Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Get the Goods: What's in a (Domain) Name?

O be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
- Shakespeare

Shakespeare hit the nail on the head that time, didn't he? I never realized exactly how important a name can be for my company until I tried to get a domain name for it and realized it had already been purchased!

Becoming a professional photographer meant I had to get schooled, very quickly, on many aspects involved in the trade, including internet presence, marketing, blogging and even learning HTML to customize my website. I knew little about domain names and was very naive about the process. It took me a while to come up with my company name, and when I did, I didn't stop to think that someone else smarter and faster than me might have come up with the same great idea. But as you guessed it, when I went to to register, it was already taken....along with every derivative you could think, including .net and .org. All kinds of cuss words!

My mindset didn't improve as I continued to dig online for information, discovering the controversy surrounding "cybersquatters," who register, traffick in, or use a domain name with "bad faith intent" to make a buck from a legitimate trademark belonging me! It appeared as if the person or company that owned had been "squatting" on the site for eight years without actually using it since all I got was error messages whenever I tried to find the site online? I quickly bought up all the other ways you can say my business name before deciding to go with as my main site URL.

But was using the hyphen a mistake that would end up confusing my clients and costing me potential sales later? And was the original owner of the domain name that I really wanted squatting or not?(Cue the Batman soundtrack) "Tune in next week faithful readers to see how our heroine nipped this in the bud!"

Need Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name Check out this article.

(I just wanted to thank my friend Wulf for giving me this idea to share my experiences trying to secure my domain name. Check out his blog here).

POTW: SpringTime

Here is my entry for this week's Colorado 4X4 Shutterbug forum "Photo of the Week" Contest. The theme was "Springtime." For this picture, I stayed close to home and shot a picture of a new bud among the Virginia Creeper that is slowly trying to take over my whole yard. It amazes me how this plant will die back to nothing during the winter and then transform into this monstrous entity that will grow on, over and within ANYTHING, including cement and the sides of my house, like some nightmare that keeps getting bigger every time you try to chop it back.

For now, this single bud is very lovely as it appears to cling to life amid almost skeletal remains seen in the background. A wide aperture was able to center the focus of the image on the bud and blur out the background. I did some post processing in Picasa called "Focal Black and White" which isolates the bud even more. I finished up with a "Soft Focus" and did some light touch up. Even though I have Photoshop CS3, I still use Picasa to organize my photos and do some preliminary editing before switching over to the CS3. I've tried Lightroom, and I still don't feel comfortable with it yet, so I'm sticking with what I know for now. I do intend on taking a Lightroom class, because it definitely has features that Picasa doesn't have yet, including manipulation of metadata and embedding copyright information.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From the Peanut Gallery

In an email Brian C. Wheeler writes:

"Loved your Denver Darkroom story. I was out blog surfing and came upon yours and started to read and can't tell you how much you described me to a Tee. Your writing put it really well. I also can't tell you how many photographers I've been intimidated by just because they have a $2,000 lens and have the additude to spare thing going. I've spent a great deal of time wasted about measuring up to someone else's standards when the only ones you need to worry about is your additude to self and God. I hope some jr highers come about to read this. Very cool story, Thanks!"

Hey there Brian, I couldn't have said it better myself! I think there is something in all of us that can't help but to try to see what the other guy/gals are shooting with. Sometimes I just want to drool and other times I'm jealous that I can't afford what they've got yet. All of these things we are feeling is normal human emotion. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling because I don't think emotions are good are bad, they just are.

But what I really like about what you wrote is the fact that you realized those emotions were limiting you, and you don't plan on letting that happen anymore. So I shoot with a Canon Rebel XTi. It's not the best camera out there, but it's the best that I could afford at the time, and I plan on getting everything out of it that I can until I can afford another camera. Sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got. You already know I'm one of those folks who thinks it's not about the type of equipment you use; it's about the photographer who is using the equipment. Good luck on your blog!

Check out Brian's entre into Blogdom on his new site.

Q and A: Tips on Getting Paid Customers

Yeah! I've been getting a lot of comments and questions lately from readers and passersby of my blog, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. One of the hardest things about being a journalist is that you often don't get as much feedback as you would like about your work. And the only time you do is when you've just messed something up, so it's easy to get disillusioned or cynical. When someone takes the time to write to me, it really touches my heart, and the encouragement for my photography will never be forgotten.

I make it a point to answer people who respond to my articles that run in the Denver Post (even when they are telling me how awful they think I am); and I wanted to do the same here on my personal/business blog. To that end, I'm going to start a series of posts to show my readers some love and answer questions when I can.

REDTHEDUNNS ASKS: Any tips on how to get paid customers??? You know-to share the wealth of knowledge back with the Digital Photography School people?

ANSWER: Hello Redthedunn, thanks for your question. Here's one tip that I've learned along the way. Try to take advantage of every opportunity thrown your way because things tend to snowball. I got my first paid client thanks to Efrain Cruz, the owner of Illuminate Photography Workshops in Denver. A client needed Efrain to shoot at a dinner/reception being held by the Denver Womens League of Voters, but Efrain had another committment. So Efrain sent out an email to several of his students letting them know about the opportunity. All we had to do was email the contact.

Denver Womens League of Voters annual dinner

I was shocked to find out later that I was the ONLY student who contacted the source! I don't know why the other students didn't. Mind you, I fought with myself because I didn't think I had the experience. But how are you going to get experience unless you GET OUT THERE? I got the assignment (see photos here) and I passed out business cards to everyone who would take them. The following month, one of those folks who got my business card contacted me later to shoot for a similar event for the Allied Jewish Apartments (see photos here) .....and one thing led to another and another, and another. You never know who are you going to meet at these kinds of events or who might need your services later.

Allied Jewish Apartments 36th Chai Celebration

Lessons learned:

1) Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, at least until you are so busy that you have to start turning things down.

2) Take business cards with you every where you go and pass them out! You never know when that initial contact will lead you to your next assignment.

3) Take advice from clients when they are gracious enough to give it.

