notice these things. If they are comfortable with you, they respond well. Their body language and facial expressions will reflect this back to you.

Your manner of communication depends on your state of mind. When you are worried about camera settings and the lighting, you are not so likely to communicate best. Put the technical thoughts aside before you start to engage with the people you want to photograph.

People love it when you show an interest in who they are and what they love to do. Genuine curiosity is natural in photographers, and you are best to develop this as much as you can. Make this aspect of your shyness work for you. Being keen, but yet a little reserved will endear you to people much more than being too bold will.

Photographer and Model in the Studio DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Show an interest in who people are. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Develop your camera skills with a project

Once you commit to a photography project, you have a theme or concept to work on. Sticking to your chosen topic and building a body of photographs allows you to track your development. Choosing to photograph a people project helps you build your confidence too.

Working on a long term project, you will experiment more with your camera and photography techniques. Push the boundaries and explore camera settings you don’t often use. This will allow you to produce a more diverse and interesting series of photographs.

As you build up a collection of images, you’ll be able to review and compare them. This will identify the skills you need to work on. It will also encourage you to see the areas where you are improving.

Over time, you will build up a significant collection of photos, both good and bad. Mostly bad. Don’t beat yourself up about this. It happens to every photographer. The more bad photos you take, the more good ones you will also create. Scrutinizing your photos over an extended period allows you to chart your progress.

Keep everything. Do not delete images in camera. The key is being organized. If you dump them all in a folder on your computer, this will not help. You’ll not be able to discern the nature of your progress.

Each time you work on your project, load the photos onto your computer and separate the top 10%-20% of the photos – the ones you are most happy with. Then separate into another folder, the ones you recognize as having potential and that you’d like to work on. Making notes for yourself during this process will help keep you on track and make it more beneficial.

Reviewing and comparing your photos like this can be challenging. You need to acknowledge the areas of weakness. Your photos will show you this. Having a more experienced photographer, someone who can mentor you through this process will be a huge advantage. They will be able to point out to you aspects of your work you may not be able to see so clearly.

Woman at the market with motion blur behind her DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Develop Your Camera Skills with a Project. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Develop your relational skills

As you spend time with the same people, the relationship develops. Committing to a photography project involving the same people, you will build a closer relationship. This is true if you are photographing a family member or people at your local market.

Building relationships takes time. With a photography project, you will have to make time for it to be effective. Returning to photograph the same people and/or the same location a familiarity will develop.

On the street

Stand on the same busy street corner and photograph people enough, and you will begin to build some form of relationship. You’ll become familiar with the feel of the place.

Learn to anticipate what’s happening and see the rhythm. Picking the same time of day when the light is right, you will start to see the same people passing by during their daily routines. They may start to notice you. If they see you often enough, they will not likely pay you any attention, unless you want it.

All it takes, when you catch someone’s eye who has become a little familiar to you, is to smile. They will probably return one to you. Next time they see you, they may show interest and inquire what you are doing.

Connecting with people on the streets becomes more natural when they see you with your camera often. Some won’t show interest, but many will. The locals, the regulars, people who frequent the same location, are the most obvious ones to connect with.

These are the ones you can begin building a relationship with. Tell them you’re working on a photography project documenting your local neighborhood (or whatever your theme is). This will endear them because people like to feel included. We are designed to communicate with one another.

Even if you are a shy person, you can learn to use your camera as a bridge to achieve your purpose.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Kebab Chef in Istanbul

Connect with people. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

With a friend or family member

Photographing a friend or family member as a project, you will also develop your relationship with them. However they respond to you first, and how you relate to each other will change subtly each time you get together.

Show them some of your photos on your phone. They will be more confident when they can see the photos you’ve already taken. Don’t talk too long about what you’re doing; you want the attention to be on them.

You are best to have set your camera as much as possible before you meet with the person. If that’s not possible, ask them to give you a few minutes to set up. Doing this gives you space to scope out good light and background and to make the necessary camera tweaks.

Once you are happy with the light, background and your camera settings, it’s time to give most of your attention to your subject. Straighten their clothes a little, or get them to fix their hair, (unless it’s already perfect). Giving them this attention will help them feel better about themselves and build their confidence in you.

If it’s someone you don’t know well, ask them open-ended questions about themselves. Get to know them a little more. Make sure you start them talking.

If they are extroverts, they will love talking about themselves.

If they are introverts, you can help them get started, and they will feel more comfortable.

Attractive Young Woman DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Get to know the people you are photographing a little more. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Focus on asking questions that a simple yes or no won’t answer. Pay attention to what they are telling you. Do not be looking down at your camera. Focus on their story. Show them you’re interested.

Compliment what they are wearing or something else about the way they look. Aim to build up a positive atmosphere, especially if you sense they are feeling uneasy. Many people do not feel self-assured when being photographed. It’s an important part of your job to help them relax. The better they feel the more attractive they will look in the photos you take.

Initially, they may be shy also and feel awkward in front of your camera. Don’t worry about this. Make a bunch of photos and concentrate on relating to them. If you screw up and don’t get any decent images, use this as a lesson. Show them. Let them see what you are doing right and wrong.

