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6 Things for Photographers to Tackle During the Slow Season

6 Things for Photographers to Tackle During the Slow Season

In nearly every genre of photography, there’s often a slow season — maybe because the weather has turned and none wants to shoot photos in the snow or maybe simply because that particular industry has a slow season. And while photographers should spend some of that slow season taking a much-needed break, there are other things photographers can do even when photo sessions are thinning out. Here’s six ideas to improve while in the middle of a slow season.

Update your website.

Updating the website often takes a backseat in the middle of the busy season — so use the slow time to catch up. If you’ve been good about getting new photos online quickly, you could still potentially find areas to refresh, like updating the home page or adding a page of new information clients have been asking for. Now is also a great time to integrate better SEO tactics to help more potential clients find you.

Brainstorm and plan seasonal shoots.

Get a jump start by planning ahead some of the sessions that usually happen during the not-so-slow seasons. Mark holidays that would be great for mini sessions, develop new specials for a holiday season or plan something entirely new for later in the year. Take the slower season to also slow down mentally — and open up ideas for new ways to improve when your brain isn’t so filled with all the demanding tasks of a busy season.

Clean your gear.

Hopefully, you occasionally clean off your lenses and such, but the slow season is a great time for a more thorough cleaning. Check your camera sensor for dust spots. Match each lens cap to a lens. Clean out your camera bag from the papers wrappers and other unneeded items that tend to accumulate. If you have photo gear that you’ve recently replaced or don’t need anymore, now is also a great time to clean that out and sell the used gear online.

Schedule social media posts.

Social media may be largely in the here and now — but there’s often a number of posts you can schedule ahead of time to keep your updates more consistent. Start a series about tips or other written posts. Create several #ThrowbackThursday posts. Pre-write those holiday posts wishing followers the best on the day.

Look for new places to publish.

Just because you aren’t out shooting doesn’t mean you can’t find a new spot for your pictures. Exactly what this process looks like depends on what industry you are in, but look for a new place to publish your pictures. Wedding photographers could submit to magazines, and many photographers can send shots that weren’t used to a stock photography platform, for example.

Learn something new.

As artists, there is always a way for photographers to improve. Take the slow season to learn something new. Identify what your weaknesses are whether that’s lighting or business skills and take an online class or pick up a book on the subject. Or, get out of a creative rut by experimenting with an entirely new genre or subject.

Working as a photographer often means an unequal distribution of work throughout the year — but that slow season can just be another opportunity for growth.

5 Trendy Custom Products For Printers in 2018

5 Trendy Custom Products For Printers in 2018

Thanks to technology like dye-sublimation and the internet, personalized products are both easy to find and on trend. Products with a personal touch — whether that’s a name, a photo or a business logo — are gaining in popularity. And print shops can grow their bottom line by jumping on the personalization trend. But what products should be added to that list, and what custom items are duds? Here are some of the trendiest custom products to offer in 2018 for businesses with access to dye-sublimation printers.

Mix the completely custom with local flair.

Products don’t necessarily have to be 100 percent custom to sell well — products catered to your region that are pre-designed can also do well. For example, photographers can sell a line of products featuring a landscape photo of a popular scene. Print studios can create items promoting a local sports team that’s harder to find than the national teams. Other popular options include products that use the outline of the state or country where your business is as well as other designs and saying with local flair. Along with offering these products directly from your business, you could also reach out to gift shops to sell those items with a local touch.

Create custom pillows and other fabric-based home decor.

While decor has always been a popular category for customizing, photographers and printing shops don’t have to stick with just the traditional wall art. Pillows are now easy to custom with a unique graphic or even a photograph. Sublimation printers make printing on pillowcases affordable, while for customers, the custom aspect is an unexpected way to spruce up decor. Other popular options include custom blankets. Sublimation printing can also add a twist to the traditional monogrammed hand towels as well as tea towels.

Decorate with yard flags.

Why not take that custom decor trend outdoors? Yard flags are popular particularly when customized to the area or even to say the family’s name. Local sports teams and other graphics that show local pride are on trend in 2018 and offer a unique aspect that customer’s can’t find just anywhere.

