photography tutorial

girl playing in window seat by Kelly Marleau of Fiddle Leaf Photography

8 creative ways to use window light

I have a window in my house that I’ve fallen hard for. It’s a bay window in our family room. It has unfinished casing, chipped paint on the ledge, and is incredibly cold in the winter, but it still doesn’t stop me from loving it. It faces west out to our backyard, and lets me look out at the field behind us, the downtown skyline, and my daughter playing outside in her play house. Above all of that though, it just lets some seriously gorgeous light into our house. It’s a photographer’s dream.

You might not have a bay window like this in your house, but these same principles can be applied to so many types of windows. Take some time to study the light and how it moves through your house during the day and I’m sure you’ll find creative ways to use your special window too.(…)

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rulebreaker-action-photo-in-childs-room-by-erica-caligiuri

Creativity Exercise: a simple guide to breaking the rules

Rules are rules for a reason. In most cases, they promote aesthetics that we associate with artistic harmony and a pleasant viewing experience. We hear often that “you have to know the rules before you can break them.” I’d take that a step further, arguing it’s not just “what” and “how” but also “why.” You need to know the REASON for the rules of photography and design in order to break them effectively.(…)

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selfie pose modifying your selfie pose by Alise Kowalski

5 steps to loving yourself(ie)

See what I did there?

This blog post is mostly about how to create self-portraits that you will love and love the way you look in them but it is also, and this is no small component of loving images of yourself, about loving yourself. And it only requires five steps! So, lace up those sneakers, ladies, we’re hitting the path to loving yourself(ie). Oh yeah, that’s twice. Nailed it.(…)

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freelensing photo of girl in a field with beautiful light by Holly Donovan

The Art of Freelensing: a step by step guide

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
-Julia Cameron

Early on in my photography journey I spent a good amount of time trying to attain sharp images and nail focus in my work. I spent my days working on getting my lines straight, my compositions pre-visualized, and of course stalking every type of light. Focus and composition are all very important, but I found that I could easily start to over-think these devices. There is something about an out of focus image that evokes a feeling in its own way. It didn’t take me long to start experimenting with shallow depth of field, and using manual focus to achieve some blur. (…)

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girl-skateboarding-in-pastel-tones-by-kelly-bullington

5 ways to shoot more like a film photographer

Have you ever been tempted to shoot film? Why, in this age of rapidly advancing technology, increasingly “smart” cameras, and the cost and convenience of digital are we still so drawn to film photography?

There really is something extraordinary about the tonality and color rendition of various film stocks — qualities some might suggest simply can’t be replicated digitally. But is there also something about the process of shooting with film itself that positively influences the creative approach? Could it be that the cost, logistics, and timeline of film photography encourage a different mindset, even a different level of commitment, from the photographer behind the camera? Does the perception that every shot “counts” help us to produce better photos? Would we shoot more deliberately if the flexibility and instant gratification of digital photography were stripped away? (…)

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two brothers hugging picture by Celeste Pavlik

5 easy ways to photograph kids together

Often, I am asked…. How do you get all your boys to sit for you at the same time for a picture? Or how do you get them all to cooperate and look so natural? Or, I’m told, it’s so great how your boys like to be in front of the camera AND with each other!! Well, the truth is, it’s not so much that my boys like to be in front of my lens, it’s more about what ‘I do’ and ‘don’t do’ before I ever click that shutter. Seizing the opportunity to document those moments when they are being themselves; playing together, sharing a silly joke, tickling one another, and even just sharing a quiet moment is a huge part of who I am as a photographer. I want to remember and I want them to remember what it was like growing up together as brothers and friends.(…)

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kids playing at a splashpad by Megan DeShazo

Why I pick my camera up…and why I put it down

As we were preparing to pack up for the long 8-hour car ride we had ahead to visit family, I looked at my camera bag and groaned. “It’s so heavy,” I thought. “I’m already packing half of our house. It’s just another bag to load.” If I’m being honest, as “The Photographer” of the family, I sometimes get tired of hearing, “make sure you bring your camera!” But I knew my husband’s grandparents weren’t getting any younger and since we only get to see them once a year, I would be grateful to have the pictures from our trip. And they would love to have pictures with the boys.

I packed the camera. I’m so thankful I did.(…)

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picture of woman by Alice Che

9 secrets to working with dappled light

As a photographer, you hear a lot about how important it is to know how to see the light. This is absolutely, 100% true!

Much of my photography journey can be marked by how I use the light. I went through a phase of flat, even window lighting with beautiful big catchlights followed by portraits with 45 degree window lighting, then backlighting, and finally, dramatic lighting. One of the very first things I learned was to avoid dappled lighting. For a good two or three years, I avoided uneven lighting and direct sunlight at any cost. I would drape sheer curtains over my windows to diffuse the sun, I’d shoot in open shade, I’d backlight. Back in August, however, I moved to a new place and my move also coincided with the opportunity to do a photoshoot with the amazing Sarah Vaughn. And the way she used light… it was incredible and like nothing I had ever tried before! Instead of shying away from the direct sun or uneven lighting, she’d find the patches of even light and use the uneven light around it to add interest in the shadow patterns. Ever since then, I have been keeping my eye out for the interplay of light and shadows.(…)

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examples-of-different-metering-modes-in-a-backlight-situation-by-Amy-Kolodziej

Metering modes explained and how to know which one to use

Choosing a metering mode can be as important as choosing an ISO or aperture when you need to nail your exposure. Metering affects how your camera processes the scene, thus giving you a reading on your exposure in camera. I know that with the ability to “chimp”, or stop and look at the back of your dSLR after each image, we can take our meters for granted. As a wedding photographer (and as a mother to two young children that don’t allow “do-overs”), however, I simply do not have the time to second guess myself after each frame.

