Photography

Photography Marketing 101: 4 Tips for Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition

In a time when just about everyone has a smart device with a camera, more people than ever are giving photography career options a shot. With an influx of individual photographers out there, those who really want to make money off their work must have a unique selling proposition that draws attention and makes them stand out.

To set yourself apart from the crowd and find success as a photographer, consider the following nuggets of marketing advice.

Make It All About Your Strengths

A unique selling proposition should always revolve around what makes you “better” than the competition, no matter how big or small the advantage is. If the average photographer takes X amount of time to complete a certain task and your strength is doing that same task efficiently in half the time, there’s the foundation for your unique selling proposition.

If you need an idea, consider how Domino’s Pizza got its explosive start. Instead of a crazy topping or special ingredient, their original selling proposition was promising that your pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or else it was free.

Do you have a knack for photographing pets or have time for free pre-event photo shoots? Figure out what you’re good or can offer and go with it.

Find Your Target Audience

No matter how versatile you are as a photographer, you’re more likely to find financial success if you focus on a particular area. For example, there are photographers out there who have mastered the art of capturing food and know there are plenty of websites and magazines willing to pay good money for their work. Because of their specialty, their unique selling proposition will tend to be different than someone who photographs, say, boats or lawn gnomes.

Once you narrow down who would be most likely to like your work, build a unique selling proposition around what they want and why you’re the one they need. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask what they’d love to hear to be convinced that you cater specifically to them and have something different when compared to the competition.

Develop An Elevator Pitch

You may be in trouble if you can’t express why your photography is worth checking out without reading off a paper or going into a lengthy, robotic monologue. You can’t have a strong selling proposition without an elevator pitch— a concise explanation of why your talent and work will make their life better and/or solve their problems. While there’s no exact length it needs to be, shoot for trying to capture a consumer’s attention in as much time as the average length of a TV commercial.

In other words, less than a minute. If this sounds like a daunting task, even if you’re confident in your work, then perhaps you need to either do more research on who your target demographic is or go back to analyzing your strengths. Having an idea of who your ideal customer is, along with a lively, condensed pitch you developed just for them, is a key part of any unique selling proposition.

Inject Your Personality

The challenge big companies have is coming up with an image that encapsulates the entire strategy. One advantage you have as an individual photographer is being able to wield your personality in order to sell your work. There’s no better way to flaunt your skills, experience, and character traits than by adding a touch of yourself.

If you’re confident in your abilities or always know how to make a good impression with humor, stamp that bit of yourself into your unique selling proposition. It’s hard for competitors to go up against a personality that resonates with people, especially when talking about fashion photography and other areas where you’rehttps://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/5-tips-for-landing-paid-fashion-photography-work/ expected to interact with models.

How to Make Money Selling Stock Photography

It’s been almost 100 years since the stock photo industry began to take off. Since then, countless agencies and solo photographers have made a living selling their work to companies and people across a myriad of industries. Although the internet has helped boost stock photography like never before, the question on many photographer’s minds is the same: is there money to be made?

The answer is yes! People looking to tell their stories and ideas on websites and social media often browse through hundreds of online images in hopes of finding the perfect one. Whether you want to make big bucks as a stock photographer or just some pocket change on the side, here are seven tips that will help you stand out from the competition and find success.

  1. Get yourself a good digital camera.

If you were looking for a stock photo for your article or website home page, wouldn’t you only consider high-quality options? The average stock photo buyer wants pics that are sharp and a pleasure to look at, which means you should invest in a good digital camera if you hope to impress.

A digital SLR that lets you control the settings is recommended, as are these pieces of gear if you like to travel and shoot.

You don’t need the most powerful camera available to stand a chance in today’s competitive stock photo industry, but you’ll do far better if you’re not relying on a smartphone or severely outdated camera.

  1. Know the basics of photography.

Just like in any type of photography, creating stock photos worth buying means being at least familiar with the fundamentals.

The fact is, the average commercial photographer is good at what he or she does because they took classes, earned a photography degree, or simply have put a lot of time into studying important elements like exposure, lighting, etc.

While it’s no secret why a photography degree is so valuable in this day and age, there are other options available for career-changers, continuing ed students, and curious visual artists. You can learn in a conservatory program, short-term workshop, and even though hands-on practice.

  1. Study your own photos carefully.

It’s important to understand the technical editing elements of today’s industry-standard photography software.

Always inspect your images in at 100 percent so you notice imperfections before reviewers do. While you’re at it, make use of things like tripods, low ISO settings, and proper shutter speeds to avoid unwanted blurriness and other unattractive effects.

  1. Develop an impressive portfolio.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of stock photos that get submitted to the many online microstock photo providers out there. Stock photography is a numbers business — the more photos you put out there for potential buyers to look at, the more likely you are to make some sales.

It’s common for up-and-coming stock photographer to drop at least between 100 to 200 photos a month, whereas established photographers can provide less since they may have consistent buyers.

To keep your photos fresh, consider ideas and projects like these to tap into your creativity.

  1. Use smart keywords on big networks.

Some might argue that you’re better off focusing on sites with less competition. While there’s truth to that, wouldn’t you rather spend hours uploading images and writing keywords for popular sites where more buyers browse each day?

Of course, there’s more to becoming a successful stock photographer than simply dropping tons of pics into a stock site. It’s important to create keywords and descriptions wisely so when your photo is exactly what someone needs, they’ll actually find it in a sea of images.

  1. Do your research and find a niche.

While we’re not saying you can’t have fun while taking stock photos, it’s a good idea to do more than just snap a pic of whatever you feel like capturing. Doing some research will help you learn what customers are looking for, which means paying attention to the types of images that get the most downloads.

That being said, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing unless you can do it significantly better. Find an niche where stock photos are in demand but there’s currently a low amount of content for people to choose from.

  1. Don’t give up!

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This is perhaps the most predictable tip, but one that’s especially important if you see yourself making money selling stock photography. Don’t feel discouraged when only one out of many of your photos actually sell while the rest get passed up time and time again. This is common!

As long as both your photography skills and portfolio continue growing and you pursue your work with determination, you’ll soon find yourself finding a path as a stock photographer.

Top 5 Pieces of Gear You Need for Travel Video and Photography

As a photographer or a videographer, traveling to locations outside of where you live is sometimes inevitable, so don’t leave yourself unprepared for the road! A lack of planning can lead to damaged, lost, or dirty equipment.

We’ve outlined the top five pieces of gear to use when traveling with photography and video equipment. With these essential pieces in place, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your equipment safe, and ensuring you get the best shots that you can get — no matter where you travel.

Travel Bag or Backpack

Sony Bag

Film Video Sony Bag Lens Camera Photography

A bag or backpack to carry your camera body, lenses, and other photography accessories is a must when you are traveling for work. It’s worth it to invest in a backpack that is specifically made to handle photography equipment, with specifically design compartments and special materials built to protect and encase your equipment. Don’t make the mistake in throwing your equipment in whatever bag you have available, because the chances of your gear getting damaged will be pretty high.

When selecting a backpack, there are a few components you will want to have to help keep your equipment organized. A standard photography backpack will have padded, internal dividers to hold multiple lenses, as well as the camera body. External pockets are great to hold accessories like USB cords, batteries and chargers, memory cards, and cleaning kits. Depending on your budget and needs, some backpacks can also carry mono- or tripods, tablets or laptops, and may include a rain cover.

If you need help selecting a backpack that fits your needs, read Carryology’s article, “The Best Camera Backpacks Buyer’s Guide 2017.”

Memory Cards and Memory Card Readers

Memory Cards
It’s a good idea to always keep extra memory cards on hand. Every photographer has their own preference when it comes to brand and size, but keep two or three extra handy. Nothing is more disappointing than damaging or losing the only memory card that’s with you.

Card Reader
A standard USB memory card reader is also a great tool for you to have while you are traveling. USB is a lot more common, and gives you the flexibility to use it on more devices. You can connect to any laptop or tablet no matter where you are located.