The "Grip and Grin" Shot

Nancy Ulrich with the Denver Womens League knew this was my first big assignment, and she was extremely helpful in telling me how to improve my skills. Organizations tend to need what I like to call "Grip and Grin" shots for newspaper society pages. Those are the images where everybody groups together in a photo and smiles. I personally hate those kind of shots, but Ulrich helped me see that what the client wants should be the most important thing. I didn't take enough of those shots during this assignment because of my own foolish personal bias. But I took more of them during the next shoot, which pleased that client.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Get Out There: Images Submitted for Public Gallery Showing

On Saturday, I submitted four images to possibly be included in a public gallery showing. The Denver Darkroom where I took my first digital photography course not only teaches people how to create pieces of art, but it's also very instrumental in finding ways to showcase and sell students' work throughout the community. I blogged about the school's first student exhibit at a local restaurant. Students' photographs will be displayed and sold again during an exhibit being held at Arts on 7th complex next month.

One entire section will be devoted to Denver Darkroom students, and since this is a one-night showing, everything will be priced to sell. Jeffrey Rupp, the Darkroom's exhibits director, said the pieces I chose to enter were daring and he can't wait to see how people are going to react. I have to admit, the images I chose showcase a new side of my photographic talents, namely those artistic nude and boudoir shots that my clients have been clamouring for. Rupp said that if I ever wanted to take a risk in my photography, now is the time to do it in these less formal exhibits.

So I went BIG....meaning I printed out huge 20x30 poster sizes of the images you see throughout this post. The photos caused quite a stir when they were printed at Wolf Camera, as the staff and customers stopped whatever they were doing to see them as they came fresh and hot off the printer. "I love printing good photos!" said the head print technician. She actually came out of her office and helped me frame them. I'm hoping that initial response will bode well for potential sales. And since I got to submit four, I went ahead and added my signature shot of Teri and her daughter Avery because it is one of my personal favs.

As usual, I had problems deciding how to price the photos, so I went with a friend's suggestion to multiply the cost of the print and frame and multiply it by 3 (to cover the costs, make a profit for printing and framing a third image, and put money away for savings). I decided to charge $150 (the $30 for the poster-size print plus the $20 for the frame multiplied by 3) for each one. I feel comfortable with that, since the suggested pricing range for the exhibit was $75 to $250. Maybe it's still too low, but I'm hoping for a quick sale. I need some cash for more classes!

Instructor's Tip: Clean Backgrounds for Wildlife


My photography instructor Russ Burden has always been a stickler about keeping backgrounds clean and simple to really make the subject pop. One of his primary criticisms of some of my past photographs was to clean up a distracting background. So this week's "Instructor's Tip" came as no surprise.

To learn more about how Russ took the following photo in this post, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

"Whether your pursuit of wildlife photography takes you to Africa to
capture the Big 5, Alaska to get shots of migrating caribou, or your
backyard for images of butterflies and insects, the thought of
capturing the perfect specimen motivates us to continue our pursuit.
But many photographers limit their quest to just this goal and
overlook an equally important facet of their image making - the
background. Regardless of how perfect the subject is, if the
background is busy or competes for attention with the animal, the
photograph will fall short.

Backgrounds in a photograph should not draw the viewer’s eye away
from the main subject. These distractions may include, but are not
limited to, bright spots that command attention, a dark area where a
part of the animal merges and becomes one with it, in focus elements
that draw the viewer’s eye, and areas of strong color that compete
for attention. Lessen these distractions:


- Russ

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Breaking News: Get Your Pictures Published in Pop Photo

Don't miss your chance to get published in Pop Photo College Edition.

Join Pop Photo College Edition and Sony for a special on-campus event with free admission that's open to all on MONDAY, April 28, 2008 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University, 289 Moody Street, Studio H, Waltham, MA 02453

The first 20 who RSVP (212-767-6009) will have their portfolios reviewed by experts.

This Weekend: Shooting a Wedding Expo

This Sunday I will hopefully get a chance to break into wedding photography since I will be one of the lead photographers at the inaugural "Forever Yours Diamonds & Chocolate Wedding Expo."

The event will be the second time I've worked with Remo Men's Wear, Cache' and Swim N Sports, all clothing stores in a local area malls. But I'm especially looking forward to making inroads with companies involved in aspects of the wedding industry, including D&K Jewelers and Chocolate Thoughts Catering. It will be a great opportunity to network with potential clients who will be attending the event. Several hundred are expected to attend.

Last year, I shot pictures at a very informal re-dedication ceremony for one couple who had been married for 50 years, but wanted to renew their vows. I was hoping to book more weddings, but instead, my portraiture and coverage of community events picked up, keeping me busy well through the winter holidays. I'm hoping that the extra six months of experience under my belt will give me the confidence and the skills to try again. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get Connected: Building Your Photoblog

Last week Natalie Norton's Digital Photography School post about setting up a photoblog inspired some of my readers to create their own sites showcasing their photography and ideals. In her follow-up post, Natalie shared more ways to build and boost our photoblogs for greater readership.

Here's the short list:
Keep it Fresh
Share the Love
Keep it Real
Keep it Simple
Larger than Life (posting large photos)
Piracy is Better than Obscurity
Know your Numbers (using analytical tools to study your progress)

I would highly recommend reading the entire post because I find her witty and engaging. I'm still very new to blogging myself, so it's great to use these techniques to produce something that my readers (as well as myself) will continue to find useful. There has been debate on many of the photography sites I frequent about whether it's a good thing to share what's happening in your personal life on a business blog. I have decided (and it seems Natalie thinks so too if you read her point about "Keeping it Real") that being open about what's happening in my world helps others relate to me and know what to expect about the product I can produce for them.

Did you start a new photoblog thanks to Natalie's tips? If so, send me a message and I will add links to your site. I totally agree with Natalie about the importance of "Sharing the Love" in Blogdom. Earlier this week I was so psyched to discover that someone visited my blog after reading about it in a fellow photographer's blog post. Professional Photographer Chad Phillips listed my blog among others he likes to follow. Given how many blogs are out there and how much we have pulling at our attention, I think that's one of the best compliments you can receive. Thanks Chad, and I look forward to staying in contact with you in the future.

