Denver Photo Betties

Education

Denver Photo Betties City Park Spring Variety Shootout

Education, The Betties Are BusyThe Betty Board1 Comment

Since I would bet that most photographers became photographers because they love photography, its not surprising that our most popular Betty hosted event is the shootout.

Shootouts are a great opportunity for you to network in a small group setting while practicing your shooting skills.  They're also a great time to try a new technique, shoot something you're not used to shooting, and build up your portfolio.  

And the best part, they're open to ALL Betties, regardless of shooting level.  They're a time to learn, connect, and grow as photographers.

In April, the Betties hosted a Spring Variety Shootout in City Park.  

The number and type of models at each shootout varies, but at this shoot we had two amazing maternity models, two rad senior models, and two awesome couples.

Check out some of the reviews below and some of the awesome photos taken by your fellow Betty members!

The Bettie’s Spring Variety Shoot Out was an awesome way to network with other female photographers of all different specialties and levels of experience! I loved getting to practice different techniques and poses stress free on the lovely and willing models. So thankful that the Bettie’s group provides unique opportunities like this and I will be looking forward to the next event!
— Abigail Oxford Photoraphy
The Spring Variety Shoot Out was a blast! It was a great opportunity to meet other betties from all over and have a chance to shoot a variety of different people. I loved that I was able to chat with other betties, get a chance to network, hear about their photography experiences, find fun and exciting spots to take the photos, and experiment with my own photography skills. It was a great portfolio booster as well, since I could add some images to categories that I want to branch into (such as seniors and maternity). It was very well organized and so helpful to have the betties organization coordinate the location and people who were in the photos. It made for an overall fun evening with great company and an occasion to practice new photography techniques while building my portfolio.
— Ashleigh Cropper, Red Aspen Photography

Stay tuned to the Denver Photo Betties Facebook group for updates on upcoming shootouts and events!

Planning for a Styled Shoot - Tips from photographers

EducationThe Betty BoardComment

When just starting out as photographers one of the hardest things to do is to sell your work when you don't have much of it yet.

How many of you remember (or are still facing) the chicken and the egg conundrum.  You need photos to showcase your work and book clients, but you need clients to have work to showcase to future clients.

There are many ways to get around this at the beginning, whether it is by offering free services, begging your newly engaged friends to let you take photos of them, finding opportunities to 2nd shoot, and planning a styled shoot.

Styled shoots are a great way to meet people in the industry, shoot the type of client you want to shoot, and build your portfolio.  Not sure how to start?  You can do it all on your own if you have to by crafting up a storm, baking or buying some yummy treats, and finding a married couple who is willing to tromp around in their wedding attire.

As you become more established you will build relationships with people in the industry who will want to embark on a creative project with you and the next thing you know you're seeing your artistic vision come to life in front of your eyes.

But since navigating a crazy day on a styled shoot can be a bit overwhelming, especially if its your first shoot, here are a few tips from myself and some of your fellow Betties.

Photo by Ashley Kidder of  Urban Safari Photography

Photo by Ashley Kidder of Urban Safari Photography

1. Think super creative and design shoots around inspiration
There are a ton of styled shoots being done these days and the goal of most professionals is to get ourselves published!  With the hundreds of publications out there, there are lots of options, but there can also be a ton of competition, especially if you choose to do a shoot with a theme that is popular that season.  

To make sure you stand out in the publishing world, choose a theme that isn’t so mainstream.  Draw inspiration from movies, books, TV shows, international holidays, local festivals, stores, magazines–but put a spin on it that keeps your shoot original.  It needs to stand out, not only for its beauty, but for its originality.  If there is one thing Pintrest is good for, its for figuring out if something you want to do has been done before.  If it has, you can bet you’ll find evidence of it on Pintrest.  Then you can find ways to make yours different.

Plus, your photos will be much better if you love what you're shooting.