Mono and Tripods

 

Tripod

Mono and tripods are essential to capturing a great photograph in all different types of situations. Why should you use one?

If you are photographing nature or animals, you could be there for hours waiting for the right shot. If you are using a telephoto lens, they tend to get heavy. They are also difficult to steady and could lead to blurry photos. Tripods help reduce unwanted movement when you are trying to get creative with close-up shots. The list of reasons to use a tripod when photographing and traveling is endless.

If you don’t have the room to carry a tripod, you can also use a monopod, or a tabletop tripod or clamp.

Cleaning Gear  

Cleaning gear is sometimes an afterthought, but you should always keep a kit in your bag. No one wants to be on location for a shoot only to find a grease spot or a large piece of dust on the lens.

Rocket blowers and brushes are great to have because you can dislodge dust from the camera lens or from inside the camera body. There are more extensive cleaning kits that include lens pen, cleaning tissues, and microfiber wipe clothes.

Power Strips

When you are traveling, access to multiple outlets may be out of the question. If you have camera batteries or other items to charge, it can be difficult to charge everything at once. A collapsible power strip is a great solution: it is easy to carry, can fit in any camera bag, and you can plug in multiple items.

Monster Outlets to Go 4 plugs into one outlet, but allows you to charge up to four items at one time. The design allows you to wrap the cord securely around the flat power strip for easy traveling.

Whether you are staying stateside or traveling internationally, you should always be prepared. The photography gear outlined above will help you protect your equipment, keep it clean, and get the best photographs possible.

What photography or video gear do you have to have when you are traveling? Let us know below! And learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy.

Photography Backdrops You Can Find Anywhere

Photography Backdrops You Can Find Anywhere

A good photographer can find a great backdrop, no matter where they are in real time. They look at their surroundings, the type of lighting that is available, and their subject. To ensure the best photographs possible, no matter the location, we’ve highlighted some backdrops that you can find anywhere.

The best part is that some of these backdrops won’t cost you anything! Now you can have some great results without breaking the bank.

Neutral Backdrops

Nothing says simplicity like a neutral backdrop — whether it’s stark white, grey, or black. Photographers who are just starting out may be able to work on a project like professional headshots, but may not have the backdrop and mounting equipment they need. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of your surroundings. A clean wall can be sufficient.

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Neutral backdrops, like the one featured above, allow the audience to really focus on the subject. Let the subject and the details speak for itself in the photograph, don’t rely on a backdrop to add to it.

If you have the time to prepare before a shoot and you’re working on limited funds, here are some other neutral backgrounds that you can use:

  • Painters’ drop clothes
  • White paper rolls
  • Brown packing paper
  • Drawer lining paper

Textured Backdrops

Textured backdrops, like a brick wall, are a great alternative to neutral, plain backgrounds. Brick walls can be found just about anywhere you go, and are perfect for impromptu photo shoots. Red or whitewashed brick walls will add an artsy, weathered look to photos and serve as a textural counterpoint your photography subject.

If you are feeling adventurous, try out other textured backgrounds including:

  • Garage doors
  • Barn doors and walls
  • Shiplap walls
  • Metal or wood fences
  • Corrugated metal walls

Textured

Graffiti

Graffiti is one of those things that you can find no matter where you are in the world. It might come as a surprise, but graffiti can make a great photography backdrop when it’s used correctly. Place your subject in front the graffiti, focus on the subject, and blur the graffiti in the background. Or you can blur your subject in the foreground to focus on the graffiti.

For more ideas on photographing graffiti, Widewalls’ “Top 10 Street Art Photographers” examines photographers who capture street artists and their graffiti artwork.

Nature

Nature is a beautiful backdrop for photography, especially when the sun is setting and the light is just right. Just like using graffiti as a backdrop, there is so much a photographer can do with nature. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or professional photographer — take a chance and experiment with your subject, the lightning, and different angles. Need some inspiration for nature shots? You can use the following as a backdrop for your photography:

  • Fields
  • Parks
  • Mountains
  • Beaches
  • Lakes, rivers, or streams
  • Forests

What are you waiting for? It’s time to hop in your car or on your bike to find a backdrop that will make your photographs really stand out.

Do you have any special backdrops for photography that you can find just about anywhere you go? We would love to know below! Learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy.

NYFA Photography School Dishes on Favorite Vintage Photography

Most of us who fall in love with photography remember the moment we saw a specific image that changed the way we see the world. Whether the “Afghan girl” on the cover of National Geographic or the WWII sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square, many images have stamped their mark not only on our hearts, but on history.

In photography, the industry moves fast — but that doesn’t mean that powerful images can’t stand the test of time. In fact, vintage photographs (images more than 20 years old) are a vital part of shaping our understanding of photography as an artform, and learning to see the world a bit differently.

This week, we asked our NYFA Photography School to weigh in on their favorite classic photographers and their favorite vintage photographs. Check out what they had to say!

NYFA Photography Senior Program Coordinator John Tona:

Armed with nothing more than his 35mm camera, LIFE’s Robert Capa joined the 34,250 troops who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Although only a few images survived that day, his most iconic image of Private First Class Huston Riley gave the world a view of the dangers faced by soldiers during war:

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Image © Robert Capa Normandy France June 6th, 1944

What makes this image even more impactful for me is the perspective in which Capa made this photograph, turning his back to the Nazis to capture Riley making his way through the surf toward the enemy.

NYFA Instructor Jackie Neale:

Robert Frank would be my favorite photographer of yore.

Robert Frank’s photographs from his book, “The Americans” (1958), display 35mm vernacular photography at its best. Frank framed and captured time as if we, the viewer, happened into the remarkable split second just as the persons, the wall, the ceiling, the car, the baby, the cowboy, the bus all orchestrate themselves into lyrical narratives of space, geometry, timing, contrast, gestures, and humanly beauty.

Frank mastered timing and the abstraction of time all at once. Robert Frank is my favorite photographer and his work from over a half century is a glowing example of making the photograph into a relic and revealed object of art.

NYFA Instructor Paul Sunday:

My favorite “vintage” photography is that of Man Ray:

Copyright: © Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

Copyright: © Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

His enthusiastic experimentation early in the last century set the stage for the future of photography’s infinite possibilities. He was an interdisciplinary artist and, in his photography, a great adventurer — exploring every aspect of the form, from portraiture to abstraction.

NYFA Instructor Jaime Permute:

Growing up in Guatemala, we did not have access to photographic schools such as the New York Film Academy. We were all essentially self-taught. We pored over photographic books and magazines and tried to befriend more established photographers in our efforts to learn the tools of the trade. I was lucky that my father was an avid photographer himself and had a substantial library at home. This is how, even without ever meeting him personally, Manuel Alvarez Bravo became one of my great teachers. During my teenage years, his monograph “Instante y Revelación” was my constant companion.

Alvarez Bravo is Mexico’s most famous photographer. His life spans exactly 100 years and it begins and ends with the 20th century. Alvarez Bravo had a prolific and distinguished career. His circle of intimate friends include some of the most notable writers and artists of his times: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz, Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Breton, Sergei Eisenstein and many others.

Alvarez Bravo is most commonly understood in the context of surrealism. However, one might also argue that his work is essentially documentary in nature and that the reality of Mexico itself lends his photographs their mysterious and dreamlike quality. My greatest debt to Alvarez Bravo is his understanding of the poetics of image-making and how artistic intention reveals the other side of reality, the one that lies hidden and out of sight, beyond the mere surface of things.

NYFA Instructor Joan Pamboukes:

One of my favorite artists and major influences is László Moholy-Nagy.

I’ve always loved to read and learn about Moholy-Nagy’s experimentations not only in the darkroom but also with other types of media (especially his Light Space Modulators, these kooky sculptures that made colorful light patterns).

