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How to honestly know if your photos are any good

How can you tell if your pictures are any good? The difficulty in finding the answer to this is that you’re often reliant on other people’s feedback, so I found the best way is to work it out for yourself using three very specific criteria and benchmark comparisons.

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Master long exposure photography

If you have an understanding of photographic fundamentals such as shutter speed, aperture and how to expose an image, you’ve already got most of what you need to start shooting long exposures. This technique can also be used for much more than just landscape or night photography though, so if you’d like to learn how to master long exposure and take more creative images, keep reading.

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Parabolic reflector comparison and budget modifier hack

Parabolic reflectors are one of my favourite modifiers, but due to the price of them many photographers often try to find more economic solutions compared to some of the top brands. But how do the more budget options actually perform compared to the top brands? I did a direct comparison between two different brands of parabolic modifiers and also tried a hack to try and make a cheap parabolic softbox modifier work more effectively.

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Studio lighting setups using two lights

There’s a lot you can do with just two studio lights — trust me, I’ve shot everything from bottle product photography to fashion photography using just two lights. I’ve put together two different examples of two-light setups for portrait photography, product photography, and fashion photography and I’m also going to explain how you could use similar setups to these for your own photography.

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The do’s and don’ts of bottle photography

If you’re looking to practice your product photography, bottles are something you can easily get your hands on if you want to try something new or refine your skills. These reflective subjects can be a challenge to photograph, with their glass surface and reflections, but there are a few key do’s and don’ts that will help you understand how to get professional results

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Lens filters explained

Along with a variety of lenses, spare batteries and lens cleaning cloths, most photographers will also have a selection of filters in their camera bag. But what do lens filters do? What lens filters are essential? And what is the difference between circular and linear polarisers? I answer all of these questions and also address when and why you might need filters and how they can help you get more creative with your photography.

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How to use flash triggers to photograph moving objects

Capturing movement photography can be a time consuming and frustrating process, and freezing that perfect moment often requires split second timing. So how do we capture those decisive moments accurately and precisely? I’m going to share my top tips for photographing motion and explore what wireless flash triggers we can use to get the perfect timing for our shots.

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Are LED photography lights better than traditional studio flash lights?

LED lighting has come a long way in recent years and grown in popularity, so why do most professional photographers, including myself, still prefer studio flash (strobe) lighting? To help you understand the two kinds of lighting systems and, more importantly, which is better I’m going to explain the differences between them, the pros and cons of each, and where each is best applied.

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Photography hack: Macro photography with extension tubes

If you truly want to enter the magnified world of macro photography, you’ve probably been told you need a dedicated macro lens. But these specialist lenses can cost a fair bit, and if macro photography is something you do just for the enjoyment, you probably don’t want to be paying hundreds of dollars for a lens you’ll only use occasionally. The good news is that there is a cheaper alternative: extension tubes.

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7 Food photography mistakes you should avoid

If you’re looking to improve your food photography, you’ve probably seen the same old advice repeated in every article out there. So rather than re-explaining what you should be doing, I’m going to explain what not to do if you want to get more professional results. To help you take better food photographs, I’ve summarised the key points to keep in mind when photographing food so that you can avoid these common problems.

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How Photoshop could be making you a less creative photographer

It can be easy, when creating an image, to think “I’ll just fix it in Photoshop afterwards”, but that type of mindset may actually be having a negative impact on your photography. I’m not saying I don’t use or don’t approve of Photoshop. I simply prefer to solve problems throughout the shoot, and there are multiple advantages to this approach.

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How to create a plain black background for any type of photography

Black backgrounds can look very effective in photography, and they’re a popular choice for everything from portrait photography to products. Although a plain black background may look easy to achieve, there are actually quite a few things to consider if you want to get the best results, so I’ve put together a guide to help you, including tips for what background to use, what lighting is best, and where to position your subject.

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Parabolic softbox vs octabox lighting comparison

Photography can be an expensive hobby, and the last thing you want is to waste your money on something that’s little more than a marketing gimmick. One of the greatest marketing gimmicks with see at the moment is parabolic softboxes, and in a recent Youtube video I did a side-by-side comparison with a popular portrait lighting modifier — a large octabox — to test the results for myself. Read on to discover…

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Pro tips to avoid the most common mistakes in product photography

I’ve been doing professional product photography for around 20 years now, and as an educator I’m familiar with many of the most common mistakes photographers make when photographing products. I’m going to share my top product photography tips to help you avoid these common mistakes and achieve high-end professional results.

