Using Picture Elements to Enhance the Message

Images are powerful in that they can be crafted so precisely as to convey any given message, illicit certain feelings, or poke at specific emotions from the viewer. Aspects of photography that help with this are colors, brightness, exposure, saturation, vignette, and many others. As a photographer learns more and more about their equipment, software, and subjects, they can learn how to manipulate these elements in order to create the desired effect when viewed.

Colors are perhaps the biggest player in photography and photo manipulation. Colors can be worked on and altered in order to enhance certain areas of a scene, divert attention from other areas, or change the dynamic of an entire photo.

Different colors have different effects and color psychology is the study of how the presentation of certain colors can influence human emotions. Humans tend to associate colors with emotions or feelings, so a good photographer can use this to their advantage.

For example, colors closer to red on the color wheel are “warm” colors and those closer to blue are “cool” colors. These aspects of color can help when, for example, a photo is taken in the snow versus a photo taken on the beach. The snowy photo would benefit from an enhancement of blue colors so the viewer associates the cool colors with a cold setting. Check out this example, where the left side of the photograph enhances cold colors and the right uses warm colors:

Cool vs Warm Colors
Notice how the left side feels cooler?

This same thing applies to the beach photo. Warmer colors do well here due to the summery feeling that people feel when thinking about the beach. Take a look at this photo and try to imagine which side feels warmer.

Warm vs Cool Colors
Which side of this ocean would you rather swim on?

These photos really show how much you can use color to manipulate photographs and enhance the desired feelings they can produce. Attention to these things will surely be beneficial to you as a photographer.

Aside from the color temperature aspect, color choices can go a long way. Different audiences may be attracted to certain colors or palettes. If a photographer has to do a shoot for a client that sells clothes targeted toward an audience that desires individuality and standing out, it may be best to choose colors that are less common in current fashion. Maybe have your subject wear a bright colored outfit as opposed to a drab, monochromatic one. The bright colors will attract the eyes of the desired customer. On another side, an older audience might prefer a mature-looking color scheme, with more calm, muted colors. Low vibrance can help if you’re trying to convey a message of calmness and order, for example.

Learning how to manipulate your photography is paramount. Pressing the shutter button is one thing, but really taking advantage of your knowledge, tools and artistic elements within a scene is what separates a good photographer from a great one.

Shooting on a Budget

If there is one thing to be creative about – seeming you do not always have to spend all your creativity on your work – it is making it as cheap as possible to get your work done in the first place. Creating a project on a budget is something basically every beginner in photo or video ends up doing – especially if they move towards more intermediate projects. In this post I will try to give you some ideas on how to spend less while still making good quality projects that will allow you to hone your production skills.

Personally, I was lucky enough to have an older sister with a DSLR that I could borrow from time to time so long as I did not break it. The reason I bring this up is because there are many families who have DSLR cameras (even if they are rather low quality) that you may be able to find hidden away in a closet. Do not be afraid to use an older camera, if it has the ability to set shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, then it is a great start. The second place I would look is sites like which is where individuals sell various items that they no longer want or need. Getting used gear is a great way to get your hands on some pretty good quality stuff without burning your wallet. For example, I was able to find a Nikon D5500 on for $400 with a 18-105mm lens and lens hood. While the D5500 is a few years old now, the newer (and marginally improved) D5600 goes for roughly $650 and comes with a lower quality kit lens. Granted you may miss out on some newer fancy autofocus technologies, but we are balling on a budget here so we cannot be too picky. There are also much cheaper options from Nikon that can teach you the basics, that said the D5500 is a few steps up from the base level cameras and has a few extra bells and whistles you can grow into as a photographer.

One other thing I would like to quickly touch on is audio because this is a place where I have been able to save a lot of money in certain situations. For one, I made a post previously about how to save money on recording a podcast which you can check out but I want to now focus on recording a person’s audio in a shot. Now there are a couple options: you got lavalier microphones which are attached to the person and then there are also boom microphones which are easier to hide but are not as close to the person’s mouth and therefore require much quieter surroundings. There is a trick I learned a few years ago with regards to lavalier microphones which saves a bunch of money seeming they tend to be pricey. So instead of using expensive stuff you could instead use something you might actually already own – wired earbuds. If you have an old pair of apple earpods (when they had wires and a volume rocker on the wire itself), or any other brand for that matter, they tend to have a microphone built into the volume rocker. All you have to do is plug that headphone into a phone, put the phone in your pants pocket (or off camera without showing the wire), tape the volume rocker to the inside of your shirt near your collar so it is close to your mouth, and then run the wire under your shirt. Then it is as simple as recording your phone’s audio with something like the default voice memos app on iOS and doing a quick clap sync when you start recording. 

Both of these ideas have saved me some major money and hopefully they can save you money as well. That said, there are plenty of ways to save money and it all comes down to being creative and finding ways to do X idea without Y equipment because Y equipment is going to make you broke.

