Posts Tagged ‘Photos’

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile in Photos

29 Apr

One of the biggest challenges every photographer faces it getting people to smile naturally for a photo. Sure, you can ask someone to say “cheese!” and he or she will likely comply. But you’ll also probably end up with a cheesy smile that doesn’t look natural or attractive. After all, there’s a HUGE difference between a genuine smile and a fake one.

As a professional event photographer, spontaneously getting complete strangers to smile is a big part of my job, and I’ve picked up some proven techniques that I’ll share with you in this article. Note that I’ve broken up the sections into tips for photographing people by themselves, as couples, in groups, and children, but you can certainly mix and match. Also, be careful to always consider your audience and adjust your technique accordingly.

For Singles

1. Approach with a smile

A smile and friendly demeanor are contagious. Before you ask someone else to smile, make sure that you’re smiling yourself and approach with a friendly tone. If you want to get a real smile out of someone, you need to set the tone by approaching them with a giant, genuine smile on your face.

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

2. Offer a compliment

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get someone to smile is to boost their confidence. This is something you can easily do by offering a compliment based on a feature or quality you observe about them. Are they wearing an attractive outfit or an unusual piece of jewelry? Do they have a friendly smile or laugh? Offer a compliment!

3.  Smile with your eyes

How do you know if a smile is genuine or fake? It’s all in the eyes. A fake smile tends to only have the lower half of the face engaged, with the lips curled into a smile. But if the eyes aren’t squinting as well, you can tell the smile is forced and not very genuine. If your photo subject’s smile is looking a bit off and you can’t tell why, ask them to smile with their eyes, or “smize” as Tyra Banks would say.

4. Fake laugh!

To illicit a genuine smile, your photo subject needs to feel comfortable and relaxed. The best way to break the ice is to get them to laugh. Ask for a fake laugh, saying something like this, “Let’s see who’s got the biggest, loudest fake laugh! On the count of three, 1, 2, 3, LAUGH!” The whole point here is not to capture the fake laugh, but to get the resulting real laughs and smiles that you’ll get after the fact. It’s also important to note that your own enthusiasm for the activity and tone of voice is what makes this technique work.

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

5. Show me your happy face! Silly face! Sad face!

Most photo subjects respond the best if you give them specific instructions. Help them loosen up and feel less self-conscious by having them go through a series of facial poses. You might think this one only works with kids, but certain types of adults will totally get into this exercise.

6. Instead of “Say cheese,” say…

Most people expect to hear “say cheese” before getting a photo. Surprise them by saying something else, such as, “money” or “whiskey” for adults, or “pickles” or “chocolate” for children. Use your discretion and pick a word that suits your audience.

7. Tell them a joke (or ask them to tell you a joke)

One of the most obvious ways to get people to laugh or smile is to tell a joke. The trick is finding a joke that is appropriate for the audience. Personally, I use the joke below all the time for my corporate event photo shoots, and it almost always gets a laugh out of people. But I wouldn’t use this joke with children; I’d maybe use a knock knock joke instead.  You can also flip the tables and ask your photo subject to tell you a joke.

Q: “What’s the quickest way to make money as a photographer?”

A: “Sell your camera!”

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

For Groups

When photographing groups, you can use any of the above techniques for singles, but you can also add quite a few extra tricks to get creative, engaging shots.

8. Whisper a secret to the person standing next to you.

The idea is to get the people in your group engaging with each other. This technique can also elicit grins and giggles as people tend to whisper nonsensical noises to each other.

9. Everyone look at each other.

This works best for groups of at least three or more people. The reason why it works is that the instructions are vague. No one is really sure who to look at, and the resulting expressions tend to be smiles and laughs. This is great for capturing candid shots. Use it to loosen people up, and then move onto to the next few tips to work them into a more serious, smiling pose.

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

10. Everyone look at ____.

It’s essential to know everyone’s names or titles for this one to work. By calling out someone specifically in a group, you’re making them the center of attention and it’s often funny to the rest of the group to see how that person reacts.

11. Everyone look at me!

Follow this up after #8 or #9. After getting the group to engage with each other and laugh, they’ve loosened up. At this point, you can turn their full attention back to the camera and get everyone looking at you with a real smile on their faces. You can also take it a step further by saying something playful and silly like, “You guys don’t look happy enough! Make those smiles bigger!”

12. Action for a silly photo

Almost every single group photo will result in the group wanting to take a silly picture after the serious one. The problem is, most groups don’t know what to do for a silly photo. Help them out by throwing out some suggestions. My favorites for adults are:

  • Everyone clink your glasses together and say, “cheers!” if they’re holding drinks.
  • Hands in the air and raise the roof!
  • Point at the camera!
  • Thumbs up!
  • Give me your best impression of ____ (a celebrity, animal, etc)

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

For Couples

You can use many of the above group techniques for couples, but you’ll also want to have a few other tricks up your sleeve.

13. Tell me about how you met / first knew you were in love.

Talking about intimate, happy moments with couples is a great way to get them in-tune with each other and eliciting romantic smiles.

14. Give her a kiss on the cheek/forehead/nose.

Most happy couples will definitely smile when asked to be intimate with each other for the camera.