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How to photograph fireworks like a pro

Bonfire night, the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve — there’s always a few nights a year when we have a chance to photograph these impressive pyrotechnic displays. But photographing fireworks can be somewhat tricky. What shutter speed do you use? Where, and how, do you focus in the dark? And what equipment do you need? I answer all of this below, as well as share my top tips to help you learn how to photograph fireworks like a pro.

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Case study: Speedlite product photography

Shooting professional product photography using speedlites isn’t necessarily the easiest way to go about it but it can be done, as I showed in a recent Youtube video where I photographed a clear glass bottle using just three speedlites.

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The value of hiring a photography assistant

What many don’t realise is that the benefit of hiring a photographer’s assistant can far outweigh the costs. If you’re serious about improving your work and growing your photography business, hiring an assistant is one of the smartest investments you can make, and I’m going to explain why.

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A guide to creating white backgrounds for product photography

Creating a plain white background for a product shot or e-commerce shoot sounds simple, and when you know how it is! Whether you’re shooting packshot photography for an e-commerce website or are looking to refine your technique for commercial photography projects, I’m going to explain the important considerations and necessary equipment…

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Understanding metering & which metering modes to use when

Metering refers to the process where the camera evaluates the amount of reflected light in a scene and calculates what it thinks to be the correct exposure. Different camera makes and models have different metering modes, so I’ve explained the most common ones, how they work and when to use them.

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How to get started with product photography

Product photography is one of the most lucrative genres of photography, but it often requires a good selection of equipment and a thorough understanding of light. By the end of this article you’ll know exactly what you need to get started as a successful product photographer, what equipment you’ll need, what critical skills will come in handy, and much more.

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Case study: Natural light product photography

When you apply the knowledge of light, you can achieve professional photography results with little to no equipment. In this article I explain how I managed to create a close replica of a previous wine bottle studio shot using nothing more than natural light from a window, some diffusion material, a reflector, and two iPhones.

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Why image quality is not just about megapixels

When it comes to image quality, there is a big misconception that if you want better quality, you need more megapixels. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it isn’t that straightforward. To better understand image quality, considering the number of megapixels alone isn’t enough. You also need to look at the size and type of sensor, understand how images are formed, how light is focused onto the sensor, the impact of lens choice and quality, and consider the pixel size to get the full picture.

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Mistakes to avoid when using studio lighting

I’ve been a photography educator for more than 12 years now, so I’ve seen pretty much everything when it comes to common mistakes relating to first-time studio lighting users. From relying on a light meter to shying away from understanding the physics of light, here are nine mistakes you should try to avoid when using studio flash or strobe lighting.

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A guide to understanding studio lighting

In this guide to studio lighting you’ll learn the difference between continuous light and flash; different power systems like monobloc lights or power packs; flash power and how to adjust it; how flashes are triggered; and much more.

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How to light & photograph cars

Car photography is notoriously difficult and often requires some high-level professional equipment. I’ve photographed plenty of motorbikes before, but car photos require much more space and specialist equipment. Because space isn’t an issue in my studio, I’ve been wanting to fit a proper floating panel for car photography for a couple of years now…

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8 Tips to help you run a successful photography business

Having been in business for nearly 30 years, I’ve learnt is that business is not complicated — running a successful photography business comes down to a few key points that if understood, make working through tough times a lot simpler. I outline my top eight tips for running a photography business here.

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What you need to know about working to a photography brief

For many professional photographers, working to a brief is nothing new. But for those just starting their professional journey, the concept of working to a brief might seem a little overwhelming and intimidating. What is a brief? What should you expect when receiving a brief? How do you plan and do you need to pre-shoot and test? All of these are important considerations…

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A professional guide to photographing environmental portraits

Environmental portraits are a great way for photographers to make money as they’re often in high demand by many businesses. While that may sound appealing, environmental portraits are not without their challenges. I’ve also put together this guide to outline some of the most common challenges you may face and explain how you can plan for a successful shoot next time you’re commissioned to shoot these artistic portraits.

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Useful subscriptions to help photographers through lockdown

Low cost monthly subscriptions offer the perfect opportunity to learn new skills, update or create a website or organise your work, without putting too much strain on your finances. Here’s a list of useful software for photographers you may find useful during this time, including photo editing software, website hosts, marketing tools, general admin and others.

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Why a lack of photography equipment shouldn’t be an excuse

I hear a lot of negativity from photographers claiming not to have enough equipment to get good results. This is particularly relevant to product photography, but it is not necessarily true. With the right knowledge, you can get top-end, professional-quality results using just one light. Yes, you might be able to get even better results with two, three, or even four lights, but what you have to understand, and what I repeatedly find myself having to explain, is that it’s not about what equipment you have, but rather how you use that equipment.