Tips For Reaching Your Client Base Through Social Media Photography

As mentioned in the previous post, we are in the midst of a tremendous opportunity to build your social media presence while everyone is on their phones and scrolling live never before! It is now or never to build a platform where you can add that extra kick of sales to put you over the top. I took the liberty of providing a few tips so that you guys can create professional looking facebook lives in no time!

  1. Hold the cell phone horizontally as opposed to vertically when filming
  2. Ensure lighting is sufficient. Lighting should be at your back. Try to avoid any bright lights behind your subject.
  3. Focus on having a nice uncluttered setting. DO NOT worry about having your LOGO in the background. Having a clear uncluttered wall behind you will help the viewer focus on what you’re showing them, and will be more keen to the eye
  4. Goes without saying, make sure the setting is quiet.
  5. DO NOT try to zoom in and out. Just film from one camera lens and manually hold camera closer to product if necessary
  6. Add a caption for ensuing steps if they see anything they like
  7. Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t worry about being perfect. Envision that you are just talking to your friend, customers will love the personality.
  8. You can be creative with it. Make games for your customers to keep them engaged.
  9. Consumers respond to warmth, humor, sincerity, fun or any combination thereof.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. Every company can and should try to incorporate social media in some way, It’s free advertising! Good luck!

Importance of Photographic Social Media Advertising

**To the mom and pop store and small retailer**

During these tough times, retailers around America are struggling to stay afloat. While the big chains like Target and Walmart were deemed essential and thus have been able to stay open and even see sales increase, the smaller stores were forced to shut down operations and potentially lose everything they’ve worked so hard to build. While I’m not here to debate whether this is fair for everyone, I am here to tell you that you actually have an opportunity amongst all this chaos.

Whether you like it or not, as a smaller company, you have a presence in your community. It may be large or small, but you’re smack in the middle of it. While you’re closed, this is an opportunity to build another aspect of your marketing, your social media presence. If you have a strong following built already, great! If not, it’s the perfect opportunity to start now.

You can promote your products with Facebook and Instagram. Don’t be afraid to reach out directly to your customers and try to sell during these strange times. People are obtaining unemployment and stimulus checks and sometimes don’t know what do with the extra money, since they’re spending even less that usual. Also, live feeds are proven to obtain 10X more viewers. Holding an everyday time slot like a 1:00 Facebook Live can also be helpful and provide structure for both your employees, and your customer. Even if you don’t get the viewership you desired, many people will log on later and see it on their feed. The best part of social media advertising is that it costs little to nothing to do, and can be done using just a phone camera. It does not need to be professionally done!

Good Luck! We will have another post soon on useful tips to social media advertising!

Photography Agencies: A More Formal Approach to Photography Work

Aside from working on your own as a freelance photographer, some may choose to work with an agency. A photography agency is much like a modeling agency or the like in that the agency represents you when it comes to the legal hurdles, customer acquisition, and payment. As a photographer with an agent, you wouldn’t have to register yourself as a business and search for your own clients. The agency will provide you with jobs, a schedule, payment, and if you’re lucky, they’ll even give you some equipment to use.

There are pros and cons to agencies, just there are with freelancing. Possibly the most obvious factor is the customer acquisition. With an agency, you’re given the work you need to do and when you need to do it. This structure can be nice for many people, but others may prefer to make their own schedules. Also, an agency will be the one paying you, not the actual client. The money will go through the agency before it gets to you. 

Another thing to consider when looking for agencies is the clientele that agency serves. There are specialized agencies that tend to work with artists to produce certain types of content for their customers. Some may be privy to commercial photography, some may be focused on fashion, or some may focus only on stock photos. There are tons of niches within photography business and agencies can help you find your way into one of them. If your work is highly specialized, you will likely fit well into that particular agency.

You’ll also need to think about location. An agency has a physical office, which means they’re tied to a particular location. If the agency you want to work for is based in New York and you live in Montana, that could be an issue. But if your areas are close to each other, you can definitely keep them on your radar.

Agency work definitely has its benefits. If you like having structure in your life and don’t like the idea of dedicating a lot of your time to do supplemental work that isn’t actual photography (like tax preparation, looking for clients, handling legal issues, etc.), maybe an agency is the way to go.

Basics of Freelance Photography

There are generally two different routes to take when considering photography as a profession: freelance or representation by an agency. In this post, we’ll be diving into the world of freelance photography and how you can work on your own as a professional photographer.

Freelancing is defined as providing a given service under no representation or employment from an outside company. Being a freelance service provider means you’ll be the one looking for leads, contacting potential customers, and then actually providing the service. It’s a one-man-band where the freelancer is the conductor, but also has to play all the instruments.