Most of today’s modern cameras have at least three different metering modes to choose from; matrix (evaluative), center-weighted, and spot. Some cameras are also equipped with a fourth metering type called highlight-weighted metering mode. Both of my Nikon bodies have this newer mode and so I’ve included it here.(…)

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photo of awake newborn by Carla Bagley

5 secrets to photographing an awake newborn

When I first started working with newborns, I was always worried about when would the baby fall asleep? How would I get them to sleep? What if they didn’t sleep at all?

Any photographer who has worked with newborns knows that having them asleep is ideal. Alert babies will flail their arms and legs and show you how strong they can be, they are less likely to curl up into a pose. The muscles in their eyes are not very strong or coordinated, which can result in crossed and rolled back eyes, and they cannot maintain focus on any object very long.(…)

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family picture at the lake by Elena Blair

5 family poses that always capture connection

I like to think of my posing technique as directing rather than posing. When working with families, it is important to be able to guide and direct them into pleasing poses that ultimately demonstrate the connection within their family. There is so much connection to be captured within every family. I invite you to think outside the box and beyond traditional stiff family portraits. Here are five poses that always capture connection.(…)

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woman laughing picture by Heather Lazark

5 tips for a successful photography session

If I were to summarize what is most important for me to capture with my camera in two words it’s “honest beauty”. So when I create my art it is paramount for me to communicate the authenticity of my subjects, whatever or whoever they may be. The phrase “less is more” resonates heavily with me, especially with my photography. With those concepts in mind here are five simple steps I use to help cultivate a successful photo session.(…)

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newborn yawning photo by Alicia Gould

4 ways to prepare for a newborn session

I’m a list maker and planner.

When we go to Disney, I’ve made our lunch reservations 6 months in advance and know what our route will be through each park. If I forget my grocery list at home, I’m guaranteed to forget something so why should my newborn sessions be any different? Since I’m so focused on the details during the session, preparing makes me feel more in control. In the heat (literally 80 degree heat) of a newborn session with a baby crying, it’s really easy to forget what you wanted to do! On the flip side, if you have an extremely sleepy baby and you run through your regular poses, sometimes you can draw a blank on what to do next.(…)

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boys running on beach with birds picture by Helen Bartlett

Why I choose to shoot in black and white

It began with my Dad. He was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, and when my brothers and I were children, he set about documenting our growing up together. He built a darkroom in the basement of our house and the photographs that came out of it still cover the walls. Invariably, they are black and white.

I fell in love with those pictures. There was something magical about them, not least that they afforded relief to a child of the eighties with a passion for neon green: all crimes against fashion were forgiven – the lurid Dr Martens boots quietly toned down to a neutral grey. People never look at monochrome portraits and cry “what was I wearing?” Perhaps that sounds trivial, but it’s quite the opposite. Part of the magic of black and white images is their timelessness, their ability to see beyond the whims of fashion and surface detail to the essence of people. They capture their interactions and emotions.(…)

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White-Wall-and-Door-Squared-Off-by-Sarah-Wilkerson-1316

Creativity Exercise: 9 tips for beautifully minimalist photos

“Less is more” is a phrase often attributed to German architect and designer Mies van der Rohe, and although it’s become associated with everything from brevity in writing to anti-consumerist philosophies, the roots come back to a particular visual aesthetic. With this in mind, we’ll draw our understanding of photographic minimalism from the traditional definition of minimalism as it relates to art, architecture, and design. In these contexts, minimalism traditionally refers to visual simplification, stripping all extraneous elements and details to the bare minimum necessary to present the subject. Allow “Less is More” to be your mantra as you shoot for this creativity exercise. (…)

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Art journal with a cup of coffee photo by Jodi Arego

The 1 best thing you can do for your art in the new year

So, it’s been a fanciful month and a half filled to the brim with lights and baking and parties and gifts and crafting and holiday cheer. Our bellies are full. And our hearts are fuller. Now that we’ve gingerly packed up our decorations and are making our way out of the end-of-year-post-holiday crazies, if you’re like me, you dream of a fresh start to a new year that somehow looks much simpler than these last few weeks have been. (…)

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which-lens-do-I-choose-to-shoot-with-by-Kristin-Dokoza

Top 14 photography tutorials written in 2014

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone but it has and 2014 was a great year! Here on the CMblog we have continued to work hard in bringing you the type of tutorials and fun articles that you’re looking for. This past year was a success and we are excited to see what 2015 brings. In celebration, we thought we’d look back on the 14 most popular articles from the CMblog last year!(…)

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mom-snuggling-newborn-in-hospital-by-Elizabeth-Blank

How to capture your own birth experience

It is funny, as a photographer, the thoughts that go through your head during major life events.

Last year, I learned that we were expecting our third child and, within hours of learning this wonderful news, my brain was already beginning to think about how I could adequately capture this amazing, fleeting time. When I was pregnant with our first, I had not yet been bitten by the photography bug and the story of her entrance into the world is just a handful of images right after she was born. Fast forward three years later to the birth of my son and, while my passion for photography was certainly there, my focus was on getting precious newborn photos of him once he was home from the hospital and not on capturing the precious details surrounding his actual arrival. It wasn’t until a couple of months after his birth that I became very nostalgic over not having all of the little details preserved forever.(…)

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boy eating twizzlers

One location, one window, many options

I have one window in the corner of my bedroom where magic happens…

There is really nothing special about this window. It is just a window after all, but, I have learned to use this window and create some of my most favorite images…

In the morning it has the sweetest little glow of sunrise…(…)

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