He was something of a mad scientist, an innovative thinker, and an educator at the Bauhaus. He encouraged photographers and his students, as part of the New Vision, to witness and document the world in unexpected ways, utilizing strange vantage points and abstracting reality. He also embraced technology and sought to incorporate that into his artwork.

You can find more information about his life and work from the Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

NYFA Instructor Kristina S. Varaksina:

Photography by Lewis Carroll

Photograph by Lewis Carroll


Lewis Carroll
, the famous writer, was also an incredibly talented photographer. He made a big contribution to the development of children’s portrait and fashion photography. He often worked with sets, props, and wardrobes. To this day, similar ideas can be found in many photographers’ work. His ability to capture natural emotions and the mature side of children is fascinating.

His long career as a photographer (1856-1880) coincides with the “Golden Era” of 19th century photography, which centered on the wet collodion “wet plate” negative process and the corresponding positive albumen print process.

What are your favorite vintage photos? Who are your favorite master photographers from the past? Why? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy.

A Q&A With New York Film Academy Photography Conservatory Student Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow


Known for decades as a cutting-edge leader in crafting fine light-shaping and flash tools for professional photographers, Profoto is a Swedish company that recently
featured New York Film Academy (NYFA) 2-Year Photography Conservatory student Tanne Willow and her images in their Local News section.

A true representative of NYFA’s diverse international community, Tanne original hails from Sweden and has lived in Denmark, France, and the United States. With a background in dance and an obsession for motion, her work has a truly unique energy and it’s easy to see why she was chosen by Profoto to spotlight as a “Rising Light.”

In the midst of her fourth semester at the New York Film Academy, Tanne took the time to answer some questions and to share part of her story with our student community. Read on to hear more about her pathway to NYFA, her favorite photography equipment, and how surviving a busy semester is helping her create her own professional identity as a photographer.

NYFA: You worked for many years as a dancer before deciding to go back to school for photography. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience studying in NYFA’s Photography Conservatory, as an adult continuing education student?

TW: Before I came to NYFA I had quite a few years of experience but it had been a very long time since I had last studied, and I felt there were a lot of holes in my knowledge. To be able to come here and build it up from the base even though I had preexisting knowledge was completely a revolt. It changed everything.

Today I can say with confidence that I am a photographer and know that there is a certain professionalism that comes with that word that I possess, and I can now deliver on a professional level consistent work. I know my own limits in a completely different way, and I also know my capabilities after these two years. It has really meant everything in that sense.

 

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

 

NYFA: Can you tell us how your featured story on Profoto came about?

TW: I sent in my images for submission, and I was chosen. There was a call from my [NYFA Los Angeles] teacher Amanda Rowan, she was the one who put me in touch with the Profoto agency.

NYFA: What is your absolute essential toolkit for a shoot? Any equipment you can’t leave the house without?

TW: It depends on what I am shooting, and for every shoot there is a different toolkit. I shoot in very many ways. I shoot digitally but also analogically on large format — 4×5, and medium format also. The only thing I can say I can’t leave my house without is my camera! That’s the essential part photography can’t happen without — and me and my eye! As long as I have my camera, I can do something.

NYFA: What’s next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?

TW: I’m currently in my fourth semester at NYFA and working on my thesis project, “Matriarch.” It’s a study about the definition of femininity — something I am quite unclear about. Growing up as a female in this world, I have experienced different countries. Being born in Sweden, living in Holland, France and the U.S., I have seen many variations of how femininity is defined and how females and non-females are defined by femininity. I have heard myself being described as feminine and I have used the word myself, but I have a very ambivalent relationship with it — because of that fact that it is so so attached to my being somehow, yet I see the difficulties that I have myself, in the world around me, in knowing what we mean when we use this term.

What I do is I work with performance artists. I search for the physical interpretation of their ideas of what femininity is. I discuss with them what they think it is and how they define femininity, then they improvise under my direction. And I photograph them. I document them both digitally, all environmental portraits. The cameras I use in my thesis are a Canon 5D Mark III, with a 24-70mm lens, and a Toyo 4x5in View-camera, with a 90mm lens. 

NYFA: What are your goals as a photographer?

TW: My main dream is fine arts exhibitions, also shooting fitness (dance background) and have lots of experience in shooting motion-filled images. My preferred way to work is with people in motion, whether it’s fine arts or commercial photography. This is my main interest. I thoroughly enjoy the analogue part of photography and I wish I could incorporate that in my career with lab and print work.

 

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tanne Willow for taking the time to share a part of her story with our student community.

Ready to go back to school as a continuing education student? Check out the New York Film Academy’s Photography 2-Conservatory programs!

National Selfie Day: 3 Fun Facts About Selfies

The selfie has become more than just a contemporary phenomenon: It may go down as one of the defining features of the 21st century. We have phones specially designed for selfies, social media would not be the same without selfies, and even if we claim to hate selfies, we’ve all taken part in them. From the “I woke up like this” no-makeup selfies that make bad hair look so fashionable to “group-fies” with friends and families, the average selfie is a ubiquitous part of daily life.

As you gear up for National Selfie Day, here’s a short history of this cultural trend…

1. The Selfie Was Actually Invented in 1839

Screenshot 2017-06-07 13.20.38
So it’s not that recent a phenomenon after all!

American photographer Robert Cornelius took a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 and even wrote on the back ‘the first light Picture ever taken.’ (Pity, the word selfie wasn’t in use then.)

The trend of taking self-portraits with a camera became gradually more popular in the 20th century. Without the use of zoom lens or selfie sticks, it was a cumbersome process, aided with mirrors, tripods or other props.

When the instant Polaroid cameras arrived, more and more people began to experiment with photography as a hobby and a way of preserving certain life events. The habit even made its way into the movies, such as the 1991 film “Thelma & Louise,” where the two lead characters use a Polaroid camera to take what we now call a ‘selfie’ before embarking on a disastrous road trip.

2. The Word “Selfie” Was Actually Invented By A Drunk Man in 2002

Screenshot 2017-06-07 13.22.01
In Australia, Sept. 13, 2002, in an internet forum there appeared the following post by Nathan Hope:
Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.

Mr. Hope however denied coining the term, claiming it was a common slang. Over the years, linguists have analyzed this phenomenon and pointed out that it is a typical feature of the Australian language to shorten words and end them with “ie,” citing how “barbeque” and “postman” become “barbie” and “postie” respectively in local usage.

Soon enough there came mobile phones with front-facing cameras, and the world was never the same again.

3. “Selfie” Became The Word Of The Year In 2003

Screenshot 2017-06-07 13.19.37
The Oxford English Dictionary announced “selfie” as the word of the year in November, 2013, sometime after it was first included in the online edition of the dictionary.

Meanwhile, there have been specific apps and filters created for taking and editing the perfect selfie, and the Oscar selfie of 2014 became the most retweeted image ever. Now, selfie sticks may be a thing of the past with the rising popularity of selfie drones.

Whether you think it is fun and empowering or you just feel it promotes narcissism, you cannot ignore the selfie, for it looks like the selfie is here to stay for a long time.

Interested in photography? Learn more at the New York Film Academy.

Say Cheese! Tips for Photographing Children

When it comes to photographing children, traditional photography rules are put on hold. In order to successfully photograph children, you have to approach the photography session differently.

For National Photography Month, we’ve got some useful tips on how to photograph children, below.

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Exercise Patience

You know that saying, “kids can be kids”? One moment, a child could be playing with you and striking a pose, and the next moment, they shy away when you point a camera at them. If you get any type of shy behavior during a photoshoot, don’t rush anything or punish the child for their behavior. Instead, be patient and let the child warm up to you.

Photographing at Their Level

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Don’t make the mistake of photographing children from your level — it will make them appear smaller in your images. Instead, get on their level so you have more equal ground. Be prepared to get on the ground and crawl around with them if you want some good pictures.