Include them in your project, make it a team effort. The more they feel part of what you are doing the better photos you’ll end up taking. If you’ve messed up your settings, show them the photos and explain a little about what happened. Then make the same series of photos again.

Learning to communicate in such a manner that you help people enjoy the process of being photographed will benefit you and your subjects. Everybody enjoys seeing themselves looking good. Their feeling must precede their looks in your photos. If they don’t feel good about themselves, it’s likely they will not appreciate the photos you make of them.

At times your subject will be too uncomfortable. You won’t manage to make a flattering photo of them because of their tension. Show them the photos. Explain that the tension shows on their face and if they relax, they will like the photos you make of them.

People don’t usually look nervous when they view themselves in the bathroom mirror each morning. So when they see photos of themselves looking tense, it’s very unnatural to them. They do not perceive the image as a good likeness of who they are.

Working like this and showing off less than your best photos may be challenging, but it will help you grow.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Smiling woman wearing a straw hat

Everybody enjoys seeing themselves looking good. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photograph at social gatherings

Take your camera along to birthday parties, drinks after work, your kid’s sports events, or any place where people socialize. Doing so provides wonderful opportunities for people photography. When you can mix with the same people regularly, they will become accustomed to you being there with your camera.

For many people, this may seem a huge challenge. Think positively about it. Approach the situation and the people with a constructive attitude and with reasonable expectations. You will most likely find people will enjoy what you are doing, particularly when you start sharing your photos with them.

Be determined to work through your feelings of discomfort. Your first experience taking photos at a social gathering might be very difficult. Most of your uneasiness will be in your mind. If you give up after your first attempt, you will not know success. The more often you are present with your camera, the more confident you will become and the better photographs you will make.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Be determined to work through your feelings of discomfort. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Become a volunteer photographer

Do you go to church, a temple or a mosque? Are you or your kids a member of a sports club? Do you help out at a local animal shelter or participate in community events? All of these provide a fabulous opportunity to offer your services as a photographer.

Every group or organization loves to have good photographs. Putting yourself forward as a volunteer photographer can be a great experience. Here your camera really is your bridge.

Providing photos for a group or organization can be one of the best ways to build your confidence. Your commitment is greater because other people are relying on you.

Making it clear you are still learning is important. So long as they know this then you have the opportunity to improve over time. In the future, you will be producing wonderful photographs for the community you are volunteering for.

Ballet Dancing DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Offer your services as a photographer. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Travel portrait projects

I teach many people who mainly take photographs when they travel. They join our workshops, and many are too timid to photograph people. Or they prefer to stand well back and take candid pictures with a long lens.

Don’t be concerned if you can’t speak the language. Often this can be to your advantage. Use your camera as a bridge. When people see the smile on your face and even a slight gesture with your camera, they will know your intention. Hopefully, they will return your smile. This is permission to photograph them.

Non-verbal communication like this requires that you watch facial expression and body language. Some cultures may smile and mean ‘no.’ So long as you are observant and polite, you will be okay.

Myanmar Market Vendor DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Use your camera as a bridge. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

The candid option

Certain situations are best photographed without communicating with a person. Candid photography definitely has its place.

Choosing to stand back with a long lens attached to your camera and making candid images is okay when the circumstances are right. The photos you create using this technique will usually be void of subject/photographer connection.

Disturbing people who are engrossed in a conversation or their work breaks the natural flow of life. A candid photo will be more suitable than interrupting.

Artists and craftspeople at work are subjects best left to their creative endeavors. They are focused and passionate about what they are doing. A quick recognition and acknowledgment from them that they are comfortable with you photographing are best. A nod and a smile from you and their smile in return will not break their workflow or concentration. So long as you are not disrupting them, you will be able to capture intriguing portraits of them.

Choosing to work candidly should be a conscious decision because it’s going to produce the best photographs. Opting to capture images of people stealthily because you are too shy to communicate is never the best option.

Poi Sang Long Festival DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Candid photography definitely has its place. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Those not really candid photographs

At times you’ll find yourself in situations where you want candid photographs, but it’s just not possible. When people know you are there with your camera, truly-candid cannot happen. Capturing natural-looking photos of people in these circumstances is challenging, but not impossible.

When you are ‘the’ photographer

Weddings, portrait sessions, and similar situations do not allow for real candid photos. You have to be able to communicate well and arrange candid-looking images.

Most people like natural-looking photos. The skill is in controlling the circumstances so you get the results you want. This means you must know what you want and be able to relate your ideas clearly to the people you are photographing.

With couples, it’s easy. Just get them talking to each other. Encourage them to forget you’re there and then offer them a conversation starter. Ask them to recall the first time they met, or when they proposed to each other. If you want to lighten the mood and capture some laughter and smiles, ask them something fun.

Once you have them talking, don’t hold back on the photos. You are going to need to take a lot of pictures. What’s happening is more unpredictable, so you need the quantity to get enough quality photos.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Asian Buness Woman Phone Call

Aim to capture natural expression. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

You will throw most of them out, but the ones you keep will be relaxed, natural, and vibrant. I used this technique whenever I photographed weddings. It helped produce the most interesting, un-posed photos.

