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different ways to shoot in direct sunlight

something i get asked a lot about is how to shoot in direct sunlight without a reflector or an extra light source. so i thought i'd put together a quick blog post with some image examples to give you ideas on how to position your model against the sun to achieve a certain look to your photos. i've noted the times in which the photos were taken, most of them range between 12pm - 6pm. between 12 and 2 is usually when australia has the harshest light of the day.

hopefully this blog post will inspire the thought that you

can

take beautiful photos in the middle of a sunny day, with nothing but natural light and your camera, and give you some ideas to try it too!

back-lit.

 shot at: 12.30pm

back-lit images are when the light source is behind your subject. by doing this, your photos will look dreamy and soft, this is one of my favourite ways of shooting! for a golden halo around your model, try diffusing the light behind some trees, a building or a cliff.

shot at: 3pm

 shot at: 1.30pm

direct sunlight

shot at: 4.30pm

when shooting in direct sunlight, position yourself to have your back to the sun, and the sun shining directly to the model's face. this lighting creates a more dramatic look to your photos. the shadows are deeper, the colours are more vibrant and the background is more prominent. 

shooting with direct sunlight at the beginning of the day produces more striking images, with more contrast as you can see from the two photos shot at 1 and 2 pm. the later in the day you shoot, the softer the light becomes as you can see in the photos taken at 4.30 and 6pm.

shot at: 1pm

shot at: 6pm

shot at: 2pm

in the shadows

shot at: 12pm

another option when shooting in the middle of a sunny day, is to shoot in the shadows of a building, fence or tree. the shadows will give your image a nice dark balance, with light still bouncing back onto your model's face from the bright day. 

shot at: 1.30pm

side light

shot at: 12pm

one last way i work with bright sunlight, is to use it as a side light. this gives you a little bit of both worlds; back-lit and direct light shooting! the images are halfway in between soft and dreamy as well as harsh and deep.

shot at: 11.40am

shot at: 5.30pm

Β 

I'm excited because I've started sharing more fashion shoot behind the scenes videos + Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials on my YouTube Channel! Be sure to subscribe as I upload 2 new videos every week x

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shooting in raw or jpeg

Firstly, when it comes to working in RAW or JPEG there is no wrong or right way to shoot, it is all up to you and the way you work. A few people have asked me why I shoot in RAW lately though, or what the difference is or if its just the same, so I thought I'd write up a short & sweet blog post telling you what I know.

Below is my test image. It is an overexposed photo of a cloudy sky shot in RAW. I then made a second copy, converting it to JPEG so I can edit both files exactly the same and see what happens.

I selected both the RAW and JPEG file and pulled down the exposure the exact same amount and that is all:

ORIGINAL

RAW

JPEG

After seeing the results, you can see there is a massive difference between RAW and JPEG, but whether or not you like to be able to fix images to this extent is up to you. Here is a very quick and simple overview of the two file types:

RAW images are larger files, but they contain a lot more information. This means, if you accidentally over or under expose a photo, there is more of a chance that you can correct it and save the photo. For example, if I had shot the above photo in JPEG, when I pull down the exposure to try and fix the image, all the information in the middle of the picture would be lost (all the white left in the middle of the photo).

The downside to shooting RAW is almost the same as the upside - the file size. You can shoot less photos while on a shoot unless you invest in a few more memory cards. It also takes up lots of storage space on your computer and external harddrives, and even more if you backup all your files.

JPEG files are a lot smaller, however contain a lot less information. As you can see in the image example above, I tried pulling down the expose to fix the image, but the JPEG file could not find the information it needed to do this. 

While you can take countless photos in JPEG on a shoot, the downside is if you take a few amazing photos and they happen to be over or under exposed, there is a lot less a chance that you will be able to save them.

So there is my little two cents on shooting RAW and JPEG. I always shoot in raw because I just like the comfort in knowing that I can have the most possible control over my images, and that if I do happen to take an amazing photo and it is slightly overexposed, I can bring down the settings and it won't have any JPEG compression damage.

I hope I haven't confused anyone too much! If anyone has any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them.

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Creating an online portfolio

Every week I will get a few emails in my inbox asking similar questions. I believe in replying to every single one of the emails that I get, even if sometimes it means sitting in front of a computer all day.

Some of the emails I receive (which will soon turn into blog posts) are people asking me how to keep motivated as a photographer and how to always have inspiration to take photos, what equipment and settings I use to shoot particular things, how to get a large team together to shoot, where to find clients from, and the list goes on and on!

Today however, I want to answer how to create your portfolio.

First I'll start with what a portfolio is, why you need a portfolio and what you will use it for.

A portfolio is a collection of your creative work to showcase your skills, either in print or online. For the sake of this blog post though, I will just be talking about online portfolios, specifically photography portfolios. You want your portfolio to contain only your best images. Even if you only present five or ten photos, a small amount of amazing photographs will always be stronger than thirty so-so ones. It is always important to not make rash decisions about what photos to put on your website, I feel it is a common misconception that making an online portfolio is something that happens overnight.