Be Ready for Anything

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With children, anything can happen in the blink of an eye — and that’s why it’s important to be ready for anything. You need to be ready to capture the unexpected on camera. Stop reviewing your photos and keep your lens at ready. Capturing the right moment means being at the right place and the right time. You can always review your images at a later time.

Relax and Have Fun

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Don’t worry about looking “professional” when you work with children. It’s OK to relax, let loose, and have fun. Make those silly faces and weird noises: Throw everything you know out the window and enjoy the session. If you make it fun for you and the children, they’re more likely to have fun and you’ll get some really great images.

Create an Action Plan

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Sometimes, the best-laid plan doesn’t work out and you have to be flexible. But it also helps to have a plan, a backup plan, and a contingency plan. If a child is having a hard time cooperating, just remember to stay patient, and don’t yell or get upset with them: try plan B. If that doesn’t work, have another strategy or idea ready. Just go with the flow and remember it’s about having fun, and getting the best photos.

Do you have any tips on how to photograph children? Let us know below. If you have a photograph that you are proud of, share them with us! Ready to learn more about photography? Check out our many photography programs at the New York Film Academy.

National Photography Month: Outdoor Fashion Photography

 

Every great photographer knows that there are multiple components to a successful outdoor fashion shoot. Whether you are doing a shoot in the alleys of New York or in a field of wheat in North Dakota, nailing down your subject’s outfits will help you with your outdoor fashion photography.

Students passionate about learning the ins and outs of a fashion shoot can get hands-on training and experience at the New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Fashion Photography Workshop. We also offer two fine arts degrees in photography — bachelor’s and master’s — as well as intensive conservatory-style programs. Our students will learn practical elements, and master technical and business practices to help them achieve their professional goals.       

If you’re already in the field and need some quick tips, here are some things to consider while you are preparing for your outdoor fashion photography shoot.

Research the Location

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Don’t wait until the day of your shoot to pick out your location. If you have an idea of where you would like to shoot, scout out some spots days prior to the shoot. Make notes and plan out the frames that you want to take during the shoot.

Keep Your Model Comfortable

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Make sure you get to know your model before the shoot to ensure that they will be a good fit for your project. It helps to establish a rapport, as you will be working closely together and will likely be offering your model directions during the shoot. You can help keep your model comfortable by establishing a connection beforehand and maintaining a professional, friendly environment that will keep their poses and expressions relaxed.

Use Natural Light

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You should try to use natural light during your photo shoot, even though you can’t control the intensity of the sun and the direction of the natural light source. However, you can overcome this by placing the model correctly, which will help you achieve the amount and direction of light in a frame that you desire. If you can, avoid placing the model directly facing the sun because it will wash out the natural skin tone of your model and create deep or harsh shadows.

 

If you want to use artificial lighting, you can use a flashlight or studio lightning to underexpose the background. Using a light source directed toward the model allows you to control the direction of the light without causing spilling.

Use the Correct Lens

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You should know what type of lens you will need for fashion photography — whether it’s a wide-angle or telephoto lens. If you choose to use a telephoto lens, your depth of field will be shallower and will be more flattering to your model. Wide-angle lens will allow you to capture everything in focus.  

Experiment With Camera Angles

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Don’t be afraid to experiment with camera angles — you should never take photos at eye level for outdoor fashion photography. Try and position your camera so that the angle is high or low. This will allow you to get some out-of-the box frames with perspective while keeping focus on the model’s eyes.

For example, if you want to get a low-angle shot, have your model stand or climb up on a ladder or you can stand on the ladder to achieve a different perspective.

Do you have any tips for having a successful outdoor photographer shoot? Let us know below! And learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy!

How to Direct a Shoot for the Best Model Poses

Fashion shoots can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re doing. From different costumes and makeup to cool poses, there is plenty to work with. Regardless of your own experience, it is always good to remember a few tips to make every photo shoot you do fabulous every time! Whether you are directing professional models or first-timers, here are some tips to help you direct your photoshoots as successfully as possible:

Capture as many different expressions and poses as possible.

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There is nothing wrong with having your model(s) smile or use their go-to pose, but you do not want over a hundred photos with the same expression and position. It is important to mix it up for the best possible results. An experienced model may be able to give you many poses and moods without much direction, but if you are working with an amatuer model, you may need to give some guidance.

Do some research.

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This might seem like a beginner’s tip, but it never hurts to have a refresher. What have some of your favorite and most successful fashion photographers done? For example, hair alone could make or break a fabulous shot. Learning how to position hair on longer-haired models or styling shorter hair can add a new edge to your shots. The same goes for knowing how to pose different body parts to make the models look their best without digital manipulation.

Be a conversationalist.

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No, you don’t have to be a socialite, but talking with your models will help alleviate any awkwardness either of you may be experiencing. It will also make models much more comfortable with you. Additionally, don’t forget to give positive feedback. How will your models know if they are doing a good job? Tell them! It will make for a better experience for the both of you.

Keep taking pictures.

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Some photographers have hundreds of pictures from the same shoot. This is because photographers know the more photos they have after a shoot, the more options they have. Taking a ton of photos is worth it if you find “the one” that could define your (and your models’) portfolio(s).

What are your tips for successfully working with your models on a fashion photoshoot? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about fashion photography at the New York Film Academy.

National Photography Month: A Q&A With NYFA Instructor Paul Sunday

May is National Photography Month, which means it’s time to take a deeper look at the visual language that inspires and evokes so much in human life. From ads to Pinterest, from high fashion editorials to high art, from photojournalism to Facebook, photography is more a part of our lives than ever before. What better way to learn more about photography and gain insight into its importance than by hearing from expert photographers? We had a chance to catch up with some of our amazing photography instructors here at NYFA to ask them about why they love photography and what a life in pictures really looks like. Read on to get a glimpse into life behind the lens:

Photos by:  Paul Sunday  @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE”

Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings.

Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

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Photos by: Paul Sunday @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE” Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings. Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

NYFA: Tell us a little bit about your journey in photography and your approach to your craft.

Paul Sunday: I became involved with photography through my theater work. I started documenting plays I was involved with and doing head shots for friends. I still view photography in the context of performance. When it comes to my fashion and portrait work, directing and playing off the subject as a fellow actor is the most important part of my craft.

NYFA: What first inspired you to become a photographer? How has your style evolved?

Paul Sunday: I bought a damaged book of Man Ray photographs from a sale rack on the street. The images somehow got a hold of my brain and wouldn’t let go. Within weeks I was enrolled in a basic black and white darkroom workshop.

In the beginning, my style was a bit nostalgic. It has evolved into a more contemporary, minimalistic approach.

Photos by: Paul Sunday @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE” Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings. Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

Photos by: Paul Sunday @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE”
Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings.
Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

NYFA: Are there any particular photographs or photographers that have particularly impacted you and your work?  

Paul Sunday: In addition to Man Ray, it would be Mr. Penn above all. He is the master. Beyond those two, I always look at Rodchenko, August Sander, the Bechers, Sugimoto, Atget, Judith Joy Ross, Disfarmer, Brassai, Lartigue and many, many others. I believe in tapping into diverse sources of inspiration.

NYFA: When you’re on a shoot, what is your process? Any must-do’s on a job? Any pet peeves?

Paul Sunday: For fashion and portrait, I set some of the lights the day before. In the morning I welcome everyone to my studio and feed them breakfast. Then I meet with the team. During hair and makeup, I do more light tests. I don’t allow myself any distractions during a shoot.  No phone calls, no social media, no newspaper, no internet. I focus intensely on my team and the pictures. I observe my subject and build a relationship. It’s like having someone over for tea, but we are also making images. I pay close attention to my energy level. The late afternoon and the end of the shoot are moments where one needs to call in an extra reserve of concentration. It’s all about pacing.

Regarding pet peeves, I have two: lateness and distraction.

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Photos by: Paul Sunday @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE” Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings. Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

NYFA: Why the New York Film Academy? What drew you to teaching with us? What about the program here is unique?