I would use a longer lens, often my 180mm, so I could stay at a bit of a distance, but not too far away. That way, I could still talk with the couple but be far enough back so as not to be in their personal space.

Another wedding technique I used for semi-candid portraits was to get the groom to stand behind me and off to one side. While photographing the bride, I would get them to look at each other and have a conversation. If the groom was somehow stuck for things to say I would make suggestions, often a little rude. This worked well for getting fun, relaxed facial expressions. Then I would swap the bride and groom, and photograph him while they continued their conversation.

Photographing individual portraits is more challenging as you can’t draw attention away from yourself so easily. If you have someone else with you, an assistant or friend, you can prime them to be the distraction. Before you begin, let them know they will have a role to play when you want some more candid-looking photos. Coach them a little so that they will be prepared. When you’re ready, direct your subject’s attention and conversation to your helper.

Working alone is when your communication skills are the most important. Your ability to converse and take photos at the same time will be put to the test. You have to give full concentration to both your subject and what you are doing with your camera.

The practice is again the key in learning how to build your communication skill so you can get candid-looking portraits. It takes time and effort. As you try certain techniques and figure out what works and what doesn’t, you will develop your communication skill set. You will become more confident and effective.

Sad Young Asian Woman DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Develop your communication skill set. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Semi-candid street photography

Semi-candid street photos can be made successfully with a short lens and the right technique. You don’t need to keep your distance and remain in the shadows. Get close, be observant, relaxed, and normal.

People at our local markets know me now. They sell me vegetables, and many of them know I will take their photo some days. They might shy away, or they might pose.

I like to create a mixture of candid and posed photos when I am doing street photography. However, being conspicuous means, I have to employ certain techniques so that I am not the center of attention. Often there are not many other foreigners at the markets, so I stand out.

Often I will engage with someone I want to photograph. Generally, they will stop what they are doing, smile, and pose. This is what they perceive I want. I will take their picture anyway. I’ll make sure it’s well exposed, sharp and flattering. Then I will show them on my camera monitor. Most often they are happy, and we’ll chat a little before I move on.

Once I have moved on, I will wait a short time and then head back near to where they are. They will think my focus is elsewhere because I already have their photo.

Hopefully, they will not pay any attention to me. This is when I get the photos I really want.

Over the years, I have listened to and read of many photojournalists who aspire to be as invisible as possible. It can be a valuable skill to develop. You can learn to do it without actually having to hide your camera or stay a long way back from the action.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Create a mixture of candid and posed photos. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Giving back

Remember, your camera is the solution, not the problem. With your camera in hand, you have a purpose for being where you are and a reason to communicate with people.

You are not only taking a photograph but giving an interesting experience. If you are able to share your photos, then you are truly giving something of value to your subject.

Presenting prints to the people you photograph helps shape the way they see you. A set of small-sized prints is inexpensive and will be appreciated by most. If you capture a photo that’s worthy of enlarging this will have even more of an impact. The cost of an enlargement is insignificant compared to the joy it will bring your subject.

Collecting someone’s email or social media connection will also allow you to give back in a meaningful way. Some people may value this even more than prints because they can share a digital file.

Market porter with a photo of himself DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers

Your camera is the solution, not the problem. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Smile and say ‘hello’

I often walk the same way at the markets when teaching our photography workshops. I’d been noticing this one older man. His face was interesting, but he seemed shy and would not make eye contact with me. He had a small stand selling traditional northern Thai sticky rice. I decided I would smile and say hello to him each time I passed with the hope he would become familiar with me.

I did this for a while, and one day when my wife was helping me teach a workshop, I told her what I had been doing. As we approached him, she smiled and asked if we could make his portrait. She had the charm! He placed his hands on the big bowl of sticky rice, pushed his shoulders back, and smiled warmly for us. We made some lovely portraits of him.

Not long after this, I had another lovely encounter with a woman who was selling sticky rice at the same stall. Each time we visited the markets, we’d have a lovely conversation with this woman. She was friendly and relaxed, quite happy to be photographed. Having not seen the man at the stall for a few months, one day I asked her about him.

Her face dropped, and her eyes looked so sad. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I felt so terrible. The man was her husband. She told me that he’d passed away suddenly. Then a glimmer of hope appeared in her eyes, and she asked me if I’d made his portrait. I assured her I had and would bring her a print.

Normally when we print photos to give out, we get regular size prints. For this lady, we had an enlargement made and had it framed. She was very grateful. The next time I passed by she told me she had hung the portrait of her husband above her bed.

The moral of the story is, you never know how much you might bless someone by being bold enough to make their portrait. Think of what you do in a positive light. Sure, you will come across some people who do not want their photograph taken. As you practice building your confidence, your success rate will increase.

DPS Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for Shy Photographers Sticky rice vendor

You never know how much you might bless someone. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

The post The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

“Photography Business Secrets” – A Review

"Photography Business Secrets," by Lara White is a great business resource for any photographer looking to grow their business.

“Photography Business Secrets,” by Lara White is a great resource for any photographer looking to grow their business.