Freelancing in photography is the most common way for beginners to make their way into the photography industry and even more well-known photographers with large portfolios and high-profile customers choose to continue freelancing because of the freedom it comes with. You can choose your own schedule, your own clientele, your own prices, and more. That being said, to establish yourself in the freelance game, you need to be a full-fledged entrepreneur too. You’re running your own business, after all. The freelancer must legally identify themselves, register yourself as a business in your state or city, and gather all the necessary tax documents needed for business operation before your real work begins.

Once the particulars are taken care of, the photography work needs to happen. If you’re new to the game, building a portfolio is important and start developing a presence online to showcase your work. This will be how other people, and potential customers, will find you. Media platforms like Instagram, Behance, and 500px among others are all based around the sharing of images. They’ll be great for posting your work. This will also be where creators can connect with each other and grow their networks together.

As your network and resume grows, your work can start to garner more attention online or from potential customers. The more experienced you become, the more you can charge, the better equipment you can buy, and you can start to find larger clients. Some large clients may even start to find you.

Producing a Podcast on a Budget

History has shown us many changes in the way people consume content. Many centuries ago it was printed words, one century ago it was the radio. From there it went to television and finally the internet took over. The internet was and still is very visually focused, however in recent years audio content has been gaining traction quickly. With inventions like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home, along with the integration of smart phone capabilities into car entertainment systems like Apple’s CarPlay, audio content is becoming easier to consume and distribute in a way that will allow you to reach as many ears as possible. A few months ago a few friends and I wanted to start recording podcasts and sharing them with the world (or as many people as would willingly listen to us) and I am going to share how I taught myself how to produce a podcast and how I was able to save some money but still create a good-sounding audio.

Let’s start with microphones. The cheapest option, from what I have gathered over the past few months of recording and editing podcasts, is if you plan to have a podcast with people who are in different rooms or even different houses all together. There are free applications that can make most microphones sound perfectly acceptable for a podcast. Will they sound like perfect studio quality? No, but they are more than good enough to give a podcast a shot and see if it is an idea worth putting more time and money into. 

I recommend using Discord. It is a gaming-focused communication application but it works extremely well for really any kind of communication – and it works wonders for people with lower quality microphones. It has features that let you virtually mix the audio as well. This means that if one person is louder than another you can adjust their individual volumes so that the audio is all balanced and nicer on the ears. Furthermore, it allows there to be one main “host” in charge of recording the podcast and balancing audio while the others only have to worry about opening Discord and speaking. The only catch is that the “host” will likely have to pay up for a better microphone than the rest of the people on the podcast. This is because their audio will be recorded locally and Discord’s audio quality magic will not apply to their track. (A work around could be recording from a separate computer through a separate Discord account which will be a dedicated recording account, although this does complicate things slightly).

Finally, recording the podcast. Once everyone is logged into Discord and balanced it is time to open an application for recording the discord and the host’s own audio. I would recommend Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) which is free to use and is a rather powerful application – though for the purposes of a podcast it is quite simple and we will not be making use of the majority of its capabilities. All you have to do is set the program to record your desktop’s audio as well as your microphone’s input and you have both the host’s audio and the other people on the podcast’s audio. From there, you can balance the host audio to match the other audio by using OBS’s input volume adjustment sliders and everything will be all nice and level once more. After recording, export the file to your favorite editor – something like iMovie works well if you have a Macintosh or DaVinci Resolve for Windows users. All you need to do is adjust audio levels and/or make some cuts at the beginning and end of the podcast and then export.

Documentation Over Creation

Many individuals and businesses get into the realm of photography and video / audio production and immediately jump to trying to come up with creative ideas that will interest as many people as possible. Now I am not about to discourage this, especially for those who are naturally creative, but for those of you – like me – who are excited to learn and attempt new skills but lack the creativity to come up with a project to apply them to, let me offer an alternative. Personally, I would much rather see someone gain real skills in the production world instead of “waiting for an idea to hit them in the face.” 

So how do you gain those skills? If the title was not clear enough, the answer is one word: document – which applies extremely well to businesses and freelancers. Content for marketing helps businesses extremely well, and the content they have to produce is simple – them making, growing, and/or running the business. By documenting the process of starting a business you are providing yourself with so much. Not only are you able to cut it up into small clips and post it to social media platforms for posts but you are also building a brand image that encourages your customers and community to be more involved. They can feel like they were a part of some of the meetings you have and can comment or like what it is that was said. Additionally, you have recordings that you as the business leader can look back to and learn from or simply be able to show where it all started and how far you have come to your staff and your customers.

As for freelancers, showing the process of being a freelance video producer, photographer, etc. can really make your clients feel connected to your journey and more willing to hire you for work. You may seem more like a friend that they want to support and they get good quality work out of it as well. Even creatives agree that documenting provides many more minutes of content than creating something. When a director says cut and let’s do another take they are spending hours on maybe a few minutes of the overall film whereas with documenting it is all real-time one take and you just cut what you do not want to share / is not relevant to the post you are trying to share.