Paul Sunday: I saw an online ad seeking new teachers and I had been aware of the school for awhile. I had known a few people who taught here in the acting department. I loved the swirl of creative energy. The place reminds me of my early days in New York when I studied acting.

The unique thing about the photography program is the emphasis on replicating real-world scenarios, and the quality of our infrastructure. NYFA does not scrimp on the details. Fantastic spaces, quality gear, professional collaborations and our hands-on approach, all support us in thoroughly preparing students for the industry.

NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment — with your students, on a project, etc.?

Paul Sunday: My favorite NYFA moment is the moment a student realizes that they have had a creative breakthrough. There is nothing like seeing that joy of accomplishment where a new world has opened up to an artist. I also love the thesis exhibitions. It is so exciting to see emerging photographers have that first experience of showing their work publicly. It’s a pivotal moment in their self-belief.

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Photos by: Paul Sunday @paulsundayphoto for Soma Magazine’s “I-POSE” Hair by George Kyriakos for Stylebookings. Makeup by Yumi Nagashima

NYFA: What do you feel is the most important thing for your students to understand from your classes?

Paul Sunday: I want students to leave us with rigorous self-assessment skills, professionalism, and the readiness to own their artistic choices. I try to help them develop the courage to go for it, to develop a career strategy and take the necessary steps to realize their aspirations. The most important thing is for them to understand that they can make meaning through their photography practice.

NYFA: What does photography mean to you in the age of the internet, social media, and smartphones? With technology innovations and the popularity of iPhone photography, why is it important to study photography?

Paul Sunday: Photography has become the language of contemporary society. It is more important than ever for serious photographers to study and develop their craft. It is the best way to set oneself apart and discover a voice in the photographic universe.  

Thank you Paul Sunday for sharing a bit of the story behind your passion for photography with our NYFA community! For those ready to learn more about photography, NYFA has a wide array of incredibly hands-on photography programs. Check out our photography courses.

National Photography Month: Your Guide to Nailing a Photography Internship

Internships are a necessity, no matter what you are studying. At the New York Film Academy, we encourage our photography students, whether they are in the one-year or two-year conservatory programs or earning their degree, to seek out internships to gain real world experience and skills. If you aren’t sure about how to secure an internship or you don’t know where to start, read our guide to nailing a photography internship.  

Finding an Internship for You

The best place to start looking for an internship is at NYFA. Ask one of your photography professors if they can recommend internships or offer any insights about where or how to apply. You can also look at NYFA’s career center at our Los Angeles campus to view any available internships.

If you still haven’t secured an internship after speaking with your professor(s) or checking out the career center, check online. Websites like journalismjobs.com, internmatch.com, indeed.com, and internships.com are great resources for students.

Another great resource to find internships is on the National Press Photographers Association’s website. NPPA, “the voice of visual journalists,” is a 501©3 non-profit organization that advances photojournalism through education, and awarding scholarships or fellowships to hardworking, deserving individuals.

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Why Should You do an Internship?

Most internships, especially a student’s first, are unpaid. So why should you do an unpaid photography internship? If you don’t have the skill set or portfolio to secure a paid internship, you may have to take on an unpaid internship. If finances are a concern and may prevent you from taking on an unpaid internship, look at something that is closer to home. You can contact local publications to see if they have any internship programs, which will allow you to still work in an educational environment.

Some internships you find through school may be paid or offer college credit — but usually not for both, and you will have to check with your program first to make sure they will accept credits from your internship. If you are interested in receiving school credit, talk with your advisor to make sure the internship fits the program’s requirements.

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What are Your Responsibilities as an Intern?

Being an intern doesn’t mean it’s a glamorous job — you won’t be working with the best equipment or out in the field rocking the camera on your first day. You may not even be working directly with cameras. Whether you intern for a publication or individual photography, you may be doing real grunt work, from greeting clients to getting coffee. But your responsibilities likely won’t stop there. Your boss may want you to caption and transmit photos, archive photos, fact check, and write stories to accompany photo libraries. You may also have to create an online slideshow if your publication has a digital component.  Whatever tasks you find yourself with, be aware that it’s all part of the process.

Expectations for interns are set high — which means you should be hitting the ground running on day one.

What Will You Learn During Your Internship?

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Internships, whether paid or unpaid, will give you real work experience and skills. You will be able to learn things that you wouldn’t learn in a classroom. You will learn how to work with a variety of different individuals every day and connect with strangers. Photography internships will teach you how to meet high-pressure deadlines on a daily basis.

This most important thing to remember is that you will be able to create some items under the direction of photography professionals and you will be able to build up a solid portfolio. Most employers will consider an applicant if they have completed one or two internships during college. Stay positive and continue working toward your unpaid internship.

Ready to learn more about photography? Check out NYFA’s photography programs!

Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up a Fashion Photoshoot

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Organization and a professional attitude are important to a successful fashion photoshoot.

First, you need to have a plan — If you are shooting for a publication, the art director may tell you what kind of feel they want. If you are shooting for your own lookbook or a personal website, the theme planning falls on your shoulders. Find a theme for the project and keep that in mind as you select locations and backdrops and communicate with the stylists and models.

Team — in addition to yourself and the model(s), your team should have: a stylist who understands tailoring and can make adjustments to the clothes so they fit the model properly; a hair stylist and makeup artist who can help you bring your vision to life; and an all-around support person who can fill in or run errands as needed.

Location — if you are shooting on location rather than in a studio, make sure you consider safety and legal issues. For example, railroad tracks are usually considered private property and it is illegal (and dangerous) to photograph on them. For other locations, you may need a permit or authorization from the owner. Do yourself a favor and check before you go.

Next, you need to set up your equipment — You may have a very simple setup or all of the latest gadgets, but along with your camera, lenses and a source of light are the bare minimum you can get away with. It goes without saying that you should know exactly how your camera works, but it’s a good idea to know other tricks and tips in case your equipment fails or some other plan goes awry. On the “nice to have” list is a way to backup the shots before you even leave the location, a system for keeping track of the shot details, water and food for the team, and a first aid kit.

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Lenses — Use the right lens for the job. While Erik Madigan Heck is able to do much of his work with a hand-me-down lens from his mother, most photographers build up a core set of lenses that they use for specific purposes. How To Geek has a good, simple overview of how lenses work and what the different types of lenses are used for.

 

Lights — You will need to decide between natural and studio light and understand how to work in either situation. Lighting your shoot properly is crucial for showing off the clothes and the model. Zhang Jina’s article on lighting tools provides a great overview of her approach to lighting and she includes example photos to show the effects of each tool.

When you get there — Once your team is assembled and the shoot is underway, stick to your schedule and set a professional tone.

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Be ready before the model arrives — If you’re in the studio, set up your lights, backdrop and props before the model arrives. If you’re going to be shooting on location, get there before the model does so you can set up your equipment.

Part of preparing is being inspired — Get to know the work of other photographers as well as the history of fashion photography. Spend time looking at magazines, websites, and photographer’s books for a better understanding of composition, color, and lighting.

Establish a rapport with the subject — When your model arrives, spend a little time talking to the person and putting them at ease. When they are relaxed, they will be much more natural in front of the camera, which will show in your final images.

Give credit to the team — Acknowledge everyone’s contribution to the success of the shoot and thank them all for their time and hard work. Your name might be on the final image, but everyone on the set contributed to the final results.

After the session — Most photographers do some touching up with software such as Adobe Photoshop, but software can’t fix poorly lit or out-of-focus images. As you adjust color balance and make adjustments, be aware that there is lively debate about where to draw the line when it comes to digital manipulation of images. Stay current on the conversations surrounding photography and the fashion world.

Meet your deadline — It is sometimes hard to stop adjusting and tweaking images; it is equally hard to pick only a limited number of shots from a day’s worth of work. Still, if someone else is waiting on those images, deliver them on time and with a professional attitude. That will help open the door for other opportunities.