With just a few weeks left before the end of the year, I find myself deep in my annual wrap-up ritual. I don’t like carrying stuff over from December into January if I can avoid it. I make sure that shoots are edited, albums and prints are ordered, contracts are signed, gear is cleaned and serviced, and any other loose ends are taken care of. Transitioning from one year to the next isn’t just a matter of getting my “stuff” in order, but it’s also about getting my head in the right place for whatever challenges– photographic, business, or personal– the coming year might have in store for me.

I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. I think the end of the year is a good time for everybody to look ahead, setting goals for themselves and charting a course for where their photography business is going to take them after January 1st. I think that this pause to reflect on the current and future health of our businesses is particularly important for those of us in creative fields, because so many of us are simply not hard-wired for business to the same extent as we are for photography. One of the best new tools I’ve found for helping with these tasks is “Photography Business Secrets,” by Lara White. A former wedding photographer,  White is a leading expert in the field of photography business education. As founder and operator of PhotoMint, an online business development resource for photographers, her words of wisdom have now been published in more than 70 magazines and professional photography blogs, including right here at Digital Photography School.

When you think of your photography business, have you ever figured out how much of it is “photography,” and how much is actually “business?” White has, and the numbers might surprise you. On average, 20% or less of your time is spent on actual photography. And that’s a good week! With numbers like that, it is essential to get a proper handle on the business end of things. After all, the term “starving artist” started somewhere, right? Passion alone isn’t going to cut it.

Ready to Give Up Your Day Job?


If your photography plans for next year include ditching your 9-to-5, Section 1 of this book is absolutely required reading. In “Moving from a Hobby to a Business,” Lara walks you through three chapters full of the information you need, questions you need to ask, and steps you need to take before you even think about giving your two weeks notice. This is a big decision, with life-changing ramifications– especially if you have a family that enjoys eating and having a roof over their heads.

This is the perfect chance to get valuable advice from someone who has been where you are and lived to tell the tale. By giving readers a realistic view of some of the issues that can impact transitioning from a hobby to a career, readers are assured very early on that this book has their best interests at heart. Gaining the training and experience you need, as well as figuring out your market, are just a few of the key factors addressed.

Business School for Photographers


In my previous life as lawyer, my biggest complaint was that law school did nothing to prepare me for the actual day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts of practicing law. Becoming a professional photographer poses similar hurdles. Like any other profession, people tend to have a long list of preconceived notions of what it means to be a photographer. Remember that 80/20 time split I mentioned earlier? That’s just one of the things I’m talking about, and it’s why the seven chapters of “Business Fundamentals” make this such a valuable book–regardless of whether you are an emerging, struggling, or succeeding professional.

Section 2 takes you through the basics of drafting a business plan, calculating overhead, creating a budget, and more. Every journey starts somewhere, and yours as a professional needs to start with the steps that are designed to keep you both functional AND legal. Once those concerns have been addressed, you can move on to advanced business challenges like branding, pricing & products, customer service, and day-to-day operations.

I’m Up and Running. What’s Next?


It’s a pretty basic premise that you’re in business to make money. I love being an artist, but just being an artist doesn’t pay for my son’s education or the insurance premiums on the studio equipment. As much as I may hate the prospect of being a “businessman,” if I’m not willing to take on that responsibility, I’m going to fail before I even start.

Section 3 answers questions revolving around sales and growth, since the two are inextricably linked. The bottom line is that sales means growth. Tips on getting and increasing sales range from the seemingly obvious (be prompt, creative, and attentive), to running promotions and overcoming shyness. Using these tips to increase your cash flow will help get you over the next hurdle.

The chapter on “Growing Your Business” guides you through the processes of outsourcing, hiring staff, adding new services, and raising your prices. Here, White offers three case studies, showing how actual photographers have dealt with these issues, clearly demonstrating that these are real-life concerns, and not just theoretical exercises.

Looking Ahead


Sprinters can see the finish line within seconds of leaving the starting blocks. They go all out, giving it everything they’ve got, but they are going to run out of gas pretty quickly. Long-distance runners are in it for the long haul. It may sound like a cliché, but you want to run marathons, not 100-meter sprints. Learning to understand your clients, develop your style, and create marketing strategies isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Here is your chance to learn those skills without having to reinvent the wheel.

The Bottom Line

A lot of photography books come across my desk. The best among them speak to a broad audience, and this is definitely one of them. It is entirely possible that not every aspect of this book will apply to you or your photography business, but if you find even just a few lessons here that increase your business stability– and therefore your profitability– it will be well worth the $20.00 investment.

Photography Business Secrets: The Savvy Photographer’s Guide to Sales, Marketing, and More” is available at

The post “Photography Business Secrets” – A Review by appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek

I’ve watched a few of this guy’s videos and I have to say they’re quite funny. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

This video is by DigitalRev TV, hosted by, as he puts it in his YouTube profile, “an asian dude with British accent”. He covers 10 tongue in cheek signs that you might be a photo geek if . . .

