Up Your Game!

When you first start out in photography, you usually shoot what you have on hand, first. Fashion and glamour peeps, like me, look to family and friends to help build up content. It makes sense. Working with a familiar person is easy to schedule, you’re comfortable with them, and you won’t be afraid to try out new techniques. Eventually, you run out of family and all of your friends have modeling portfolios–that they may not need or want–so you have to step up your game.

What do you do when you want to move up to the next level? Below are a few tips for building up your portfolio.

—–Foord1

Foord2Tip #1: Gather A Team

Building up a solid group of specialists is the first order of business. Regardless of the type of photography you do, a team will help you produce better quality work. If you’re shooting people, look for a makeup artist (MUA), a hair stylist, and a wardrobe stylist or fashion designer. If you’re shooting images that don’t involve people, find specialists in your area of interest such as aspiring local chefs for food photography, orpassionate fossil hunters for macro shots. I can’t imagine how daunting this task was before the internet. Thanks, Al Gore!

Social network websites literally put thousands of professionals at your fingertips. It’s your cursor, really, but you get the idea.

Facebook, one of the most popular social media websites, is a great place to start. You can search for pages and groups dedicated to hairmakeupfashionlocal foodmushroom huntingwaterfall photographyscuba diving, and more. When you find one that you like, simply post a comment saying you are looking to work with artists in your area.

Model Mayhem is another great resource for people shooters. It’s a place where artists of all types gather in order to work on creative projects. Once you’re signed up, you can post a casting and choose the type of artists and talent you’re looking for. MM is made for bringing together creatives, so if people are your interest, this is a must.

Foord3Tip #2: Take Your Time

This is a concept I still have trouble with! Once you get cranking through editing, it’s tough to pull yourself away, but it’s absolutely necessary. Taking a break during any project will let your eyes and mind relax. When you pause for a time, you come back with renewed perspective. My advice: Zoom all the way out, set things down, and, if you can, sleep on it. You’ll come back refreshed.

Foord4Tip #3: Build A Proper Showcase

Create a website/portfolio. Check out the online portfolios of photographers that you admire. Think about why you like their work, what draws you in, what makes you stay, what you like about the concept or layout, and what you can do better.

Combine the information you gather with the trends in the market. How do you plan to share your work? Do you plan to print your shots or is an iPad sufficient? This will tie in with the type of work that you want to go after. Assuming that you want to chase after paid gigs, of course.

As a final step, make an update plan, too. You don’t want your work to get stale, but you don’t want to update it after every shoot. Balance the amount of work you produce with the amount of time you spend in constructing your portfolio. You don’t want it to become a mindless chore. Always keep your wits about you and ask others for feedback. You’re only as strong as your weakest shot so be willing to listen to constructive criticism.

Foord5Tip #4: Network

Once you have a team, awesome editing practices, and a rock-solid portfolio, you’re ready to show it to the world. You’ll have to use a little savvy in the marketplace to start making waves. You can do this with a number of techniques. Most importantly, learn to make the internet your friend.

Take every opportunity to grow your online presence. You can start by being active on popular photography forums, on Facebook, Twitter, G+, or other social media channels. Connect with every professional, organization, and manufacturer that you admire, and keep up with what they’re doing, too. You’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to have your work featured if you keep your eye out for it.

Paid gigs will force you to perform in a more professional way, so I recommend chasing after work even if photography is just a hobby. When money is on the table, you’ll find that you operate with a renewed sense of vigor. You can offer giveaways, groupons, or discounts to help you get more work, and advertising is an option as well.

Guest appearances are a great way to grow publicity online. You could, for example, guest write articles for different companies. The larger audience of an established website is a great place to get your name out there. It’s not all about printed magazines, there are hundreds of other places to showcase what you do, or for you to share your knowledge on a certain subject. You can’t pay for that kind of publicity, so it’s worth a little time at the keyboard, or on set, to make up a solid article.

Foord6

 

http://www.andrewfoordphotography.com

The Power of Social Media

Yesterday I photographed BTS and The Runway at a Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show. This was my first fashion show and I had a great time! We now live in a time where nearly everyone has access to the internet and social media and networking is one of the best ways to promote your work! Photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists, designers, models, etc… we all have business cards and we all exchanged cards at the show, there was NOT one card that didn’t have a website or Facebook or Twitter printed on them. Infact you can attach a QR code to your card, when scanned by your smart phone will automatically import the contact to your phone and sometimes take you to a social media site.

My personal example of the power of social media comes from simply posting a photo to a wall. Ian Ziering, actor from 90210 and Sharknado walked the runway and I got some great shots of him. When I got home form the show I uploaded the photos and posted 1 photo of Ian on my Twitter page (tagging him in the process) and also did the same on my Facebook book. I woke up this morning to find that he favorited my tweet and changed his Facebook profile picture to my photo! Which you can see here https://www.facebook.com/IanZiering?fref=ts

I have already gained likes to my page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Foord-Photography/151111961603741  and have a feeling I will be getting many more!

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http://www.andrewfoordphotography.com

Breaking Through!

What’s the best thing to do when you get photographer’s block? Shoot something! Recruit friends, family, bring the dog, bribe your neighbors, order a pizza and kidnap the delivery person, whatever it takes. Get out there and start clicking.

This is exactly what I did for this series. First I blackmailed begged a model friend of mine to pose for me, then I put a post on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to throw water on a model and learn something about photography. I didn’t specify the gender of the model–I thought it might help get more responses. I got 3 responses on Facebook, and my team was complete.

The Location and Lighting Set-up

If you’re like me, you have a 2000 sq ft. studio with roof access, an indoor pool, and lots-and-lots of big windows–I WISH! In reality, I usually shoot in my garage even though its tough to set up lights around the garage door opener. Sometimes i’ll shoot on location in a public place. For this shoot, my location couldn’t have been easier, or more budget friendly, I used the street in front of my house.

