Photography Exercises To Help You Become A Better Photographer

A camera next to a keyboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are hosting a photography workshop in three days. It’s called Capturing Better Photographs & Videos For Your Small Business. This workshop is aimed for business owners who feel self-conscious to post pictures and videos to promote their business because they’re not a “photographer” or a “videographer.”

In this workshop, we’ll be teaching attendees the basic camera settings for their camera of choice, be that a DSLR or iPhone. When we’re done teaching the class, the attendees will explore Salem and take snaps and videos. At the end of the class, we’ll critique everyone’s work in the hopes of making them feel more confident.

Today on the blog, we’re going to be covering photography exercises you can use to help you become a better photographer.

100 Paces

This exercise is what we’ll be doing at our photography workshop. Go out for a walk (try going without your phone to avoid distractions) and take a snap of everything you see. This exercise will help improve your observation skills and how to capture more objects.

Recreate Someone Else’s Photo

Try recreating your favorite photos. It gets you thinking, “What do I like about this photo? What do I have to do to achieve its specific effects?” Your favorite photographers probably did this exercise too.

Start A Photography Blog

Starting a photography blog is great for two reasons. 1) It serves as a creative outlet. And 2) it will help you stay accountable with taking photos regularly.

Take 10 Photos Of A Scene

This exercise will make you more creative. It’s easy to photograph something from 1-2 angles. This exercise will spruce things up and get you thinking about perspective and storytelling.

Take A Break From Social Media

Social media can cause a lot of anxiety. It can put pressure on us to post everyday, and to maintain having a certain theme to our grid. By going off it, you’re able to block out the noise and develop your own style. It also gets you doing photography for yourself and not for the likes, shares, and comments.

 

What do you think of our tips? What do you do to improve your photography?

Beginner Photography Glossary

Learning and undering all the jargon and components for a new hobby or skill is important, especially when it comes to photography. If you really want to get good at taking photos, you must understand all of the parts of your camera. So if you’re novice to photography, check out our quick and easy photography glossary so you can start taking photos like a pro. We’ve also some style lingo too.  

Rule of Thirds- Rule of thirds is a photography guideline for when you’re about to compose a photo and you want it to be straight and proportionate. When you’re about to take a photo, you’ll notice a grid of three rows and three columns. Use this to line up the photo.

Bokeh- Bokeh is an aesthetic you can achieve where part of the photo is out of focus. You might recognize bokeh when you see photographs where background lights are blurred out.

A photo that has the style of bokeh in it.

Bokeh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposure- Exposure deals with how light or dark your image is. A photo that is deemed to dark is considered underexposed and a photo that is too light photo is called overexposed.

Flare- The effect that is created when light is reflected into the lens. It’s become popular over the years to add a little bizazz.

A photo that has flare in it.

Flare

 

 

 

 

 

 


Manual-
Manual mode allows you to control the exposure. In manual mode, you choose the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  

Aperture- An aperture is the opening of the lens that allows light to come in and it is expressed through the f-stops. In photography, f-stop numbers are counter-intuitive. The lower the f-stop number, the larger the opening will be and the more light can pass through. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the opening is and the less light is able to pass through your camera. A low number aperture means the photograph will focus on one thing and blur the rest of the image out. A photograph taken through a high f-stop number is clear and crisp throughout.

Shutter Speed- Shutter speed is the length of time the film or digital sensor in a digital camera is exposed to light. It’s also the amount of time the camera’ shutter is open when taking a camera. The quicker the shutter speed, the darker the image is and the longer the shutter speed the lighter the image is.

ISO- The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive it is to light.

If you still have an inkling to learn more about photography, stick around. This fall Sperling Interactive will be hosting a photography workshop for business owners that want to advance their business photography.

How To Photograph A Great Headshot

A man taking a photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in March, we had the pleasure of photographing attendees’ head shots at the North Shore Business Expo. This was our fourth year in a row doing it, and it got us thinking about what makes a good headshot so here are some key things to remember.  