Toss it in a bag or add it to a t-shirt.

Wearables were one of Etsy’s top selling products last year — suggesting customers are looking for custom items they can add to their wardrobe. The best way to do this is to capitalize on local flair, such as designing a t-shirt with the state outline and name, or with a trendy phrase or image that’s growing in popularity, like quoting a new movie or noticing everyone in the area is going crazy for mermaids and creating a line inspired by that trend. Think about apparel items that work well with a printer, like t-shirts and tote bags.

Don’t forget the youngsters.

Kids have always loved custom products, but customization now goes well beyond those pre-made pencils with their names on them in gift shops. Offering customized products for kids is a great way for print shops to expand their lineup. Print custom onsies, for example, or the very popular birthday t-shirts following the youngster’s party theme. Diaper bags and custom blankets are all good options as well.

Dye-sublimation printers make it possible for printers to expand their list of options — and choosing popular products help grow profits too.

How to get the best black and white conversion in Lightroom

How to get the best black and white conversion in Lightroom

Black and white photography is classic. Timeless. And yet, there are so many different ways to create a black and white image. There’s the one-click options. The Instagram-like filters. While these are great for speed, there’s another option for photographers that want to get every shade of gray perfect. By using the HSL panel in Lightroom, you can control how each color converts for the most control over the final results. Here’s how to get the best black and white conversion in Lightroom Classic.

Step 1: Get the exposure right first.

First, correct any exposure errors in the basic panel by adjusting the exposure slider. Having a good exposure from the start before you’ve even converted to black and white will help you make the best decisions on how to convert each color. You can always come back and continue to fine-tune (and probably will).

Inside the basic panel, make sure the color options are untouched, with the white balance as shot and the vibrance and saturation sliders set to zero.

Step 2: Convert to black and white in the HSL panel.

There are multiple ways to convert to black and white, but the HSL offers easy, yet custom control over the way the colors convert. Scroll down to the HSL panel in the right-hand toolbar and click on B & W. Lightroom will then convert the file for you.

Step 3: Control each color channel.

Inside the B & W section of the HSL panel, you can now control how each color converts, making each channel lighter or darker in the conversion. By controlling how each color converts, you can add contrast or create a matte look, make skin tones pop or allow a certain object in the photo to stand out more (or less) from the background.

Lightroom has two different ways to control each color. First, you can use the sliders dedicated to each color, pulling to the left to darken or to the right to lighten and previewing those shots in real time.

Another option is to use the targeted tool, which tends to work better if you aren’t  sure what color channel to adjust for a specific area.. You can find the tool by clicking the circle icon in the upper left corner of the B & W sidebar. Now, you can control the conversion with your mouse instead of the slider. As you hoover over areas of the image, the corresponding color slider will be highlighted, allowing you to see what colors are in that selection. Click that area of the image and drag the mouse up to lighten or down to darken. Just like using the sliders, only that color channel (or channels in some cases) will be affected.

Adjust each color channel until you have achieved the desired look — and remember, Lightroom is non-destructive so you can go back and make changes again later.

Step 4: Finish the edits.

Editing a black and white image doesn’t have to be done only in the B & W panel. With the colors converted, you can continue editing the shot as you normally would — just avoid the controls typically associated with color like saturation and white balance. You can fine-tune the exposure, create even more contrast using curves, apply local adjustments such as a dodge and burn, or sharpen the image.

Black and white photographs are often powerful images, but in order to harness that power, you need to control the conversion. Thankfully, black and white edits are both simple and versatile inside Lightroom.

18 Ways to Improve your Photography in 2018

18 Ways to Improve your Photography in 2018

Counting down the New Year? Make better photos your goal for 2018 with these different tricks and exercises to help you improve your photography.

Take pictures every day. The more you photograph, the more you pick up on the small things that make a big difference.

Learn the art of flash photography. Many new photographers are afraid of flash photography — because they never like the results. Learn how to turn that flash down with manual flash mode and a diffuser for a whole new love for flash.

