Patel Valentine's Day Party

I was recently hired through referral to shoot a Valentine's Day party. I was happy to get out and shoot! The Patel's went all out on this party. The party was catered, bartender, and photographer (obviously me). I was hired to shoot a "photo booth" style as well as just photos of the party. I set up a background to allow couples get a nice professional photo. Below are just some of the images I captured.

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3 questions you don’t need to ask your photographer

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When coming up with this article, it took me a while to narrow it down to three quality questions that fellow photographers and I get the most when hired for a job. If you are not a photographer and have asked these questions, don’t be ashamed. It happens all the time. I wrote this to inform potential photography clients that you don’t need to ask these questions. If you hired the right photographer you do not have to worry about these. Enjoy!

1. What type of camera do you use?

I feel like almost every photographer gets this question at least once from a client. Would you ask what time of jackhammer the contract is using to dig up your driveway? Do you ask what type of snake your plumber uses. You should have answered no for those two questions. 

Moral of the story is, it doesn’t matter what you use as long as you get the job done. My entire portfolio could be all shot on an iPhone but you would never know that unless you hired me. You should be hiring me off my work I create not what I use to create it.

2. How many unedited photos will you send me?

I’ve gotten this question quite a few times and recently. This is one of those types of questions that make my head turn sideways in question. But I do see where the client is coming from. The answer is none. 

I think the easiest way to understand any of these questions is to compare it to other jobs/professions. Say you hire a welder to build you a railing, he is not going to give you all the rails he messed up on or provide you with a rail with a bunch of defects on it. Back to me original answer of no, I am going to send you all the best images edited to my style and I think are the best.

3. Do you edit the photos?

This question is similar to the previous question. I feel I a lot of people looking to hire a photographer don’t understand that taking the picture is half the job. The other half is editing them which involves picking the best ones, fixing any mistakes, and make sure it fits the photographer’s style. 

I am going to send the client the best work possible. They don’t need to see a missed focus on a couple shots or took a couple photos by accident. They hired me to photograph and edit the photos so they look the best possible.

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Senior Photos: Mahak

Another successful Thumbtack job is in the books! This time was for Mahak's senior pictures. We walked around downtown Pittsburgh visiting picturesque locations such as Point State Park, Roberto Clemente Bridge, and PPG Place. If you or someone you know is looking for senior pictures, head over to my contact page and shoot me an email!

3 reasons why you should scan your own film

1 .It’s fun

Scanning film is fun? Of course but let me explain why. Recently, I started scanning my own film. Before I would have my film scanned when I got my film developed. If you don't have a scanner I suggest you doing so since you film is there and more than often they have scanners there. A one stop shop. 

However, what’s the fun in that? With scanning film comes an experience. When you receive your film scans back you get negatives. You can hold them up to a light and see the negative and get a rough idea of what the picture looks like. However, I don't get the full effect of the image until I see the positive. When I scan my film and get those small previews, the magic begins. You start to see the image you have created it. Then when you do a full scan you get to see your image in its glory. It’s truly a magical experience when see your scanned image blown up on your screen.

2. Save that money

As I stated above, usually when I send my film out to get developed I also get it scanned. Of course you're paying for scanning it. Scans range in a couple dollars up to $10-$15 depending on the file size. A scanner will run you any where from $50 to upwards of a couple hundred for a consumer level scanner. Say your paying $5 per roll (~5 images) on a 36 exposure roll. About $35+ per 36 exposure roll. You buy a $150 scanner, you're going to pay that $150 for 5 rolls if you were to get 5 rolls scan by a third party. So a scanner isn’t that bad of an investment if you’re plan on scanning a decent amount of film.

3. Get more out of negatives

Having your film negatives scanned saves quite a bit of time but you loose out on details. When you are scanning negatives you want to get the most details you can. A great thing about shooting film is the latitude. You have the ability to underexpose and overexpose film a couple stops and still be able to bring the details back.