Speak to the subject before headshot day. By doing this, you will build a relationship with the subject and find out what they do professionally. Learning what they do for a living can help you generate ideas for poses and the type of backdrop you should use that would most appropriate. For example an attorney’s headshot should have a neutral backdrop whereas a tattoo artist can have a more colorful and unconventional one.

Have the client think about their outfit beforehand. They should dress for their profession. Regardless of a person’s profession, neutral clothes are generally the best option to go with as they don’t distract from the subject’s face. You should advise the subject to not wear a top with a logo on it and to also stick with something they normally wear. Remember, your head shot is your chance to show off who you really are.

Make sure you have good lighting (even if you’re shooting outdoors). This tip is an absolute must. You want to capture the subject in the best light possible. You don’t want there to be any harsh shadows.  

Blur out the background. Whether you use a backdrop or take the shoot outside, there should be a clear separation from the background. Put the f-stop on your camera to a high f-number so the head shot is highly focused on the subject. You want the subject to be the focal point.

Frame the head shot from the chest up. A head shot is just that. A shot of someone’s face.

Make sure there is a focus on the subject’s eyes.  As a photographer, you’ll want to ensure your subject’s eyes display some emotion. Try chatting them up about what excites them so there is a sparkle in their eyes. Having a conversation with them will also help them relax so they also don’t look stiff and nervous.

Sperling Interactive has taken hundreds of professional headshots. Contact us today to book an appointment.

Product Photography Tips

Product photography

 

 

 

 

 


If you’re a B2C business, investing in product photography is an absolute must. We live in a digital and  visual world, so most people tend to see products through photographs first. With that said, the success of your B2C business can ultimately come down to your photos. To help you out, here are our five biggest tips for snapping great product photography.

Have a vision in mind. It’s always important to have a vision of the final product in mind. Doing so will help you figure out the steps you’re going to need to take to get you the photograph you desire.

Look at Instagram and magazine ads for inspiration. These two are two of the biggest outlets currently for consumer-based businesses to advertise their products. Through them you can find out the trendiest ways to promote your product, what color schemes work and are popular, and what your competitors are doing.

Take photos from various angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative during a photoshoot. Sometimes the winning photo isn’t the one you thought it would be.

Include seasonal props. Seasonal props are fun way to get your consumer in the mood to buy your product. For fall you may want to add autumnal leaves, or lights during the holiday season.

Use lights. This one goes without saying. You want people to be able to see every detail of your product. Even if you’re shooting your product outside, bring lights as the sun can cause shadows.  

Think about your aperture setting. An aperture is the opening that allows light to come in and is expressed through the f-stops. In photography, f-stop numbers are counter-intuitive. The lower the f-stop number, the larger the opening will be and the more light can pass through. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the opening is and the less light is able to pass through your camera. A low number aperture means the photograph will focus on one thing and blur the rest of the image. A photograph taken through a high f-stop number is clear and crisp throughout.

The Must Have Apps For Better Smartphone Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original iPhone came out ten years ago, and who would have known back then the big role it now plays in people’s lives? One of the iPhone’s most used features is its camera, and for many people, their smartphone is the only camera they have. Of course, to take great photographs with your cellular device, you need to give your snaps some tender love and care via post-production. Here are our seven favorite photo apps we’ve found that can help you achieve better smartphone photography.

TouchRetouch. For $1.99, this app will enable you to delete any photobombers, strangers, or unwanted things from your photos in just a few taps.

Facetune. Facetune is amazing because it will save you time from taking selfies and will eliminate anything you’re feeling insecure with. With Facetune, you can get rid of blemishes, whiten your teeth, get rid of bald spots or gray hair, reshape facial features, brighten dark under-eye circles, and more. It costs $3.99.

Slow Shutter Cam. This app’s title does it exactly what it promises for $1.99. When you’re in a low-lit place, you can slow down the smartphone’s shutter to capture stunning photos.

Adobe Photoshop Express. Unlike the regular Photoshop software, the cellular app is free and works just as well. Photoshop has tons of advanced editing tools to make your photos look like they were taken by DSLR.