Try intentionally getting the exposure wrong. Once you’ve mastered how to make sure a photo isn’t too dark or too bright, use those same skills to intentionally break the rules. Try shooting dark, moody images or overexposing for a bright and airy feel.

Get bold with your composition. Center. Don’t center. Put the subject on the edges of the frame. Embrace empty space.

Look for color. Compose images based on complementary or opposite colors for a photo that pops.

Identify your weaknesses and pick up a book on the subject or take a class. Pick a topic a critique has mentioned before, or simply a topic you’re struggling with. Tackling weaknesses can make the biggest impact.

Try film. There’s something about having a limited number of shots and being unable to instantly preview the results that improves photography even when you are using digital.

Shoot in all types of light. Sure, a cloudy day makes it easy to get great photos with soft light, but it doesn’t do much for your photo skills. The more types of light you experiment, the more you’ll understand light and how to manipulate it.

Experiment with panning to blur the background of action shots.

Head out after the sun has set with a tripod and try long exposure night photography of cityscapes or even the stars.

Go someplace familiar and boring — shooting here will help you find the beauty anywhere.

Spend a week shooting only in black and white, with your camera set to black and white mode so you see every shot in black and white.

Take a break and try another creative art form, from painting to sketching, to avoid burnout and bring in new ideas from another creative discipline.

Follow the top photographers shooting in your favorite genre on social media to find new inspiration and pick up new tips.

Print your photos — photographers are often better at self critiquing when looking at a large print, rather than a computer screen.

Learn new photo editing skills. Try following a photo editing blog or YouTube channel as an affordable way to learn.

Shoot a dozen different photos of the same everyday object — this exercise forces you to look for lighting and perspectives you wouldn’t have thought of originally.

Set up a shoot for practice only. Take the pressure off and start with practice in mind — and you may be surprised at what you find.

5 Christmas Photography Tips For Capturing Memories of the Holidays

5 Christmas Photography Tips For Capturing Memories of the Holidays

Christmas creates magical memories, but those moments are gone in seconds — unless you freeze them with a camera. The holiday season creates many different photo opportunities, but many of the Christmas traditions are tougher to shoot because they are often indoors in limited lighting. But, with a few tricks, you can step up your Christmas photos by navigating some of the challenges that come along with them. Here are five Christmas photography tips to capture holiday memories just as magical as you remember.

Embrace the bokeh.

Christmas lights create that sparkle of magic — and they make excellent backgrounds for holiday photos. When taking photos, look for ways to incorporate lights into the background — they will blur into pleasing circles and make excellent backgrounds. To maximize that bokeh effect, use a wide aperture and if you have one, a camera with a larger sensor like a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Bringing the subject farther from lights, rather than having the subject sit directly in front of the Christmas tree, will also help.

Notice the lights look half off in some of your photos? Christmas lights actually blink at a frequency too fast for the eye to detect, but if you use a fast shutter speed, you may catch one of those blinks. If you see the lights aren’t all there, lower the shutter speed to around 1/60 or lower.

Try a tripod and low light.

Along the same lines, the holidays create a number of different great low light opportunities. When heading out to view Christmas lights or to attend a candle walk event, bring along a tripod and try shooting long exposures. You’ll get sharper shots without ruining the ambience of a scene light just by Christmas lights. The same concept applies to candlelight.

Take the shoot outdoors at a Christmas tree farm.

While tasks like baking Christmas cookies and unwrapping presents are of course best left indoors, if you want to take a family portrait for Christmas, you’ll likely get better results outdoors. Christmas tree farms make great spots for family photos and during the day, outdoor shots are much easier to light than the dimness of the indoors — especially if you head out on a cloudy day. Dress warm and head outside to get some variety to your Christmas photos.

Apply action photo tips for gift unwrapping.

Tearing open the wrapping paper is almost an athletic event — and you need to apply action photography concepts to capture the candid moments in the midst that flurry of paper. Widen your aperture and bump up the ISO so that you can use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action. Turn on burst mode so you can increase your chances of capturing that perfect moment.

Don’t forget the prep shots.