POTW: Fire

Here is my entry for this week's Colorado 4X4 Shutterbug forum "Photo of the Week" Contest. The theme was "Fire" and I immediately knew that I was going to interpret this concept by not having any fire in the image at all! Come on, that would have been too obvious, right? ;) (OK, I admit that I did take a pic of the first lit fireplace I could find, but when I saw the images, none of them inspired me, plus I thought other submitters might have the same thing).

What I like about participating in these weekly or monthly challenges is the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try to reimagine concepts or ideals through photography. During my weekend getaway with my boyfriend (we were celebrating my first year as a photographer) we drove through parts of Colorado that had been overcome with forest fire. Our conversation drained away into silence when we saw the devastation of the 2002 Hayman Fire, a senseless wildfire caused by arson (reputedly started by former federal forestry officer, Terry Barton, who claimed she was attempting to burn a letter from her estranged husband in a no-fire designated area). The fire torched over 138,000 acres and burned across four different counties. Six people died.

I tried to capture some of what was lost when I took this image where dead trees now stand charred and stark. My wide angle 16-35mm was a great choice for encompassing the vastness of the destruction. I'm probably just seeing too much into this, but I like how the curving road appears to lead to the snowcapped mountains and parts untouched by the fire. Seems like hope to me, maybe even forgiveness and rebirth.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Aside: New Photography Business Causing Eye Strain

An eye doctor confirmed something that I had been worried about: I need glasses!

During the past month, I had been noticing that by the time I made it home from work at The Denver Post, I often had a headache and my eyes were watery, red and painful. The staff nurse suggested I move the computer monitor within arms length from my face and adjusted my chair height. That worked for about a week, but the pain came back. I figured I probably needed glasses so I set up an eye appointment.

What I didn't expect was to have the eye doctor tell me that she thinks I need reading glasses because I've been spending too much time at the computer! Working 8 to 10 hour shifts as a reporter at the Denver Post and then editing photos for my business in the morning before I go into the office and then well into the evening after I get home from the office has taken a toll on my eyes. Along with glasses, I had to promise the doc that I would get up from my computer every 2 hours to give my eyes a rest. Even a 5 minute break away from the glare of the screen will be helpful to my eyes that are under a lot of strain right now from all my nitpicking and editing in Photoshop (not to mention the strain on my pocketbook since those glasses cost me nearly $300!!!!)

So learn this lesson now: take care of your eyes and yank yourself away from the computer, or suffer later! Hopefully my clients will think the glasses make me look more professional. ;)

Get the Job Done: Professional Portrait Session a Success

My last client emailed me today to say that she loved her portrait session! She chose 35 of the nearly 60 images I photographed of her, including professional shots she will use on her new business website (she is a professional errand runner), glamour portraits and artistic nudes. We are in the process of setting up additional shoots throughout the year for her, as well as surprise sessions she has planned for relatives and friends for birthday gifts.

This was the first time I took professional portraits, so I'm very pleased to be able to add these to my portfolio. I had my friend Dave Scott take a look at the images, and he gave me some suggestions. Dave hosts the Business for Photographers blog. One of his more successful niches is business portraits. Why? Dave says they are a great way to jump start your photography business because "nothing beats the business portrait for jobs that lead to more jobs."

Here are some of Dave's tips:

"I am always careful with my camera angle for business women. I
almost always use a camera height that is at her eye level. Lower
portrays authority and masculinity, higher feminine and submissive. I
like to keep the camera neutral for women for business portraits so
that male counterparts don't feel threatened by too much authority
and the businesswoman is not portrayed submissively."

Need more tips for business portraits? Preorder Dave's new eBook, "Shooting Business Portraits." The final editing is being done now and it will be released on May 20th 2008.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get the Goods: Give Mom the Gift of Photography

Having a hard time figuring out what to get for Mom this Mother's Day? How about spending some quality time with her when you both attend a photography class? In this great deal offered through Digital Photo Academy, when a course gift certificate is purchased for a mother, when redeemed, the gift giver can attend the same class with Mom at no additional cost.

Personalized Mother’s Day gift certificates can be purchased by calling 1-877-DPACAD-1. The Digital Photo Academy by Panasonic LUMIX, offers courses at three levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) making it accessible for a mom with any level of digital photography skills. Gift certificates can be purchased for any level. Give mom the gift of legacy when she learns how to capture her family's memories and special moments through images.

The Digital Photo Academy courses are available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

If you are in the Denver area, of course I recommend registering for a class with DPA instructor Russ Burden. I've taken numerous courses with Russ and my readers know he provides the weekly "Instructor's Tip" that appears on my blog on Mondays. Russ is out of town this week taking a group of students to Monument Valley as part of his nature photography tours. But he will be back next week. A posting of DPA classes from July through December will be on the website very soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ANNIVERSARY: Celebrating First Year of Photography

THEN (This was a photo I took in my first digital photography class. We were studying aperture, and I turned to friend and fellow photographer Eric Strom to help explain it to me. I took this photo in his office at The Denver Post).

NOW (I took this photo last weekend during a paid portfolio session with Mea J. I notice that I seem to be developing a signature image, and a favorite creative style of intentional overexposure which lends an aura of beauty to this image.)

This month marks the first year anniversary of my journey to become a professional photographer. I took my first digital photography class this month last year at the Denver Darkroom. Boy, I have come a long way from being too afraid to take my camera out of the box to where I am now, actually being paid to shoot photography sessions in my home studio.

I wrote about how I almost dropped out of my first class on my blog The new technology frightened me, and I feared I would never get a handle on it. Plus, I was still suffering from heart palpatations. The $1,000 I paid for my Rebel XTi was one of the single largest, heart-quickening luxury expenses I've ever purchased for myself. In a world where digital cameras cost less than $100, I was having a hard time justifying the expense of a DSLR.

Every day since those scary moments have been an incredible progression into discovering a new passion, a new lease on life. Because I'm learning something new, I can't wait to get out of bed to see what is coming next. My photography seems to have affected my personality and my confidence. Gaining mastery over a new skill gave me the foundation I needed to mourn my mother's death and move on to a life I know look forward to experiencing. And when I see her again, I will have a whole mess of photos to show her....including the thousands I'm sure I will be taking soon of my new nephew born last week, yet another reason to keep my eye to the future.

