Tag Archives: tips


The Real Secret to Taking Spectacular Photos

I just got this a little while ago, in large part to having read Tom Ang’s enlightening “how to win photo competitions” post – and also because I just got an email from National Geographic telling me I’m close to getting this shot published in an issue of their “your shot” issue.


It really got me thinking about what it takes to take a truly great photo and it’s actually very simple. Here’s the real secret:

Show people something they’ve never seen before

If you think back to a photo that really inspired you or moved you, it was probably a photo of something that you’ve never seen before. Or it was a photo of something you have seen – but captured in a really unique way that you’ve never seen before.

There are billions of photos out there of people posing in front of things, there are billions of photos out there of places and things – and they all eventually fade together – but what makes a photograph really spectacular is something that captures attention.

This is why I love HDR, tiltshift, fisheye shots, and anything else that’s just different from the norm. You don’t even have to go anywhere to take a spectactular shot – just look around wherever you are and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

To help you get started thinking in the right direction, here are 10 ideas:

1. use shadows

2. get closeup

3. capture patterns

4. use long exposure

5. get low

6. blur it

blurred Ineta

7. use lots of empty space in your composition

8. use reflections

9. capture motion

10. get down, look up

And that’s not even scratching the surface – there are plenty more resources for taking unique, interesting, and creative photos.  Not often discussed, but perhaps equally important if you are planning to do this as a business is to make sure copyrights are set in place as well.  A great resource to gather information on how to do this properly is www.mydefence.ca

While I’m mentioning resources, I should say that when I established my company, I had many questions on the business side of things, since my background was on the creative side. I found a great book at garybizzo.com that really helped me with the business side so I could focus on the artistic/creative side.

Anyway, all that said,  go out there and capture something truly unique.


5 Resources Every Photographer Should Know About

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a part time enthusiast, there are some fantastic resources out there that can help to improve your photography skills and get your photographs seen by the masses.

Although dark room photography has many great attributes, for the modern photographer digital platforms allow for an unprecedented amount of control, creativity and distribution.

Check out these 5 amazing tools that you can use to take your digital photography to the next level:

Live Books

If you are looking to create an online presence, Live Books is the perfect platform to work from. With a strong focus on visually stimulating page layouts and design templates, Live Books makes it simple for you to create a professional webpage that you can direct fans and potential clients to. With a host of easy to use features and invaluable help from the site’s design team, you can create an incredible website in no time

Digital Photography School

Whether you are a seasoned professional or you have only just bought your first digital camera, the Digital Photography School will help you to improve immensely. A community of expert photographers share their know how on this site through an abundance of in depth tutorials and quick guides. Packed full of photography tutorials, equipment reviews, guides, and post production insights, this site should be on the radar of every serious photographer.


Any freelance photographer will know how difficult it can be to keep a track of personal business management. From creating and tracking invoices and client orders, to collating business leads and keeping on top of finances, ShootQ can do it all. Correct organization and administration of your photography business will lead to higher profits, and less time spent trawling through paperwork.

License Stream

If you are looking to monetize your photography work, License Stream is a perfect platform to upload, advertise, and distribute your pictures from. With advanced tracking on images, License Stream will automatically check that your images are being used under the correct licensing agreement and that you are not missing out on revenue owed. This site offers much more freedom to the photographer in terms of advertising and promotion opportunities, meaning you are not reliant solely on a stock image site to sell your images for you.


LabPrints is the perfect resource for anyone wishing to upload, advertise, and distribute their photography online. The easy site navigation and useful tools make the entire process from upload to delivery effortless and efficient. This great application enables you to control the printing and distribution of your photography work from the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that the finished products will be of the highest quality.


How to Take Amazing Portraits in Sun Every Time

This is a Guest Post by Susan Black. She is a Tampa Wedding Photographer and specializes in Tampa Senior Pictures.
Do you have a technique you would like to share on Visual Photo Guide? If so drop us an email at via our Contribute form.

