London Life

Hi and I hope that you are all well?

Wow, what a wet and horrible day it was today…  I had a location shoot planned, however, as those of you living in London are aware it had to be cancelled due to the heavy showers.  So, mum came to the rescue and allowed me to set up a very impromptu studio in her kitchen.  I am going to be putting images from that head shot shoot up on the blog in due course.

But until then here is a shot I found lurking within Lightroom that I cannot recall taking when I was doing a photowalk with photographer and friend, Nick Stubbs.

I processed this in Lightroom (I actually used one of the pre-sets on there, as well as sharpening), then jjust added some noise/grain in Photoshop.Image

Let me know what you think.  I like this for some reason, I hope you do, too.

Take care and you can leave any comments in the section below.

Todor

My Website

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Happy New Year

Hi Folks and a Very Happy New Year to you all.  First of all I would like to thank all of you who have liked, followed and commented on my blog entries over the last twelve months. Your visits and comments are much appreciated.

I was not really sure what and when to post this entry, so after a bit of thinking I thought I would share a few thoughts of what I have learnt and where I am going with my photography business in 2013 and beyond.

2012 marked 3 years since I made the decision to pursue my love of photography as a serious business.  Within these three years I have made mistakes, and learnt some very (in my opinion) important lessons.

Instead of listing the errors of my ways I shall share with you the lessons which I have learnt.

Lesson 1
Identify your style and niche!  This was my first lesson.  In the business’ infancy I was not sure where I was going with the photography.  Am I a wedding photographer, wedding and portrait photographer, portrait photographer, promo photographer etc, etc…  So I guess dipping my toe in different styles did help me identify what I wanted to follow and specialise in.  Not only that but by following other photographers and studying their styles I was able to experiment with my shooting and develop a style that is unique to me.  Therefore, I consider myself as a portrait photographer specialising in actors’ headshots and promotional images.  A bit of a mouthful, I know, but that is where my strengths are.

Lesson 2
Once bitten twice shy!  There can only be so many TFP (Time For Print), or free, sessions that you can offer.  Naturally you will need to do a number of free sessions in order to build up a portfolio, as nobody will hire you on blind faith.  However, I have found that there are those who will always expect a freebie!

A couple of years ago I was approached by someone to help put together a portfolio for both them and myself, which was great!  Both of us got some very good images which were used in our portfolios.  We did this on a number of occasions.  However, I was approached by this same person asking me to help them with some promotional images and as I worked with them before thought it would be a great idea.  In the responding e-mail I explained that this would be a charged shoot, albeit at a discounted rate (mates’ rates).  I got a response from them saying ok, and how much.  So I sent them a very reasonable quote and was told that it was perfect!  Then silence…..  No e-mails, no responses to my messages, or calls.  Then one day I saw that they had new images on their social media sites.   So I looked at the photographer’s details and having gooogled them found their blog and twitter.  Having read through their recent posts saw that they were ‘new’ to the business of photography and were looking for TFP clients.  Two weeks after that post the fresh images popped up.

Now I am offering limited TFP shoots with people I have not worked with before.  This allows me to keep my models on my site/blog fresh as well as learn to work with different people, identify fresh approaches and ideas, and challenge my photographic, people and creative skills.

Lesson 3
Work with people that you want to work with.  What do I mean by this?  Well, reduce your client list and concentrate on the long game.  Nurture the clients you work with best and have the best rapport with.  I have noticed that the best images that I have come out with (and this is not my opinion, but that of an esteemed Getty Photographer) are those of people I have a great rapport with.  By having a great rapport relaxes your subject and this is conveyed onto the film/sensor – and your pictures are better for it.  Potential clients will see these images and say that they want to work with you as you can bring the best out of them.

Lesson 4
The stock market!  I don’t mean the financial stock market, but stock photography.  This is something that was introduced to me by friend and fellow photographer, Nick Stubbs.  All I will say that this is a passive income, and despite the reasons why not to go into stock, money can and will be made.  People want and need images, and they are always looking for something fresh and new…  Of you would like to find out more about stock, I would highly recommend this book which I have read from cover to cover – click here.

