Creative Photo Challenge No. 5 – Take Control of Color in Photoshop

Creative Photo Challenge No. 5 – Take Control of Color in Photoshop

Color is one of the most compelling elements in an image so why not make sure each color is completely under your control? Using a photo shot with natural light, Lindsay Adler will walk through how to use the Photoshop layers panel to target and adjust your hue and saturation to enhance the colors in your portraits.  


Get Challenge No. 5  – Take Control of Color in Photoshop right now, right here. 

Let’s here from Lindsay Adler!

“Color is one of the most important visual weapons in our arsenals as photographers. It can set a mood, create high impact, and direct the viewer’s eye throughout the frame. In one challenge in this book, you created an image all about a single color.


For this challenge, you will create an image where the use of color is essential to the impact of the image and you can use as many colors as you want! Here, however, you will utilize Photoshop as an important tool for helping to make your use of color purposeful and under your control!”

The post Creative Photo Challenge No. 5 – Take Control of Color in Photoshop appeared first on CreativeLive Blog.

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What Makes Beautiful Photography? Behind the Images that have Stood the Test of Time

What Makes Beautiful Photography? Behind the Images that have Stood the Test of Time

From the photos that required several steps and chemical baths to the instant images from pocketable iphones and Android smartphones to powerful hdr cameras, the process behind the photograph has changed. But while the process has changed, the factors that make beautiful photography have not. The photos we find in museums and splayed across glossy pages in National Geographic by travel photographers capturing the likes of India, Iceland, France or China have several qualities in common. Several of these images are from the historical archives and still others capture the mundane — farmland in Indonesia or springtime in a flower field somewhere in the United States. Often grainy, sometimes blurred, and usually in black and white, these images are never lacking in beauty.

Some of these historic photos have survived on historic value, but many mix that moment in history with qualities photographers still explore today. The Rule of Thirds. Light. Timing. Emotion. Here are the principles of beautiful photography that have stood the test of time and made these images outstanding.

Emphasize the Eyes: Migrant Mother

Beautiful Photography Emphasize Eyes

Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange, Library of Congress

An iconic image of The Great Depression, Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother shows what portrait photographers today know remains a priority: the eyes. Even without reading that the woman in the photo had seven children who survived by gleaning frozen vegetables from the field and eating small birds, one look at the image and the viewer can feel the worry in her eyes. Along with the prominence of her eyes, the photo embodies other important qualities, including the placement of her hands and the two children mirroring each side of her.

The image is far from the only historic photo that illustrates the importance of the eyes in beautiful pictures — Steve McCurry’s Afgan Girl is another.


50% Off All John Greengo classes now thru Wed. May 8th, 2019. Learn the basics of photography to share your unique point of view. Learn More.


Timing: Muhammad Ali Vs. Sonny Liston

Neil Leifer’s image of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston as Ali became the heavyweight boxing champion in 1965 is an iconic sports image. And as every sports photographer knows, timing is essential. The image isn’t a perfectly timed punch, but a perfectly timed moment of victory for Ali as Liston is splayed out on the ring floor. Besides that perfect moment and angle (notice all the other photographers in the opposite corner of the ring) the image also uses strong composition and lighting.

Emotion makes a photograph: VJ Day Kiss at Times Square

Beautiful Photography with Emotion

VJ Day Kiss at Times Square by Lt. Victor Jorgensen, US archives

Today’s photographers using modern equipment could pick apart the art direction of the infamous image of the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square the day Japan surrendered after World War II. The subject is a bit soft. The crop just below the knees is awkward. There’s a random arm at the edge of the photograph. There’s no beautiful sunset creating a golden hour glow.. And yet, the image is not only a beautiful picture but one of the most requested photos from the National Archives. So why is the image so beautiful? Emotion. Few images capture the joy at the end of the war more than Lt. Victor Jorgensen’s image. If an image can capture authentic emotion, that image can be beautiful.