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

Photo by Jonathan Gipaya

15. Ask them to dance.

Get the couple moving and focus their attention away from the camera, especially if they are having a hard time relaxing. Almost any couple dancing together will be in good spirits. This also gives you a chance to grab some candid, action shots.

For Children

16. Stare at each other without laughing.

The minute you tell kids to be serious without laughing, you’re more likely to get the opposite effect. This is a simple, yet highly effective way to get kids to smile.

17. Play a game.

If you have the time and the space to get kids to play a game, take advantage of it! Have them play Simon Says, Duck Duck Goose, tag, or any other age-appropriate games that will get them engaged and having fun.

18. On the count of three, jump as high as you can!

Jump shots are always fun for kids and even certain types of adults. Make it more fun and engaging by turning it into a jumping contest to see who can jump the highest.

20 Tips for Getting People to Smile for a Photo

19. Stick your tongue out.

Admittedly, photos of kids sticking their tongues out often aren’t what you’re trying to achieve. But if you stick your tongue out at them or turn it into a game of who has the longest tongue, this can lead to laughs and smiles, which you definitely want to capture in photos.

20. Bunny ears.

You may not even have to ask kids to do this for you. Bunny ears seem to be a universal photo prank that even adults play on each other and seem to find funny.

In Conclusion

There you have it, 20 ideas to help people smile for a photo. Get out there and try some of these techniques and see how they go! But always be sure to gauge how your photo subjects are reacting to your suggestions. You might have to adjust your tone of voice and photo directions for different types of people.

Have any ideas to add to the list? Mention them in the comments below!

The post 20 Tips for Getting People to Smile in Photos by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Checklist – 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

23 Apr

Photography is one of those professions or hobbies that you simply need to practice in order to improve. Once you have learned the basics and the theory, it is as much about trial and error as anything that you can read in books. With that practice comes experience which, over time, becomes almost like your blueprint for taking photos. The more you practice the quicker you learn and ultimately it all works subconsciously. To start you off on your process, here are 7 questions to ask yourself before you take a photo.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

1. What am I trying to communicate?

One of the common mistakes that all new photographers make is that they click away, taking photos without really thinking about the image and the message or story it communicates. Digital photography makes the process of taking a photo risk free. Apart from taking up a bit of memory on your card, there’s no harm in just clicking away. Back in the days of film, every photo essentially cost money. So anyone who has ever used a film camera will tell you that you had to be much more selective about when you took photos.

So instead of just clicking away, try to think about what the message is that the photo is communicating. Imagine if you saw this image in a magazine without any words to accompany it, what would you think? By thinking about the message or story in the photo it will also help you to think if you can improve it in any way. Over time this process will become much quicker and you will subconsciously recognize scenarios and the stories they can tell.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

2. Have I framed my photo well?

Often one of the simplest ways to improve your photos is just to frame the shot better. There are guidelines like the Rule of Thirds which can help your composition and framing of your shot. But sometimes you simply need to use your creative vision and common sense to capture a photo that will do the scene in front of you justice. For example, one of the common mistakes that I see in photos from newbie photographers is trying to cram too much into the image. As a result, the viewer is distracted by things that aren’t relevant to the image.

Framing and composing your images better will come with practice and experience. As a starting point, try to ensure that the viewer’s focus will be firmly on the place in the image that you want them to look. Anything surrounding it that distracts from this can probably be removed. Again, the key is to be able to step back and analyze the shot and see if you can improve it.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

3. Do I have my settings right?

This might sound like an obvious point, but it is sometimes the big flaw in new photographers’ work. Over time with practice, choosing your camera’s settings will become like second nature. You will be able to quickly change and set them for each different scenario. But if you are new to photography, if the situation allows, try to slow down and really think about your settings before taking the picture and moving on. After all, it will be pretty frustrating if you have taken a beautiful photo only to realize when you get home that it is blurred.

If you do end up making a mistake, which everyone does when they are starting out, make sure you learn from that and don’t repeat it in the future.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

4. Is this the best time to shoot?

An old photography teacher of mine at university once told me that, “There is a perfect time to photograph anything. The challenge is to recognize when that is and be patient enough to wait for it.”

Light is one of the most important elements in any photograph. The most beautiful landscape will look mundane and uninspiring if you haven’t got the light correct. In fact, most photos that don’t work or look good could be improved by having better lighting. Always ensure that you do the scene in front of you justice, and photograph it in the best light possible.

This starts from your research of a place all the way to being patient enough to ensure you wait for the right conditions before taking the photo. Sometimes this might mean having to come back again and again until you get the photo that you envisioned. So always ask yourself, “Is this the best time to photograph what is in front of me?”

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

5. Where can I see this photo being used?

Even if you are taking photos for your personal collection, it is still worthwhile asking the question of where you can see the images being used. The reason for this is that it’ll give you a clear vision of what you are photographing. For example, a gritty documentary style type of photo might look great in a photo book of your trip but may not suit a canvas to hang on the wall. On the other hand, a beautiful landscape vista might look amazing when it’s printed large. But when it is the size of a postcard it doesn’t have the same impact.