Most developing/scanning labs will scan based on your specifications (contrast level, exposure level, mood). However, they're scanning the photo based on how they edit. Granted, they are putting your style into account. When scanning you're own film, you control the exposure of the scan, the contrast of the scan, etc. You have full control of your film and how you want it to look. You control everything allowing you to get the most of the negatives for you.

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3 instant film cameras to try

1. Fuji Instax Mini/Wide

If you haven’t been involved with photography or you are a younger person, chances are you at least know of Fuji Instax. Fuji has been pumping out Fuji Instax Mini/Wide for quite some time now. You have two formats, mini (credit card size) and wide (Polaroid spectra size). These cameras are fairly simple to load, set, and shoot. Once shot, allow the photo to process (a couple minutes) and you will have a print right in your hands. Both camera and film sizes are readily available. All of them can be found online and some even in your local Walmart.

 Fuji Instax Mini (left) produces a credit card sized print whereas the Fuji Instax Wide (right) produces a wider more Polaroid like print.

Fuji Instax Mini (left) produces a credit card sized print whereas the Fuji Instax Wide (right) produces a wider more Polaroid like print.

2. Polaroid 600

These next two options, are not as simple as the Fuji Instax. Released in the 80s, Polaroid 600 is the iconic Polaroid that you remember your parents holding. Think black boxy camera with a super bright flash. Polaroid has since ceased making Polaroid 600 film (around 2008). However, a new company called The Impossible project has bought some of the old Polaroid machines and a factory. They actually came up with their own process and chemicals with the help of past Polaroid employees. The film they produce today is a lot better than their first round of film. You can purchase Polaroid 600 film and cameras on Impossible’s website. I suggest looking on eBay or Etsy before shelling out a couple hundred on Impossible’s cameras.

 The classic Polaroid 600 that everyone thinks of when you say Polaroid.

The classic Polaroid 600 that everyone thinks of when you say Polaroid.

3.  Polaroid sx70

Polaroid sx70 has the same story as Polaroid 600. They ceased production of film and The Impossible Project started making their own. Sx70 film is the same format as Polaroid 600 however, they have different film speeds. Polaroid sx70 has a ISO of 150 whereas Polaroid 600 has a ISO of 640. The one big selling point of the sx70 was its ability to fold flat and fit into a pocket. The revolutionary design made this camera a breeze to whip out of your pocket, snap a photo, and slide in right back in the pocket. Who doesn’t want a folding camera!?

 Polaroid sx70's design was revolutionary as it could fold flat and slip right into a pocket.

Polaroid sx70's design was revolutionary as it could fold flat and slip right into a pocket.

What instant film camera would you like to use? If you enjoyed this article like, comment, or share!

5 best mobile photo-editing apps

1. VSCO

If you haven't heard of Visual Supply Co. (VSCO), you might be living under a rock. In case, you don't know, VSCO is basically apply filter, adjust, and your done. You can post your image to your wall or profile for the world to see. However, it is not as big of a social media platform as Facebook or Instagram. I use this app whenever I want to get a certain look as they have some good filters and some are even free to download.

 VSCO features many filters as well as normal editing tools

VSCO features many filters as well as normal editing tools

2. Filmborn

Filmborn is a fairly new app compared to the ones listed in this article. Filmborn was created by the talented people at Mastin Labs. Mastin Labs is a company that makes presets that are very close to replicating film stocks. The film stocks in the app currently are Fuji, Ilford, and Kodak featuring the most popular stocks by each company. I mostly use this app for black and white as I love the look of HP5.

 Filmborn includes many popular film stocks such as Kodak Portra and Ilford Delta 3200.

Filmborn includes many popular film stocks such as Kodak Portra and Ilford Delta 3200.

3. Squaready

I feel like not a lot of people have heard of Squaready. If you have been on Instagram for a couple years now, you will know Instagram used to crop every photo that you post. Now, horizontal photos are able to shown at full size whereas vertical photos are still cropped. If you haven't guessed it by now Squaready enables you to add a color border to your vertical photos or any orientation photo. Thus, allowing you to fit the entire photo without crop. You can also create a border on any of the edges. “How do those photographers get that nice white border around their photos?” Now, you know!

