How do I get my husband to let me take family photos?

Here’s a scene that plays out frequently with my portrait clients – a family shows up to have their family portraits taken, the kids are fussy, the husband grumbly, and the wife running around trying to make everyone happy because she just wants ONE good photo of her family, dammit! You can picture it, right? Maybe it’s a scene out of your own family storybook. If you're reading this, and this is your family, I wanted to write a little something for those moms who wonder "how do I get my husband to let me take family photos?....without complaint?" Now, I don’t want to pick on husbands here. I’m sure there are exceptions to this where it’s the husband has organized a family photo and the wife is [...]

DSLR vs iPhone or Smart Phone Photography

I took an honest look comparing my DSLR vs my iPhone for photography. Teaching both a Basic Photography Class as well as a Smart Phone Photography class, I'm a fan of both! But, I’m also a photography nerd who loves her DSLR camera! I’ve paid big bucks for my cameras (multiple!), lenses, accessories and software that goes with it. In a word, I’m invested in the DSLR world! You still can’t beat DSLR's for the image quality and control…yet. However, here’s something I don’t hear my fellow pro photographers saying much; I kinda hope Smart Phones end up eclipsing DSLR cameras just like they have Point and Shoot cameras, at least the entry level versions. Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that DSLR cameras can be so hard [...]

How do I get frozen action shots?

Controlling Your Camera’s Shutter Speed   Have you ever seen a cool shot of kids jumping into a pool and whomever was taking the photo captured them before they are fully submerged, water droplets are frozen midair all around them like little diamonds from the splash? So cool, right? And then you try and it’s just a big blur? I feel you! I’ve been so frustrated that I was tempted to just huck my camera in the pool with them! Before you destroy your camera though, if I can figure this out, I know you can too! I’m going to walk you though how to get that frozen action shots! (Shutter Speed 1/1600th of a second) Understanding Shutter Speed The first thing you need to know about is [...]

How to I get blurred action? Long exposure explained

Intentional motion blur or blurred action is an exciting trick to learn in photography! Photos with a long exposure or slow shutter speed can result in some interesting and creative photography. Most often this is done with something that is moving through a stationary scene creating an interesting image like a milky waterfall or a cityscape where the headlights and taillights streak white and red and the buildings twinkling behind. This type of image is achieved by slowing down the shutter and creating intentional “motion blur” meaning that the action happens while the shutter is still open causing the action to blur across the frame. The length of time that the shutter needs to be open to create motion blur depends on how quickly the subject is moving. [...]

How to get blurry backgrounds in photography?

Have you wondered how photographers get that blurry background in photos? As a portrait photographer, I love having a blurry background that isolates my subject and makes them stand out. Not only does it bring the focus on the person, it also lessens any distractions in the background. I'm going to teach you how to do that. Depth of Field A blurry background in photography terms is called “shallow depth of field”. A shallow depth of field (also sometimes called a "narrow" depth of field) is controlled by the size of the aperture opening. A large aperture (small number, ex. f2.8) is controlled by the lens. It will create a plane of focus in front of your camera. Think of it like an invisible piece of glass a [...]

Photography Basics; How your camera works

When I teach my in person Basic Photography Classes, I like to show people my first film camera. I can take it apart and show people the inner workings! Understanding how your camera works and Photography Basics was easier to follow once I understood how all the pieces work together. I'd just ask you to not get too caught up in the numbers. If you're someone like me, who glazes over when I bunch of numbers are thrown at you, try to not hold on to that and just...well, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of tea and relax. We've got you! The way a photo is created; i.e. the basic mechanics of how a camera works, has changed very little over time. Here’s a rough [...]

5 Reasons to Look at Photographs Daily

We see photos every day.  We actually see too many photos everyday.  So why on earth would more photos help you become a better photographer?  Here are five ways: 1)  It will improve your composition.  If you only look at your own pictures, you won’t be exposed to  different ways of seeing.  While its possible that you will try new things are your own, seeing new compositions and how other photographers approach a subject will help you to get outside of your comfort zone.  Don’t be afraid to copy a style but then put your own spin on it.  Besides, that way when you win that Pulitzer you can say, “I am heavily influenced by…”  and know what you’re talking about. 2) You’ll learn how to break [...]

The Camera is a Tool by Joe Hollins

I’ve been involved in image making of some form or another for the last 19 years.  When I tell people this the most common reaction is to begin to talk about cameras, as in what camera should I get, what’s the best camera out there today, how many mega pixels do I need, etc.  I used to try to answer the question straightforwardly in a way that would satisfy the inquisitor but then I realized that sometimes answering the wrong question is worse than bad advice.  So this is going to be my stock answer from now on.  It depends.  On what?  Ok.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Not necessarily ranked in order of importance: 1) What size camera will you carry with you frequently?  One thing I forgot [...]

Masters of Photography as Muses by Joe Hollins

In the summer of 1930 a photographer named Edward Weston expanded on a theme of taking isolated pictures of shells, fruits, heads of lettuce, all manner of organic material and then began to focus on nothing but peppers.  I first saw Pepper No. 30 in a book at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver.  At that point, I really liked Ansel Adams and really didn’t appreciate many other photographers especially not those that focused on still-life.  But as soon as I saw this photo I knew that I had been missing something and whatever it was, had just found it.  The pepper itself is remarkable.  If you just happened upon it at Safeway you might even pick it up and study it yourself.  What Weston has done though [...]

What Prime lens should I buy? 35mm or 50mm

      (above shot was taken with a 50mm at f1.8) Here’s a question that I got from Stacie who recently attended our class and has now been bit by the camera bug big time!  Makes me so happy! We talk about the advantages of Prime lenses in our class so she asked me about which one to buy.  I thought it might be helpful for more people so I asked if I could answer her online in case others might find my answer useful. “I'm stuck deciding between two lenses and was wondering if you could give me a push in one direction or the other.  As a refresher - we have a Nikon D3000 with the stock 18-55 lens as well as a 55-200.  In [...]