Let’s Talk Cameras

From the best professional photographers in the industry to amateur photographers trying to create aesthetic content and turn a profit on their images; the most used and best quality of cameras come from brands like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Pantax, Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus, Kodak, and Leica. So, what is the best type of camera? That question solely relies on the photographer, what they are shooting, and how they are shooting it. First thing is deciding whether to shoot on film or go digital, then consider if you want the type of camera to be a Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) or mirrorless camera. The typical film camera that a photographer uses is a 35mm SLR camera. When considering the standard 35mm SLR camera, try to make sure to go with the brands that were stated above. Personally, they are THE best quality film cameras, and for the older models, they tend to last a lot longer than other brands. You should make sure the camera is in good shape, practically all SLR cameras you will find are older and pre-used. There are not too many questions you should be tempted to ask when purchasing an SLR film camera. Decide what lens size you prefer (most commonly used are 35-50mm lenses), see if the camera has a built-in light meter (indicating the amount of light and determining the accurate or even measure of exposure in the camera), which most models have, and figure out the type of film and its sensitivity to light (ISO) you want. Those are the basic questions to consider when purchasing a film camera. Anything else needed would likely be additional equipment such as external lighting, lens filters, mounts, or stands.

On the other hand, there are a lot of questions to consider when investing in a high quality digital camera. Do you want a single-lens or mirrorless camera? Are you taking videos or stills, or both? If so, how high of a video resolution? 3k…4k…8k!? Do you want to focus on cameras with larger or smaller image sensors? Do you want a camera with higher megapixels (better resolution, much more expensive)? Do you want a camera with an optical or electronic viewfinder (this is to compose and focus the picture)? Do you want a camera with a high and faster burst speed (which also relates to an increased viewfinder)? I know these questions may seem very complex and confusing, but in the end, you want to purchase a camera that a.) is within your budget, and b.) will give you best outcome for your preferred style and method of shooting. As mentioned, the type of camera relies on the photographer and what they are shooting. If you are a commercial, travel, portrait, landscape, or fashion photographer you will probably choose higher resolution over continuous shooting periods. If you are a sport or a quick series documentary photographer, you’re going to favor shooting speed and auto-focus over all else, creating bursts of photos within a single frame to make what is called an “action shot”. And if you are a photographer/videographer, some of the best professional cameras are in the emerging mirrorless camera market.

According to the “Digital Camera World”, a website dedicated to keeping the world updated on everything digital camera related, they are reporting that the best professional cameras in 2020 are:

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
  • Canon EOS-5D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS R
  • Nikon D6
  • Nikon D850
  • Nikon Z 7
  • Sony A9 Mark II
  • Sony A7R IV
  • Fujifilm X-T3
  • Fujifilm GFX 100
  • Panasonic Lumix S1R
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1X  

*For more information on these models of cameras, head to

How Does The Average Photographer Make Money?

Nowadays, there are a multitude of ways photographers can turn their skills into cash. You can sell your work online or in public, you can try to get your work into free open art gallerias, you can work for an agency, you can work as a freelance photographer and shoot weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or even company events, you can work for a more acclaimed or professional photographer, or you can teach fundamental photography skills at a high school, college, or public course level. Yet, the best medium today, by far, is social media. Anybody with an eye for photography can create a blog or social media page (specifically Instagram or Pinterest) to display their work and receive views from the public. If your work is captivating enough or “pleases the masses” so to speak, then you can gain a massive follower base and the necessary notoriety to create more images, network and make connections in the industry, and inevitably sell your work – making a business out of it. Now, this does not work for everyone picking up a camera. It takes dedication and long-term commitment to be recognized for your work. Some professional photographers go half of their life before receiving the proper recognition for their work. After deeply pondering on this “How do photographers make money?” I had to do some research. What I found are some extremely helpful and proven ways to make money as a photographer.

  1. Photograph small business and create visual advertisements for them.
  2. Teach photography – small or large scale.
  3. Sell digital or printed copies of your work to the public.
  4. Sell your photographs on stock websites. If you have a sizable portfolio, then these platforms can help sell your pictures or videos to businesses, marketing agencies, and the media. In return, photographers receive a commission every time their work is downloaded.
  5. Write a photography blog, like this one!
  6. Have you, your family, or your friends invest in your art.
  7. Shoot portraits
  8. Sell your photos to magazines. There are magazine companies that are dying for interesting, unique, or complicated shots that they do not have the necessary resources to capture themselves. P.S. National Geographic is always accepting wildlife photographs, they just must be good enough or amazing (no pressure).
  9. Become a freelance photographer and shoot events – a true entrepreneurial experience as a photographer.
  10. Enter photography contests. You can win a cash prize or better, get the proper recognition for your work.