So, are you?  I’m pretty sure I am but I’m usually the last one to bring a big camera to social events, or any camera at all. So maybe I’m a recovering one? There is hope!

Have any other signs you’d add to this list? Come clean, are you a Photo Geek too? It’s okay, you’re among friends here.



Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek

The post 10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek by appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek

I’ve watched a few of this guy’s videos and I have to say they’re quite funny. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

This video is by DigitalRev TV, hosted by, as he puts it in his YouTube profile, “an asian dude with British accent”. He covers 10 tongue in cheek signs that you might be a photo geek if . . .

So, are you?  I’m pretty sure I am but I’m usually the last one to bring a big camera to social events, or any camera at all. So maybe I’m a recovering one? There is hope!

Have any other signs you’d add to this list? Come clean, are you a Photo Geek too? It’s okay, you’re among friends here.



Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek

The post 10 Signs you Might be a Photo Geek by appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Exposure Handbook: Book Review

Digital Exposure HandbookThis revised edition of ‘Digital Exposure Handbook’ could well be the only book you’ll ever need in your digital photography adventures.

It begins as a guide to understanding camera settings and the basics of exposure, then moves on to putting this info into practice in a variety of situations. It teaches you how to cope with the quality, quantity and contrast of natural and artificial light, how to effectively use on-camera and external flash illumination, how to apply polarising and ND digital filters and concludes by teaching you how to enhance exposures in the digital darkroom.

Many enthusiasts buy advanced digital cameras, such as DSLRs, with little more knowhow than they had with their earlier cameras, most likely of the compact point-and-shoot variety. And the first thing that brings them unstuck is the matter of how to set the appropriate and/or correct exposure. This book will put you on the straight and narrow.

Author Hoddinott describes exposure as ‘the heartbeat of photography.’ He adds that ‘Understanding and being able to control exposure us critical to successful photography.’

Basically, exposure to a digital camera’s sensor is a combination of the length of time and the level of illumination impinging on the camera’s sensor. This depends on three settings: shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO setting.

While today’s digicams make the task of correctly exposing a shot a simple task, leaving the camera to do all the work removes you as the creator of the final image and result in your image making efforts becoming little more than ‘pleasing snapshots.’

Subjects covered: the book begins by explaining exposure basics; metering reflected and incident light with the camera’s own TTL system or a separate handheld meter and the differences between centre-weighted, spot and partial metering; image sensor types — from CCD to CMOS to Foveon and sensor size; dynamic range and its control; understanding histograms and how to manipulate them. At this point the book offers the little known fact that images saved in RAW format tend to have a greater latitude than the histogram indicates …

There are many tricks of the trade in the book’s pages: one is that by saving in RAW and exposing to the right of the histogram will lead to the image containing the majority of tonal values. The downloaded image will look too bright and washed out but final processing will leave the image looking correct.

High and low key images are discussed and the advice given that these types of images are best served by adjustment of the original exposure and not leaving the final rendering to software tweaking.

Also discussed: ISO sensitivity; understanding f stops; depth of field; hyperfocal distance; the use of shutter speeds when rendering motion; avoiding camera shake, how to blurr and how to freeze action; second guessing metering systems and how to adjust exposure compensation.

Many will get help from advice on understanding exposure mode programs such as auto, shutter and aperture priority as well as manual settings. Hoddinott claims that using manual exposure is the most flexible exposure mode but also ‘the one that relies most heavily on the photographer’s knowledge and input.’

I reached about a third of the book’s length and slowly became aware that it was far more than a basic guide to exposure and more a general primer to the ins and outs of digital photography, with chapters on viewfinders, file formats, composition, dealing with landscapes, architecture, wildlife, people, still life, abstracts and patterns, close ups,.

Then there follows detailed help in shooting subjects in ambient light, silhouettes, white balance, using reflectors, flash, filters, calibrating monitors, printing and the overall role of the digital darkroom.

While it is obvious from the latter two paragraphs that the book wanders off topic, it also results in it becoming more than just a primer on exposure.

As I’ve said, it could also be the only book you’ll ever need for digital photography!

Plenty of useful pictures. Perhaps some may find the 7 point type a little small!

Author: R Hoddinott.
Publisher: Ammonite Press.
Size: 15x21x1cm.
Length: 192 pages.
ISBN 978 1 90770 895 4.
Price: Get a price on the Digital Exposure Handbook at Amazon (currently 29% off).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Digital Exposure Handbook: Book Review

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Get 6 Days of Online Photography Training For Free This Week at Photo Week

photoweek_logo1.pngHere at dPS we are all about helping people of all experience levels to improve their photography.

This week we’re excited to see our friends at CreativeLIVE putting on a free online event that will help you do just that – it is called Photo Week and we think you’ll really love what is on offer.

Starting today and over the next 6 days CreativeLIVE have 50 amazing photographers coming into their studios to run full days of live workshop training on many many aspects of photography.

They’ve arranged the training into 3 tracks:

  • Wedding and Family – Explore the art — and business — of capturing life’s most important moments.
  • Portrait and Commercial – Learn how to delight commercial and editorial clients with these 20 workshops.
  • Create what you love – This series of 19 workshops covers everything you need to know about exploring your passion — whether it’s exploring toy cameras or getting back to the basics

The quality of trainers and training will be amazing – I hardly know where to begin with the lineup they’ve got. Here’s a quick screen shot of the instructors!