Be ready to do it all over again — If your editor says none of the shots work, none of the shots work. Accept that assessment, ask for clarification on what they are looking for and go out shoot again.

Take care of business — Submit your invoices, track your receipts, and update your portfolio, website, and resume.

You can always go behind the scenes of fashion photography with one of New York Film Academy’s 4-week Fashion Photography Workshops.

 

3 Daily Tips to Help You Become A Better Photographer

If you’re a photography student, chances are you know how tough the competition is in your chosen field. These days, the term “photographer” can encompass anyone who knows how to take decent enough snaps on an iphone and amass thousands of followers on Instagram. But photography is more than that. And when you work with DSLRs, you know that understanding the rules, theories, and techniques also isn’t enough to guarantee successful photographs. To be a better artist, you need that extra thing — that’s your own unique style. Which is why NYFA’s photography programs encourage hands-on experience, offering our students the opportunity to practice and develop their own visual style.

But your style is not something that can be taught easily. You have to experiment, discover, and then cultivate it your voice as a visual artist. Here are some daily tips that might make the process easier.

1. Photograph WISELY Every Day

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Yes, wisely is the operative word here. Plenty of books, workshops and seminars will tell you that to be successful in any field, you need to practice every day. And to a certain extent, that’s true. But if we tell you that to improve as a photographer you simply need to photograph something every day, we’re only doing half our job. You could set a goal of taking at least three decent pictures every day, and a year later, find yourself still complaining that your style hasn’t evolved much.

Here’s the crux of the matter: For your style to evolve, you need to challenge yourself. One simple exercise to help you do this is to choose a particular word or theme and take a few pictures interpreting it every day. For instance, if the word is black, you could photograph objects that are black, and then move onto abstract stuff, like a play of shadows, the dark and somber expressions on someone’s face, and so on. By pushing yourself to intentionally investigate a subject past your first and obvious interpretation, you may discover new perspectives that can offer you inspiration and lead you to something you wish to say with your images.

2. Set Yourself Limits When Taking Photographs

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To force your style to develop, it can help to set limits and conditions on the way you photograph. As necessity is the mother of invention, constraints can force your mind to think out of the box. You can do this in a number of ways. For example, for a particular subject or topic you can set yourself a limit of not taking more than seven photos, or working only in black and white, or restricting yourself to a particular area while working, and so on. The fewer options you have, the more your brain has to work to make the best of the circumstances. In other words, it’s not all about the expensive equipment and endless options: it’s about the choices you make as a photography, and how you make do with what you have.

3. Expose Yourself to More of the Stuff You Like

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You must realize that all creative works are a two-way process: There’s always a creator and an audience, and it’s important to play both the roles. When you’re photographing very diligently for an assignment, realize that you must take time out to see other great and not-so-great photographs as well, and learn from them. You know your interests and passions, so make sure you get a decent exposure to media that reflects, feeds, or challenges your tastes.

For instance, if you’ve always had a childhood interest in fairy tales, then you can definitely spend time studying Tim Walker’s fashion photographs, or checking out some surreal paintings or even watching art house cinema that uses fantasy tropes. Not only will that make you closer to figuring out your personal style, but it will also prove to be an entertaining and enriching experience.

At the end of the day, remember that you are a unique individual, with a unique history and personality. So no matter what you do, be authentic. Yes, it’s okay to imitate when you’re practicing, but nothing beats originality. Put your heart and soul into whatever you do, and make sure you actively enjoy the process of creating and making mistakes, and not just the end results.

Ready to learn more about photography? Check out NYFA’s Photography School.

7 Fashion Blogs Aspiring Photographers Should Follow Now

The internet has created a wonderful subculture for fashionistas, sartorialists, clothes-horses, and dandies of all stripes. Websites like Pinterest allow for people to pin inspiring or cool outfits in an easy to access place so they can look at it whenever the fancy strikes them, and image searches mean there’s a plethora of fashion to be ingested at any time.

However, as an aspiring fashion photographer, your interest in fashion runs even deeper. Which is most likely why you are always on the hunt for inspiration and fashion news, seeking something a little more curated. To aid your research for your next fashion photography shoot, New York Film Academy has rounded up a list of eight fashion blogs worth bookmarking, putting in your rss feed, or following on tumblr:

1. PUT THIS ON

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Started by podcaster extraordinaire Jesse Thorn, PUT THIS ON made its name as a premier place for vintage and American classics. If you’re a man looking to start dressing better or a photographer interested in menswear, PUT THIS ON has guides on everything from thrifting to belts.

2. THE SARTORIALIST

Featuring a deep catalogue of street fashion photos for men and women, The Sartorialist has been an internet fashion mainstay since 2005. Scott Schuman’s blog has also spun off into books featuring international daily style. It’s a great resource for fresh, street-inspired ideas.

3. RUNWAY SASS

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If you’re looking great high concept runway style, Runway Sass is the place for you. Keep up to speed on the fashion world’s runway trends. All of the Fashion Week 2016 posts are in an easy to access link at the top.

4. HANA HALEY

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The first thing you http://hanahaley.tumblr.comnotice when you go to Hana Haley’s tumblr is the pink background. A NYC-based photographer/director in NYC who’s in love with “femininity and 35mm film,” Haley dominates her blog with pastels. Recently featured: a videoed trip to Cancun. It’s a nice way to juxtapose your fashion inspirations with lifestyle imagery and may give you some ideas for your next fashion photography shoot.

5. EFF YEAH INDIGENOUS FASHION

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Steadily updated, this blog is about the beauty of indigenous fashion. As stated by the site’s duo of indigenous founders: “Indigenous artists and designers are still awfully underrepresented in the fashion, art and design business today, and often get passed by in favour of appropriative knock-offs by customers looking for ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’ art to wear or use.” Find inspiration in authentically created indigenous fashion.

6. BLACK FASHION

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Black Fashion is what it sounds like: pictures of black men, women, and nonbinary individuals dressed in their best. The blog even has separate sections for black fashion at prom, graduation, and with friends just hanging out.

7. HIPTIPICO

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The tumblr for ethical fashion based out of Guatemala, there’s plenty of photos of beautiful South American landscape and colorful Guatemalan designs.

Want to take your interest in fashion photography to the next level? Apply today for NYFA’s upcoming fashion photography workshops.

Your Photo Mojo: Photography Project Ideas to Tap Your Creativity

If you’re a NYFA photography student, you may be scrambling in your busy schedule to find inspiration and ideas to help you infuse new life and variety into your projects. You know that art directors and even gallerists are not looking for photography generalists; they are looking to hire or represent that person that has something no one else does, this is seen through a solid, concise body of work. In your quest to create a strong body of work, you may be feeling low on creative juice. So if you’re looking for new ideas on how to express yourself within your body of work, these project ideas may give you that extra spark.

To help you find additional ways to synthesize what you’re learning in class with hands-on application, we’ve come up with some fun suggestions for extra-curricular projects that can help you try new things, evolve and improve. These projects can inspire new ideas no matter what genre you enjoy shooting:

1. Sign Up For A 52 Week Challenge

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There are many ways of doing this. You can easily search for “52 week photography prompts” online, make one yourself, or mix and match to suit your needs.

Once you’ve started a challenge, you can interpret the weekly “word” or theme both literally and metaphorically. Having a particular theme to work with each week not only allows you to explore the subject from a variety of perspectives, but also proves to be an entertaining and informative experience. For instance, if the word is “vanilla,” instead of food photography you may want to photograph the “vanilla” sky or different “vanilla” moods you can think of.

2. Experiment With Light

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If you’re into abstract art photography, experimenting with light is a fun way to build a portfolio. Using different materials and lenses, try photographing refracting surfaces, light trails, light spirals, bubbles, oily refractions, disco lights, fireworks and firecrackers and even smoke. Alternatively, you can make “light” a theme for the day and try photographing the city at sunrise, at dusk, and at night. If you’re photographing the city at night, try doing a photo series on urban night life and so on.