Font Candy + Typography Editor. Font Candy is an awesome app to download if you’re designing a poster or marketing collateral as you can add fun text to photos. With this app you can also scale and crop photos. It costs $2.99.

Prisma. If you’ve never been much of an artist, you now can be with Prisma. This free app enables you transform photos you’ve taken so they resemble the styles of iconic artists like Van Gogh and Picasso.

Instagram. We talked about Instagram and our prediction for its growth in 2018 here. Instagram has many common editing features- adjust, brighten, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, and sharpen- and is the most popular photo and video sharing app out there. If you’re a b2c business, having an Instagram account is a must. It is also free.

4 Ways To Optimize Your Images


Your written content isn’t the only way you can improve your business’ SEO. Your images are another component to your online presence that you should be optimizing as well. Here are four things you should do to your images before you update or redesign your website.

Name your photos. When you upload your photos to Media Library, they will have the filename that they had when they were saved to your computer. To optimize the photos, change the name by using relevant keywords.

Include alt tags. An alt tag is the text that displays when an image doesn’t load. It’s also the text that may be read to a visitor who is blind or visually impaired. Alt tags are also the keywords Google reads to know more about the page since it can’t read photos. You can add alt tags to your photos through the Media Library once they are uploaded. Like the name of the photo, the alt tag should be descriptive.

Keep your photo size small. The size of your image does affect your site’s loading speed. You wouldn’t want to lose potential clients because of this.

Consider your image file type. The three most common image file types are JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs.

JPEGs- They are the most common of the image file types and are supported nearly everywhere. With JPEGs, you can expect millions of colors and the ability to adjust the file size as well as image quality.

GIFS- You probably know GIFs as the file type that supports animated memes. It’s the oldest file type and can handle transparency. Because GIFs are limited to 256 colors, they are recommended for company logos instead of real photographs.

PNGs- PNGs are the newest of image file types and are considered the replacement for GIFs. Like GIFs, they support transparency, but what sets PNGs apart is they offer millions of colors. Important to note: this file format is supported everywhere.

Tips For Creating A High-Quality Video With an iPhone

Image

The iPhone X has just come out, and it’s proven once again that with each new generation, Apple is able to produce an even better camera for its flagship smartphone. Shooting feature-length films on an iPhone has even become the camera of choice for filmmakers on a budget. One of the best movies to premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Tangerine, was shot entirely on three iPhone 5’s. With that said, there’s no reason to not film your next commercial, vlog, or tutorial on your mobile device.

Position the iPhone horizontally, not vertically. Positioning the iPhone vertically will not capture the video in the widescreen format, which means your videos will have a wide black border around it when displayed on any non-iPhone screen.

Get the right gear. It’s best to buy a tripod for your iPhone to avoid shaky-cam. The GorillaPod is a popular choice as it’s magnetic and works on most metals. There are also microphones available for iPhones that you put into your iPhone’s earphone plug. iPhone microphones can help reduce background noise.

Enable the manual exposure. You may notice when you’re taking a selfie that your iPhone is constantly trying to adjust the shot. To prevent this, enable the manual exposure. You achieve this by tapping the screen in the area you wish to expose. When you do this, the A/E lock comes up, which allows you to change the exposure.

Don’t use the zoom-in feature. The zoom-in feature pixelates your footage. To get a closer shot of an object or person, move your iPhone closer.

Switch your phone to airplane mode. You don’t want your phone to explode with annoying notifications and incoming calls/texts while filming.

Look at the lens when talking.  When you’re talking to a camera, be sure to look directly at the lens as it will help you better connect with your audience.

 

 

How to Take a Better Photos on Your iPhone 7/7 Plus pt. 2

Last week we mentioned tips on taking better iPhone 7/7 Plus pictures, and this week we will finish up on the best tips to try out. Follow along to become the expert in phone photography!

