Build Your Photography Portfolio

I would shy away from running an ad in the newspaper; you never know who’s going to show up at your door. Instead, go to websites that models or new models visit. There are several model websites on the web where you can find models willing to do TFP. When posting, be upfront and explain that you’re fairly new and want to build a port. (short for portfolio). You should get some answers back. Again, make sure the model knows upfront exactly what you are willing to do. NO surprises. You don’t want the model to call you later and request fifty 8 x 10’s when you only assumed she wanted one. You can expect a model to bring someone with them. Rarely do they come alone. For the most part, most girls will bring their moms, or a relative. Guys usually come alone. If you have some photos, mount each one in a plastic photo protector. It looks professional. Don’t use the flimsy ones, get the stiff kind. Have them sitting on a table or chair nearby. It’s a great way to break the ice when your model arrives.

Another preferred method of building a portfolio is to shoot friends. Your client won’t care who is in the photo, as long as it’s professionally done. Actually, shooting friends is what I would try first. It’s a lot more relaxing and if you mess up, no big deal. Don’t concentrate on just shooting female models. There are a lot of guys that model and they need a portfolio also. Ask some of your friends to sit for you, or relatives even. Again, it doesn’t matter who they are, you’re shooting headshots and building a nice port in the meantime. And that’s the goal.

High School Senior Portraits

Today’s Progressive View

Today’s high school senior portraits are much different. Schools may still have a contract photographer, but many allow more casual portraits to be submitted for inclusion in the yearbook. You can hire a professional photographer or shoot them yourself. If you’re inclined to do it yourself read on.

You’ll want to check with your child’s school and get specific instructions for image submission. There will be certain rules on image size, posing, clothing allowed, or other restrictions. Be sure to get some details before you venture out to shoot your own portraits.

Please Talk to Your Kids First

The first thing you need to do is talk to your high school senior. They may have certain ideas about their picture. They may want that formal portrait only a professional studio can provide. Many local photographers will specialize in high school senior portraits.

If your senior is willing to let Mom or Dad do the portrait be sure to discuss every aspect with them. You may want to shoot a certain style of portrait, but make sure you shoot it their way too. Relaxed portraits with their guitar, sporting equipment, new car or other personal item makes for a memorable photo.


Look around your house and yard. You may have the perfect spot for a portrait. Be sure to watch for clutter in the background. Move furniture or other items in order to create that perfect setting.

If your child has a favorite local park or garden consider going there. Don’t go in the middle of the day when the light is harsh. Light from straight above causes dark ‘raccoon eyes’. Early morning or late in the day is better. The light casts more pleasing shadows and gives a warmer more golden glow to your photos.

If midday is your only option you can place your child in the shade under a tree or building roof line. Change your White Balance setting to Shade or your photos will turn out too blue. Be sure to keep them toward the edge of the light and shadow. Using a simple reflector (white foam core board or commercially produced reflector) can help fill in shadows and make the colors pop.


Generally speaking, a P&S camera won’t give you the best results. A digital SLR with a slight telephoto lens and external flash will provide optimum results and give you the most flexibility. Using a telephoto between 70mm and 105mm will help separate your subject from the background.

A flash will help fill in shadows when shooting outdoors or potentially provide all the light if shooting indoors. Bounce the light from your flash off the ceiling or side wall for softer more pleasing light. This may take some experimentation if you’ve not tried it before.

Armed with the right equipment and techniques you can produce a great portrait of your high school senior. Of course, a happy smiling face will help too.

Shutter Lag

It’s caused by a few things but the main one has to do with the digital camera technology itself. The image recording chip inside the camera is actually producing a moving video picture all the time. This is what you see on the camera’s screen or viewfinder. When you press the shutter button you are actually capturing a “freeze frame” of this video.

This is why your camera manual might refer to the picture taking process as “image capture”. Whatever it’s called, the fact is that it takes quite a lot of processing and therefore can take a significant length of time. Digital cameras, like all digital devices, get more powerful with each generation so you should expect that a newer camera would have less shutter lag than an older one, but there is no guarantee of that.