3. Do a Self-Portrait Series

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If you’re an introvert but want to build your skill at taking amazing portrait shots, do a series of self-portraits. Think about the words and ideas that best describe who you are and try to express that in a photograph. Or think about your relationship with society, factoring in issues of race, gender, class, religious affiliations, and interests, to paint a series of pictures about your life that can also work as a social commentary.

4. Try The 100 Strangers Project

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Do you want to get over the fear of talking to random strangers and take some amazing candid shots as well? Then try the 100 Strangers Project! All you have to do is approach a random person, talk to them to discover their story, and then take a picture best representing them. Then, repeat it with 99 other people. Just remember: be safe!

5. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

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You can do this on your own, collaborate with other photographers, or do it on a road trip with friends. All you have to do is make a list of things both physical and abstract, then look for them in real life to photograph them.

For instance, your list may be: gasoline rainbow, sunlight through broken glass, and desperate love. Giving yourself a specific focus and as you search for images representing these ideas will help you discover new possibilities and juxtapositions. Not only will this hone your photography skills, but also teach you to think unconventionally and pay closer attention to your surroundings.

We know you’re working intensively to build your body of original work while studying at NYFA’s Photography School, so we hope these additional project ideas can offer you a fun and engaging way to practice what you learn on your own time. Don’t be afraid to customize a project to suit your preferences, and make sure you have lots of fun.

Do you have some project ideas that you want to share? Interested in learning more about photography at New York Film Academy? Let us know in the comments below!

Beyond Rule of Thirds: How to Master Photo Composition

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The rule of thirds is one of the first rules taught in photography classes, a principle that helps photographers create well-balanced and interesting shots. We’re here to talk about the rule of thirds, when to use it, and when you can break it (yes, there are some instances when you can get away breaking the rule of thirds!). But before you can break the rules, you have to understand them. And remember: Following photography guidelines will help you master photo composition.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

One of important rule of composition in photography is 'Third Rule'.

While you are looking at your viewfinder or LCD display on your screen, create a grid in your mind that has nine parts, made by three horizontal lines and three vertical lines. This grid will have four points in the center where the lines intersect. Those four intersections are your points of interest. These points correspond with people’s natural line of sight when they first look at an image, and utilizing these points in your work will help you capture the interest and attention of your viewers naturally and dynamically. These are your points of interest to use when framing your image.   

Why Use the Rule of Thirds?

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Your photo will be more balanced and interact with your audience most naturally when the points of interest are placed at the intersections of your grid or along the lines. When a subject is placed in either the left or right frame, or even in two thirds of the photo, it creates a movement. But when a photo is placed dead center of the photo, the audience does not experience any movement at all.

In the photo below, you can see red, intersecting lines that act as the guides. The picture is divided into three one-third panels, both horizontal and vertical. The eye naturally follows the flow of the road — starting at the bottom of the middle frame and then moving over to the right frame of the picture. Because the road spans across two thirds of the photo, it creates a natural movement for the eye.

When can you break the Rule of Thirds?

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If you have good reason to break the rule of thirds, then do it. A prime example of breaking the rule of thirds is when your subject has perfect symmetry. While the audience tends to look for movement, it is well known that human beings are attracted to others with symmetrical faces and bodies. The same idea can be applied to symmetry found in nature, like a butterfly, snowflake, or a flower.

Another time you can break the rule of thirds is when you feature a shallow depth of field in your image. Why? A shallow depth of field helps create dimension in photos and your eyes will automatically move through a scene that appears to have depth and dimension.

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Do you have any instances of when you break the rule of thirds? We would love to hear how you’ve mastered photo composition below! If you’re interested in learning more about photography, consider applying to NYFA’s Photography School today.

Names that Changed the Fashion Photography Industry Forever

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When it comes to fashion, all the attention goes to the stunning outfits and gorgeous models who wear them. But without a talented photographer there to capture it all, it’s impossible to convey the allure and excitement of the apparel.

We’ve compiled a list of people who entered the fashion industry with a desire to give us a closer, more passionate look at the beautiful clothing and accessories available. Of all the great fashion photographers that have existed in our time, the following used their creativity and talent to provide images that not only generated sales but also influenced the next generations of photographers.

Helmut Newton (October 31, 1920 — January 23, 2004)

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This award-winning fashion photographer changed Harper’s BAZAAR, Vogue, and other top fashion magazines across the globe. He pushed the envelope with his provocative black and white images that often featured nude models — a bold, controversial style in the early 20th century. Before becoming a photographer in Australia, Newton survived the Holocaust in Germany and was also imprisoned in Singapore for a time.

His greatest achievements include being awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by France, the Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz by Germany, and the Chevalier des Arts, Lettres et Science by Monaco. Newton was also given the Life Legend Award for Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Photography in 1999 by Life Magazine.

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004)

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Richard Avedon is considered one of the most iconic fashion photographers ever to grace the industry. Using unconventional techniques and his unique style, he shook things up by photographing models that showed emotion and were in action. For this, his obituary read: “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.”

Avedon began as a staff photographer for Harper’s BAZAAR and rose to chief photographer. He eventually moved to Vogue and became the lead photographer, shooting memorable campaign ads for Calvin Klein Jeans and other top brands. Thanks to Avedon, future fashion photographers had the courage to take risks much like he did while working.

Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 — October 7, 2009

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An American photographer whose work spanned six decades, Irving Penn is credited with revolutionizing and perhaps inventing what we think of as fashion photography. His 1950 cover of Vogue was the first black-and-white photo featured on the magazine’s cover since the advent of color photography in 1932, and boldly introduced not only a new advent in fashion, but in photographing fashion.

Moving from creating situational contexts to display fashion in the 1940s through stark, high-contrast opulence, surrealism, and focus on fine detail, Penn tirelessly pioneered shifting perspectives and aesthetics in his work. His stark black-and-white photography has attained icon status. Known as a modernist, he was also a great portrait and still live photographer, famous for capturing iconic artists at different times and in different styles as well as experimenting with ethnographic photography around the world.

Deborah Turbeville (July 6, 1932 – October 24, 2013)

If you’re into fashion photography that evokes a darker emotion, you can thank Deborah Turbeville. She is known for providing content that went against the common trends of the early 1970s, when models were always shot in well-lit and unprovocative situations. Her photographs boasted an edgy and mysterious feel that few could match at the time.

Born in Massachusetts, Turbeville got her start as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar. Eventually she became a photographer who provided work for countless notable publications and fashion advertisements, including Macy’s, Bruno Magli, and Ralph Lauren. Along with her style, Turbeville was also known for avoiding gender stereotypes and choosing models who showed humanity and not just beauty.

Ellen von Unwerth (1954 — Present)

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Ellen Von Unwerth is a fashion photographer and director known for her specialty in erotic femininity. But before shooting her first professional photograph, she served as a fashion model for a decade. Her experience in front of the camera is one of the tools she used to become one of the most prominent fashion photographers today.

After gaining fame for her photographs of German supermodel Claudia Schiffer, she went on to provide work for Vogue, Interview, Vanity Fair, and more. Many of her films have received awards, and and she’s also directed music videos for notable stars like Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, and Duran Duran.

Steven Meisel (June 5, 1954 — Present)

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If there’s one person all aspiring models dream of working with today, it’s Meisel. He’s not only shot every cover of Vogue Italia since 1988 but also has the privilege of photographing Madonna for her ground-breaking 1992 book “Sex.” Meisel has shot campaigns for everything from Calvin Klein and Versace to Valentino and Louis Vuitton.

But more so than his work, Meisel has helped change fashion photography by proving that a photographer has the best eye for spotting the best models in the industry. He has proved this by turning nobodies like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and countless other women into some of the most recognizable models in the world.

Mario Testino (October 30, 1954 — Present)

 

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You can’t become a fashion photographer and get far without knowing the name of Mario Testino. One of the most desired photographers today, Testino has worked for Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair, and other top international fashion magazines. He has created countless images for top brands like Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, Chanel, and more.