PICKING THE PHOTOS

Before you start deciding what photographs you want to display in your portfolio, you need to decide what sort of photographer are you. Who are you trying to market to by putting your work online? Who do you want to contact you when they go on your website? Are you a fashion photographer? Music photographer, wedding, landscape, portrait photographer? Once you are clear on how you want to portray yourself to the world, then you can start putting together a collection of images.

I would start off with creating a folder on your desktop titled "Portfolio Feb 2011", or whatever month and year it is. Then go through every single folder of your photos and copy and paste any HIGHRES and FINISHED pieces of work that have potential to go on your website. At this stage you don't need to worry too much about your final ten, this is so you can compare and cull down from a large amount of photos. Once you have your folder of images with absolutely anything you could image being part of your website, open up the folder in a program where you can easily see large versions of each image such as in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom.

It is here where the culling process beings.

I would start off by going through every picture one by one imagining you are a potential client, and trying to see how they would react and think about every individual photo. Delete any that you have any slight doubt about (make sure they are the copies you are deleting - not the originals!!). Once you get down to a smaller amount of pictures (I'd say about twenty), have a look at how they look like as a whole. Bring them all up on the screen and see if any look weaker when they are put up with the others, delete any that do. If there are two or three that look too similar to each other, put them up next to each other and get rid of the weaker ones as well.

By this point you should have a very strong ten or so images that are ready to go online and represent you. Remember during this whole culling process to keep in mind how you are trying to represent yourself as a photographer. If you are marketing yourself as a portrait or fashion photographer, there is no point in putting up landscape pictures from your latest trip to the beach as pretty as they may be. Be very strict with yourself, and keep in mind that even if there are some photos you love, if they don't fit in with what you are trying to show, you can always upload them to other websites such as flickr or your blog.

ONLINE PORTFOLIOS AND DOMAIN NAMES

There are plenty of free and paid websites that host portfolios. I find this the better option than to spend hundreds of dollars on a web designer. While you may have a very unique and different website if you go with a web designer, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how flashy your website is (in fact, the more flashy sometimes the more annoying), it is the photos that your clients are interested in.

When singing up with an online portfolio hosting website, make sure that you can use them with your own domain name. When I started looking online for a place to put my photographs, I went through plenty of websites before I finally found Viewbook. At first my domain name was www.jtrottiphotography.viewbook.com. After a while of writing down my website, putting it in emails, telling it to people, I realised that the name was too long, the .viewbook was too much of a nuisance to write and to explain in person and it wasn't very searchable in Google, since the majority of people would search for my full name "Julia Trotti" rather than "jtrotti".

It was by this point I decided it would be a good idea to buy my own domain name "www.juliatrotti.com". I put it off for a little while, but as soon as I started looking around for a place to buy it, I realised it wasn't half as hard as it looks. I eventually decided to go with www.godaddy.com to host my website name.

Once I bought www.juliatrotti.com Viewbook has a very simple function to be able to change the www.jtrottiphotography.viewbook.com to www.juliatrotti.com at literally the click of a button.

PUTTING YOUR PHOTOS ONLINE

Now its time to put your photos online. Do the photos you chose need to be in separate folders, or do they all fit under the same category? Upload them and go through them a couple of times, are they in the best possible order they can be? Play around with their sequences. I like to start of with a very strong image from a strong series, then put a a few really good photos, and another strong one in between.

It is important to play around with the layout of the overall website as well, the colour scheme, do you have a logo you can upload for the header of the page? Spend some time writing a bio for the about me section, clearly stating what you photograph and what you would like to photograph. One very very important part of your online portfolio is to make it easy to contact you, put your email address very clearly, or any other means you want people to contact you as well.

Personally, I have my email address first, then my phone number (include the area code so potential clients from overseas can call as well). Always be careful when putting your phone number online though, especially if you are still a young photographer.

KEEPING IT UPDATED

If you are a regular shooter, or ever if you're not, it is important to keep your website as up to date as possible. It is important that as you grow and improve as a photographer, your website reflects that. This isn't a matter of simply uploading a couple of photos from every new shoot you do. This can often actually lower the quality of your online portfolio because you are not paying attention to how these new images look compared to the photos already uploaded.

Depending how often you take photos, make it a once a month or once every two month thing to go through this entire process.

Instead of starting a completely new folder this time though, copy the old folder "Portfolio Jan 2011" and rename it "Portfolio Mar 2011", copying the new photos you want to display into it. Then go through the entire process again, and replace all the photos you have online with the new folder of images.


Sure, it is a very lengthy process to create a stunning online portfolio, but every minute of it is worth it. It is obvious to the client (whether they know it subconsciously or not) if the photographer has gone to an arm's length effort to put together an online portfolio that will successfully let the world know who they are and what they want to do. And in the end it is this effort that pays off, that allows your clients to find you and that helps you keep working!

Hopefully by the end of this blog post you have a very strong online portfolio! Or at least a good idea how to go about creating one. Soon to come is a blog post with reviews on portfolio hosting websites - my thoughts on them and what I think are their pros and cons. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts, I always love hearing what you guys think.

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