There are three possible approaches to the problem of shutter lag. You can either eliminate it, minimise it or anticipate it. Of course, a fourth option would be to ignore it and, if you only ever take photographs of relatively static scenes, you will probably never even have noticed it. It’s only when you’re trying to capture a fleeting moment or a moving subject that you’ll find this to be a problem.

There is only one sure-fire way to do this and that is by using a semi-professional or professional Dslr type camera. These cameras have an “old fashioned” mechanical shutter that has no lag. However because of that, you don’t get a “live” view in the back of the camera so you have to use the eyepiece just like you did with a film camera.

The way digital cameras capture images is not the only reason for the delay, some of the settings on your camera can have a profound effect on the amount of lag. The worst culprit by far is an “anti-red eye” flash setting. This will fire your built in flashgun several times before taking the picture.

A friend of mine once took lots of pictures at a party with his new digital camera. He thought his camera was broken because, in all the pictures, he had managed to cut everyone’s head off. It only became clear what the problem was once I saw him take a picture.

Basically, he was doing everything right except that the anti-red eye system took ages to fire all the flashes and only the very last one actually takes the photograph. By the time that one fired, he was bringing the camera down and looking for the next group to photograph. Hence the cut off heads. Once he learned to wait for the very last flash to fire, his picture composition improved immensely.

A smaller, but still sometimes significant, delay can be caused by your camera setting the exposure and focus before it takes the picture. Both of these things are done with tiny motors moving parts of the lens about and this will always take a certain amount of time.

You can stop this happening in two ways. One is to set the exposure and focus manually on your camera. Not all cameras will allow you to do this and I suspect that not all that many people will want to “go manual” anyway, but all is not lost. You can usually still minimise the delay whilst leaving all the controls on fully automatic.

Take your camera into a quiet room and very slowly press the shutter button. Before the button has reached the end of its travel you should hear (and possibly feel) the motors in the lens being activated. This is your camera setting its exposure and focussing before it takes the picture. Only when the button reaches the very end of its travel is the photograph actually taken.

The trick (or technique) is to press the button only half way down, and hold it there. Having done all the slow stuff in advance, pushing the button the rest of the way will take the photograph with the absolute minimum of shutter lag. This technique can also be used to “pre-focus”. For example, if you wanted to focus on something at the edge of the frame. You would centre on it, push the shutter half way then re-frame, press the shutter right down and take the picture.

As you might expect, this will take a little time, effort and practice on your part but it could make the difference between taking a picture you would want to hang on your wall and one you want to instantly delete.

To find out how much lag your camera actually has you can try the following: Find a scene with a strong vertical line, like a lamp post or end of a wall etc. Pan your camera slowly through about 50 degrees so the line passes the edge of the frame. Do this a few times to get a consistent speed. It might help to slowly count as you are panning.

On one pass, press the shutter as soon as your marker line appears at the edge of your viewfinder – but keep panning, this is important. Your marker should appear in the middle of the frame. How far into the middle will depend on the amount of lag. Repeat this a few times and you should begin to get a feel for the amount of delay on your camera.

Now try anticipating the moment. Panning the camera the other way, try pressing the button when your marker gets to the point it was in the photograph you took and keep panning. This time, your marker should be right at the edge of the frame when the photograph is taken. If it is then you should now have a good sense of just how much shutter lag your camera has.

Shutter lag is most annoying if you are trying to take candid, spontaneous photographs. That “perfect moment” is easily lost if you have to wait for the camera. One technique you can try is to start with your subject facing well away from the camera. Ask them to turn and face the camera when you call their name. The trick is to press the shutter as you call their name.

If they are still turning towards the camera when the picture is taken then just ask them not to look so far away from the camera at the start. Most people’s facial expression is much more natural if they are doing something at the time (like turning round) rather than just staring at a camera waiting for their picture to be taken.

Even if you have a feeling for the lag in your camera, it will still be tricky to capture precisely the perfect moment but there is one last thing you could try. It relies on your camera having a “multi-exposure” setting. However, many of them do. This setting will take several pictures one after the other as quickly as possible. So the technique is simply to take lots and lots of pictures.

This is a perfectly legitimate technique used by professionals all the time in fast moving situations. It’s just statistics really, if you take enough pictures then one of them is bound to come out “just right”. If it doesn’t then you simply haven’t taken enough pictures.