This thinking will help you if you decide that you want to sell your photos. You would have to consider your composition and how it would work in magazines or as prints.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

This isn’t a photo that I would put in my portfolio. But at the time of taking it, I knew that it was for a very specific purpose such as a story in a magazine or website. A short while ago I sold this image to a client who needed a photo showing the wine making process.

6. Is there an alternative or better composition?

Very rarely do I end up using the first photo I have taken of a location as my final selection choice. The reason is that once you are at a location and have taken a few photos, it’s only natural that you are then able to find a better composition.

The key is to allow yourself enough time to be able to analyze the scene and the photo and the recompose it and try different things. The great thing about digital photography is that it doesn’t matter if you try something and it doesn’t work as you are not wasting film. The benefit is that sometimes you will be surprised with the outcome and will then use that technique in future situations.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos

Most people at this venue take photos from the platform rather than showing the platform itself.

7. Can I do better or am I being lazy?

There’s no doubt that at some point in their photography journey, every photographer has been guilty of being lazy. It might be that you don’t fancy another early morning start, or that after a long day of walking around you just can’t be bothered to wait around for another few hours. Or it could be that you are too tired to climb that hill so settle for the location you are at now instead.

Unfortunately, to capture great photos requires creativity and technical ability, but often above all, it requires hard work and persistence. Someone looking at your photos won’t be sympathetic to the fact that you were too tired to wait for the clouds to disperse. All they see is what is in front of them.

It comes down to you and how much you crave that great photo. When you are in that situation if you can summon enough will power to go on and capture that great photo that you wanted, it’ll be worth the hard work. After all, you can always recover from tiredness but if you miss a great photo opportunity because you have been lazy, then you might not get another chance.

Checklist - 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos


Over time you will develop your own set of questions and the more you practice the better and quicker you will become at running through the process in your head. But follow these as a starting point and you may find you are pleasantly surprised by the results.

What questions do you ask yourself before taking a photo? Share your thoughts below.

The post Checklist – 7 Prompts to Help you Pause and Take Better Photos by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Apple is releasing its Live Photos API, which means more moving photos in more places

21 Apr

Apple has revealed the API for its Live Photos feature, meaning more app and web developers will be able to support the company’s short 1.5 second video ‘moving photo’ video clips. Apps like Facebook are already able to display Live Photos for users running iOS 9, but making the API available will allow any developer who wants to put a Live Photos viewer on their website or in their iOS app to do so.

Live Photos debuted in 2015 with the iPhone 6S. Owners of recent iPhones including the 7 and 7 Plus can capture the moving images in the stock camera app, and anyone running iOS 9 or later can play the video clip by pressing and holding the image.

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Transforming ordinary landmark photos one paper cutout at a time

31 Mar

Rich McCor’s clever paper cutout photography

Getting a fresh shot of a thoroughly-photographed landmark is tough. So Rich McCor takes a different approach: his clever paper cutouts add an unexpected element of humor to what would otherwise be just your average photo. Take a look at some of his work here and find out more about his process in our Q&A.

Follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest work. What are you tricks for getting unique photos of often-photographed subjects? Let us know in the comments.

What inspired you to start making your paper cutout images?

It began when I realised that after four years of living in London I wasn’t really appreciating the landmarks, the sights and all the things that people fly thousands of miles to see. So I used photography as an excuse to go and explore my city a little more, and through doing so I joined Instagram. However I realised that all the photos I was taking were the same as everyone elses’, so that’s when I decided to add a twist to my images with paper cutouts.

What’s the process like creating one of these images?

It used to be that I’d wander around and wait for ideas and then cut them out on the spot. I’m a bit more strategic now in that I research destinations before I visit them, and I hunt down the best vantage points through various photo websites and image libraries. That said, I still take my paper cutting equipment and black card with me in case I see something that sparks an idea.

How long have you been making these images?

My first paper transformation was in June 2015, but I’ve been into paper cutting since my early twenties when I used to make stop motion music videos for my friend’s band.

Is there anywhere you haven’t been yet that you’re itching to go to and photograph?

Tokyo. It’s full of quirky architecture, bold skyscrapers and colourful scenery. It’s the perfect playground for what I do.

Do you have any suggestions or advice for your average photographer trying to take a picture of a famous landmark?

I’d suggest walking around it 360, just to see if there’s an interesting vantage point that might not be obvious. I remember walking behind the Statue of Liberty when the sun was in front of her and it creating a perfect silhouette which was an image of the statue I hadn’t seen that often. I think, as any photographer will tell you, patience is the key. Patience for the light to do something interesting, patience for tourists to get out of the way, patience for experimenting with your style. Most of all of course, have fun and experiment with your own style of photography.

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Wesaturate will soon offer free Raw photos for photographers to practice editing

28 Mar

Students Gifton Okoronkwo and Kast Goudarzi have taken the wraps off a new website called Wesaturate, an online learning destination that will offer free Raw images for photographers to download. The intention for the website is to provide these images as learning tools, enabling anyone to practice Raw editing even if they don’t have the time or gear to go out and shoot their own photos.