Photo by Rayna McGinnis of  Rayna McGinnis Photography

Photo by Rayna McGinnis of Rayna McGinnis Photography

2. Start planning early, but not too early
It’s important to plan early enough to allow included vendors time to work their magic.  They need to plan, shop, design, and create and you want to give them the time to craft something that meets their best standards.  However, many vendors aren’t booked as far in advance as photographers, so its important that those on board also have time to manage their own clients and business.  By giving them enough time to plan, but not approaching them so far in advance that they have no idea what their schedule will look like come shoot time, you ensure that they’ll be creatively focused and excited about the vision of the shoot.  I’ve found that four to five weeks before the shoot is an excellent time to nail down collaborative vendors.

Photo by Jennie Crate of  Green Blossom Photography

Photo by Jennie Crate of Green Blossom Photography

3. Work with a planner
It can open up great doors for referrals later since they see your work first hand and post it on their portfolio, usually with your watermark. Plus planner usually have access to contacts in the wedding industry that we, as photographers, might not.

However, when working with a planner it is important to be on the same page about the vision from the very start so that all of the decisions you make along the way are cohesive and on pint with what you want to photograph.  You'll also want to figure out your individual roles within the shoot.  Many planners are very detail oriented and they may want to have a certain amount of control within the styling of the shoot.  Make sure you have open communication along the way and that you each know your roles and expectations of each other.

Photo by Ashley Kidder of  Urban Safari Photography

Photo by Ashley Kidder of Urban Safari Photography

4. Book the venue early in the process
 Once you decide on a theme and a timeline for the shoot, I’d recommend booking a venue early.  Many wedding venues won’t be available on weekends, so plan your shoot for a weekday, keeping in mind that the venue may be closed a couple of days during the week to compensate for being open on the weekends.  Once you have a date and venue, it’s much easier to reach out to potential collaborative vendors.  Putting the big details in place early shows vendors that you have a plan, you’re organized, and you’re committed to the shoot, so they’re more likely to want to commit themselves too.

Photo by Rayna McGinnis of  Rayna McGinnis Photography

Photo by Rayna McGinnis of Rayna McGinnis Photography

5. Plan extra time into the day
As much as we photographers love to shoot in the ‘golden hour’ before sunset, trying to plan a styled shoot to finish then is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot.  Traffic may be bad, hair and make-up might take longer than you anticipate, you may have to set up things as you go if the weather is bad, thus taking away the ability to simultaneously shoot one thing and style the next.  

I'd recommend planning the timeline to finish at least AN HOUR before sunset, thus giving you contingency time.  Plan to finish all important shots (especially details!) by that hour before sunset time.  Anything after that is pure bonus.

Photo by Jennie Crate of  Green Blossom Photography

Photo by Jennie Crate of Green Blossom Photography

6. Don't forget the details!
Details are an important part of any styled shoot and they're paramount to being accepted for publication.  Make sure you pay attention to the styling of your details and photograph them in as many ways as you can come up with.  Not only do the details enhance your artistic vision for the shoot, but they're often what your vendors want to see photograph of, since the details highlight their work.  

Make sure you communicate with your vendors before the shoot, or one site, about what kinds of shots they're looking for out of the shoot.  Since they're putting in the work, they will want something that they can use for their won marketing purposes.  Nothing sucks worse for them than seeing a beautiful shoot where the photos of their contribution don't meet their expectations.  By being up front with each other at the beginning, you can avoid tension and hurt feelings at the end.

Photo by Jennie Crate of  Green Blossom Photography

Photo by Jennie Crate of Green Blossom Photography

7. Play nice and always, always, give the finished product to your vendors
You may think its common knowledge, but its worth mentioning.  

Be nice to your models and be nice to your vendors. You never know when a model might turn into a future bride or a vendor will recommend you to a couple because they like your work style.

In addition, your vendors put lot of time, effort, and hard work into a styled shoot and they deserve access to un-watermarked photographic evidence of their talent.  They deserve the right to use your photos in their marketing efforts, whether on their website, Facebook page, business cards, brochures, etc.  Hopefully they’ll credit you, but even if they don’t the relationship you build with them throughout the process will be far more valuable than a tagline on a website page.