 Squaready allows you to not crop vertical photos in Instagram.

Squaready allows you to not crop vertical photos in Instagram.

4. Snapseed

Created by Nik Software, a subsidiary of Google, is a photo editing app that has some tools that are not usually found in mobile photo editing apps. Those tools include brush, healing, curves, and text. Most of these features are only offered in paid computer photo editing software such as Photoshop. The one tool I use the most is selective adjustment. On the go, I am able to selective adjust photos that may need darkened or lightened in certain parts of the photo.

 Snapseed's selective adjustment tools allows you to switch between brightness, contrast, saturation, or structure by swiping up or down. 

Snapseed's selective adjustment tools allows you to switch between brightness, contrast, saturation, or structure by swiping up or down. 

5. Lightroom Mobile

Some people may not be able to use this app as you need a Adobe Creative Cloud account to use this app. However, if you do already have Lightroom and/or Photoshop, download Lightroom mobile for on the go editing. Apple within the past year have allowed iPhones to shoot in RAW. The standard camera app does not allow you to shoot in RAW though. Lightroom mobile allows you to shoot in RAW (DNG) and control most of your exposure setting such as ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. Allowing you to get the most out of your photos. 

 Lightroom mobile allows you to shoot in DNG and adjust exposure comp, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance all before you take the photo.

Lightroom mobile allows you to shoot in DNG and adjust exposure comp, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance all before you take the photo.

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3 reasons why you need a “pro” photographer

1. Stress relief

It would be my best guess that your wedding day will be one of the most stressful days. You have your dress, the ceremony, the reception, and a hangover to worry about. Why add to the stress even more? Let a photographer deal with documenting this stressful day. Your photographer will allow you to relive your wedding day through high quality photos. 

Your photographer should also be keeping you on time. A wedding photographer should be wary of time management. You need to be able to know how much time you have left to shoot and when and where certain things are happening. Thus, allowing you to be able to get all the shots.

2. “Pro” pictures

If you hired a decent photographer, you should get some professional photos. Depending on what you signed for and all your add-ons, you either get your photos digitally or be able to have them printed. A photographer will be using a high-quality camera and more than likely is better than your iPhone. 

This allows for high-quality prints that you can blowup to a big size. Whether if it’s wedding day, special event or just a birthday party, a pro photographer will deliver high-quality photos.

3. Capture the moment

You may be thinking, I’ll just take the photos or have a friend do it or my iPhone pictures will be good enough. Those maybe true. You can definitely not hire a “pro” photographer. But what you don't get is, the moment. Photographers are trained and practice to capture the moment. They know what to look for and how to capture it. You can live with your iPhone photos or you can relive the moment with a “pro” photographer.

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3 ways to earn extra income as a photographer

Stock photography

One way to earn extra income as a photographer (besides your normal photography gigs) is to upload your images to a stock photography website. I know this may sound non traditional or you may not want to sell your image but this can be a lucrative deal if your images are bought. Many websites charge 20-50% royalties depending on the stock photography website and how well your photo is selling. Check out this website to compare which stock website works best for you.

 Smug Mug lets you keep 85% of your revenue.

Smug Mug lets you keep 85% of your revenue.

Photo editing jobs

If you think you have decent editing skills, another great way to earn extra income is photo editing jobs. You can google freelance photo editing jobs and find a numerous people looking to have their photos edited. There are also jobs for designing logos and other marketing materials if you have those kind of skills. 

 Freelancer.com is a great tool to find photo editing jobs.

Freelancer.com is a great tool to find photo editing jobs.