To celebrate, I plan on taking a mini-vacation road trip touring the southern part of the state where my boyfriend grew up, taking pictures of the Great Sand Dunes and relaxing. So this is my shout out to all photographers everywhere: Take the time out to think about how far you've come and celebrate your triumphs, no matter if you've been shooting for the past month or for the past decade!

Happy Shooting everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Breaking News: Images featured on Flickr Explore

I discovered today that two of my photos were featured in Flickr's Explore seen here. Motion: Panning, 2. Final Edit: Backyard Visitor.

Explore is a Flickr feature with the intent of showing you "some of the most awesome photos on Flickr." Photos are automatically selected by computer according to a secret algorithm called Interestingness (see below for more about that).

Considering how many images are uploaded to Flickr on a daily basis, I think it's an amazing feat to have something of yours noted and featured based on how many other people took the time to view a post or post a comment. Thank you to everyone who has commented on my photos in the past, offering sorely needed advice and criticism to improve my images.

Get Connected: DPS Update -- Blog Power, Why You Should Have a Photoblog

I got this Digital Photography School update in my email today about the importance of maintaining a photoblog for amateur and professional photographers alike. In this article Natalie Norton discusses how creating a personal photography weblog can help you hone your skills as a photographer, and I wholeheartedly agree. Networking through my blog has allowed me to come in contact with fabulous peers and colleagues from all over the world who offer inspiration and guidance. I feel obligated to create the best work and give the most up-to-date information for my readers and I'm so proud to have all 12 of them and hope to have more as I continue blogging. You guys rock! I met photographer and fellow blogger Dave Scott (check out his site at Business for Photographers) through my photoblog, and he has been a great resource for my burgeoning photography career. As a matter of fact, Dave featured one of my photos (see below) from a recent fashion show in his blog and I can't wait to highlight some of his.

Here are highlights from Natalie's article. Visit the DPS for more informational articles.

10 Reasons to Set Up a Photoblog

Here are 10 reasons you may want to consider getting a photo blog of your own, particularly if you really are serious about becoming a notable photographer and/or making the jump to the status of professional.

1. It’ll Turn Up the Heat
2. Track Your Progress
3. Feedback
4. Marketing
5. Publicity
6. Relationship
7. Announcements (Pay special attention to this one. I think this is a great idea! Thanks Natalie, and I look forward to trying this one out)

"I commonly get people asking me how I built my portfolio so quickly. Well, here you go: I announced promotions (and hosted give aways) on my blog. When I noticed that I needed to do more head shots to plump up that aspect of my portfolio, for example, I did a post on my blog offering one lucky winner a free head shot sitting. Then I offered discounted sittings to 3 other readers ($30 for a half hour down from $100). I quickly had filled the discounted slots and booked a handful of other clients at full price. It was astonishing. It all happened within the space of a couple of HOURS. Lets say you’re not really prepared enough to be charging but are desperate for experience. In the VERY beginning, when I had JUST bought my first DSLR, I spread the word that I was looking to gain experience and would be happy to photograph families for their Christmas cards for free. I was RIDICULOUSLY BUSY for about a month before Christmas that year. It was a fantastic way to get some experience under my belt in a relatively short amount of time. I know it seems crazy to give away so much time for free, but I’ll tell you what, I was so passionate, so desperate to learn about photography, I probably would have paid THEM to LET me take their pictures. Actually getting out and SHOOTING is FAR more effective in my opinion than any class you could take. EVER."
8. Networking
9. Testimonials
10. It’s Plain ol’ Fun

POTW: Exteriors

Here is my entry for this week's Colorado 4X4 Shutterbug forum "Photo of the Week" Contest. The theme was "Exteriors," so I interpreted that concept by taking a picture of the steps leading up to my boyfriend's mountain cabin in Pine Junction, CO. I love texture in images, so I wanted to try to capture the wonderful carvings in the stone steps and the hand chopped logs used to construct the cabin built in the 1920s. I tried some versions where I cloned out the metal railing, but I decided to leave it in because none of my editings looked natural, and I hate that awful repeated pattern that can develop from unsuccessful cloning attempts. I waited until close to sunset to get this image so I could get the last rays of sunlight playing near the steps.

While I like this picture, I honestly think I prefer another shot taken by my friend and fellow shooter Chester Bullock. Instead of voting for my image, I think I will vote for his because of its simplicity and impact, given that Denver is known as "The Mile High City."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get the Goods: Business cards for under $2

Did you just buy a desktop or laptop through Dell Financial Services? If so, pay special attention to your bill this month and don't mistake a great opportunity for junk mail. Inside your bill you will find a great deal for purchasing 250 premium business cards for just $1.99 (regular price is $19.99) from Vista Print.

To redeem this special offer, go to:
Get 90 percent off large stamps too by going to:

I bought my first set of cards from Vista Print, and I loved them because they were easy to design. Vista offers high-quality, full-color printing, hundreds of designs to choose from (check out the Art and Photography section) plus the option to upload your own photo, logo or design. And I also like the horizontal format layout for more added difference. I've been handing my cards out like crazy, so this is a great way to replenish my own stack.

Here is the photo I'm thinking about using for the back of my card. I wanted it to be eye-catching, elegant and artistic, showing off some of my Photoshop skills. What do you think about it?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Decisive Moment

Enjoy this week's Photo Tip by instructor Russ Burden. To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took an intermediate and advanced course with Russ and he has continued to be a strong source of encouragement and education as I have progressed in my photography.

Decisive Moment
Any time there’s action, motion, or people and animals are your
subjects, the moment at which the image is made is crucial. There
will always be that split second in time that the movement or
expression is at its optimum point. Learning how to anticipate and
capture that instant takes practice, knowledge of your subject, and

Many photographers have staked their claim in being able to capture
the decisive moment. Casual viewers of these types of images can
often be heard saying how lucky the photographer was to press the
shutter just when the action reached its peak. But what they don’t
understand is that certain photographers are consistently “lucky” and
are able to reproduce this luck over and over again. Obviously,
there’s a skill involved.