Much of the joy of tradition isn’t in the actual day, but all the moments leading up to it. Don’t forget to pull the camera out while baking Christmas cookies, wrapping presents or cozying up to a Christmas movies in PJs. Whatever your family’s holiday traditions are, don’t just bring the camera out in the peak moments, but the small moments that contribute to the overall holiday.

Christmas is a magical season — and using Christmas photography tips helps you capture all of that magic to remember years down the road. Merry Christmas!

4 tips for choosing the best frames for your photos

4 tips for choosing the best frames for your photos

Following the right steps before printing your photos is important — but what about after printing? What about picture frames? The perfect frame can bring out the colors and detail in the image while also complementing the image. But, when it comes to frames, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different options — and that’s not including the mat. So how do you narrow it down to choose the best frame for your photos? Here are four tips to help you choose the right frame.

The Golden Ratio isn’t just for photography.

While the Golden Ratio, a more advanced version of the Rule of Thirds, applies to the composition of the photo itself, it can also help you choose the right picture frame. When you apply the Golden Ratio to framing, you get a border that’s appropriate for the size of the photo. To do this, you want to choose a frame and mat that has a border that’s creates that Golden Ratio with the photograph. To do that, try using this online calculator to find the right size for your image, especially if you are using a custom framing service. The larger your photo is, the wider the frame should be.

Frame colors should complement both the decor and the photograph.

Most consider the colors in their home decor before choosing a frame, but you should also factor in the colors in that particular photo as well. Don’t choose the color you see most in the photo, or the color will be lost in that frame. Instead, choose a color that’s in the photo, but not the most dominant. Choosing a frame or a mat with one of the less dominate colors in the image will complement the image and help it pop against that frame.

Don’t forget the mat.

The frame and mat work together to highlight the image in a pleasing way. While an mat isn’t exactly necessary for smaller photos, larger photos will look much better with both a frame and a mat, making it easier to reach that Golden Ratio. Choosing a mat and frame also allows you to choose two different colors to bring out that image. Along with a solid color mat, you can also choose a double mat, which has another color bordering the image, or even a mat with a subtle pattern.

Consider the gallery.

While some photos hang by themselves, in many cases, that image will become part of a gallery wall with several images. When creating a gallery wall, choosing the same colors in the mat and frame will help tie the images in and give them a cohesive look, while choosing different frame colors and materials can draw more interest into the gallery. Choosing multiple different sizes is also a good idea when creating a gallery wall.

Printing the photo isn’t the last step — getting a frame that complements the image helps bring that artwork out even more while, of course, also keeping that image protected from dust and wear.

The Editing Checklist: 9 Things To Check Before Printing Your Photos

The Editing Checklist: 9 Things To Check Before Printing Your Photos

With digital photography, only the best shots make it onto prints for hanging on the wall, collecting in albums and sharing with friends. But all too often, holding a print in your hands makes everything that you missed while editing the digital file all to obvious. What edits should you make before moving from digital to print? To help make sure you didn’t miss the mark on photo editing, here’s a photo editing checklist to make sure that photo pops in print.

Crop

The aspect ratio of the print may not be the exact shape of the original photo. Cropping helps make sure the printer doesn’t leave out any essential details in translation. When cropping, also look for ways to remove distractions. The straightening tool at the corner of that crop box is also a great thing to check before printing the shot too.

Exposure

Too light? Too dark? Make sure that exposure is dead on before printing. Over (or under) exposing for a mood is fine, but make sure that print has the right light before sending it off to the printers.

Contrast

While making sure the overall exposure is good, don’t forget about the individual tones. Adjust the shadows, blacks, highlights and whites to get the image to pop on paper — or to achieve that matte film look you’re going for. Adjusting individual tonal ranges is often a better approach than simply adjusting contrast all at once.

Colours

Colour can make or break an image — thankfully, adjusting colors is easy to do in Lightroom’s HSL panel, which allows you to adjust each color individually. Also watch for vibrance and saturation, but be careful not to overdo it.

White balance

With RAW photography, a perfect white balance is easy to achieve. Weather you are looking for accurate colors or creating a mood with warm or cool tones, make sure that white balance is exact before hitting that print button.