Writing for photography blogs

This may not get you money directly but writing for photography blog could be a way to to earn extra income. By writing for photography blogs you are getting your name “out there”. I know some people may not want to hear, “Oh this will get your name out there and bring you potential clients”. However, by getting your content on photography blogs that already have an audience of hundreds to thousands that you can reach those without all the work. I suggest you sending your blogs to known photography blogs such as fstoppers.com or Petapixel who have a network of photographers who write for them. Hopefully, they like what you have written and post your article.

 thephoblographer.com is another great place for photography articles and blogs.

thephoblographer.com is another great place for photography articles and blogs.

If you enjoyed this article like, comment, or share! Thanks!

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5 last minute gifts for photographers

gift

There is only a few days left until Christmas and you still haven't bought your photographer friend a gift. We’ve all done it. You’re probably reading this write now in hopes to come up with some ideas. Here is 5 last minute gifts for photographers.

  1. Print their photos

Photographers love prints. Pick out some of their favorite pictures and have them printed. You can even get upload them online and have the photos shipped directly to their house. I highly recommend adoramapix.com. They have tons of different sizes and reasonably priced.

 adoramapix.com

adoramapix.com

2. Camera strap

It depends on the photographer but almost ever photographer doesn't use their supplied camera strap. A great place where you can get good quality camera straps are esty.com. They have a wide range of cloth and leather straps for decent prices.

 etsy.com

etsy.com

3. Film

Every photographer has started with film or have shot with film before. Film is actually not that expensive (depends on what film your buying). Give them some film and let them reminisce the good ole days. 

4. Memory cards

Since photography has been shot digitally for years now. I know there is some that still shoot film. One of the concerns when shooting digital is running out of space. So, pick up your photographer a memory card, he/she will greatly appreciate it!

5. Portable printer

This is a more expensive gift but he/she will love it. These printers are fairly small and can fit in a pocket. All you really need to do connect it to your printer (usually WiFi) and in a matter of seconds. The best part is the film or printer paper is readily available.

 Fuji Instax Printer

Fuji Instax Printer

If you enjoyed this article like, comment, or share! Happy Holidays!

(My) 5 favorite street photographers

During this past week, I was on a photography documentary/show binge. After watching most of Tales of Light (Netflix) and having just finished season 1 of Top Photographer by Nigel Barker (AdoramaTV, YouTube), I watched Everybody Street (Netflix). Everybody Street follows the street photographers of New York City. 

    Street photography is something I’ve always been interested in. I love how it captions human life and interaction in its true form. The surprise, the candidness, and the reality are what make street photography what it is. So I’ve decided to compile a list of my 5 favorite street photographers. 

Jeff Mermelstein

Jeff was one of the many photographers on Everybody Street. Jeff is more of a run and gun style of street photography, weaving in and out of people snapping pictures. You can check out more of Jeff’s work on his website.

Jill Freedman

Jill is another photographer from Everybody Street. She almost exclusively shoots black and white. She is known for her work following the police and firefighters of New York City. More of her work can be found at http://www.jillfreedman.com.

Vivian Maier

Vivian was actually not known as a street photographer until her images were posted in 2008. She was a nanny and took pictures whenever she had time. None of her negatives were every published or printed until they were found. You can find more of her work at http://www.vivianmaier.com.

Boogie

Boogie aka Vladimir Milivojevich was born in Serbia and is currently based out of Brooklyn. Boogie is known for his gritty gang and drug related street photography. He was able to “get in” with local gangs and get some incredible images. You can check out more of his work on his website.

Eric Kim

Eric is relatively new to being known as a street photography even though he's been shooting for years. He is also a fellow Eagle Scout like me. Eric is highly involved in street photography, running his personal blog to hosting street photography workshops. You can check out his work and blog at http://erickimphotography.com

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(Update) Switching from Photoshop to Lightroom

 Image courtesy of Digital Photography School.

Image courtesy of Digital Photography School.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article on how I would be switching from Photoshop to Lightroom. I stated in this article that I hoped to achieved three things with switching from Photoshop to Lightroom. After using Lightroom for a couple of weeks, I can say my hopes have come true.