Some of the ingredients that go into the knowing when to press the
shutter are becoming thoroughly familiar with your subject to be able
to anticipate its movement, being patient and waiting for that once
in a lifetime look or expression, and being persistent by working and
reworking the same subject to get that one special image.


Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

To learn more about how Russ took the following photos in this post, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Get the Goods: Gary Fong Ringlight Flash Discount

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breaking News: Focused on People



I made a critical decision this morning to specialize my business, focusing on people in my photographs instead of landscapes or wildlife. A friend suggested that a do that a while ago, and I fought the suggestion because some of my favorite shots (and my only contest winners) have not had people in them. However, I think people will ultimately buy an image with other people in it as long as they can relate to either the faces or the activities being presented. Put in another way, people BUY photos of people.

I don't want to give up on landscapes or wildlife though. I will focus on these type of shots in my free time when I'm not trying to please a client, but satisfy my own growth and progress. I have always struggled with this type of photography, and I would like to improve those skills. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is an excellent landscape photograher, but he struggles with people and directing models. Oh well, the grass is always greener I guess.

My colleague Dave Scott warns new photographers not to specialize. I agree with him, and while I will focus primarily on people, I think "picturing people in their world" will leave me open to many different types of photography, including events, sports, portraits and weddings.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tricks of the Trade: Subject Matter and Composition

I am introducing yet another new category that will run on Saturdays called "Tricks of the Trade," featuring insider tips from professional photographers in the field. This week I introduce you to Detroit DPA Instructor Don Werthman, a Native Detroiter who brings more than 25 years of imaging experience to Panasonic LUMIX, Digital Photo Academy participants.

by Werthmann, Don

I frequently think of the camera as a sketchbook that allows me to practice compositional strategies and sharpen my awareness of how to organize space within the frame. When those moments in life that really matter occur — personally or professionally — I must have my camera ready, in addition to the lessons of how “studies” like these inform my approach to image composition. So when I happened upon this scene during a walk about on the grounds of the abandoned Delaware copper mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I had to bring the Lumix L-1 up to it. The mid-nineteenth century structure has been in a ruined state for several decades, and so the tree growth present within its walls presented this stunning juxtaposition of natural world growth and industrial ruins. This scene compelled me to stop and study it for several minutes, and I proceeded to make fourteen different exposures of with the Panasonic Lumix L-1, with its RAW file format selected. Here’s why:

Organizing Space

The intuitive side of me saw order and possibility, and the thinking side of me immediately revealed a few keywords; “I see proximity, similarity, and closure here.” The proximity of the red brickwork window/door frames in the background becomes a group of information, which is easy to unify to the arched brickwork in the foreground. The similarity in the stonework in the foreground and the background provides strong unification by itself, but the fact that the bark of the birch trees are similar — in color and general design — makes the scene more intriguing. Finally, because the window frame visually cuts the top and bottom of each tree off, the viewer’s mind completes the rest of the information — this is called closure. If part of an object is subtracted, but still has enough information to be identified, then the viewer’s mind can mentally complete what is missing. It’s an effective technique, because the viewer doesn’t need to see an entire tree to understand what it is.

Shooting Strategy

Many people are bewildered when I tell them I shoot so many frames of a particular scene. A good habit of photography is providing choices from which to edit when returning home. Each exposure has a subtle correction of point of view, lens focal length, a tilt of the tripod needs correcting, etc. These comparisons, in the editing stage of a photograph’s life are what help the photographer determine the best rendering of the situation. I ended up choosing a frame with both the foreground and background sharp, which required f/16 to obtain this particular depth-of-field. I created other versions with selective focus and shallow depth-of-field with a wide aperture setting, like f/4 — some with the foreground sharp, some with it out of focus and soft — but in the end those don’t have the same visual impact. The Lumix L-1, by the way, handles much like my traditional film cameras do, with an aperture ring mounted on the lens, and a shutter speed dial mounted on the body. I really enjoy that.

Think of your camera as a high-tech sketchbook, and the really meaningful photographic moments that unfold in the future can benefit, because you did some prep work. Be ready for what can appear around the next bend on a walk, and what some hindsight thinking during the editing stage can reveal. Thinking one, or two steps ahead in the process can make a significant difference in the quality of the images made. When you’re lucky, be ready.

Friday, April 11, 2008

This Weekend: Portrait Shoot

I am going to introduce a new section of my blog this morning called "This Weekend." Since I do most of my paid shoots on the weekend, I thought it would be fitting for me to let my readers know on Fridays what I've got planned. Then I could write about my successes or ways I hope to improve the following Friday.

Tomorrow, I will be shooting a client that was referred to me through Teri. Teri is the lovely woman gracing my banner, as well as the first client to allow me to take glamour and artistic nude shots. Teri's happiness with the shoot was so infectious that her neighbor decided to have photos taken of herself as well. Initially, my new client asked to have some business portraits taken of her to use in her marketing and promotions. But later this week, she whispered into the phone that she had been thinking about some artistic nude poses she would like to try out as well. ;)

I think my colleague and fellow blogger Dave Scott may have been right on when he suggested that glamour and boudoir portraits could be a profitable market for me to explore. This weekend's shoot will be the third I've done in less than a month. The photo above is a shot of a client who gave boudoir shots to her boyfriend as a gift. Dave shot 11 boudoir sessions that were used as Valentines gifts this year. "Start getting prepared for next year!!!" he wrote to me in an email.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Get the Goods: Commercial Insurance

I took another important step today in securing the success of my photography business by getting commercial insurance.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that their homeowner's insurance policy will cover damages that occur to their home businesses. But basic property insurance does not protect you from liability and property damage. Most homeowner's policies limit loss of business property to $2,500 and won't cover losses that happen away from the home. My new desktop computer and laptop computer alone cost me $10,000, not to mention what I paid for the camera, lenses and studio lighting equipment. And what would I do if a drunken guest at a wedding tripped over my tripod? The hospital bills could ruin me. So I definitely needed a more comprehensive policy.