Wesaturate is tentatively scheduled for a full launch on April 17, though at the moment it is only accepting email addresses from those who want to be notified about the launch. A single image is currently offered on the site in both Raw and JPEG formats; it, and others uploaded later on, are offered with a Creative Commons Zero license. Once the site fully launches, users will be able to share their own photos with the Wesaturate community.

The duo also plans to operate a blog that will publish tricks and tips for beginners. Speaking to PetaPixel, Goudarzi explained, ‘We’re really focusing on the photographer’s experience here and we want to make sure it’s all about them.’

Via: PetaPixel

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How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

23 Mar

A magnifying glass is a handy little tool, popular with intrepid detectives and bug collectors. As the name suggests, the convex lens produces a magnified image of an object, but it can also be used to make some unusual and eye-catching imagery. Pairing a photographic lens with a magnifying glass will probably not create a flawless alternative to a macro lens, but the unique properties of a handheld convex lens mean that there are endless combinations of optical effects to exploit.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

What you will need:

  • DSLR camera
  • Magnifying glass
  • Subject to photograph
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Tripod

Getting Started

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

The first thing to remember when using this technique is that the glass in your average, run-of-the-mill magnifying glass will be of far lesser quality than that of the glass inside your camera. The nature of the cheaper quality glass lends a softening effect to an image so sharpening in post-production (using software like Photoshop or Camera Raw) will help to add a bit more definition to the photographs. But don’t worry if you aren’t getting pin-sharp precision, the softness can actually add to the image overall.

Using a tripod to photograph subjects through the lens of a magnifying glass is a good idea too. Without a tripod, camera shake will add another layer of difficulty to a process that can be slightly tricky at times. For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ve chosen flowers as my subject. They make good subjects for this technique because they are colorful, interesting and they don’t move around. Getting the hang of this technique on a static subject will save you a bit of frustration when moving onto more animate subject matter later

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

This leaf was photographed against a window with the afternoon sun pouring through from behind. The light illuminated the veins in the leaf and the magnifying glass helped capture the detail in its intricate fibers.

Magnification depends upon a magnifying glass’s distance relative to the subject or camera, so there are endless angles and distances to experiment with to create imagery with soft light and diffused bokeh-like effects.


First, clean the glass of the magnifying glass with a tissue or cleaning cloth to avoid dust spots. Maneuver your camera up close to the subject. If you are using a zoom lens, zoom in as far as possible. Your autofocus will most likely get confused by the additional glass between the lens and the subject, so set your lens to manual focus instead.

Hold the magnifying glass over the front of the lens with your hand.  Notice that it will either make the subject appear bigger or just extremely out of focus. With one hand you will need to either adjust the camera focus manually or move the magnifying glass forward and backward between the camera and subject. Trying to find a sweet spot where part or all of the image looks focused can be tricky – but be open to how the magnifying glass alters the photograph. The results can often surprise you.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

Keep in mind that the extra layer of glass will cut down the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor so you may have to adjust the exposure compensation, depending on the available light of your setup. Don’t forget to experiment with depth of field by adjusting the aperture as well. Taking control of the aperture will guide the viewer’s eye around the photograph. That can be crucial in more abstract images like these floral landscapes.


The best bit about this technique is that it rewards experimentation. Once you have a feel for photographing your subject through a magnifying glass, why not use two taped together for greater magnification? Or take a chance at photographing a friend or pet? Or why not try including the loop of the magnifying glass to create a framing effect? With even the slightest adjustment in angle or distance a magnifying glass can render some unique results. Take the time to experiment and have fun.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

Experiment with black and white images to highlight shape and form.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

Tape two magnifying glasses together for greater magnification.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

Create unusual framing effects by incorporating the loop of the magnifying glass in your photograph.

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass

After you get the hang of photographing still objects, why not move onto something more animated.

The post How to Create Artistic Photos with a Magnifying Glass by Megan Kennedy appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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21 Images That Sing – Photos of all Things Musical

22 Mar

Music fills the soul – it also makes for a great subject for photographers.

Singers, concerts, musicians, bands, instruments, and more. See if you can hear the music in thees images!

By John Finn

By Ronald Rugenbrink

By Brian Tomlinson

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By Mike Morbeck

By Bill Couch

By David

By dion gillard

By Eleonora Albasi

By Nate

By Mats Edenius

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By Micha? Koralewski

By Sam Cox

By Arnold Manillier

By Marco Evangelisti Crespo

By Flavio~

By Brandon Giesbrecht

By Susanne Nilsson

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By Machrouh Med Sami

By Grodenaue

By Alex de Haas

By ericzim

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How to Create a Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

09 Mar

Most people take reasonable precautions when engaging in activities that are potentially unsafe or harmful, like wearing seat belts in a car or even washing your hands before eating. The benefits of these basic procedures are easy to understand which is one reason these practices are so widely adopted. But things look quite different where our digital lives are concerned; in other words, a backup strategy.

Every mobile phone, laptop, and personal computer stores your photos, documents, and other data on either a small memory chip or a spinning hard drive and it is not uncommon for these to fail. In fact, due to the nature of how hard drives (which are still by far the most common method of storing data) operate, they are guaranteed to wear out over time. It’s just a question of when. Anyone even remotely concerned with making sure their digital files are safe and accessible one, five, 10, or even hundreds of years from now needs to have a solid backup strategy in case the unthinkable happens.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

Don’t let your photos disappear when your computer fails.