  1. A faster workflow, indeed.

    When I was using Photoshop, I would have to open each image, adjust the raw file, make other adjustments, save the PSD, and then save a JPEG. Obviously, this involved a lot of steps as well as time. I dreaded editing photos because I knew it would be long and tedious. 

    Since using Lightroom, the steps and time have been drastically cut down. When you import photos into Lightroom, you have quite a few options. Copying the files off the SD card while retaining the files on the card or moving files from one hard drive to another. What Lightroom has does best is that it enables the imported Lightroom files to save all adjustments even if you move the files to a new hard drive. However, the files transferred must be transferred through Lightroom (to save the adjustments).

    Once the files have been imported, I am able to browse through the photos and flag/rate the photos I like. From there, I am able to adjust a photo and move right on to the next. But the best part comes at exporting. Since Lightroom saves all the adjustments in the program itself, I don't have to save the “raw” file, instead I can just export to the file type and size I need. This has been a God send. 

2. Presets, Presets, Presets. 

    When dealing with presets, Lightroom is and has been quite a bit easier than Photoshop.  I knew when I first got Lightroom I wanted to use presets. Not because I am lazy, but because it provides a starting ground. Presets are actually used as a starting ground rather than slap it on and that’s it. In Lightroom, using presets are super easy. Even installing them is super easy.

    Before purchasing any presets, I researched quite a bit. I look at numerous companies such as Mastin Labs, Totally Rad, and VSCO. I decided on VSCO. I wanted presets that simulated legendary film stocks like Portra. VSCO was at a good price point and was widely used among other photographers. 

    After using the presets, I have noticed a bump in my photos. This is not due to the preset look but it provides me with a look that I want and I can build off it. Not only has this improved my workflow but also my editing skills.

3. Better editing skills?

    While writing this, my mind might have changed. How is a editing program going to improve my editing skills? After some thought I realized that it does not necessarily work like that. A photo editing program will not make someone a photographer overnight. But it allows you to become a better photographer/editor. 

    Photoshop and Lightroom are just tools to a photographer/editor just like a camera is a tool. Everyone has access to these tools but it does not make a everyone a photographer. It all depends on how one uses these tools. These tools allow me to adjust and improve my photos. I am able to cut down time, apply a look, and adjust the look to fit my style. 

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Switching from Photoshop to Lightroom

I have recently switched from PC to Mac, something I have been wanting to do for the longest time. However, due to being in college, I was never able to afford it. Finally, I was able to make the switch and I’m loving it.

But what does this have to do with “Switch from Photoshop to Lightroom”? Since, I purchased a new computer, I needed to get new photo editing software. On my PC, I was running just Adobe Photoshop CS5. But since Adobe has switching over to a subscription based method, I needed to upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Luckily, Adobe creates a package just for photographers which includes Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.95 a month. Which is something I had to do.

As I stated, I’ve only had Photoshop besides this one time I had a trial for Lightroom. I don’t really remember much about it besides the basic adjustments. But I’ve more and more “pro” photographers using Lightroom more for editing images and Photoshop for “major” adjustments.

 (Left) Lightroom and (Right) Photoshop interfaces

(Left) Lightroom and (Right) Photoshop interfaces

So, what do I hope to achieve with Lightroom?

1.     A faster workflow: I think almost everyone who endorses Lightroom says that it allows them a better workflow. Whether it be the tagging and filtering system or just the quick editing tools. Whatever it maybe, I hope that I am able to cut down some time editing.

2.     Presets: I know you can have presets in Photoshop, but from what I’ve seen it’s a lot simpler in Lightroom. Most preset companies do have presets for both Lightroom and Photoshop however not all do. Since, I have Lightroom included with Photoshop now, might as well just get the presets for Lightroom.

3.     Better editing skills: When I was using Photoshop, I needed to research an action that I wanted to do. Granted, that does help you learn. However, Lightroom simplifies it by allowing me to click the preset I want and then make any adjustments necessary. Not only does this cut down time but also allows me to focus on making the image better.