My Farmer's insurance agent, whom I've worked with for more than a decade, reviewed different coverage options, pointing out what was covered in my basic homeowner's insurance policy and what wouldn't be. We settled on a Retail Business Owners Policy, known as a BOP. BOP covers:
professional and product liability for off-premises coverage
personal liability for bodily injuries clients could sustain when they come to my studio
fire and flood protection
computer hardware and data loss, building contents
property and equipment that is damaged or stolen
business income
home-based accounts receivable
money securities.

I could have opted for a less costly policy, but the $55 a month I will be paying will offer me a great sense of peace of mind. And in the future, I could always add riders for more coverage, including additions for signs, fences, and other outdoor property not attached to a building and intangible property (good will, trademarks, etc.) and improvements to my home studio.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Get the Job Done: How Much Should I Charge?

Something has continued to plague me ever since I decided to start my photography business: How do you know what to charge clients for your services?

A lot of my anxiety comes from past experiences. I remember seeing lovely artwork and photography hanging in exhibits and displays at restaurants. I always wanted one or two, or 10 to buy for myself....but I would cringe when I saw listed prices of $100 or more for a single print (and not even a framed one at that!) I knew I could never afford to pay for such a luxury. Now that I am the one peddling my own art for a profit, I often feel guilty asking others to pay for my work.

I charged a client $350 for a shoot, and then couldn't stop myself from saying things like, "let's barter or make a deal if you think that's too much!" Even the editor of the Denver Post balked when I charged him only $150 for a family portrait session where I even traveled all the way to his house to take the pics! He told me I wasn't charging enough! I basically sucker punched myself.

According to photographer Julia Woods, because every studio's product is different, "cost of sale is the only way to accurately price what you sell." Woods and her husband photographer Jeff Woods are official spokespersons for Canon USA, Explorers of Light. In her article, "The Mystery of Pricing," Julia Woods says to start with the truth of what it cost to produce an image. Adjust your prices based on the cost of the photograph itself, retouching time, spraying, shipping from the lab and packaging, then multiply that number by 4 in order to reach a profitable price point of 25% COS. The 2005 Financial Benchmark Survey put out by the Professional Photographers of America shows that successful studios all have a COS at 25% or less of their gross income.

Using this example, Woods estimates that an 8X10 should cost a client $98.80. Here is the break down:

8X10 print: $3
Retouching: $15
Spray: $.95
Lab shipping: $2
Packaging: $3.75
(box $2, tissue paper $.25, sticker $.50, bag $1)
Total: $24.70 X 4 = $98.80

My current clients would never pay $100 for a single 8X10! So Woods suggests reducing the amount of retouching or the quality of packaging. Woods created a three-tiered pricing structure, offering cheaper 8X10s with little or no retouching, a middle priced 8X10 with average retouching and a higher priced 8X10 with all retouching. Woods and her husband Jeff used that system to gradually work their way up to more affluent clientele that would pay the asking price for a completely retouched 8X10.

Need more advice? My new friend and photographer Dave Scott offered me this in an email:

"Many newer photographers shoot themselves in the foot that way...You need to make a living. You are not selling prints. You are selling your ability, your time, and
if for editorial or commercial usage you are licensing the rights to
use the photograph. The price of a print pales in comparison to those

Many photographers complain about the lowball photographers that
charge $50 for a portrait session that lasts an hour and includes 4
8x10 retouched poses. I like those photographers. They weed out my
customers because they would never hire me in the first place. They
only shop by price.

You offer a valuable service to a certain set of clients. You just
need to market to bring in those clients!!"

Located in the Portland Oregon metro area, Dave Scott Photographic provides photography for commercial, editorial and private commission clients Worldwide. He has nearly three decades worth of experience photographing architecture, interiors, real estate, product, fashion, business and executive portraiture. Dave's blog Business for Photographers includes ideas for optimizing a successful photography business. I've already learned some great tips to help get me started in advertising my company. I think this postcard marketing strategy is a great idea! I enjoyed reading this one too about finding money to start up your business. And Dave is very responsive to his readers, answering their specific questions while at the same time offering information that everyone else can relate too.

Dave and I are cooking up a plan to begin writing as guest columnists on each other's blogs. I get the feeling my readers are probably going to get more out of this deal than his, given his 26 years of experience. But he assures me that even though I've only been at it for a year, other noobs like me may be able to relate to my stories of triumphs and frustrations. I'll let you know more about this soon! For now, subscribe to his blog and his business site for more ideas.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Get the Goods: Marketing Your Photography Business Seminar

Bruce Hudson's "New Directions/Reality Check" Tour will be stopping in Denver and Colorado Springs this month. Check to see if the marketing your business tour will be heading to your city here.

This year marks Bruce Hudson's 25th year in the photography business. Through all the ups and downs (including the advancements of digital technology) Hudson has discovered the 4 major areas he says we MUST focus our time, energy, and money on to guarantee our studio's success!

They are:

1) Innovative Marketing Methods
2) Consistent Image Creation
3) Selling with Projection
4) Studio Management Techniques

Hudson says that attending his tour will help you:
Be able to Separate Yourself from the Ever Growing Competition
Learn the Hottest Marketing Strategies that not only Attracts the Affluent but affluent clients that will invest in photography
Produce High Impact Images Capable of Commanding Top Dollar!
Create the images in the camera avoiding countless hours in front of your computer
Have a Step By Step Plan for Pre Portrait Consultations- Resulting In Non-Speculation Sales!
Start Projecting your Images & Doubling, Tripling, Even Quadrupling you’re Sales!

At $47 for registration for 5 hours, it seems like it could be money well spent. My marketing and advertising efforts for my business haven't been a priority for me, so any help in this area would be greatly appreciated. If you go, let me know what you think about the information presented.

Instructor's Tip: Back Off the Polarizer

Enjoy this week's Photo Tip by instructor Russ Burden. To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took an intermediate and advanced course with Russ and he has continued to be a strong source of encouragement and education as I have progressed in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

To learn more about how Russ took the following photos in this post, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Back Off The Polarizer
In scenic photography, one of the most commonly used filters is the
polarizer. Depending on the angle of the sun, it helps reduce glare
resulting in more saturated colors, it removes reflections from water
and other shiny surfaces, and it deepens a blue sky giving it more
snap and contrast. But it’s this last use where the filter can be
abused resulting in daytime skies that look almost black.