The best thing about Photo Week is it is all shown on the CreativeLIVE site for free throughout the week.

You can pay to get recordings if you can’t make all of the sessions you want to see or would like to play them back over and over again – but if there’s just a few sessions you want you can tune in when they are on and grab them completely for free.

See the full 6 day schedule and RSVP for Photoweek here.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Get 6 Days of Online Photography Training For Free This Week at Photo Week

Digital Still Life Photography [Book Review]

Digital Still Life PhotographyThis is a sumptuous book in a number of departments: it’s large, beautifully printed and full of useful, easily navigated information.

So why the word ‘digital’ in the book’s title?

Author Sint explains ‘I hate using Photoshop to correct my mistakes because I feel the time required to do so is both unproductive and unprofitable. … what I really love more than Photoshop is downloading pictures that I find pretty close to perfect the moment I open the image’s file.’

The book’s style is thoroughly disarming and direct to the point: when approaching a still life photograph the first step, Sint suggests, ‘is to spend a moment thinking about what type of photograph you are trying to create.’

He then describes the techniques in shooting simple setups on a plain background, the need for speed and the need to plan your shoot efficiently. After all, time is money and the more shots you can pack in per hour the higher your financial return. This book Sint affirms is about ‘how to make a living taking pictures …’

An initial step is to select a suitable shooting space. It should ideally be a big space, one that includes an office, shooting area, storage for props etc, conference area, makeup room and maybe a kitchen. However, in an effort to describe how little you really need, the author describes his own first studio: a room 250 square feet in area, containing his own twin bed, a dresser, small nightstand … with the remaining 225 square feet dedicated to the studio!

Next, you should assemble the necessary tools to make the space work: timber and the necessary power and hand tools; some form of canned compressed air or even a compressor and more. This is followed by three simple building projects: building a simple set flat; a diffusion screen; a light table.

The important subject of lighting gets serious attention, with tips on how to assemble and use a continuous light array, electronic flash, reflectors, barn doors and snoots, hair lights, scrims, a lighting umbrella etc. The variations in continuous and flash light are explained thoroughly and examples given as to which type suits what subjects.

To give an idea of the depth of detail found in the book, just go to pages 150 and 151 on clamps but not just ordinary clamps but ‘super clamps’! These can do so many more things on a still life shoot than merely position a light as they come in handy to build backgrounds etc.

More follows on soft and hard lighting, the colour of light sources, how to vary a lamp’s colour balance and filtration plus a useful primer on working with fluoro lighting and how to mix it with flash. Fluoros may be 20-30 per cent green in hue so you may filter the flash output with green gels and then add a magenta filter to the camera lens to bring everything back to a daylight balance.

A superb eight page section takes you step-by-step through the shoot of an expensive Cartier watch: how to pose it, light it, position fill lamps. And then there is the fundamental advice never to perform post editing on the original digital file: duplicate! And only work on a copy.

This book will be invaluable to the photographer who wants to move into the studio. Big time!

Author: S Sint.
Publisher: pixiq.
Distributor: Capricorn Link.
Size: 28x22x2cm.
Length: 271 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 4547 03273 3.
Price: Get a price on Digital Still Life Photography at Amazon (currently 50% off).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Digital Still Life Photography [Book Review]

Photographic Lighting [Book Review]

Photographic LightingIf you’re looking for a book that takes you through the mysteries of natural light, shadows and highlights … this is not the one.

Instead, it gives:

‘Expert advice on the basics of on-camera and off-camera flash photography. Professional guidance on choosing flash equipment and accessories. Advice on setting up a photographic studio in the home. Tips on postprocessing techniques to get the best results from flash photography.’

And not a moment too soon for many people. Let’s face it, flash is one of the most misunderstood and misused technologies in photography. Bar none!

And then again, you wouldn’t put a raw amateur into a situation where he or she has access to a battery of studio lamps. Even more chaos.

The book’s chapters:

  • The basics
  • On-camera flash
  • Off-camera flash
  • Using off-camera flash
  • The home studio
  • Putting it into practice
  • One speedlight, 13 looks
  • Postprocessing

The help begins in the first chapter by spelling out the basics of flash: Guide numbers; on camera TTL; the inverse square law explained; reading a histogram; white balance; the RAW format explained; using on-flash colour gels. And we’ve only touched on the basics.

Although the book is relatively small, I was surprised at the depth of info passed on within its pages.

By the time we reach the second chapter we begin to learn how an on-camera flash is set up, power output, battery needs, operational modes, use of diffusion and bounce operation, shutter sync etc.

Matters get even more serious when author Harrington explains ‘Getting the flash off your camera is one of the best things you can do to advance your photographic skills.’ Hear, hear! He goes on to describe the various accessories such as boom arms, flash umbrellas etc. One very useful section recommends using a dummy styrofoam head (purchasable from art supply stores) to run test sessions on how to light a portrait.