So what do you say Betties?  What is the most important thing you've learned from doing styled shoots?  If you have a great shoot to share, post it in the comments!

Vendor Credits for the Urban Safari Photography Photos:
Denver Fashion Truck | http://denverfashiontruck.com/
Pretty Bride Shop | http://www.prettybrideshop.com/
MENTE | https://www.facebook.com/mentefreelance
Chairs with Character | http://chairswithcharacter.com/
The Perfect Petal | http://www.theperfectpetal.com/

Expanding your skills with Off Camera Flash

Education, Ideas, Off Season, LightingThe Betty BoardComment

Looking to expand your Photography Skills?

This is the time of year when most of us photogs are busy spending all of our time thinking about the upcoming photography season.  Here in Denver, it's cold outside and many of our clients are just getting over the Holiday Sticker shock.  Many of us are also looking how we can further our photographic skills and expand our knowledge during our 'down season'.  

One thing that I've noticed lately is the increasing trend of "Natural Light Photographers" in our industry.  It is a wondrous thing to have that amazing, perfect light beaming down from the Heavens at just the right moment during your session.  However, more often than not there will not be perfect light.  We are all faced with lighting challenges, Photography is after all the art of capturing light!  One way to expand your photographic vault of knowledge is to learn how to control your lighting environment by adding off camera lighting.  


                                                                 www.SavannahChandlerPhotography.com

What is Off Camera Flash?

Off Camera Flash, or OCF, is the practice of using lights that are strategically placed to enhance the outcome of an image.  It is a common misconception to think that using any light source that is not "natural" will make your images look a certain way that is undesirable.  In fact, learning how to harness light will allow you to create some amazing images and can enhance your ability to differentiate your brand from others.  

 

There are many different tools available to us photographers in terms of off camera flash, from utilizing your speedlights to standing strobes and constant lights.  Each photographer will find some tools more useful than others, but try out all your different options!  

 

In Studio Off Camera Flash

                                                                               www.BrookeSummer.com

                                                                              www.BrookeSummer.com

For those photogs who shoot regularly in a studio setting, you are probably used to the idea of off camera lighting.  Many times, the light coming into the space we've selected for our sessions isn't optimal (or there may be no natural light coming in).  To enhance your images indoors, try playing around with standing strobe lights with a modifier to help get images with soft, even lighting.  

For example, Brooke Summer of Brooke Summer Photography chose to use an Ailen Bee Strobe for these beautiful boudoir images.  The look she achieved is not over "flashed" or unnatural looking but instead very natural and flattering.  By pointing her strobe against a white wall and indirectly bouncing the light, she has created a nice, even light in her first image.  The same strobe was then used in a different manor with an Octabox modifier (a large softbox in an octagon shape) to achieve a the lighting similar to that of an exterior window.  

In a studio setting, understanding modifiers is just as important as the light source being used.  A modifier will allow the light to be evenly distributed (such as a soft box) or to be directed in a very specific manor (honeycomb grid).  Without modifiers, your light will "spew" out into your work space and is not easily controlled.  

                                                                              www.LisaODwyer.com     Lisa with Lisa O'Dwyer Photography takes a different indoor approach with very  directional off camera lighting.  For this specific look, she places constant lights (such as a video light) on a stand with no modifier. 

                                                                             www.LisaODwyer.com

Lisa with Lisa O'Dwyer Photography takes a different indoor approach with very directional off camera lighting.  For this specific look, she places constant lights (such as a video light) on a stand with no modifier. 

Utilizing Off Camera Flash Outdoors

                                                                           www.Adore-Photography.com

                                                                          www.Adore-Photography.com

The thought of using additional lighting outdoors is quite foreign to many photographers, a common thought being that your images won't look natural.  This outdated theory will only diminish your ability to get the images that you're after!  Adding off camera flash outdoors allows us to achieve a multitude of looks and feels.  If the lighting situation that you find yourself in is one where the exposure bracket between your subject and background is incomprehensible, add some light!