Photographers who shoot a lot of scenics look for sidelight to bring
out the textures and details in their landscapes. This results in
being at a right angle to the sun - 90 degrees. Herein lies the rub.
The closer to that 90 degree angle, the greater the effect the
polarizer will have on deepening its blue color. If the filter is
oriented to produce maximum polarization, it may result in sky
density that isn’t natural.

So how can one prevent this from occurring? It may sound simple, but
by simply studying the entire viewfinder while rotating the
polarizer, you’ll see its effect in the sky. At the point at which
the sky looks too dark, rotate the polarizer to back off its effect
to keep a realistic look.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Get the Job Done: 5 Tips for Directing Models

I happened upon this great set of tips this morning from the Zoom in Online blog for directing "models," especially people who aren't used to being in front of a professional's camera.

1. Don't Show Your Worries

Getting your subject to relax is half the battle. Most people are concerned that they're going to look stupid, fat or ugly, and the more they focus on that, the worse the images will be. So, I try to set an example by making it clear that I don't take myself too seriously. In my head, I might be worrying about the light, the right angles and all that stuff, but by keeping all that to myself and outwardly focusing on the connection between myself and the model, I find it helps to make my model relax.

2. Go For the Real Smile

When you ask someone to smile, you'll generally get a flat, fake smile that doesn't appeal to anyone. So make your models smile for real, but try not to make them laugh too hard. Smiling is endearing in photos, but most people look a little strange when they're actually laughing. I ask my models to think about their parents or significant others, and that works almost every time.

3. Smalltalk is Your Friend

Keep talking to your subject throughout the shoot. Give questions that they are comfortable answering, and don't make them think too hard about the answers. The idea is to keep that part of their mind occupied, that would otherwise make them nervous about posing right. I ask people what they do for a living, how long they've been doing it, if they have kids or pets, that sort of thing. Easy questions that make for good, light conversation. Just remember to make it about them and not yourself.

4. Keep Notes Short

One thing that can really upset an already nervous subject, is if you overload them with directional notes. I try to slip mine in between smalltalking. It could go like this: "So, how long have you lived in Seattle? Chin up a bit. How do you like it here?". I've noticed that by sneaking direction in like that, most people tend to simply comply instead of overthinking it.

5. Make Happy Sounds

If you're having a bad day, don't let the model know. It will only make them more nervous, and if it's a paying client, they might look at your work with a more critical eye later on. However, during any shoot, there will be moments where the light mixed perfectly with the expression, where you clicked the button at just the right time, and when that happens, you should let the subject know. That way, they know they are doing a good job and they will feel better about the entire shoot.

Bonustips: Don't chimp too much during the shoot. It takes away from everyone's focus and any connection there might be between you and your subject. Don't touch models, if you don't have to. And if you do, make sure you don't do it in any appropriate places or ways. If your model is uncomfortable and thinks you're creepy, it will show.

Rasmus Rasmussen is on loan from iStockphoto, where he is part of the image inspection team.

I think all of these tips are very useful. I have shot fashion models as well as friends and clients, and ALL of them were concerned about how they would look in front of the camera, if they were fat or if a certain angle made their face look too angular etc.

I have found that sharing your best images directly from camera also helps you connect with a model. It's a great advantage of shooting digitally and that instant feedback of a lovely portrait helps the model relax even more.

I also engage the model by asking about what THEY want to do, or what poses THEY have been thinking of or would like to experiment with. People get irritated if you just bark orders at them through an hour long shoot; show some vulnerability and get some by-in from the client at the same time that this is a shared venture for greatness!

Inspite of all of my best efforts to help a model feel more at ease, I think it's human nature to feel more secure in any situation given time. To this extent, most of my best images are near the end of a shoot. By then, the model seems more natural and comfortable and actually appears to be having fun. You can see the difference in these two portraits I took of one model who wanted to surprise her boyfriend with sexy boudoir shots. In the first set, the model is fully clothed and her shots seem more "posed."

An hour later, she is footloose and fancy free, not only in bearing more skin to the camera but in laughing and dancing her way through the shoot, which made for infinitely more endearing and realistic images.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Breaking News: Win a Nikon D60

I got an email this morning from Darren Rowse and Digital Photography School Forums with some exciting news:

"Do you want to win a Nikon DSLR?

This month as a little incentive to get all of our wonderful members visiting
and using our forum I'm putting up a Nikon D60 DSLR as a prize for one lucky
forum member.

I'm so excited about it as it's the biggest prize we've ever put up. You can
learn more about how to put yourself in the running for the D60 in this post at
the blog

In short - you have to be a forum member and you need post on the forum between now and the end of April. Every post you do gives you another chance to win.

So head over to the Digital Photography School - log in - ask a
question, answer someone else's, share a photo, write a review of your camera.
The more active you are the more chance of winning the D60.

I'm looking forward to another great month of fun at the DPS forums

Darren Rowse"

I have been a member of the DPS since July 2007. While I think the competition is a great way to generate new forum members and readers, I can personally tell you that the DPS has been a great resource for me even without the contests and prizes. Forum members are generous with their advice and critiques which I think has helped me become a stronger photographer. When I started my blog and website, I turned to forum members to get their ideas on how to improve my presentation. And the monthly assignments continue to challenge both my skill and how I interpret subject matter.

Join the Digital Photography School forums and participate, not just to win the camera, but to gain the skills to be a more competent photographer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Get the Goods: Nikon D80 Special Users Seminar

Nikon professionals will be hosting a special in-depth seminar for Nikon D80 Digital SLR Camera users this month in Denver.

Professionals will discuss the buttons, menus, lenses and techniques of capture great pictures with the Nikon D80. Get your recipe for better pictures in a step by step "how to" instruction.