Actual off-camera flash shooting situations are discussed and mention is made of some interesting devices which may help: such as Radio Poppers and Pocket wizards that can fire your flash from a distance with no need to use a connecting PC cord.

Also touched on are convertible flash umbrellas: these can be used in a reflective style or in shoot-through style; when used as originally intended, the former can deliver ‘beautiful contrasty light …’, while the latter allows you to shape light ‘and add or subtract softness.’

The degree of detail in the book is admirable and, IMHO, would take the photographer up a notch or two in skills level.

With each chapter there are multiple illustrations to support the text of sufficient size and quality that you quickly see what the info is all about.

Another chapter on choosing lenses will be of help when expanding your optical arsenal. Take heed: ‘buy the best you can afford until you can afford better.’

And then, right in the middle of the book is the sage advice that ‘Film is not dead.’ This is supported by the advice to play around with fun film cameras like the Holga and its ilk.

Creativity is foremost in the book’s pages, with ideas on how to extract the utmost, even when flying with one engine, or even one flash and one reflector.

An important factor in any photography and most especially with flash is post processing; the book deals with file formats and software choices and then gets into detail on white balance as ‘one of the main reasons photographers shoot in RAW format.’

A pair of pop out hint cards at the back of the book suggest the maximum shooting range, f stop, shutter speed and ISO setting with varying flash Guide Numbers.

All in all, a very useful, pocketable guide book.

Author: R Harrington.
Publisher: Ammonite Press.
Size: 18x15x1cm.
Length: 192 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 90770 875 6.
Price: Get a price on Photographic Lighting at Amazon (currently 23% off).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Photographic Lighting [Book Review]

Photographic Digital Printing [REVIEW]

Photographic Digital Printing.jpgIn my experience, personal printing is a declining art. Walk through any retail photo dept and you’ll see hordes of people sitting at digital print stations pumping out bundles of 6×4 inch prints from their precious memory sticks and CDs.

Many of these keen printers will be women, turning happy snap family digi shots into photo records, destined for albums.

The Photographic Digital Printing book will be of no use to them… after all, those auto digi printers do a fine job!

However, it’s the real, rusted on photographers who want quite a bit more from their printing efforts.

As author David Taylor says: ‘It used to be so simple. Once, there was little choice if you wanted a printer. Generally, the same manufacturer made the only printer available for a particular computer printer model. … Printers allow a photographer to control every aspect of image making, from the initial exposure through to the final print.’

Things have sure changed since then: the range of printer types has exploded for one thing. The range of media has similarly expanded, as has the ‘ink’ used.

Ink? Well, for starters there are colour laser printers at affordable prices. Possibly, the only brake on laser printers moving into photo printing further is their inability to use coated papers due to the laser’s heat.

Dye sublimation printers are another type that have positive aspects but, again, fall foul of a limited range of papers and size limits.

Inkjet printers are ubiquitous and are able to produce prints at relatively low cost onto an amazing range of papers and surfaces.

Inkjet printers are divided into two subsets: dye-based and pigmented. The book goes into considerable detail on each type, with descriptions about how ink is placed onto paper, the technology involved and their comparative benefits and disadvantages. This information should be of considerable benefit to new buyers tossing up on the pluses and minuses of each.

Other topics follow: computer to printer communication; printer makers; the various media you can print to. In this area, the range is truly amazing: paper in a wide variety of surfaces, weights and types. Then there is canvas media, transparent film and other surfaces.

On the topic of paper alone, the book spends 20 pages delving into the fibres used, weight, opacity, sizes, surfaces, finish, brightness and texture. Would you like to use Baryta paper, water coloured, calendared or resin coated paper? Perhaps your printing needs will be answered by using artisan papers made by such companies as Hahnemüle or Canson or St Cuthbert’s Mill?

If you have reached around page 50 in the book you will need to make a commitment to take the whole business seriously, commit yourself to the whole technology — or simply head back to your local photo print shop! It’s a serious game!

Strapped in? With David Taylor at the helm, let’s explore more topics: colour and calibration; colour channels; colour management; profiling; image preparation; bit depth; using JPEG or RAW files; understanding histograms.

There is much information about the role of Photoshop in print making. A great deal of this information will cross over and be of help in your original image capture. After all, it’s difficult to print an incorrectly exposed or post processed image. So the book moves into detailed descriptions on how to work with curves, layers, sharpening, etc.

In the closing chapters of the book we finally get to make a print! And even then the info keeps rolling!

How to store a print. How to mount a print. Book binding. Exhibiting. Black and white printing. And troubleshooting.

For me, the big surprise is that there is so much information in such a small book and information which is camera and printer non-specific — unlike some other publications which are dedicated to brand name printers.

An excellent book on the subject.

