pittsburgh photographer

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 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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(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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