WHEN: Thursday, April 17, from 7 to 10 p.m.
WHERE: Four Points Sheraton, 6363 E. Hampden Avenue, Denver, 80222
COST: $50 per person, but the price includes a $25 gift card good at Ritz Camera Center store, including Wolf Camera.

Breaking News: Photographer gets Writing Award!

Well, I think this is proof why I shouldn't leave my day job yet. The Denver Post reported today that I won third place in the Colorado Society of Professional Journalist's competition for food writing. Read my article here.

I guess I'm still pretty good at reporting and should stick with it. At least I haven't gotten laid off yet, and perhaps this award can be some job security in a journalistic industry that is in trouble (newspapers across the country continue to lose readership and have been forced into layoffs to save money).

I think what I have discovered (and my boss agrees) is that doing my photography as a side business has given me new life -- something that is evident in my journalistic writing and reporting as well. My boss said it was good to see me smiling and happy again. Don't get me wrong -- I am exhausted spending my early mornings, nights and weekends shooting and editing my photos. Then I spend the rest of the day interviewing and banging out copy for the Denver Post. But having something else to call my own, a creative outlet outside of work, has definitely been a wonderful thing for me!

POTW: Color

Here is an image from my portfolio that I am turning in today as my entry for the Colorado 4x4 Shutterbug forum's Photo of the Week. I took this over the weekend during a Flickr Colorado Strobist meetup. I can't tell you enough how great it has been working and learning from this terrific group of people. Strobist enjoy using lighting techniques with off-camera flash. The members of this particular group are very knowledgeable and willing to share their expertise as we all learn together.

This photo was achieved by taping a Canon flash with a purple gel onto the back of a motorcycle. Another flash was mounted on a stand camera right and triggered by a Pocket Wizard to create the silhouette. What's really cool about this is that I totally understood what I just said right now and a month ago I wouldn't have been able too. ;) It has been so much fun learning and mastering new techniques. If you haven't already done so, check out Flickr to see if there is a group operating in your area that can help you progress as well. Here is another image I took that weekend at the meetup.

I am also entering it in the monthly assignment contest, "It's All About the Light!" hosted by the Digital Photo Academy. (FYI folks, the DPA's contest is open to all shooters, so submit something already! And remember, the winner who is selected will be part of the 12 assignment images that will be on display in museums, galleries and studios around the country. Yours truly won the first month's assignment, "The Allure of Water" with the following image:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Get the Job Done: Ten Tips for Dynamic Image Design

In their monthly newsletter, American Photo and Popular Photography & Imaging's "Mentor Series Worldwide Photo Treks" offered readers these tips for designing dynamic images:

"Ten Tips for Dynamic Image Design

One of the things that separates a great photograph from a snapshot is the effort that the photographer put into designing the image. How many times have you looked at a great photograph of a very ordinary subject and marveled at the inventiveness that the photographer used in composing the image? And that is what image design is all about: being inventive in not only what you include in the frame, but how you place it in the frame and what tricks you use to emphasize certain aspects of the subject.

Below are ten quick tips that you can use to create more dynamic and interesting photos. If you apply just a few of these to your images, you’ll vast improvements in the “wow” factor of your photos almost immediately:

Use Selective Focus:

If you can’t simplify a subject by moving it (or moving yourself), you can toss a background out of focus by using a slightly longer lens and a wide aperture.
Play with Subject Placement:

It’s human nature to try and center subjects in the viewfinder (after all, that’s where the focusing indicators are) but break the habit. Place subjects high or low or radically to the left or right and you’ll add an element of power and surprise to your pictures. By placing this surfer in the lower right part of the frame, I was able to focus attention on him and yet show the environment as he was seeing it.


If a viewer has to ask what it is you were taking a picture of, you’ve blown the opportunity. Pare down each composition to its bare essentials. Less is always more.

Move Closer:

One quick way to simplify any subject is to move closer to it. We tend to concentrate so hard on what is in the viewfinder that we think it’s larger than it is. As long as you’re not standing on the end of a dock, try taking a step closer even when you think you’re close enough.

Use Unexpected Angles:

Because we usually view the world from eye level and straight ahead, that’s how most of us compose pictures. Instead, try to imagine how a cat might see the world looking up at a rose bush instead of down at it. Kneel down on the ground, hop up on a porch or walk around behind a subject and shoot it from behind. The element of surprise is a wickedly powerful design tool.

Use a Plain Background:

Busy or chaotic backgrounds confuse the viewer about what you’re trying to shoot. If you’re photographing a subject that you can move, such as a person, find a plain background like a brick wall to simply the shot. Or circle the subject looking for a more plain backdrop. To get this photograph of a sunflower, I changed my position so that the background was a dark area of shadow and then I exposed for the sunflower only.

Vary Your Formats:

Just because your camera was design in the horizontal doesn’t mean you have to always hold it that way! Turn the camera vertical and try to think as a photojournalist: always looking for the great vertical shot for the cover of the magazine! Many subjects work well in either format, so take the time to shoot both and decide later which works best.

Create a Sense of Depth:

Use leading lines or “linear perspective” as it’s called to draw the viewer’s eye into the scene. Roads, lines of trees, telephone wires—anything that pulls the eye deeper into the scene will create a sense of distance and also lure the eye into exploring within the frame

Use a Frame Within a Frame:

Landscape photographers often use frames within frames to focus attention on a particular part of a scene (using a stone archway to frame a garden, for example) and it’s a very effective technique. But frames can also be used with other subjects, such as portraits—framing a shot of a farmer by shooting out at him from inside his barn, for instance. Frames are also an excellent way to hide distracting surroundings.

Create a Sense of Balance:

Most photographic compositions contain a variety of “strong” subjects (dark or large objects, for instance) and a certain amount of “weaker” ones (the sky, open lawns, etc.). Finding a balance between these so that one doesn’t dominate the other is a delicate but important aspect of image design. Try using large areas of light sand, for instance, to balance a large dark rock formation on a beach or use a large area of sunset sky to balance off the weight of a large sailboat in silhouette. In this shot of Merrick Butte in Utah’s Monument Valley I balanced the large bright area of red rock with a dark area of shadow caused by the sun going below the rim of the valley."

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