Shannon of Adore Photography was able to capture a beautiful image that looks very natural with both her subject and background properly exposed.  This would not have been possible without the addition of off camera flash.  She simply used a small pop of flash from her speedlight off camera to lighten her subjects with some fill light.  

Using off camera flash outdoors can be very tricky and time consuming.  Shooting by yourself with off camera lighting can prove to be most difficult, but is definitely achievable!  Investing in some heavy duty light stands and a form of transmitter/reciever (such as a pocket wizard or popper) will be necessary.  In situations where you don't have much set up time, such as a wedding, speedlights are usually the preferred form of off camera flash.  There are modifiers available for speedlights as well, so you can manipulate your lights just as with studio strobes.  

                                                               www.SavannahChandlerPhotography.com   Savannah with Savannah Chandler Photography utilized a speedlight with a modifier, a shoot through white umbrella in downtown Denver.  

                                                              www.SavannahChandlerPhotography.com

Savannah with Savannah Chandler Photography utilized a speedlight with a modifier, a shoot through white umbrella in downtown Denver.  

Night Photography with Off Camera Flash

                                                                    www.RhemaFaithPhotography.com

                                                                   www.RhemaFaithPhotography.com

We've all been stuck in that situation, photographing in the dark!  This is an obvious place to use lighting, but many of us have resorted to utilizing just our speedlight attached to our cameras.  Venture out into the world of off camera flash for your night/reception photography and you'll be amazed at the results.  

Using just your speedlight can be a fine solution when we have a white ceiling to bounce off of, but that is not usually a realistic situation.  For example, Rhema with Rhema Faith Photography was in a beautiful setting outdoors for this couple's first dance, but there is no wall to bounce off of and directional light from a flash attached to your camera can make your images look very flat.  Rhema used two 600RT speedlights (which are very nice, because you don't need a remote trigger with this specific speedlight model).  She had one speedlight on her camera and had an assistant hold the other light on a stand as if it were a boom mic.  Using this combination of on and off camera flash, Rhema was able to capture the star-like essence of the lights set up by her bride and groom.  

                                                                     www.UrbanSafariPhotography.com   Ashley with Urban Safari Photography utilized a similar technique with a combination of on and off camera flash for this image.  She placed the off camera speedlight behind her couple to illuminate the background and create rim lighting around her subjects.

                                                                    www.UrbanSafariPhotography.com

Ashley with Urban Safari Photography utilized a similar technique with a combination of on and off camera flash for this image.  She placed the off camera speedlight behind her couple to illuminate the background and create rim lighting around her subjects.

                                                                   www.UrbanSafariPhotography.com   Night photography isn't just reserved for those of us photographing weddings... Take your clients out and get creative, beautiful night shots!  Two speedlights were utilized in these images.

                                                                  www.UrbanSafariPhotography.com

Night photography isn't just reserved for those of us photographing weddings... Take your clients out and get creative, beautiful night shots!  Two speedlights were utilized in these images.

Get out and Practice!!

This is the perfect time of year to perfect your skills!  Grab a friend and go out of your comfort zone and experiment with some off camera flash!  Keep perfecting your natural light skills, but remember that all photographers can benefit from learning how to harness and control added light.  

Are you already a Denver Betty?  Then keep on the lookout for an upcoming workshop that involves off camera flash!  I can't give away all the details just yet... but there's lots of great stuff on the horizon!

 

-Savannah

Savannah Chandler Photography

                                                                    

Back Those Files Up! - A Breakdown of Backup Systems

EducationThe Betty Board2 Comments
BackUpSystems06.jpg

Once upon a time, I was a wide-eyed, overly-confident photographer, just starting out.  I was in my first year of photography school, and I was sure I knew my way around a DSLR.  I was just starting to find my niche, and I liked where things were going.  Nothing could take that away from me.

And then one fateful day, my external hard drive hit the floor. Hard. I stared at it for a few beats.  It still looked the same.  I gathered my strength, took a deep breath, and reconnected it.  

"Click...click...click...whiiiirrr" it said.  

My heart sank to my feet.  No one had to tell me what that noise meant.  In two seconds, all of my beautiful images were gone. 