Dominance in Photography

Like wise, if someone looks at your photo and has no idea what the shot was about, then
you’ve lost your viewer. Have you ever had somebody show you a picture of a bunch of
kids playing basketball or football and say something like:”That’s my boy, playing ball!” No
offense to the parents or grandparents that may have said something like that; but no, that’s
not your boy (or your girl). That’s a picture of a BUNCH of kids playing ball. It’s like taking
a picture of the forest and saying “That’s the tree that I planted.”

If you want to have a picture of your kid to brag about, pull out the one with him or her
making the basket or crossing into the in zone. See the face, see the expression, and know
what happened without having to say a word. We’ve all heard the phrase a picture is worth
a thousand words. Having dominance in your photos is worth more than a thousand words.

Dominance is the part of a composition that is emphasized, has the greatest visual weight,
the most important, powerful, or has the most influence. It is the main character in a novel,
the hero of a major motion picture. Even in a crowded room there are things and people that
draw your attention. If you want to capture the moment or feeling of the event, you have to
look for what is most dominant.

If you are shooting a wedding for example, the bride or groom will probably be in most of your
shots. That one is fairly easy. But what happens if your subject is broader? What happens for example, if your subject is to cover the entire football game? How do you focus on simplifying
when so much is going on?

When I was in high school, the newspaper and the yearbook staff always seemed to run
independent of each other. I took pictures for the newspaper; the yearbook staff had their
own photographer. Half way through the year, their photographer was falling behind is his
grades and missing a lot of his photo deadlines. They asked if I could help. They were
mainly concerned about the sports sections, which in the yearbook is a really big deal.

I was not into sports that much, but I was much more into my photography than their guy was.
To represent the entire year, I went to one basketball game, one football game, one baseball
game, one volleyball game, one track and field meet, and one wrestling match. Keep in mind
that their guy had been shooting these events off and on for over half the year. The difference
between his work and my work was that I shot with dominance in mind.

Call it oversimplified if you will; but if you are shooting any sport with the word “ball” in the
title, follow the ball. Don’t try to anticipate who can run farther or jump higher, just follow
the ball, that’s where all the action is. Like wise if a person is doing the high jump, make sure
the bar is actually in the shot. I’m not saying you can’t shoot other things; like the cheerleaders,
the coaches, or the fans. But when you shoot them, make those things the dominate subject.

Dominance can be an individual, a color, a shape, or even a size. It is the including of the
element that tells the story that makes dominance so important. Without dominance, you
have no story, you have no emotional impact. The picture is no longer worth a thousand
words; it’s barely worth two. Those words are “snap shot”. The thing that makes you a
professional is your ability to tell the story, to take people’s breath away.

If you want people to buy your work, you need to sell them. In most cases, we as
photographers don’t sell to our clients by talking to them. We sell them by showing to
them. Your pictures need to reach out and touch the hearts of the viewer, whether you
are still there when they are viewing them or not. Just as an archer; no matter how good
he may be, can not hit the target without seeing it. You can not hit the target without
showing it. Be specific, use your zoom lens, crop tight, show the subject clearly, make
him or her or it, more dominant than anything else in the shot and I guarantee you’ll hit
a bulls eye every time.

Master Digital Photography

Digital photography has come a long way in a few years. Digital photography, as opposed to film photography, uses electronic devices to record and capture the image as binary data. Digital photography has also been adopted by many amateur snapshot photographers, who take advantage of the convenience of the form when sending images by email, placing them on the World Wide Web, or displaying them in digital picture frames.

Digital photography was used in astronomy long before its use by the general public and had almost completely displaced photographic plates by the early 1980s. Digital photography enables you to experiment with the camera settings, different styles of images can be tried out, learn t from and techniques improved all without the expense of film processing.

Some other devices, such as mobile phones, now include digital photography features. With the acceptable image quality and the other advantages of digital photography (particularly the time pressures of vital importance to daily newspapers) the majority of professional news photographers have begun capturing their images with digital cameras.