As of now, I will play and learn Lightroom. Hopefully Lightroom will live up to mine and other’s expectations. In the future, I will come back to this and review my Lightroom experience.

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Choosing the right camera

Personally, I have experienced this problem many of times. It can be a tough decision deciding what camera fits your needs. And there is no definitive answer. It all depends on what you need and works best for you.

A question many ask is, DSLR or mirrorless? I did a blog post a while back about how mirrorless is the wave of the future. You can check it out here. But the question still stands; do I choose a DSLR or mirrorless camera? It all depends on what you want. A DSLR is going to offer reliability, speed, and a bigger form factor. They also provide a giant selection of lenses. A mirrorless camera is going to provide small form factor, 4K video, and easier use of manual lenses. I know many are questioning the 4K video. As of right now, mirrorless cameras are the only ones to offer 4K video (besides one or two higher end Canon and Nikon DSLRs) on a full frame body when comparing it to a DSLR.  However, there are some caveats to mirrorless cameras.

One caveat is the small form factor. Mirrorless cameras are smaller in comparison to DSLRs. However, the lenses are bigger and longer, which in turns makes the whole kit (body and lens) the same size as a DSLR and lens (picture below). Another caveat with mirrorless cameras is the amount of lenses. Yes, mirrorless cameras open the door to manual lenses with adapters and focus peaking. But if you want autofocus and electronic control of the lenses, you’re stuck. As of right now, Sony only has a handful of propriety lenses and these lenses are expensive. So it all depends on what you are looking for but there are some caveats to a DSLR as well.

 Image from PetaPixel

Image from PetaPixel

DSLRs are quite a bit bigger than mirrorless cameras. This is due to the mirror and prism in a DSLR. But this allows for smaller lenses. Another caveat of DSLRs is the limited video options. I’m sure this will change soon but right now the only 4K offerings in DLSRs are the higher end models in which you are looking at dropping $6k plus. Sony offers 4K video on the Sony a6300 at about $1K. Mirrorless cameras do provide multiple cameras with 4K. However, how do you know what mirrorless camera to go with?

This was just a brief overview of choosing the right camera. There are more options to research but I chose these as most people will be looking for these features. In my opinion, mirrorless cameras are great for video right now. They have multiple 4K options but don’t have a good range of lenses for photography unless you like manually focusing. I would buy a DSLR if you are OK with just HD video but want the speed and reliability of a DSLR. Also, DSLRs have a huge selection of propriety lenses and third party lenses.

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Where ya been?

I haven't written a blog post since April 29th....and that's not ok. It bothers me that I have neglected my blog for over a month now! I wasn't just sitting there not doing anything, well sometimes I was but I was tied up with graduation and all that stuff. I also shot a proposal of a friend and classmate. You can check out some of my pictures here! http://buff.ly/1XFfp8N

I finally graduated college! If you haven't clicked my about page yet (you should have!), I attended Clarion University of Pennsylvania. I graduated Cum Lade on May 6th! As I'm writing this I just realized I have mentioned this multiple times in previous blogs.

Anyways, I have been working with a chiropractor (smithchiro.net) on his social media and website. I've focused most of my time working on that along side working at U-Haul. So, no full time job yet but working (technically) three part time jobs.

I plan on getting on the grind of writing blogs every two weeks. Next blog will be June 22nd. Keep an eye out for it!

Update and award

Hello all,

Sorry I have not written in a while. This coming up week is finals week. So, this pass week has been pretty busy, working on group projects, and typing papers. The blog will definitely pick back up after I graduate.  Almost done!

Last night, I attended the Communication department awards reception thing. I knew I was getting an award for being in The Clarion Call and what not. However, I wasn't expecting this one. I received third place for news photo. This is a national contest hosted each year by the Society of Collegiate Journalists. Someone likes my work!

Well, that is all I have today. Have a great weekend! Next blog, will probably be up 2 weeks from now. As I need to finish up school. Thanks!