Distractions

Is there anything in the photo distracting from the subject? Before printing, check for things like power lines or telephone poles in the background. On a portrait, look for things like acne or teeth that aren’t quite white. Distractions can often be eliminated using the clone or heal tool, or sometimes, making a crop.

Sharpness

Sharpness is often something that goes unnoticed until seeing the shot in print — save on the cost of reprinting by viewing the image at 100 percent and applying any necessary sharpening adjustments.

Noise

If you took that photo in limited light, chances are, you’ll have some noise. Some amounts of noise can be removed from the image without degrading the quality — check if the noise levels could be a little better, or if you went a bit too far on the noise reduction the first time.

Industry-specific

Every type of photography has it’s own unique quirks. Before you finalize the edits, make sure the shot fits with the adjustments for that category. For example, a landscape photo is often straightened and occasionally the sky is enhanced with a digital graduated filter. Portraits, on the other hand, may have more retouching to help the person look their best.

Photo editing helps prints look their best — and making sure the edits are just right first helps save on the cost of reprinting to get those shots perfect. With each edit, make sure you don’t go too far and blur skin to plastic, over saturate colors unnaturally or over-sharpen.

Photo Editing Tips: Use the HSL panel in Lightroom for custom colour

Photo Editing Tips: Use the HSL panel in Lightroom for custom colour

Spend any amount of time in the paint samples at the hardware store and you know that “red” can mean hundreds, if not thousands of different colours. In photography, colour can make or break a photo, but you don’t have to leave colours exactly how the camera saw them — and creating custom colour in Lightroom is almost as easy as choosing that favorite paint sample. Using Lightroom’s HSL, or hue, saturation, luminance panel, you can create custom colour effects without complex masking — and even create more contrast in your black and whites. Here’s how.

Colours can be adjusted in three different ways in the HSL panel — and unlike adjusting the saturation or vibrance slider, in the HSL panel, you can control colours individually.

Hue will change exactly what shade those colours appear. For example, sliding the red slider to the left will make the reds in the image a bit more of a hot pink, while moving to the right would turn those same reds into something closer to orange.

Saturation refers to just how much colour is there — it’s the difference between a very muted colour and a very vibrant one. If you take that same red slider but inside the saturation option and turn it all the way to the left, your reds will become grays. All the way to the right and you have a very deep vibrant red.

Luminance, on the other hand, refers to how light or dark the colour is. When you adjust the luminance, you can play with the exposure levels over a single colour at a time. Luminance doesn’t change the colour, but adds more shadow or more highlights. For example, adjusting the orange slider to the right is a popular way to brighten up skin tones.

By playing with the HSL panel in Lightroom, you can create a custom colour look to your shot. Adjusting the HSL is a popular way to make a digital file appear more like a specific type of film. For example, some film types change the hue of greens and blues. The HSL panel can also be helpful for adjusting minor colour casts or removing redness from the skin in a portrait (just watch and make sure you don’t remove all the red from the lips too).

But the HSL is more than just a tool for creating custom colour — it’s essential for creating better black and whites. In a black and white photo, the HSL panel switches to just one slider for each colour. What each slider does is adjust which shade of gray that colour becomes. By controlling how each colour converts, you can create more contrast in your black and white shots, or, if you prefer, create less contrast for a matte effect.

Controlling the HSL in a black and white shot can also take a boring black and white and make it interesting again. For example, reds and greens tend to convert to a similar shade of gray, which means if you have a photo of a red flower, the petals and the leaves are going to blend in. Using the colour sliders, you can lighten up the red and darken up the green, creating contrast in a shot that would otherwise be bland in black and white.

Once you understand what each slider in the HSL panel does, you can create images with colourful punch, or mimic the look of a matte film. Try opening an image and playing with the sliders, watching the image as the slider adjusts to see how that slider works. Then, have fun colour mixing to find the look that works for you. You can also find inspiration from a favorite film shot or another shot you admire and use the HSL sliders to recreate that digitally.

Colour can make or break a shot, and in particular when shooting RAW, creating a custom colour palette can help give your image that final punch.

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