The challenge

One problem with creating a backup strategy is that it can seem so complex and convoluted it’s difficult to even know where to begin. From clouds to closets to safe deposit boxes, the world of data backup has so many options it’s enough to make your head spin. I’m going to explore three common options in this article, but before I get too far I want to remind you of the words of Carl von Clausewitz who said, “The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan.”

Don’t get so caught up with finding the ideal backup strategy that you don’t do anything at all. The important lesson, no matter which method you use, is to create copies of your data – especially your photographs – so you can still get them if something bad happens.

3-2-1 Strategy

One of the best ways to approach backing up your data is the 3-2-1 strategy:

  • 3: Have three copies of your data.
  • 2: Keep them in two separate places.
  • 1: At least one must be offsite.

This might seem like a lot of hassle, but it’s similar to most things in life that require small behavioral changes. Once you get over the initial setup of utilizing a backup strategy it becomes a habit or better yet, a completely transparent activity that just happens in the background. As someone who has lost data, and has had friends and family lose thousands of photos thanks to computer failures and hard drive corruption, I can confidently say that it is well worth your time to back up your data. It won’t save your physical life, but it could save your digital life.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

A good backup solution doesn’t have to be complicated and can help make sure your memories stand the test of time.

Option #1 – External hard drives

Inside nearly every personal computer is a spinning hard drive that rotates at a mind-numbing speed of 5400-7200 rotations per minute, every day, for as long as the computer exists. Over time, hard drives have proven themselves to be simple cost-effective vessels for storing massive amounts of data. However, their mechanical nature makes them not only prone to failure but quite expensive and time-consuming to recover your files and photos if something does happen.

Because of these caveats, one of the simplest methods of backing up your data is to use software to make a clone of your hard drive onto – you guessed it – another hard drive. This duplicates everything on your computer so you can instantly access it in the case of an emergency. Thanks to the relatively inexpensive nature of external hard drives and backup software (which is often bundled with hard drives) the process is mostly painless.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

Backup hard drives are a cheap and effective way of making sure your data is safe.

File recovery

Mostly, that is, until it comes time to actually recover your data. In my experience, this method of file backup is best when your entire computer dies and you need to start from scratch, at which point a clone of your hard drive can be used to create an exact copy on a new computer. I have had to do this a few times with excellent results, and except for re-registering some serial numbers with Adobe I was up and running again in no time.

However, if you accidentally delete some data, such as an entire folder of images, and need to recover just those specific things from your backup it can be tricky depending on the software solution you are using. Apple’s Time Machine, for example, is designed to facilitate the easy recovery of an entire computer’s worth of data but many people (myself included) have found themselves more than a little frustrated when restoring individual files or folders. Microsoft includes software called Backup and Restore which will do the same thing for Windows users. Either one of these is a great solution if you want a simple way of making sure all the data on your computer is saved and stored in the event of a complete hard drive failure.

One significant benefit of both Time Machine and Windows Backup and Restore is that they run automatically in the background so you never have to think about it once you set them up. However, one drawback is that because they only backup to external hard drives, if you lose data to a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood, chances are your backup drive will be toast also. For that reason I like to keep a second backup hard drive at the office where I work and switch the hard drives out every Monday. That way even if my house explodes in a freak meteorite incident everything but the very latest files and photos will still be available on my backup drive at work.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

Mac users can use Time Machine to easily create automatic backups on an external hard drive.

Extra options

If you really want to go the extra mile with an external hard-drive-based backup plan, you can set yourself up with a multi-drive solution where all your data is copied to not only one, but several hard disks at the same time. This is called a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Drives) system and while it’s more costly than a single drive solution, it’s virtually guaranteed to protect against data loss. If one of the drives in a RAID array fails you can usually just swap it out with a fresh drive and continue backing everything up.

Finally, if you are going to use external backups it’s important to keep them encrypted so prying eyes or thieving scoundrels can’t peek at your data. Time Machine lets you do this with the click of a mouse, and Windows has an option to do this as well using a setting called BitLocker. This adds a huge layer of security to your backups while taking almost no effort on your part. I highly recommend doing this.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

BitLocker offers a great solution for Windows users who want a simple and effective backup strategy.

Hard drives are so cheap these days that it’s hard to go wrong with this type of solution. If your backup drive ever goes belly-up you can buy another one for the price of a few movie tickets. I recommend buying a drive that is double the capacity of your computer’s internal hard drive which means you can restore old copies of files long after they have been deleted from your computer.

Option #2 – Save your data to the cloud

If you don’t want to bother with the hassle of setting up an external hard drive, encrypting your data, and switching out drives every week or every month, another good option is to go with a cloud-based backup service like CrashPlan, BackBlaze, or Carbonite. These companies offer paid plans that backup all the data on your computer, or just a portion that you specify, to their own servers automatically. In terms of convenience, these services are hard to beat since they require almost no interaction from you after the initial setup.