Leading Lines: The Tetons and the Snake River

Beautiful Photography in Nature

The Tetons and Snake River by Ansel Adams, National Archives

There are several qualities that put this image of Wyoming’s Grand Tetons among the list of beautiful photography — after all, it is an Ansel Adams. But besides the setting sun making for outstanding light and exposure, the way the Snake River leads the eye to the mountains is now a staple for landscape photography. The winding line of the river draws the eye through the image and combined with the light, creates an image that’s far from a boring snapshot.


Learn the basics of photography from John Greengo to create your own beautiful images. Watch now.


The use of lines is hardly exclusive to landscapes or the time period, as evidenced by Richard Drew’s Falling Man, a horrifying image depicting a man that had leaped from the falling World Trade Center with nothing but the lines of the building behind him.

The Rule of Thirds: The Flag Raising at Iwo Jima

Joe Rosenthal’s 1945 Iwo Jima flag raising in Japan is an iconic image of the war that illustrates one of the first rules new photographers still learn today: The Rule of Thirds. The image meets one of the intersecting lines on the grid created by the rule in two places, at the flag and at the first solider. Countless historical images and current images use the Rule of Thirds as a guideline, while others use the guide to break the rules knowing exactly how the composition will influence the image. Interestingly enough, Rosenthal spotted the Pulitzer-winning moment without enough time to bring his eye to the viewfinder.

Color: Earthrise

Beautiful Photography of Earth

Earthrise by William Anders with NASA

While many historic images were captured at a time when color images weren’t yet possible, the astronaut that first shot the iconic 1968 image of the earth while orbiting the moon actually first shot in black and white. As the first astronaut hurriedly tried to swap out the film for color, another had color film in a Hasselblad ready. Color makes the image stunning on first glance and draws the eye to the only color in the image, that blue planet we call home.

Creativity: Untitled Film Still #21

Accomplished photographer Cindy Sherman challenged the idea of a photograph as documentation and instead treated an image as performance art. Her self-portraits were unusual at the time and propelled the fine art photography category forward. Her image she called the Untitled Film Still #21 is beautiful yes, but also highly creative. Part of the reason it’s so creative? It’s not a still from a film, but an imaginary scene she created that’s right on the mark.

The list of beautiful photography could easily continue into novel-length territory — but all the images have some things in common. They capture a personality through just the eyes. They capture (or evoke) emotion. They use leading lines, the Rule of Thirds and other framing techniques to create a compositionally strong image. Beautiful photography has the right timing, the perfect color and many are bursting with creativity. And besides teaching history, these images can also teach us about amazing art.

What’s your favorite beautiful picture that has stood the test of time?


Learn the basics of photography from John Greengo to create your own beautiful images. 50% off Today thru Wed. May 8th!


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Find Financial Freedom for Life in ONE day

Find Financial Freedom for Life in ONE day

Once you became an adult, you realized there was a lot more “adulting” involved being full-time creative. If you’re asking yourself how to save for financial independence, how much money do you need to retire early, or what your spending habits compared to other industry professionals, you’re not alone.

Creative entrepreneur and financial guru David Bach has been there and done that (for the last 23 years) and knows the secret to solve our financial challenges! Here are some of our favorite lessons pulled from his 9 consecutive New York Times bestsellers including The Automatic Millionaire, Start Late and Finish Rich, Smart Women Finish Rich, and soon to release The Latte Factor: Why You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Live Rich.


Discover how to achieve financial freedom and retire early. Watch David’s new online class class. Tune in Now!


1) How to Become an Automatic Millionaire:

You need to make your financial life automatic to become an automatic millionaire. You start this process by paying yourself first. Next, you set up an automatic withdrawal so that the money goes directly from wherever you’re earning it right into a retirement account.