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Common portrait photography mistakes to avoid

When it comes to photography, knowing what you should be doing is great, but knowing what to avoid can be incredibly useful too. To help you quickly improve your photography, I’ve summarised the key points to keep in mind when shooting portraits and explained how to avoid the most common problems.

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A detailed guide to creative still life photography

Abstract images of fruit; colourful collections of books; styled sets of stationery… If you’re looking to get creative with your photography and make the ordinary seem extraordinary, then still life photography is probably for you. One of the best things about still life photography is that you can get creative and test your photography skills using almost anything you have laying around the studio or your house. You also don’t need very much equipment. And if that’s not enough to persuade you, still life images can also be a great way to make money.

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Everything you need to know about umbrella lighting

In any photography studio — amateur and professional alike — you’ll probably find at least one or two umbrellas. These lightweight and affordable modifiers can be used to achieve a number of different results, which is part of the reason they’re so widely used.

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7 Tactics you can use to become a professional photographer

With over 20 years experience as a professional photographer myself, it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about what it takes to make it as a pro. To help you make a success of your own journey, I’ve broken down the seven key things you need to do to help increase your chances of success.

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How to photograph flying food images

Levitating burgers, suspended salads and exploding tea — the craze of flying food images is taking over the food photography market. But how are these exciting images created? As with most studio shoots, these images can be divided into four distinct stages: pre-visualisation, preparation, lighting and shooting. Each of these stages is crucial if you’re to get the best result possible.

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Pricing calculator

Determining what to charge for your photography can, at first, seem quite confusing. But once you understand how to work it all out, you’ll come to see it’s actually quite logical. If like me, you’d like to spend more time shooting and less time doing the maths, here’s a useful tool to help you keep track of the hours that need to be billed each week. Knowing this will really help you stay on track and adapt as your business grows.

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Top tips for creating stunning black and white photos

If you’ve ever tried to convert an image to black and white, chances are you’ve ended up with a flat, dull photo with none of the original contrast. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially for photographers who are new to Photoshop. To help you create stunning black and white images, I explain the key things to understand when shooting for black and white and also share my preferred method of converting images to black and white

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4 ways to Burn & Dodge in Photoshop

Arguably some of the most valuable tools in Photoshop, burning and dodging refers to darkening or lightening areas of an image. This technique can be used to enhance your imagery by creating three dimensionality and guide the viewer’s eye. Here I look at the different ways to burn and dodge in Photoshop and when to use which. You can also watch how to apply the different methods in our Burning & Dodging Photoshop class.

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Splash photography — How to photograph liquid splashes

Splash photography is exciting, fast-paced, messy and creative — what’s not to love? If you’ve never tried splash photography before or if you’re looking for a few useful tips or new ideas, then this is the place to be. I explain the equipment, lighting, important photographic concepts and also share a few creative ideas for you to try.

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Portrait photography lighting ideas — Three creative ways to use three lights

From soft, angelic lighting to darker, more contoured lighting, there’s no end to how creative you can be using three lights for portrait photography. If you’re looking for some creative three light portrait ideas, I’ve put together three different setups you can add to your arsenal. These setups use only basic modifiers and show effective techniques that can help add three dimensionality to an image.

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Portrait lighting setups — Two light setup ideas

When it comes to portrait photography, whether you’re using one light or four, you can get some fantastic results just with a little creativity and the right knowledge. Here you’ll see how to use just two lights with a variety of modifiers to get some amazing portraits.

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Photography equipment — What professional photographer Ben Thomas has in his bag

Hasselblad master Ben Thomas joined us for a live talk show, where he also shared his go-to equipment and touched on the post production processes he uses to achieve some of his signature images. Many of our members were particularly interested in what equipment Ben uses and his post production process, so I’ve put together a quick summary of his equipment, travel tips and software choices.

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Camera lens buying guide: How to choose the right lens

Lenses are an essential piece of photographic equipment, but with so many options available it can be difficult to know what it all means and how to choose the right one. Here I explain different types of lenses, how to choose the best one for you and why it’s worth considering buying second hand.

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Which DSLR camera to buy: A guide to buying the right camera for you

There’s an endless range of DSLR cameras on the market at the moment so if you’re trying to decide on which is the best for you, this article will help you cut through some of the chaos and confusion to reach a decision you won’t regret. So before you head to your nearest camera store, wallet in hand, there’s a number of very important factors to consider.

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Composite photography – Top tips for Photoshop compositing

Composite photos, which are defined as two or more images blended together to create a final image, makes the process of compositing sound quite simplistic, but the truth is that it’s far from easy. The following tips will make creating your own composite image much more straightforward.