One of the downsides is the price, as they require a recurring monthly or yearly fee which, though usually not too expensive, can add up over time. They also make the act of restoring all your data, such as in the event of a fire or flood, more difficult than just hooking up a spare hard drive with a full copy of everything. Thankfully many cloud-based services will actually mail you a hard drive with a full copy of your data on it for an additional fee if you really need to do a full restore of your entire computer. You also have the option of logging into your account from a web browser and selectively downloading individual files or folders, which can be useful if you just need to retrieve specific items and not restore your entire computer.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos - CrashPlan, BackBlaze, or Carbonite - cloud options

One of the major drawbacks of cloud-based backup options involves actually getting your data to them in the first place. While broadband internet access is becoming increasingly common around the world, upload speeds still lag far behind download speeds. According to BackBlaze, a typical home internet connection will let you upload 2GB to 4GB per day, which means it could take several months to backup your entire hard drive! If you shoot in RAW and are constantly filling up your memory cards, you might find cloud-based backup services to be quite limiting unless you have a very fast internet connection!

Other cloud-based options are available that specifically address the needs of photographers. Google Photos allows unlimited storage for JPG pictures up to 16 megapixels, and Amazon allows unlimited photo storage for Prime members. Flickr, that longtime stalwart of online photo sharing, gives users 1TB (Terabyte, or 1024 GB) of storage for free. Services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Apple’s iCloud offer paid plans that allow you to backup massive amounts of photos and other data for a fee while also syncing them across your devices.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

Even if you already share pictures on social networks, it’s a good idea to have a full backup of all your images and a dedicated cloud-based solution is a nice way to accomplish this.

Shop around for the best cloud option for your needs

If you are thinking about using a cloud-based solution I would encourage you to investigate some options and see what you think would work best for your needs. I have used CrashPlan, BackBlaze, and Carbonite, as well as solutions like Arq which store your data on the Amazon cloud. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses and because of that, it is difficult to recommend a single cloud-based solution as every individual has their own needs.

All of them are good, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them if you currently don’t have a backup solution in place. I also like to caution people that when you utilize free services like Google Photos or Flickr it’s a good idea to review their Terms of Service so you know exactly what information and personal data you are giving up in exchange for the free use of their storage.

Option #3 – DVDs and Blu-Rays

Longtime computer users might fondly remember the days when CD-ROM drives first entered the scene. In those heady days of the mid-1990s the idea of putting as much data as you could fit on an entire 500MB hard drive onto one single CD was basically a computing miracle, and as CD drives became more prevalent they also became a good way to backup data such as documents and photos.

However as digital cameras rose to prominence in the early 2000s it became painfully obvious that backing up data to CDs and, subsequently, DVDs was too slow and cumbersome to be a good solution. Burning the discs took time, and getting files off them could be a chore especially as more and more computers abandoned these types of disc drives altogether.

So why in the world would this type of solution even be considered as part of a balanced backup strategy in 2017?

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos CD and DVD

Behold the classic Compact Disc. You might not give this type of media much thought nowadays, but it can still be an essential component of a comprehensive backup strategy.

Cost and drawbacks

The answer to this question is mostly related to cost. Blank discs are cheap, and even if your computer doesn’t have a disc burner you can buy an external one for about $ 50-100. CDs hold about 600 MB of data, or enough for your vacation photos if you shot on medium-quality JPG. DVDs hold about 4.5 GB of data or a couple months of pictures (if you shoot RAW this will be more limited). Blu-Ray discs hold about 25GB of data or enough for an entire year’s worth of JPG images which make them very well suited for long-term image backup. Even if you already use a hard drive or cloud solution, it’s still a good idea to make regular backups of your pictures to some type of physical disc that you can then store in a safe deposit box or even mail to a trusted friend or family member.

One of the notable downsides to disc-based backups is that this media is prone to the same harsh realities of time as any hard drive. Sooner or later all discs that you create at home will fail due to a concept known as “bit rot” which is when the layer of dye inside a CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray that actually contains your data deteriorates over time. It might be a few years or 50 years, but it’s almost certainly going to happen to every disc you burn.

Thankfully some drives are capable of burning a special format of Blu-Ray called M-Disc which is supposed to keep your data safe for hundreds of years. Even though the actual discs are a little more expensive it could be well worth it to make sure your images aren’t lost to dust and decay over the years.

Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos

It might be worth your time to dust off that old DVD or Blu-Ray burner and use it as part of your photo backup plan.

Annual plan

When adding a disc-based component to your backup strategy I recommend making it part of an annual ritual instead of something you do monthly or weekly. Get a Blu-Ray burner so you can store all your pictures from the whole year and make the process of burning a disc and taking it to a safe deposit box an annual tradition. It might seem silly at first, but it could really save your digital life if you ever need it.

The Solution

The great challenge with backing up your digital images is that all methods have their positive and negative aspects, no one single solution is best. And very few things in life are truly permanent, so even if you physically print your pictures they will eventually fade and will also be susceptible to mold, moisture, or physical damage.

Any digital backup option is better than none at all. If you leave your photos on your computer or phone without duplicates then you are at risk of putting all your eggs in one basket which is almost certainly guaranteed to fail. The solution, then, is to do something to make sure your pictures don’t meet a premature digital demise. It could be a second hard drive, a cloud-based solution, making a Blu-Ray disk, using a combination of all three, or another method I didn’t even mention.