Do you want to take perfectly illuminated portraits of outdoor subjects in bright sunlight? How about in situations where they’re standing in front of a bright background? Do you hate dark shadowed “raccoon eyes?” The answer to make your outdoor portraits pop, is to expose for the sky. Use this tip to make the shot every time!

Using a SLR 35mm autofocus camera and flash, you can create flattering and dramatic outdoor portraits with ease.


With the flash turned off and your camera set in manual mode, use the camera’s internal exposure metering system. Looking through the viewfinder, press the shutter button halfway to illuminate the internal panel. The exposure meter is generally in the center on the bottom as you look through the viewfinder. (-2…1…0…1…+2)

To make the adjustments, start by selecting either your f stop or shutter speed. Aim the camera towards the brightest part of the picture, in this case the sky. Using the meter as a guide, adjust your shutter speed and f stop until reading is centered at 0. With the exposure set, turn on your camera’s flash, stand within a normal flash exposure range (6 – 10 ft.), focus on your subject and shoot.

Your flash will fill in and illuminate your subject nicely. If you desire more or less exposure on your subject, step forward or backwards accordingly. Some flash units can also be adjusted manually to allow shorter or longer bursts. This is also an option.

Very important, — always pay attention to the changing light. The sun going behind a cloud while you are shooting can affect the results of your image. The sky is no longer as bright as when the full sun was exposed so you will need to check your exposure meter again for the change in light.

Last, but certainly not least, be kind to your subject, don’t have them facing so they are looking directly into the bright sunlight. They will appreciate it and it will help to avoid squinty, closed looking eyes.


The image examples below were shot using a Canon 5D Mark II and Speedlight 580 EXII mounted on camera. The lens – 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS.

Photograph 1, was shot using the camera’s internal exposure meter as a guide. ISO was set at 100, f/13 the aperture with a focal length of 135mm. The meter centered at 0 at 1/125 of a second for the shutter speed. Here’s the result:


Photograph 2, shows the camera aimed toward the bright sky behind my subject, adjusting the shutter speed and f stop until the camera’s internal meter was perfectly centered at 0 . This recorded at 1/400 sec, f/13, ISO 100, 135mm. Here’s the result:


Photograph 3, the exposure meter was set for the sky, flash turned on, aim, focus and fire. Here’s the result:


Sum it up: 1/400 sec, f/13, ISO 100, 135mm with on camera flash. Pretty Blue sky, white billowy clouds, nicely illuminated subject…that’s a wrap!


Shoot Your Kids! Tips for Taking Great Photos of Your Kids at Home

Don’t miss out on the everyday moments you want to capture with your little ones! Photographing infants and toddlers can be the most exhausting and stressful assignment for a professional with a limited time frame and cranky kids, but those of you with your very own portable human and a camera have no reason to miss out! Make it a point to keep your camera in a quickly accessible spot. Convenience is key!

Here are just a few simple tips to making sure you capture the moments before they’re missed. Most of these tips are for both point and shoot and SLR users. If you’re the type that’s never switched your camera’s setting from automatic, give it a try and you’ll be amazed at the great shots to be had. Here are some tips:


Get a more professional look even if you are limited to a small point and shoot by using available light. Open up the curtains and play right next to a window or outside under open shade. Overcast days are great for this. Your shutter speed will be slower without the flash so try a higher ISO setting if your shots look a little blurry.

black and white baby


Adding a little color can brighten a shot and create a fun fresh look. Try pining a colorful sheet up on the wall behind the play area. Using a colorful chair, rug, pillow, etc… look around and you’ll find something fun!

baby in a red chair


Take advantage of nap time! Try using a dark sheet or blanket, it really helps with the contrast especially if you enjoy converting your shots to black and white. It’s also a great time to get those extreme close up detail shots of feet and hands wile they’re still. Try close ups for a fun collage or multiple photo frame.

baby sleeping

4. ZOOM!

If you’ve a got an SLR and a decent zoom lens you can capture amazing candid shots of everyday activities. Just sit back, keep your camera in hand and click! If you’re more than 15 feet from your subject go ahead and turn the flash off.

girl on the beach

Again, the most important part of getting the shot is not having an amazing camera, but keeping the one you have nearby.


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