“Increasing your savings rate by automatically investing just $10 per day into your retirement account will save you $3600 per year.” – David Bach #TheLatteFactor
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This could be a 401(k) retirement plan, an IRA retirement account, and if you’re self employed it could be a SEP IRA or a solo 401(k) retirement plan. Increasing your savings rate by automatically investing just $10 per day (the price of a couple lattes #TheLatteFactor) into your retirement account will save you $3600 per year. By earning interest on those savings, you can achieve financial independence and potentially early retirement!

2) How to Crush Your Debt:

Debt is a part of life that many of us experience. David Bach suggests getting involved in debt counseling programs, since high interest debt can really hurt you. He states, “ It’s not like therapy, it’s just like coaching. This stuff works. Not only have I learned a lot from these nonprofit credit card counseling groups, but when I wrote Debt-Free for Life I really dug into the legitimacy of nonprofit credit card counseling. I wanted to make sure that if I recommend things, that I’m recommending things that are really safe.”

Once you achieve financial freedom, you’ll want to put your money to work for you (by getting interest on your money) instead of working against you (by paying interest for borrowed money).

As a self employed musician and artist, I have been a long time follower of David Bach! Every penny made as an artist counts, and David will help you make the most of it. This class and his books are life changing! I started following him 15 years ago. Financially I have had amazing years, and very rough years, which I know is very typical for artists and musicians. With David in my corner, I’ve always had peace of mind.

Maxximillian, September 2017

3) How Smart Women Finish Rich:

According to David, “The number of millionaires has skyrocketed and 48% are women. This number within 10 to 15 years will be at least 60%. Women are going to control the bulk of the wealth in America. You’re also earning $12 trillion a year. It’s been expected that somewhere between about $20 trillion will transfer to women in the next 10 to 20 years.”


“The number of millionaires has skyrocketed and 48% are women. This number within 10 to 15 years will be at least 60%. Women are going to control the bulk of the wealth in America.” – David Bach #TheLatteFactor
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David explains how women are generally better investors in the stock market, whether in index funds or low-cost alternative investments because they are generally more attentive to detail, panic less, and are more conservative. His theory hypothesizes that women typically do more research before investing, they tend to trade less, and because of their research tend not to panic.


Discover how to achieve financial freedom and retire early. Watch David’s new online class class. Tune in Now!


Creating passive income through David’s principles is important to increase your net worth, avoid a “traditional retirement”, work part-time, and be resilient to increasing living expenses, health care costs, or a market crash.

Learn more actionable tips about how to apply The Latte Factor principals to your financial future in David Bach’s new online class How to Retire Early.

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Creative Photo Challenge No. 4 – High-Key Portraits (w/ DIY Softbox)

Creative Photo Challenge No. 4 – High-Key Portraits (w/ DIY Softbox)

Creative Photo Challenge #4

Learn how to create your very own DIY softbox in this weeks Lindsay Adler Creative Photo Challenge!

Soft Boxes can create a beautiful glowing light, but building a studio setup can get expensive fast! Achieve the same look with items you have laying around the house with the help of Lindsay’s DIY solution. All you will need to create two DIY soft boxes are a bed sheet and a semi-transparent shower curtain to create a high-key fashion portrait.  

Watch the full demonstration of Lindsay’s high-key photo shoot using her DIY softboxes below.


Looking for more challenges to spark your creativity? Sign up for the full 10-week portrait challenge available to start anytime. Step outside of your routine, see the possibilities and discover what you love to capture!


Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. Start building your posing repertoire  with Lindsay Adler’s Posing 101 streaming free this week! Learn more.

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Lindsay Adler Shares Why Sitting Isn’t Ideal in Portraits (But How to Make it Work, Anyway)

Lindsay Adler Shares Why Sitting Isn’t Ideal in Portraits (But How to Make it Work, Anyway)

Sitting Pose

Slouching isn’t flattering, especially in photos. Professional portrait and fashion photographer Lindsay Adler has tried a variety of seating options in her studio, finding that traditional chairs can be a bad idea for portraits.

“If you have someone with a chair, they tend to sit back,” Adler says. “I try not to give people chairs to sit in. In my studio, I give them posing stools or something like that. If you do have a chair, I make my subjects sit on the edge of the chair.”