For lighting I used 2 strobes with reflectors and grids, both were high up on stands to ensure the water wouldn’t reach them. Always err on the side of safety then mixing water and electricity. The strobes were placed on either side of the model, the main aimed slightly in front and the other slightly behind. I set them both to pop at full power.

Next, I metered the light. I use a meter religiously. Proper procedure is to put the light meter underneath the model’s chin and aim it at the light, not the lens. My shutter speed was set to 1/125 with 100 ISO. The meter gave me an aperture of 5.6. I repeated the above steps for the 2nd strobe to confirm the results. Setup time, including running extension cords, setting up the lights, and metering took about 20 minutes.

The Fun Part

AndrewFoord-miss

DANG IT!

With my camera settings in place I was ready to shoot. By this time, I’m getting excited. Now I finally get to play photographer. I had two water throwers stand opposite each other next to the light stands. When I counted to three, I had them sling the water at the victim.

My camera settings were spot on, the lighting looked great, but my timing was off. This happens more than I’d like to admit, but it’s something that everyone has done before. Don’t panic. My ‘keepers’ rule of thumb is for every 100 photos I take, I want to get about 10 keepers. Out of the keepers, I’m happy with one shot that makes me say “Wow.”

Retouching

Below are two of my choice photos of the set. Yes!–one of them is out of focus. Was it intentional? Absolutely not, but I am drawn to it, and that’s all that matters. Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion when it comes to your creativity. You’re the artist, your opinion is the only one that matters on personal projects. When you’re working for a client, their opinion trumps your own.

After I selected my favorite photos–9 out of the 50–the retouching portion was very straight forward. I did some minor sharpening and added a color cast with Exposure. I used the preset Kodachrome – Cyan Shift, one of my favorites. I completed the shots by cropping the photos to 5×7 and square.

AndrewFoord-blur

AndrewFoord-splash

Conclusion

When photographer’s block hits, just like it does to everyone, try something new. Give a new lighting setup a try, you’re welcome to use what I did. Grab a couple of buddies and have your own water splash shoot. Dust your camera off and shoot something, anything! Get friends and family involved, but most importantly have fun.

http://www.andrewfoordphotography.com

Becca and the Headdress

My latest photo shoot was extremely serendipitous.  After I first picked up my model, Becca, from the bus stop to drive her to my studio we started noticing small things that made us wonder if the universe wanted us to shoot together.

1: Becca is from California, and hasn’t been back to NJ in 4 years, yet the mall she took the bus too, was the last mall she visited in NJ.

2: Becca added me on Facebook BEFORE she commented on a casting that I posted on modelmayhem.com. When we were talking she has NO idea how she found my profile on FB or why she added me as a friend.

3: The MUA who was supposed to work with us cancelled on us the last minute! She was the one who was bringing the headdress. I put a call out to another MUA I know and she just so happened to live 5 minutes from my studio, and was available. The MUA who saved the day and shoot, her name is Becca! TWO Becca’s!!!

 

I was never one to fully believe things happen for a reason, but this shoot was destined for greatness.

The following photo is what Becca, Becca and I came up with. We were able to make the headpiece in about an hour. It was very messy to make, but a lot of fun!

 

Becca-9216

 

http://www.andrewfoordphotography.com

 

 

Make Your Models ANGRY

Ok not really, but there are times during a photo shoot when you need to change things up. My favorite thing to do is ask my model to “give me the finger.” They usually giggle, or depending on how the shoot has been going will oblige. Either way this loosens things up and gets you some great images!

In addition I would recommend coming up with some phrases that you can say to get a natural reaction. Here are some of my favorites:

“Put your feet closer to the floor”

“Look right slightly, up, back down a little, clench your ball sack”

“Make love to me… I…I mean the camera”

Most importantly HAVE FUN!

 

http://www.andrewfoordphotography.com

Christmas Day photo tips and tricks for new photographers

Here are a few tips to capture great Christmas day photos.

 

The Family Portrait:  Now Christmas morning is an exciting time, but also can be very hectic and stressful. Kids are ready to dive into their presents, hair is out of place and who has time to put on makeup?

So here is my first tip, take the shot the night before! Its very easy to stage and the kids will be very excited about what’s to come!

Now before calling the family in, set your camera on a tripod of stable shelf and take some test shots. Set your cameras timer, if possible set the camera to take multiple shots and frame the shot. Once you’re happy with the results, then call the family in. Having everything set up before hand will make the shoot run smoothly!

 

Christmas Morning: If you’re anything like me, you are going to be wiped out! Last thing you want to is worry about camera settings, so let the camera do it for you. My suggestion is to set your camera to “P” mode (program). Your camera still does most of the thinking, but you have some control over certain things, like ISO. What I would do is set your ISO to a high number (i.e. 1000). I personally like my shutter speed to reach 1/125th of a second. Last thing, set your camera to continuous shooting.

 

Using the built in flash: The built in flash is very harsh, but you can use it if you know how. If you need to add some light to the scene make sure you change the output of the built in flash. Go to the menu and find flash control, once in there, find built-in flash settings. Once you click on that you will see something called Exposure Compensation. Using this setting you can manually control the output of your flash. Dial the exposure way down to 1/8th or 1/16th and take a test shot. I guarantee this will make your photos look a lot better compared to the full output of the flash.

 

Using a hot shoe flash: Using an external flash can add drama and direction to your light and make your Christmas morning photos look awesome! Something that every professional photographer does is bounce the light off of the ceiling! This will create very soft directional light, and you will not blow out your subjects!

 

I hope you enjoy these quick and easy tips. Merry Christmas!!!