Other commercial photographers, and many amateurs, have enthusiastically embraced digital photography because they believe that its flexibility and lower long-term costs outweigh its initial price disadvantages. Almost all of the cost of digital photography is capital cost, meaning that the cost is for the equipment needed to store and copy the images, and once purchased requires virtually no further expense outlay.

Digital Shutter Speed Effects

A high shutter speed (1/1000 of a second or higher) can freeze even very fast moving objects dead in their tracks. However, you will need to keep a couple of things in mind:

  • You are going to need a brightly lit subject as shutter speeds this high don’t allow your camera much time to gather light for exposure. You can get around this to a degree by using a higher ISO setting, but don’t go to high, or noise will creep into your shot.
  • If possible, set up your shot by having your camera focused on the spot where your subject is going to pass by. This will allow you to concentrate on timing your subject’s approach, giving you a better chance to trip the shutter at just the right moment.

Medium shutter speeds (1/20 of a second to 1/80 of a second) can be used to create motion blur when photographing moving objects. This gives the photo a sense of life and motion. Here are several ways you can approach this type of motion blur:

  • With your camera stationary, trip the shutter as a moving subject passes by. This will make the subject look blurred, while keeping the rest of the shot clear-giving your subject a look of speed and a sense that it is moving out of the shot.
  • Follow your subject through the viewfinder in a smooth sweeping motion as it approaches, and trip the shutter as your subject goes by-this is called “panning.” This method will keep your subject relatively clear, but will blur the background, giving an overall sense of speed and movement. The timing for this type of shot takes a little practice, but the results make it well worthwhile.
  • When shooting a stationary subject, purposely move your camera in a sweeping or circular motion to create a blur of colours and lines. This one is a lot of fun and can provide some interesting abstract results.

Low shutter speeds (1/8 of a second up to 30 seconds and beyond) can be used to create a variety of effects-here are just a few:

Note: For most of these long exposures a tripod or some other means of keeping the camera perfectly still is necessary to avoid creating unintended blur.

  • Moving water will look smooth and silky when shot at shutter speeds of 1/8 of a second or more-the longer the exposure the more pronounced the effect.
  • When photographed at shutter speeds of 2 seconds or greater, car lights will turn into long colourful trails-the longer the exposure, the longer the trails.
  • When very long exposures are used (15 seconds plus) city lights will often take on a stretched, star-like appearance.
  • Photographing city lights at shutter speeds of 1/15 of a second, or so, either from a moving vehicle, or while walking, can produce interesting and colourful abstracts (no tripod needed.)

Photograph Young Children

Children photograph best when the camera is at their level; get down on your knees for the child’s perspective. Follow the child in his activity shooting many shots rapidly. Zoom back and get some shots of the scene, as well, keeping the child as the focal point. Zoom in close and get pictures of his facial expressions.

If a very young child is sitting peacefully, he cannot be directed to look in a certain direction. But if you hold up a toy, such as a teddy bear, his eyes will follow the toy. If you have placed your camera on a tripod, and generally composed the shot in advance, you can then move the toy around and the child will look in that direction. Use the sports mode and make many shots.

Taking pictures of active children outdoors has different challenges. It works best if you can confine the activity to a small area, such as a flower garden, a clump of bushes, a large tree, or the edge of a duck pond. Left alone in a large area, children will roam all over, leaving you gasping on the ground trying to breathe. Again, use the sports mode, take many pictures as they play. Zoom in and out frequently, but beware of the background intruding: you don’t want branches seemingly growing out of a child’s head.

In summary, taking pictures of young children works best if you are somewhat prepared.

  • Insert a large memory card in your camera. Memory is cheap these days; buy a couple of large capacity cards and practice until you can switch cards quickly. Mark the cards (#1, #2, etc., or some other code), so you can quickly identify and distinguish them.
  • Make sure your memory cards are erased; you will be taking a lot of pictures.
  • Bring a tripod; know how to mount the camera and remove it quickly. Practice several times before the shoot, because you don’t want to be fiddling around when you should be shooting pictures.
  • Consider the setting. If indoors, have a toy or two to occupy the child. If outdoors, try to choose a location that will occupy the child’s (or children’s) interest and is a relatively small area.
  • Get plenty of sleep beforehand, you will need to be rested before tackling children who seem to have more energy than a racehorse.