Adler’s work has appeared in top magazines like Noise, Essence, and Zink Magazine. In addition to her commercial and portrait work, she regularly teaches workshops to help photographers learn more about the craft. As she demonstrated at CreativeLive’s Photo Week, she has a few tricks to get around a client’s natural inclination to slouch.


Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. Start building your posing repertoire  with Lindsay Adler’s Posing 101 streaming free this week! Learn more. 


Sit Up Straight

Demonstrating with a model, Adler shows the dramatic difference one particular pose can make. The pose involves putting an elbow on the back of the chair, sitting with your back completely straight, and positioning the camera toward the side of the chair. But first she had the model demonstrate how many subjects will sit when asked to prop an elbow on the back of the chair.

“This is bad posture,” Adler says, pointing out that when someone slouches forward in a photo, all the viewer sees is the chest area. She then asks the model to, “Pull up to the top of her head. What that does is elongate that area.”

The Right Position

However, the pose initially showed problems. When the model first propped her elbow on the back of the chair, it created “foreshortening,” making it look as though she didn’t have a forearm at all. Instead, Adler recommends creating a triangle by having the model rotate her hand forward, lower her shoulder slightly, and tilt her head.

The result is a lengthening of the torso that creates a leaner, more flattering picture. It also adds white space between the model’s body and her front-facing arm, which makes for a more balanced photo. This creates an attractive outline between the model’s torso and arm, which is more visually appealing to the person viewing the photo. In that same pose, the photographer can shoot the subject from a variety of angles, all with the same stellar results.

Shooting from Above

Adler demonstrated how that angle can be shot from above. Positioning the camera above her subject, Adler showed that a photographer can capture an attractive photo without the model having to move at all. This is ideal when photographing someone on a chaise or couch.

“Whatever’s closest to the camera looks largest and then I’d have negative space for the couch,” Adler says, pointing to the negative space between the subject’s bodice and arm.

 


Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. Start building your posing repertoire  with Lindsay Adler’s Posing 101 streaming free this week! Learn more. 


The post Lindsay Adler Shares Why Sitting Isn’t Ideal in Portraits (But How to Make it Work, Anyway) appeared first on CreativeLive Blog.

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The Creative Photo Challenge No. 3: Reflections

The Creative Photo Challenge No. 3: Reflections

Creative Photo Challenge #3

You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. This weeks Lindsay Adler Creative Photo Challenge is ‘Reflections’.

Let’s hear from Lindsay Adler on how to get into it!

Use reflections in your images! You can use reflections to tell a story or to create something a bit more abstract, like a visual riddle! You can also look for reflections in unusual places to create images that excite the eyes and intellect!

For this challenge, I combined three mirrors to create a prism for my camera. By varying my focal length, placement of the lens and focus I could create drastically different interpretations of the scene before me. I used all natural light in a public park to photograph my beautiful subject, Stephanie. I love how I can transform an ordinary environment into something extraordinary with a creative little DIY project!


Limited time offer! Get get all 42 Photoshop Week classes for just $99. Learn More.

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Ask Me Anything *About $$$* with Erin Lowry aka Broke Millennial

Ask Me Anything *About $$$* with Erin Lowry aka Broke Millennial

If you don’t already know Erin Lowry for her practical money management advice, now is the time to change that. Her easy-to-understand approach to finances has re-shaped the way tens of thousands of people now set and reach their financial goals. As someone who’s devoted much time to help people get out of debt, I appreciate her ability to make complex financial areas easily understandable for any audience.

Recently, Erin Lowry has been active in her Instagram community allowing her followers to “Ask Me Anything”. I found her advice on the AMAs both refreshing, unbiased, and also highly relevant to the creative community. You can learn more about Erin and about money and investing through her AMA’s below.