My father still has a hard drive sitting in his closet filled with thousands of images he may never see again. The disk failed years ago and was not backed up. The same thing has happened to many photographers around the world. Don’t let it happen to you.

Read more here:

What about you? What solution do you use to make sure your pictures are backed up and ready to access if you need them? There are hosts of other solutions I didn’t address in this article and I’m sure other DPS readers would like to know what ideas you have and what works for you. Please share in the comments below.

The post How to Create a Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Capture Mood and Atmosphere in Your Photos

24 Feb

Why is it so difficult to capture the cozy ambiance of a cafe in a picture? Or the casual atmosphere of a warm bonfire with friends on a summer night? Learning how to capture mood and atmosphere of a scene is a skill that is elusive for many photographers.

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A man fishing, in a photo that has been taken to capture the mood and emotion of the scene.

This is because the finished product isn’t only about getting the technical settings and composition correct. The image needs to evoke something in the senses; it has to capture the visceral aspects of a scene, the sights, sounds and smells so that every time you look at the picture, you are brought right back into the moment.

As always, rules in photography are made to be broken. So this list is meant to help you explore the creative aspect of how to capture mood rather than a firm lecture on how x will help you accomplish y.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things to consider when you’re trying to capture the mood, atmosphere, and emotion of a setting. Your goal; looking at the picture later brings you right back into the moment.

Candid Versus Posed

Photography is artificial. That little black box that you use to take pictures necessarily is always between you and the subject. That’s why it is really impressive to see photographers who can take incredibly natural pictures – almost as if a camera wasn’t even involved in the process.

Two boys canoeing, in a photo taken to capture the mood and atmosphere of the shot.

When capturing a moment, your goal should be to take a candid photo, where your subject(s) are unaware of the camera. This helps to create a final image where the viewer feels like a fly on the wall. A picture where everyone is staring straight at the camera, on the other hand, pulls the viewer out of the moment and draws attention to the artificiality of the process.

Walk into a room with a camera and you can see how everyone changes the way they smile, their posture, etc. Everyone wants to look good for the camera. But by being super aware of the camera, the mood of the moment is lost.

Of course, it’s not always an option to take a candid photo. This is where you need to have the skill to make a natural picture by giving direction or helping the subject feel comfortable to the point that the shot looks real, rather than staged.

Consider the Lighting

Lighting always plays a huge role in your image. To capture the atmosphere of a specific moment, your goal should be to emphasize that lighting as much as possible. Typically, a warm or cozy setting will involve soft lighting. For example, with a summer evening comes soft orange light and a radiant glow outlining people lit by the sun.

So how can you show this? Experiment with shooting with the sun behind your subjects. A camera on automatic mode will struggle with this and will make your overall exposure too dark. Try either adjusting your exposure compensation to shoot a brighter picture, or go full manual and explore the creative possibilities!

Shooting into the sun also often results in lens flare – and you can use this effect to your benefit as well. Lens flare can help add a real mood of summer and warmth to a picture.

A warm, summery picture of a couple driving a car - capture the mood and atmosphere of the shot.

Low light pictures can also really stand out. The soft glow of a bonfire or candlelight often throws deep and intriguing shadows. To capture this, you need to consider the direction of the light. Someone looking away from the light source will have their face in deep shadow – and it likely won’t make for a very interesting image. But, by turning them back towards the light, you can really bring out texture and personality.

In low light, your camera will often tell you there isn’t enough light and will flip on the pop-up flash. What should you do then?

Ditch the On-Camera Flash

Using the flash on your camera is a sure way to add an unnatural feeling to an otherwise warm and cozy atmosphere. The main reason for this is because there are different temperatures of light. Some types of light look warmer; some look colder.

The light from your flash is balanced to match the type of light you’d find under the midday sun (daylight). Light from a bonfire or candle, however, contains a lot more orange. The light from your flash will look very blue in comparison, and this mismatch of colors is easy to recognize in the finished image.

Light from the flash is also on nearly same the angle as the image. Since we don’t normally view people or objects with light coming from the same angle as our eyes, this looks strange. This also has the effect of removing the shadows and textures that give the image a sense of dimension.

Of course, the reason your camera will want to use flash is because there isn’t much available light. This brings us conveniently right to the next point…

Use a Wide Aperture

If you can’t add light with flash, you’ll need to find another way to collect enough light to capture the image. This can be done by opening up the camera’s aperture. Aperture is measured by f-stops, with a lower f-stop number (like f/4) meaning that the lens is opened wider to let in more light.

A boy looking at a lantern, where the photo has been taken in low light - capture the mood and atmosphere

Prime lenses, or lenses that don’t don’t zoom, can typically open to a wider aperture. For this reason, they are an ideal choice for capturing the atmosphere of a setting when there isn’t much light to work with.

Besides just gathering more light, a wide aperture will give your image a more precise point of focus (shallow depth of field). Whether the focus is on a person or a detail, the viewer gets a sense of being close and intimate with the scene.

The bokeh, or out of focus area created by using a wide aperture, also throws the background into a creamy blur, which both helps to remove any clutter from the shot and lets our imagination wander to fill in the blanks.

