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 [...]

The Advantage Photography Has Over Other Arts… and possibly my favorite thing about it – By Joe Hollins

When photography was invented, most of the art world held it to be a mechanical process or a craft useful for documenting the world, but certainly not art.  It took little training to be able to produce a photograph, but certainly not the thousands of hours required to learn to paint well or play the piano beautifully.  Even early photographers looked at their photos as chronicles of life but certainly not anything that they created as art.  As photography and photographers began to realize what is possible with the medium, more and more critics began to think of photography as art, despite the fact that anyone with a few hours of instruction could make a photograph.  Belatedly but thankfully, critics decided that the beauty of the medium should [...]

Top 5 Essential Gear for Amateur Photographers

Camera I often get asked about what camera to buy.  The good news is that there are so many great options out there!  With so many options I know that can make the decision harder but I just want to say that if you don’t have one of the two that I’m about to list, don’t think that it means that you have a bad camera.  Just figure out what your camera can do before you give up on it.  I've had lots of people through my Photography classes who thought they had a bad camera until they started realized all the stuff it could do. The big advantage to owning a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera is the ability to switch out the lenses.  This allows a [...]

Take your portraits to the next level with a reflector

One of the things I appreciate about Portraiture is that it forces you to be aware of light in a way that I think other types of photography don’t.  I have learned a lot about how light behaves through Portraiture, how it play across a face or lingers in someone’s eyes.  One of my biggest a-ha moments was when I started using a reflector to bounce light back into faces or add highlights to eyes. Camera gear is often not cheap but the great thing about reflectors is they are pretty inexpensive!  Not only that, you don’t have to buy the official “reflectors” to bounce light.  A cheap piece of foam core will do the trick or even the side of a building that is bouncing light can [...]

5 Photo Tips that I wish I would have know when I first got my DSLR

1. How to control my focus. It’s such an easy fix in your camera but I didn’t know I could even fix it.  I used to just continually hit the shutter button halfway until my camera picked what I wanted it to pick.  If my subject was off to the side, forget about it! (When shooting portraits, I’m always aiming my focus point on the eyes.  If the eyes aren’t in focus, the photo looks out of focus even if part of it is in focus.  Our eyes are always drawn to the eyes.) 2. How much fun it is to shoot slow shutter speeds. I hated the hassle of a tripod so I just ignored that capability in my camera.  Once I figured out all the cool [...]

Having Fun with Your Photography with Inkodye

When my cousins introduced me to Inkodye last summer, it's fair to say that I became obsessed.  I have no doubt this will happen to you once you try it out.  You will start looking at ordinary objects for shape and want to print them!  It's also great fun to try with your photography. Here's how it works;  print photography as a black and white negative (to order a negative go here or for instructions to do it yourself in Photoshop go here) or collect objects for shape, spread the Inkodye thinly on fabric or wood, place your photo or objects over the Inkodye and then take it all out in the sun to develop.  The Lumi website will give you much more info and examples here. I [...]

How to get that shot! – Giant Bubbles – Photography Tips

A question often asked in my classes is how to get shots of busy kids. "They're always blurry or turn their heads as soon as I pull out my camera!" Super common! One of my favorite photography tips to combat this is to give the kids something to do or engage with. Then while they play, you can play! Here are some resent shots I took of my cousin's boys while they were making giant bubbles.         In all these shots I'm using fast shutter speeds from 1/6400 to 1/1250.  I was able to achieve these high shutter speeds because I had plenty of light and I picked bigger apertures of f/2.8 to f/3.5.  I did have a low ISO of 200 so if I [...]