About Erin:

Erin Lowry is the author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together and just released her follow up book Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. As a special book-tour experience Erin will be returning to CreativeLive to help beginners learn how to invest! In this class, Erin will go in-depth to help creatives create an investment plan, build net worth through stocks, and create short, medium and long term financial goals.

What is your degree in?

I double majored in theatre and journalism.

Is your husband’s name really peach or a nickname?

It’s a nickname. It’s actually tied to his real name. I call him that in real life as do a lot of his friends and even coworkers. I was anonymous years ago when I started this whole thing, which is why he had a moniker too.

How did you and Peach get on the same page about money?

A lot of talking! And notably, we don’t always agree on strategies and have to compromise on financial goals, which is a-okay.

Our game plan for handling money has changed so many times because our relationship went from college kids to long distance to unequal incomes to living together and finally, to married.

Learning how to effectively communicate about money is critical, but that doesn’t mean always having the same opinions. It is about active listening, compromising and touching base frequently.

I would love to know some free date ideas. I always feel pressure to spend on dates.

  1. Free tours
  2. Hiking/walk in the park or getting lost together wandering a new area of your city
  3. Free hours at museums
  4. Cooking a fancy meal together
  5. Teaching each other a new skill

Discover where your roadblocks are to financial success. Watch Erin’s new online class free May 25th-26th. RSVP Now!


About Money and Investing:

Do you know any short term tricks towards developing healthy financial habits?

  1. Nickname your savings accounts to something really specific. This help remind you why your saving and reduces your temptation to skim a little
  2. Push up the amount you save by 0.5% to 1% every 3 months until you reach your goal. This slow boil method helps you achieve without feeling too much of a pinch.

Mid 20s/starving artist applying for first credit card. Any tips?

You may have to start with a secured card (aka a credit card with training wheels). You put down a refundable deposit (usually around $200) that acts as your line of credit. Make one or two very small purchases each month and pay the bill on time and in full.

Once your score is strong, you can get a regular credit card and close the secured card and get back your deposit. Just make sure it’s a secured card with no annual or crazy start up fees!

As a freelancer, how much should I have saved at certain age benchmarks?

The benchmarks can be scary and it’s not different for freelancers. In fact, I argue it’s more important for us to be aggressive because no one else is helping. Benchmark example: having 1x your salary invested for retirement by 30

Personally, I love a good benchmark as motivation, but if it freaks you out then focus on just always improving your own game year over year. The way I save for retirement is increasing how much I set aside for taxes.

The rule of them is 30% set aside from each paycheck for taxes. I do 45%! Each and every paycheck. It makes sure I have enough for federal, state and nyc tax (we get a special extra one) and then the leftovers, after I pay taxes, go into my retirement account.

Start with 35% and try increasing by 1% every few months until you hit your goal.


Discover where your roadblocks are to financial success. Watch Erin’s new online class free May 25th-26th. RSVP Now!


Learn more in Erin Lowry’s new CreativeLive class or if you’re in the Seattle area join Erin Lowry and Chelsea Fagan, of The Financial Diet, for their book signing at the CreativeLive office on April 25th at 5:00 pm PDT, 228 Dexter Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109. Register here.

The post Ask Me Anything *About $$$* with Erin Lowry aka Broke Millennial appeared first on CreativeLive Blog.

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How to Inspire Social Change with Your Creativity

How to Inspire Social Change with Your Creativity

If you aren’t familiar with Benjamin Von Wong‘s work then keep reading for some of the most viral and impactful images created. Von Wong is an artist / photographer who creates elaborate projects focused on bringing awareness to environmental change.

His work often goes viral, with good intention. You might be familiar with the time he put a mermaid on top of 10,000 plastic bottles or when he set a Guinness World record with the largest art installation made made from 168,000 drinking straws recovered off the streets of Vietnam.

He may only accomplish 18 photos a year, 2 of which he may consider ‘successful,’ but the production that goes into is work his impressive in it’s own right. Von Wong has traveled the world teaming up with social impact activists and hundreds of volunteers over the course of his career to pull off his ambitious ideas.