  • Zoom In – Previously, zooming in wouldn’t get you the best details. However, this changed with iPhone 7/7 Plus. The iPhone 7 has a wide angle lens camera that can provide 2x optical zoom without losing any of its quality.
  • Hands-Free – Utilize the timer! Setting your phone somewhere stable and picking a time frame for the perfect photo or selfie can do wonders! Pick a time, press the shutter and take your photo!
  • Flash – Night pictures can sometimes be hard to capture when a flash can ruin the photo. With iPhone 7’s new camera settings, simply find the closest light source, turn off the flash and tap the screen to adjust its expose.
  • Depth Effect – Depth effects such as photo portrait and square can help your friends look great in photos!
  • Get Closer – Don’t shy from going closer to your subject to get that right spot. With the iPhone 7 camera, you can get closer than ever and still get a great image. Once you have the image in frame, tap on the screen to get it to focus and slide your finger to adjust the exposure. Soon enough you’ll have the best pictures of flowers and your furry friends.
  • Third Party Apps – Don’t be afraid of utilizing third party apps as it can help adjust and edit your photos to your preference. Often times, you get the perfect photo to share after the editing and finishing touches has been made. VSCO is a great free app that helps modify your pictures from contrast, exposure, straighten and so on.

Use these helpful tips the next time you take a photo and tell us about your results!

How to Take a Better Photos on Your iPhone 7/7 Plus pt. 1

When new iPhones are released, the camera is then adjusted to take better detailed photos. At times, we can’t tell the difference from the previous camera to the next. However, knowing how an iPhone camera works and its tricks will not only make your iPhone experience better, but also improve your photos. Follow along for learn the best tips and tricks of taking a photo on an iPhone 7!

  • Choosing the Right Focus – Choosing the right focus on your photos makes a great difference from a photo to a perfect photo. Focuses can differ from the subject of the photo. For example, when taking a photo of a specific item, think about what you would like to capture and how you want it to be visualized. When taking the photo, it is better to choose the single object as it would make the background brighter.  It also will allow to adjust the brightness when focus frame is available.
  • High Dynamic Range – HDR helps display the visual effects of a real environment rather than the display of it. When taking a beautiful scenic photo, open your phone camera, tap ‘HDR’ and hit ‘On’ to capture a better and breathtaking photo.
  • Panorama – Panorama gets better and better with every new iPhone release. It is perfect to capture full sceneries in photos. Simply hold your iphone once the Pano option has been swiped and selected. Firmly hold your phone and capture its setting(you can also move the direction of the arrow by clicking it) and press the button to end capturing once finished.
  • Burst Mode – Trying to capture a photo with a moving object? Want to catch the moving object in the snap? Try Burst Mode. Burst Mode helps catch a moving subject within a snap by clicking the shuttle and not moving your finger until it is captured. Once finished, the photos will be generated and will show how many snaps were taken on the screen.

Photos We Like

If you don’t already know, one of the services our company provides is photography. Recently, our studio manager and photographer, Coco Boardman has done various photo shoots. We spoke to her to find out which pictures from these recent shoots are her favorites. These were the samples she gave:

 

011216_D0039

This photo came from the Channel Fish photo shoot. Headshot photos like these were taken for their updated websites. (Check out the site here)

 

020316_D0003

This is a photo of a graduate’s class in Salem State University. Pictures like these were shot to be used as marketing materials like banners, flyers, etc.

 

030216_D0012

This photo was taken at a Salem State University event where they brought in visitor author, Peter Balakian. For this event he did a lecture on his recent book, Ozone Journal, about Armenian Genocide and, also, did book signings. (Check out the author here)

 

022516_D0013

We are redesigning CRIJobs.com, a temporary agency for construction. For this purpose we took various head shots. This particular photo was taken on the rooftop of a building next to their office building. (Check out the site here)

 

030916_D0041

This photo is of Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore at the North Shore Alliance event in the Enterprise building at the Salem State University. This event was part of the Policy Makers Series.

CFB_0809CFB_0756

 

These pictures are a few of many of Coco’s favorites. These photos were taken for Gloucester Fresh Seafood’s new website. The photo on the left features Gloucester Fisherman Tony on his boat. The one on the right features Gloucester Fisherman Joe Razzo sitting on the dock. (Check out the site here)