His ability to create unforgettable work is credited to his practice of not seeing models as blank canvases, which is what other photographers prefer. Instead, Testino sees his models as people, allowing him to convey their human beauty. Testino has also helped catapult many models into stardom, including some (like Gisele Bündchen) who no one else wanted to work with.

What other fashion photographers do you look to for inspiration? Let us know in the comments below?

Gorgeous Fashion Photos and What They Teach Us

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In an ad culture dominated by beautiful images — visual representations of products meant to appeal to our desires and imaginations — it’s easy to stop paying attention to individual photos, even if they are sitting on the cover of a magazine, or displayed boldly on a billboard, or hidden in the corner of a Facebook feed. At NYFA, we are training students to create work that breaks through the noise, calms the overstimulated eyeball, and captivates the attentions of onlookers. Our new Fashion Photography workshop will teach students how to create the best images through, in part, the examination of the greatest existing fashion photographs. Here are some of the most elementary steps to creating your own gorgeous image.

Subject: Give your subject icon status.

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What would a discussion of fashion photography be if it did not acknowledge the quintessential image of Audrey Hepburn in her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” getup? Though Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly in the film is what ultimately garnered her the most adoration and respect, the succession of promotional images of her in her black gown and pearls, holding a cigarette, gave her some serious star power. She is also known for her uncommon beauty and her expressive, bushy eyebrows.

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In choosing a subject for your image, it is not necessary that the model fit certain requirements, like having poignant features or unique looks, or adhering to traditional American beauty norms. Rather, the perspective of the photograph, and how it portrays the model, should be special. Give your model a cool hairstyle or a striking costume or a relentlessly emotive facial expression. This can be done in many ways and it is truly up to the photographer’s preferences, in combination with stylists, designers, and other artists.

Staging: Be dynamic.

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Whether the image shows many models, a focal point model with supporting models in the background, or a single model alone, the models should be positioned in a way that interacts with the rest of the image and/or the camera. They can fill the frame or they can appear to be far away. Regardless of how the image is composed, it should draw onlookers in. A person passing by the image can be surprised by its unique staging, or confused about the actual narrative of the image, or just visually delighted by the way the image has been put together.

Lighting: Play with contrast and shadow.

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In a fashion photograph, strategic uses of darkness and light are incredibly effective. By its nature, lighting draws attention to what it hits: highlighting it. Beautiful images are taken with a consciousness for the parts that are necessary, or most appealing, to highlight. Lighting can bring emotion to an image. For instance, the use of extreme shadow in Pablo Roversi’s fashion images gives them a certain ethereal quality, one for which the photographer has been recognized time and time again. Also, consider using deep contrast.

Editing: Honesty is beautiful.

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Keep in mind the real issues with fashion photography and image editing. Airbrushing and PhotoShop are criticized for making photographs fake, for positing an unattainable beauty standard that is damaging to the general public. Pose this question to yourself: How can I treat these issues without compromising the artistry of my photo? A beautiful image is often created by a great photographer, not a great editor. Our fashion photography program will teach students to build these skills, to discern what must be concealed and what must be exemplified in the composition of an image. We have already considered how a photo can do this in terms of subject, staging, lighting, and editing.

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What are the fashion images or icons that inspire your photography? Let us know in the comments below!

Fashion Photography Tips Every Budding Annie Leibovitz Needs

Fashion photography has generated some of the most inspiring, iconic, and wide-reaching images, yet it’s not without its challenges. One of the most challenging — and rewarding — experiences you can have as a photographer involves an editorial shoot. Of course, arranging a shoot that goes along smoothly and without any hiccups is a difficult feat.

Despite the challenge, photographers love these opportunities because they offer their own form of fun and creativity. No matter whether you’re completely new to the world of fashion photography or you’d simply like a refresher on the basics, we’ve rounded up some tips that can help you refocus and plan your fashion photography editorials. Especially if you’re new to fashion photography and want to prepare an editorial shoot of your own, keep this advice in mind:

Before You Start, Have An Idea

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Every good fashion shoot starts with an idea well before the scene is prepared and model is chosen. Going into the shoot there should already be an emotion or atmosphere that you’re trying to create in order to better promote the clothing, hair, etc.

The good news is you don’t have to be too specific, nor do you have to stick with the idea if inspiration arrives later. Whether you’re just going for an ‘80s vibe or want a goth look, having a general concept in mind is the best way to start.

Seek Inspiration If Necessary

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Having trouble with that last tip? Or perhaps you do have an idea but you’re not sure how to best convey it via your photo shoot? With the advent of the internet and social media platforms, finding inspiration from other people’s work is easier than ever.

Don’t worry: Finding inspiration from the great fashion photographers before you isn’t “cheating,” and even the top photographers in the world sometimes gain ideas from elsewhere. We recommend studying fashion editorials and scrolling through photo sharing platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to check out pictures that can help you hone in on your own idea.

Find The Right Model For You

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This step is arguably one of the more nerve-wrecking ones, since your model will be the face of your editorial. Fortunately, there are talented aspiring models everywhere who are looking for the opportunity you have to offer. If you’re new to the scene, you may have to pick from non-experienced models, which is a gamble. If you can, find yourself experienced models that have done this before and are serious about it.

The internet is ripe with places to find agency models that are pretty much guaranteed to show up and do a good job. It may cost you money but if you plan to submit your editorial to a respectable magazine, it’ll be worth it. They’ll also have a good selection of models for you to choose from so you find the perfect collaborator for your idea.

Assemble A Team You Can Trust

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By “a team you can trust” we mean people who have proven their talent and are responsible enough to commit to your project and follow through. While your good friend might say they’re amazing at makeup, we recommend connecting with someone who has professional-level experience. The same goes for the other two important people you’ll need to work alongside your makeup artist: a clothing wardrobe stylist and a hair stylist.

If you think you can also handle one of these tasks yourself, fantastic. In fact, this might be necessary for newcomers who don’t have enough time in the field or networking under their belt to know a lot of people in the industry.

Perhaps one of the most important qualifications when considering potential teammates is that they are excited about your project. They should be just as invested in the shoot as you are. That way, the work has a real chance to shine.

Find A Good Location

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You have your team, your idea, and your model. If you haven’t already, you’ll definitely want to start considering the best locations for your shoot. No matter how fantastic your model and clothing look, a good or bad location can make all the difference.

Outdoor shoots are usually a bit easier since most places have no restrictions — though, depending on where you are, you may still need a permit to hold a photo shoot in a public place. Most indoor places such as a church or mansion require permission, and you’ll need to shoot an email or file a permit to square away your location beforehand. You might even find a great local venue that lets you shoot there for free.

Take A Deep Breath And Shoot!

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Once the date you set for your shoot has arrived don’t worry if you’re suddenly a combination of nervous, stressed, and excited. Our advice is that you take a moment to relax yourself and remember that this is your shoot, so have some fun and remember what you know about portrait photography! Remember that many shoots don’t go exactly as planned, and that’s OK. Sometimes, the hiccups and challenges on the day can lead to new ideas and great images.

Instead of panicking, just work with what you have and try to enjoy the process. Whether everything goes as planned or you run into a bump or two, remember: It’s all about the clothes. Do what you can to keep your focus on the fashion.

Decide Where to Submit

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You probably already had a particular magazine or two in mind before you even started shooting. This is the best approach, since every magazine comes with its own style — which means they tend to select work whose aesthetic fits with theirs. Use the power of the internet to search for places that might be interested in picking up your work.

Lastly, be patient. Some photographers grow anxious when their first choice of magazines don’t agree to publish their work. The biggest mistake you can make is to give up and forget about your photos— or worse, show them off on social media. Magazines especially prefer their photos to be exclusive, put off tossing your work online and just keep sending them out until you find success. Fashion photography is full of challenges and rewards, so happy planning!

What are your favorite fashion photography tips? Let us know in the comments below!