His activism started when his grandiose fantasy photography lead him to commercial work. However, sometimes what you think you want doesn’t always turn out the way you’ve imagined it. Von Wong began asking himself “why create work only to move units off shelves?” It was this question that started him down a new more ambitious path that combined the work he was known for with art that had social impact.


Ben Von Wong uses his talent, knowledge, and art to focus on conservation and social impact projects. Watch his free ‘In Focus’ keynote to learn how to ignite conversations through the power of creativity. Watch now!


If you want your creativity to say more about what matters to you, here are 3 things Von Wong suggests you do:

  1. Commit. It’s never going to be easy to add rules into the creative process. Build it with the end in mind and when you hit road blocks, because you will, don’t dilute your idea with excuses. Use your creativity to find answers.
  2. Take Control. We’re all born with advantages and disadvantages. Maintaining control of what’s in your power rather than letting limitations dictate what you’re capable of will ultimately create a project with greater impact.
  3. Break Boundaries. Comfort is the deadly enemy of creativity. If you know how to do something push yourself 10% more to keep growing year over year, heck sometimes day over day. And if you can convince whomever you’re working with to double down and take a chance with you, that’s when things can get really interesting!

Streaming Free Now: Anatomy of an Epic Photograph with Von Wong

Photographer Von Wong shares how to stand out in a crowded social space.

Posted by CreativeLive on Monday, January 14, 2019

Art has the possibility to change the world or at the very least influence it in the right direction. It’s an emotional experience, it can be hard to measure it’s impact but never the less, if you feel called to action we encourage you to go for it!


Harness the power of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and take your creative potential to the next level. Get all 42 Photoshop Week classes for just $99.

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Filmborn App for iPhone: Kicking Ass and It’s FREE

Filmborn App for iPhone: Kicking Ass and It’s FREE

FILMB

Before we dive into this, do yourself a favor and download the app.

You deserve a new toy (or app) to play with and for me, Filmborn my go to app that helps me put my DSLR down.

Let’s talk about what this app is all about. Film emulation.

 

Filmborn was created to bring the beauty, history, and consistency of
traditional film stocks to the iPhone. Filmborn not only allows people to quickly
and easily make consistent, timeless work, but it also educates the user on
photography basics and film as they explore tools and techniques in the app.
– Kirk Mastin, founder of Mastin Labs and Filmborn

Until now I’ve been fairly stalwart when it comes to taking photos with my iPhone. It never gets the white balance how I like it and the exposure ALWAYS is just a liiiiittle too dark and I’m a sucker for that film look, which I really haven’t found until now. However, using the Filmborn App has gotten to the root of those issues and really made amazing use of the technology behind the iPhone’s camera.


Make the weekend count and master a new skill! Shop now.


Out of the features that the Filmborn app houses let me speak to my favorite real quick like.

Gesture Based Exposure Changes!

Okay, hang on, I know there isn’t anything exciting happening in the frame, but I’m changing the exposure by ONLY SWIPING UP AND DOWN ON THE SCREEN!

No hunting for 5 billion ways to adjust the exposure. No tap hold, wait for AE lock, then swiping up or down. Swipe up, it gets brighter, swipe down, darker.

Also, see this little guy?

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 11.40.34 AM

Tap on him in the corner and BOOM on goes highlight clipping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make sure I preserved detail in the highlights when shooting on my phone.

There a HUGE amount of features aside from this that Filmborn offers, but for me this was a clear victory and reason to keep this app as a staple in my mobile workflow.

Here are other features that the crew at Filmborn has listed on their iTunes page:

FEATURES:

● Gesture Based Controls Dial in the perfect shot quickly with gesture based white balance and exposure, highlight clipping, 2-Axis Level, Rangefinder mode, and quick review.

● Non-Destructive True-to-Film Presets Our presets are born from an intensive side-by-side comparison process between actual film scans from a Fuji Frontier Scanner, and digital images shot with the iPhone. Mastin Labs’ proprietary color science makes it so no other app can match film as accurately as Filmborn.