$1800 later, I at least had the majority of my jpegs back, although the RAW images and .psd files were gone forever.  My external hard drive wasn't just dead- it was FRIED. The plates inside had clapped against each other making it impossible to retrieve my files without the help of a data recovery business.  And that's an awfully expensive lesson to learn.  If I had known anything about file back-up systems, life would have been a whole lot easier for a few months while I lived on Ramen trying to pay off that credit card bill. 

There are a lot of choices out there for file back-up, so I'm just going to hit on a few methods commonly used by professional photographers.  Then you can make the right choice for your own back-up plan.  There isn't a firm rule on what to do.  The only rule is that to be a professional photographer, you must, must, must have a file back-up system in place!

#1 - Back-up while shooting

If you're not able to back-up your data straight through a computer in the field, there are wi-fi memory cards that will instantly send your files from your camera to a back-up.  This works if your camera uses an sd card, and I've heard talk of a cf to sd converter.

Another option along these same lines is a stand-alone data storage unit.  Like a mini computer, you can download your files directly to the unit for an instant back-up. Type 'memory card back-up' into the search on B&H, and you'll find choices that run from $134 all the way to $1000+ for video storage on the go.

#2 - Portable External Hard Drives

verbatim-store-n-go-1.jpg

The first thing I want to say about external hard drives is this:

FACT: ALL EXTERNALS FAIL.  

This could be due to falling off a desk as in my own little tragedy, it could be due to human error when you accidentally format your hard drive, or it could simply be that your external has decided it's time to fly to that great techno heaven in the sky.  But it's not a matter of IF, but WHEN.  So keep that in mind when you're using these. Useful little things, I know, with all their adorable portability.  But don't depend on them with your precious files.

They're not totally useless, however.  One option that might work for you to develop into your file backup workflow is the external buddy system.  One photographer I know literally rubberbands together two externals and uses them simultaneously from the time she's downloading her files.  This isn't her ONLY file back-up system (what if she dropped them both while they were stuck together?), but it works for keeping those externals useful while still having some measure of protection. 

#3 - NONPortable External Hard Drives

There are a lot of choices here, some not too different from the portables (only they're, well, not portable.  They're usually a bit less sturdy and a bit less expensive than their portable counterparts.) to full systems like the Apple Airport Time Capsule and the Drobo which allows you to back up to multiple hard drives at once.  How does that work? Well, I could tell you, but Drobo has a helpful video that does a much better job of explaining.

These systems can be a bit pricey, but compared to a data retrieval attempt (which might not even work if your hard drive is sufficiently fried), they're well worth the price!

#4 Offsite Backup Systems

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 10.16.45 PM.png

These are online back up systems.  That means that your information is uploaded via the internet and kept on giant redundant hard drives somewhere far, far away.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is 'The Cloud.'

There are TONS of choices and pros and cons to each, so researching this can get pretty overwhelming.  Some things to consider are whether or not a system can back up your external hard drives, speed of automatic upload (some systems, like Carbonite for example, throttle upload speeds down to as low as 1 GB per day after a while.  That would have been great in, say 1992.), ease of file retrieval, and of course, price.  Here are a few that are commonly used by photographers- affordable options that offer unlimited storage and that back up external hard drives- and maybe that will help narrow down your research to find the right system for you.

True 'set it and forget it' unlimited back-up from $3.96/month

More options for choosing which data to back up, handy mobile app from $5.00/month

Syncs across multiple computers and devices and even allows you to share files from $6.95/month

Keeps the old copies of files that have changed for up to 180 days (that save-over edit? Still retrievable!) from $8.25/month

That's a lot of options. And the very best option? A combination of multiple sources, both on- and off-site. There is no single backup system that can keep your files safe. One photographer I know kept her files backed up on multiple hard drives only to lose all of her beautiful work in a devastating house fire. And we can't say that things like that won't happen. But as professional photographers, it's so, SO important to protect our most important business asset- our photographs.

So what do you do to keep your files safe? Let us know in the comments!