Category Archives: Photography

BUILDING A BETTER PORTFOLIO Step Three: Crafting Images that Sell You


As a photographer, your ultimate goal is to sell your images. But before you can do that, your images have to sell you. They are the face your business presents to the world, the emblems of your brand, which need to convince potential clients that you have the skills and vision they seek. With so much at stake, what sort of images should you choose to represent you?

I have many friends with a genuine passion for photography as art, and I believe it is always okay to have your best art photos on your Web site. They will exemplify your creativity and individuality. However, you must always bear in mind the real audience for your site, which are prospective clients. They want to see images that show how you can handle the jobs they need done.

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BUILDING A BETTER PORTFOLIO Step Two: “Spec” Shoots and Trade Shoots


Virtually all aspiring pros face a sort of Catch-22 early in their careers: To gain professional credits, you need to get hired, but you can’t get hired without professional credits. Clients naturally prefer photographers who have already proven themselves in a competitive market, so they tend to favor established veterans over newcomers no matter how promising the latter may be. How can novice photographers acquire a portfolio of images that will impress prospective clients enough to earn their big break?
Triumph Motorcycle Campaign

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BUILDING A BETTER PORTFOLIO Step One: Establishing an Online Presence

Portfolio blog

If you want to land well-paid, high-profile gigs in the world of professional photography, your portfolio is as crucial a tool as your camera. Any weekend warriors out there who decide to take the plunge and turn pro should craft a stellar set of sample images even before they print their business cards. No portfolio, no business—it’s that simple.

In the era of the Internet, the first opportunity most prospective clients will have to see your work is online, so a polished Web portfolio is a must. A number of free Web-hosting sites offer budget-minded beginners an inexpensive means to establish an online presence; Viewbook, Zenfolio, and Squarespace are among those I would recommend. Once you’ve selected a host, you need to choose a name for your Web site that will establish your brand identity. Do you want to brand your own name, or would you prefer to christen your business with a made-up name? This is a defining decision in your career, so choose carefully. Branding is so important to a photographer’s success that I plan to devote an entire column to it in a future post.

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SOMETIMES, IT’S WHAT’S UNDER THE CAMERA THAT COUNTS: A Review of the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head w/ B2 Pro II Clamp

BH55 AS II Clamp

When novice photographers and weekend warriors become obsessed with gear, they naturally tend to spend most of their attention (and money) on lenses, lighting kits, or other accessories that aid the camera in taking the picture. Even the most sophisticated gadgets and gizmos, though, can’t compensate for a jiggled shot or cockeyed frame.

Shooting for ROBO3D Printer
Shooting for ROBO 3D printer’s posters and campaign ads. We will be shooting a lifestyle version as well.

A tripod with a good ball head can thus be essential to ensuring quality images. Moreover, a sturdy tripod ensures the survival of the camera itself. By securing my camera on a tripod and ball head while on set, I can avoid having to place my camera on a table with a firewire cord connected to it. The latter arrangement has always made me nervous, because if someone trips on the firewire cable, my camera will go flying across the room.

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THE BIG GAME: Photographing A-List Sports Stars without Fumbling the Ball


One of the most exciting aspects of my becoming a professional photographer has been the opportunity to take portraits of celebrated entertainers and athletes, including Lakers guard Nick Young and Dodgers power hitter Yasiel Puig. Most recently, I had the honor of shooting the upcoming marketing campaign photos for pro football star, pro bowl, Brandon Flowers, a former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback who recently signed with the San Diego Chargers. Brandon Flowers formally with the Chiefs

With such great privilege comes great responsibility, however, and you can’t afford to disappoint a VIP. Celebrity photo sessions require even more preparation and fast, on-your-feet thinking than high-fashion shoots, in large part because the celebs’ time is so limited. You usually have only a couple of hours to get the shots you need before your subjects are whisked away to their next engagement. Indeed, my team and I were supposed to photograph several other athletes at this year’s ESPY Awards, but the players in question had such full schedules while they were here in LA that we now have to fly to their home state in order to shoot them. To make the most of the VIPs’ valuable time, we plan ahead with their agents, consulting them on how best to work around the stars’ commitments and on what types of images they need for their clients’ publicity.

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SCRIM VS. SOFTBOX: How a Little Hollywood Magic Can Give You a Lot More Flexibility with Your Lighting

The diffusion of light is one of the fundamental principles of photography, for every photographer wants to control how harsh or soft the lighting is in a shot to achieve a desired effect. The softbox remains among the most common tools for the diffusion of strobe lighting, one on which I relied for most of my early studio work. Ultimately, though, I've found softboxes limiting and cumbersome because they can only hold the diffuser at a single fixed distance from the light source. I want a quick and easy way to change the distance between my strobe and the diffuser so I can soften or sharpen my shadows at will. But how?

CLIENT SATISFACTION: It’s Not Just About Your Images

All photographers want to cultivate relationships with clients that lead to repeat business, enthusiastic referrals, and great word-of-mouth. But many talented professionals struggle to engender such loyalty despite producing superior and competitive work. That's why I strive to make sure my clients receive attention and service beyond the expected norm, catering to their individual needs the way larger adverting firms would.