Show the Setting and Environment

A man on a sailboat, with the photo taken to show the setting and capture mood

Whether you are using a wide aperture or not, you’ll want to show the setting the get a clear sense of content. Capture the details that make the setting memorable and put everything into context.

A technique I like to use is to include an object or person in the foreground of the shot. By framing the shot with foreground elements, I can create the illusion of being a participant in the event. This technique also gives a strong sense of depth to the image, which can help make it a more memorable photo.

A man on a mountain, taking a photograph

Capturing Emotions

More often than not, our fondest memories are closely tied together with the people we experienced them with.

For this reason, a good way to capture the essence of a moment is to get a shot of people interacting with each other. It can be through buoyant smiles, a tight hug, or a tear of joy rolling down a cheek.

A soccer player is nervous as her team takes penalty shots - capture mood

It isn’t always so easy to spot these little moments, and they also tend to disappear quickly. Likewise, it takes a bit of observation and creativity to find the moments that really bring out the drama or happiness of a scene.

Bringing out the Textures

Maybe you can’t capture sound and smell with a photo – but you can appeal to those senses by bringing attention to details that are familiar and remind us of a distinct sound or smell.

The sharp texture of stone or the gritty feeling of sand are very familiar to us, so having those textures prominent in a picture helps us experience the image more strongly.

A man explores a snowy entranceway, with sharp textures giving the photo a mood

Editing Your Photos

Often, you can really bring out the mood of a shot during the editing process. Whether you are using Photoshop or a simpler editing program, here are some tips for emphasizing the style you want in your final image.

Consider how color influences your photo

Color is important for establishing the mood of an image. Muted or darker colors can give a feeling of reflection, sadness, or calm. Brighter and vibrant colors, on the other hand, suggest happiness.

Color temperature

A picture’s white balance can be set or adjusted to bring make an image feel hotter or colder. The difference between a warm summer evening and a cool winter’s night should be evident in your pictures.

White balance works on a sliding scale from yellow to blue. Experiment to find the right setting for your image. If you shoot in RAW, you will be able to freely adjust your white balance without any quality loss in your picture. If you shoot JPG, there won’t be nearly as much leeway.

A photo edited in two different ways, showing how white balance can influence the mood of an image

The strong blue tones in the original image on the left feel calming and introspective, while the edit on the right feels much more energetic. These two versions also give a very different impression of how warm or cold the morning was.

The Film Look and Experimenting with Black and White

Some editing styles can help invoke a sense of nostalgia. The “film look” adds a feeling of timelessness to a picture, even to those who are too young to remember the days of taking and developing pictures on film.

An image of a snowboarder, edited in a nostalgic and retro style

The editing of this picture gives it a retro feel, as though it was taken several decades earlier.

If you want to play around with this style, there are many different presets and filters that can get you started. This style will typically desaturate colors, remove some contrast, and add some grain.

Converting your image to black and white can also give your photos this sense of nostalgia. Play around with your edit and see what you can come up with!

An image edited in black and white to give it a feeling of melancholy and emotion

A black and white edit on this image makes the mood feel much more melancholic or thoughtful.

So good luck with your practice of taking images that capture the mood, atmosphere, and emotion of a scene. Until scientists invent a time-machine, it’s the best way we have to travel back and experience a friendly place or memory once again.

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StyleShoots Live robotic photography studio uses AI to shoot and process photos

24 Feb

A new robotic ‘smart studio’ device aims to increase brands’ photography efficiency and productivity by replacing, to a certain degree, professional human photographers with artificial intelligence and a robotic camera/lighting system. Called StyleShoots Live, this smart studio is equipped with robotic lighting, a Canon 1DX Mark II camera, and machine intelligence for shooting, processing and exporting photos and video automatically.

StyleShoots, the Dutch company behind the smart studio, unveiled the product on Wednesday, saying it is ‘designed to create instantly edited video and stills for fashion lifestyle and eCommerce shoots in minutes.’ This is made possible via a large steel enclosure in which a model is posed. A variety of technologies then make technical decisions, adjusting lighting and camera settings as necessary to shoot content that matches brand-specified customized styles.

The resulting content is automatically processed, including things like cropping images to certain aspect ratios or stitching together multiple videos. The final content can then be reviewed by the human in charge and, if approved, exported for various platforms. A human is given control over the entire process via a built-in iPad Pro with a Live View mode of the model.

Speaking about the smart studio, StyleShoots’ Head of Product Anders Jorgensen said:

‘Fashion brands need to keep their customers engaged with fresh content every day – and video shared on social media is the most powerful form of storytelling. To keep up with the continuous demand, StyleShoots Live creates stills and video ready for publishing on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and websites within minutes – without any manual editing or post production.’

Of course, such a studio raises concerns about technology and its potential ability to replace human photographers with machines. In response to that concern, StyleShoots explained in a long FAQ sheet that it didn’t design its smart studio to be a replacement for humans. ‘To run a fashion shoot,’ the company explained, ‘you need a creative eye to compose the shot, pose the model and style the clothes — a robot can’t do that (yet).’

Source: StyleShoots

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