● Curves Filmborn’s curves control is powerful. The curves tool gives you the ability to control the details of the shadows, midtones, and highlights, allowing maximum creative control.

● Tone Profiles We’ve included real scanning tone profiles such as all hard, shadow soft, and shadow hard, to help with tricky lighting situations.

● Custom Camera Kits With 4 viewfinders, 3 virtual lenses, and 9 true-to-film presets, you can create camera kits for specific uses, such as a street photography kit, or a large format landscape kit. Effortlessly switch between your kits with a simple swipe in camera mode.

● Learn to Shoot Real Film Filmborn™ is designed to bridge the analog history of film with its digital future. Built not only to emulate film, Filmborn also educates digital natives on the techniques and history of film. Users will find education on film photography peppered throughout the app, and ongoing education in our FilmBorn User Group on Facebook.

Don’t put it off, grab your phone and download today because guys, it’s free and it’s amazing.


Learn how to get the most out of your iPhone camera! Download the class for under $10.

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6 Common Food Photography Mistakes And How To Fix Them

6 Common Food Photography Mistakes And How To Fix Them

Food photography is a wonderfully satisfying art form but it requires that the photographer be aware of every little detail in the image, all while the subject is either melting, wilting, or losing its freshness. There is no substitute for practice and making mistakes, but this list — and one of CreativeLive’s many food photography classes — can help you overcome a few common pitfalls before your next shoot.

Common food photography mistakes everyone makes and how to fix them.

Highlights that don’t match the overall color temperature of the image.
This is something I see all the time, even in big budget food shoots! There are usually two scenarios where the highlight’s color cast won’t match the image.

1.) Window light on a sunny day

When I started out as food photographer, I used window light for everything I shot. I enjoyed the way it consistently gave me acceptable results, but as my personal photographic style developed and became vibrant and punchy with more direction to the lighting, the inconsistent, overwhelming, and sometime bland nature of window light became an issue. The first thing I noticed about natural light is that when the skies were blue, the color cast worked its way into the highlights of my image. Blue is known to be the least appetizing color so I considered this to be unacceptable. The quickest way to fix this issue is to lower the blue saturation slider on the HSL panel in Lightroom or Camera RAW to and be sure to mask out just the highlight areas if there are any blue elements or props in the image.

2.) Tungsten Contamination

The second scenario which I see all the time in magazines is when a photographer is shooting a plate of food inside a restaurant and the tungsten bulbs from the interior cast orange highlights on an image that is most likely receiving window light from the side or the rear. This isn’t as easily fixed in post-production but can easily be fixed by adding a black flag above the plate to control what light hits the set. Not only does flagging the top of the set help in removing unwanted highlights, but it adds a more focused direction to the light which I personally find interesting and pleasing. Window light is a texture-killer so adding a flag is a two for one deal!


The transition from Photo to Filmmaking for photographers is easier than you think. Open a world of opportunities in your career by setting your food sets in motion with Andrew Scrivani. Learn More.


The plane of focus isn’t clearly thought out.
With all of the pressures that surround a food photographer during a shoot, it is extremely important to maintain a clear focus towards the goal of capturing the image you intended to create. One of the issues I desperately needed to work on early in my career was obtaining critical sharpness exactly where I wanted it in order to direct the viewer’s eye exactly where I wanted it to go.

Using a lens with the tilt and shift movements was a crucial step in composing the image the way I envisioned. I rarely use any fixed-plane lenses these days as the movements along with the quality of the glass give me everything I need on set. Gear is no substitute for talent though, and even when shooting with a point-and-shoot, and incredible image can be created when some planning is put in place. When you take your first shot of a scene you want to capture, ask yourself what should be in perfect focus, near perfect focus, and out of focus and why. “Why?” is the most important question to ask.