Author: D Taylor.
Publisher: Ammonite Press.
Distributor: Capricorn Link.
Size: 18x15x1cm. 192 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 90770 874 9.
Price: Get a price on Digital Printing (The Expanded Guides: Techniques) by (David Taylor) at Amazon (currently 24% off).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Photographic Digital Printing [REVIEW]

3 Small But Important Lightroom 5 Beta Changes You Might Have Missed

Adobe announced the availability of Lightroom 5 Beta at Adobe Labs today and by all means, go grab a free copy and play. I’ve been using Lightroom since version 1 and have been impressed with every upgrading to the program, gladly plopping down my money for a new version as I have found the enhancements in subsequent revisions well worth the funds. And Lightroom 5 seems to be on the same track, based on my findings while playing with the beta this last week.

Adobe has a number of fine new features in this revision and they are sure not to be missed. They include

  • A Smart Preview feature which mobile photographers will love as it creates a smaller, editable version of their monstrously sized RAW image that is easily portable on a laptop and can be synced when the originals, possibly stored on an external drive or NAS back at home, become available.
  • Radial Gradient which allows for selecting oval or circular shaped areas for specific effects.
  • Upright, which attempts to correct crocked images or fine tune vertical lines. (My experience with this tool has been less than stellar on simple horizon shots at sea. More on this in a minute.)
  • Advanced Healing Brush. This one, I like a lot and it is very helpful. Now your “Spot Removal Tool” can be used as a brush to wipe out items that are not in the shape of a circle. This helps a lot and means I spend even less time in Photoshop CS6.

That’s the obvious stuff that Abode packs into their press kit and you probably have seen those items demonstrated on other sites. What I want to show you are three things I found to be helpful in little, but repetitive ways for how I use Lightroom.

(Click any image for a larger version)

Invert Mask

Shot4Thank you! I’ve been wanting this feature for the longest time to save time. But it’s not quite right.

Invert Mask is currently only available with the new Radial Gradient feature. See it at the right? It works well and I’d like to see if appear in the Gradient Tool (especially when creating a new gradient…it would be great to great one just the opposite of the one I am using at the moment) and in the Adjustment Brush.

Here’s a simple rundown of how the tool works.

Starting with this image of one of my client’s boats, the Un-Cruise Adventures Safari Explorer off the shore of Maui, Hawaii, I want to see which direction works best: highlight the boat and darken the surrounding seas or slightly darken the boat and bring up the seas, in order to add contrast to the main subject.


I select the new Radial Gradient tool and draw an oval over the boat (Dear Adobe, please make this tool work like the Ellipse Tool in Photoshop for consistency. Specifically, please allow me to grab a “corner” of the ellipse and drag it down instead of starting with the middle of the ellipse. Consistency would really help. Thanks.).


Because I have chosen only to increase the exposure by .39, Lightroom masked the boat and increased the exposure for the rest of the image. But if I want to swap that and mask the entire picture except for the boat, it’s just a simple click of the “Invert Mask” check box.


Subtle, but useful to me.

Now please, Adobe, add that ability to the Gradient Tool and to the Adjustment Brush especially.

Visualize Spot Healing

I’d like to think my sensor was perfectly clean before leading a recent tour to Bhutan. As a matter of fact, it was extremely clean before I left. But, as life goes, things don’t stay clean.

Take this image of a masked dancer at the Paro Tsechu.


I wanted some blur (obviously) and used a small aperture to achieve a slow shutter speed. In this case, f/25 and 1/6th of a second. Closing down that aperture makes dust on the sensor more obvious, but this image has a lot going on making it hard to find all the dust.





If I click on the “Visualize Spots” check box after clicking the Spot Removal Tool, the slider to the right of it comes alive and I can now more easily see spots. This is a technique used in Photoshop for a while and it works best where edge contrast can be spotted, so in areas without a lot going on.


In this image, I found three additional spots, two of which would have been easy to miss without the tool.


Remove Chromatic Aberration Check Box

This one is really small, but helpful. With the addition of the “Upright” feature to the Lens Correction panel, Adobe made it easier to get to the Chromatic Aberration removal check box.


It’s a small thing, but I often use the check box for “Enable Profile Corrections” for my lens and then want to remove chromatic aberration on only select images, but many. The placement of the box here, as well as on the “Color” tab, helps.

Upright Is Not That Functional For Me

Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I doubt it. This is one of Adobe’s touted JDI (Just Do It) features and it seems to work well on the demos, but not in real life. If it did, it would be cool. I can get the feature to work part of the time, but no where near even 25% of the time reliably.

The feature is supposed to level a scene and make diverging or converging vertical lines straight. It can be helpful when it works. But something as simple as a horizon, an obvious one, in this example is not being leveled.  Here’s the initial image out of the camera.


Now to show that the horizon is not level using the Crop Overlay.


And now using the tool in Auto mode.


I tried in Level and Full modes to no avail. The program clearly states “No Upright Correction Found”. This is supposed to be a boon for landscape photographers, but even with a clear horizon like this, it failed.

I tried another obvious shot from Bhutan.


Now how can it say, in all four modes (Auto, Level, Vertical and Full) that no data can be found?

I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I’m saying it’s wonky and not yet reliable.

But this is beta software and that is why they put it out, to find the kinks that mean the most for their users.

Give it a try, Lightroom 5 Beta is quite useful with all the upgrades instituted.


Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

3 Small But Important Lightroom 5 Beta Changes You Might Have Missed

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