Commercial Photographer and Patience

A commercial photographer has to be patient in all kinds of shoot. Particularly if it is an outdoor shoot or a shoot with a human or animal model. In case of outdoor shooting, one has to wait for proper light and weather conditions. Light, during the day plays a very critical role. In many cases, we have seen, a campaign getting delayed due to the bad light conditions. Sometimes, in worst cases, the project gets abandoned due to lack of appropriate light.

Even in the night time, weather conditions matter a lot for a successful project. For instance, if we want to shoot in a still night or the dead of the night, even a mild breeze may have the power to spoil the look and feel of the images. Often have we come across situations, where we want a model to display a particular mood. But due to adverse weather conditions, either the model is not able to put forth the right expression, or it spoils the kind of image we want.

Patience is also a must when a commercial photographer shoots with a model, particularly if the model is human or animals. A lot of preparation is required to shoot in such cases. Creating the right atmosphere to help the model express the required emotions, urging and coaxing and compelling the model to give the right look – it’s all part of the game.

Zeiss Binoculars

Zeiss items can be found for a discount at []. You will have access to a large choice of binoculars. You can call them at (800) 246- 6285 for more information.

The Conquest 10×40 will give you the lightest possible binocular with the greatest ability. You can have your choice of two different types of this model so that you will be able to find one that will provide you with the best and clearest images. This binocular can be had for a meager $1200.

Zeiss binoculars have made a FL T model for the marketplace. This particular binocular is new to the company. This equipment will make the images you are looking at take on a sharp edge that has not been seem before until today’s technology. You will get such options as small shade fringing, largest color spread, and the most advanced optical ability and the lenses are completely covered. You may take this one home for $1900.

The Conquest is the most unique binocular [] product from the Zeiss Company. You can choose from magnification numbers of 8×30, 10×30, and the 12×45. This binocular has a little bit of everything in one box. The antiquate details of this binocular model may be a little difficult to learn and the make up may also give you a hard time but, the quality you will get once you learn it will be some of the best on the market. Once you buy this binocular model for around $1000 you will not need to look for anything else.

The FL T model from Zeiss that gives you a 7×42 model you will have a high amount of controlled light situation. You will get a better defined border and the view will be right in front of you to take in. You will find that the new technology of the Innovative Advanced Optics System gives you an easy way to help the environment. These binoculars have a nitrogen fill for the ability to stop fogging. The outside armor is the best protection for dropping or the environment you may come into. Find this wonderful piece in stores for around $1800.

Photographing Birds

Cameras and Lenses

When photographing wildlife in general, you will be far enough away from your subject that you will want a telephoto lens to get any kind of detailed close-up – see my article on zoom lenses for more information. You also want to be able to pan your camera as it moves across the sky, so either use a tripod that allows you easy movement, or be comfortable hand-holding your lens such that camera shake is minimized. A 300mm or 400mm lens is ideal, especially it if has rapid autofocus that works well with your cameras continuous autofocus (a.k.a. Servo mode for Canon cameras).


Experts agree that any wildlife photo looks best when the eyes (at a minimum) are in focus. To that end, set your auto focusing point to the centre one since that generally results in the fastest focusing job. Also, if you’re using manual mode, set your aperture to its maximum (f/4, say), and meter off a neutral shade (the sky, perhaps) to close with an appropriate shutter speed. Try to work it such that your shutter speed is at least 1/1000 second so that the entire bird is in sharp focus.

When the bird enters the viewfinder’s frame, start moving your camera with the bird and engage your autofocus on its head as best you can. Continuous shooting grants you the best chance of getting a keeper, since at least one of the shots will likely turn out well.

Tips for getting started

  • Larger birds are easier to shoot than smaller birds, so if you can, start with the big ones – you have a better chance of capturing them in motion since they move slower and are easier to capture in a panning motion
  • Avoid busy background that detract from detailed feathers – aim for simple backgrounds, or use a long lens to blur the background (small f/stop for narrow depth of field)
  • Focus on the head (especially the eyes) of the bird, if at all possible
  • Overcast days yield better detail in feathers than direct sunlight
  • Keep your eye in the viewfinder and your finger on the shutter release so you don’t miss a shot!