Once you know what you want, continue to work with the lens and check your results at 100% magnification (preferably while tethered to a computer), until you have achieved the result you want. There’s no worse feeling than capturing an image you fall in love with only to view it later and realize there’s something better you could have done in regards to the focal plane.

Cluttered propping and backgrounds.
When you are setting up a shoot, you first want to create a stand-in subject whether it is a piece of pie or a hamburger that resembles the “hero” so that you can finesse your lighting with the real thing but also so that you can address any conflicts with the way in which the colors and textures of the background and props interact with the food. Less is more in this regard and while there are no rules in art that can’t be broken, you always want the subject to be the star of the show. If something on set isn’t adding to the desired impact of the image, then it’s taking away from it and you should consider removing or replacing it. Color is usually the biggest offender.

If you’re photographing a loaf of bread and you have a bright red background, your eye will go to the background first. If that’s not your intent, a change would be in order. In this case, I wouldn’t necessarily transition to a duller color because then you would have the dull color of the bread and the dull color of the background cancelling each other out. I would try stainless steel, or a really dark cutting board. Something neutral but something that still provides separation for the eye. You also want to be on the lookout for errant highlights especially near the outside edges of the image which will immediately invite the eye to leave the frame. I like to use dulling spray on shiny props and I also cut the light in certain portions of the image to make the subject pop even more.


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Not understanding what you’re photographing.
It’s one thing to simply place a bunch of beautiful food and props into an image, add some window light, and click the shutter. As a former chef, I have the added advantage of understanding how food is made. I always preach the importance of researching what you are shooting just as a portrait photographer would research a celebrity’s background to allow the photographer to break the ice in the limited amount of time they have with the subject.

In the image below, I photographed the preparation of Cassoulet, a French classic. As I arranged the props and food, I was constantly asking myself “Why would this be here?” or “What size would this be cut?” or “If the beef wasn’t yet cut, how far along would the rest of the food be?” etc., etc. These are extremely important questions to ask, and to combine this understanding of what is supposed to be taking place in an image, with the artistic considerations, can be a daunting challenge. Just remember, when you place a spoon in an image to create a leading line or to break up a background, ask yourself first, “Why is this here?”

food photography tips

Propping like everyone else.
I am definitely guilty of this and along with branding considerations, there are always prevailing styles which magazines, catalogs, and ad agencies tend to follow at any given time. But if the point of being an artist is to express your vision (especially when shooting for your portfolio), and if the goal of advertising is to stand out from the pack and attract the viewer’s attention, then working on developing your own style when it comes to propping, food styling, and photographic technique is crucial to survive in this business. I would recommend to all food photographers if you have the time and resources is to train yourself to style and prop the way that you want to be known as an artist. Then work to find and train cooks, interior designers, etc. in your own style to work with you when you need them. That way you are always on the same page and working with someone you have personally trained on set can prove to be an exceptional and extremely efficient working relationship.

Not asking “Why?”
The last tip simply expands on tip number four. Crafting an image for your personal portfolio or even the occasional client, can be an opportunity to push yourself artistically and the most important part of creating an image that has lasting impact in the viewer’s mind is answering the question “Why?”. Why am I making this image? I love capturing images in a series of three or five because the “Why?” becomes even more evident. It can sometimes be easy to tell a story with street photography or other disciplines because the characters are all lined up and the photographer uses their trained eye and experience to know when to the press the shutter.

As a food photographer you have little longer to capture “the moment”, but with inanimate objects and especially food, a story, or “reason” for capturing the image besides “this is pretty, eat this!” can be a challenge but one that can really help you develop as a food photographer. There will be many times where you are asked to simply shoot a simple product for the sake of having a workable piece of final art, but the work you create that has a defined style, vision, and a story that can clearly be told in a matter of seconds, speaks volumes about you as a photographer and what you can bring to the table.

One Free Tip
Have fun and experiment, experiment, experiment. The next big thing in food photography might be blue and tungsten highlights in the same shot!


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