Lesson 5
Following on from Lesson 4 about stock photography one of the best bits of advice I have been given is to take your camera everywhere with you and practice, practice, practice.  Put it this way, a body builder does not just show up to compete for Mr Universe without having been to the gym everyday.

Lesson 6
Use a tripod for pretty much every shoot.  This is something that I read about and not really done until a recent studio shoot.  Not only did this ensure sharper images, but also carried the weight of the camera and allowed me to focus on interacting with my subject.

Lesson 7
Invest in your training!  There are loads of training sources out there, but the best in my opinion is to be found here.  I cannot explain how much I have learnt as well as having a back catalogue of historic issues of photoshop User for reference.  Another investment I would make is Practical Photoshop magazine.  Get it and you will see why for yourself.  In my opinion it has some of the best photoshop teachers there are with some great images to inspire you with as well as guide you through how they created them.

Lesson 8
Think Inbound Marketing.  I invested in the book Inbound Marketing and could not believe how investing a little time each day would result in a steady stream of traffic to your blog/site etc.

Lesson 9
Never take constructive feedback personally and always take account of what is being said.  Basically, it is very important to get feedback from other photographers and friends alike.  There have been times where I have posted an image onto social media thinking that this was the best image on line, ever, only to be told that there were areas of development.  Initially being a little gutted, I would give it about a day and look at the image again.  Then I would see where I had gone wrong!  (A lot of the time it was due to the monitor not being calibrated, and hence I invested in a calibrator!)

Lesson 10
Don’t forget to follow other blogs and comment on them.  If the picture is great then say so and why.  If you don’t think that it is, then say so AND why!  Don’t just be negative for the sake of it.  Photography is an art form and it will attract the critics.  By being constructive it will give you credibility as well as respect in my opinion.  And don’t forget people will click to your site/blog as they want to see your work, too.  More click, more visits and potential followers, too.

So in a nutshell, a good few lessons that I have identified this year.  I am sure that if I practice what I preach all will be well for 2013 and beyond.

If you have any thoughts on what I have written, please use the comments section below and leave your thoughts.

I look forward to sharing more entries with you in 2013!

Todor

My Website

Wedding Photography Blueprint 2.0 – New wedding DVD training package by Nick Stubbs

Welcome, and Friday is upon us, again! The weeks seem to be flying past so quickly at the moment with Christmas almost round the corner!

I thought I would end the week with a review of a fantastic instructional set of DVDs called the Wedding Photography Blueprint which has been skilfully put together by Dorset based photographer Nick Stubbs. Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I interviewed Nick some time ago [click here] and not only does he shoot beautiful weddings he teaches photography, sells stock, as well as doing the cooking, cleaning, and ironing!

When I joined All Things Photography’s membership site ATP Members [click here] I was fortunate to have access to the many resources on there, one of which was the Wedding Photography Blueprint.

I found it extremely informative, and for me the key learning points being use of camera settings, flash, as well as a number of editing techniques using Photoshop, Lightroom, and the camera’s own editing software (Canon DPP only).

I was really pleased to hear that Nick decided to release an updated version.  Not because the initial DVDs had any issues with them, but for the sheer fact that he was adding more learning material and sharing his experience and knowledge so you, too, can succeed in the wedding photography business, which is extremely cut throat in today’s day and age.

You get a whopping 8 DVDs the eighth being your bonus!  The training takes place within a classroom and location in the Weymouth (Dorset, United Kingdom) area.

Here’s a quick overview of what you get in each of your DVDs –

DVD 1
This recording takes place in the classroom and Nick discusses the wedding industry as well as going into detail about what your must have equipment should be as well as recommending some extra gear.  This DVD ends with the importance of preparation and planning and its importance to your business.

DVD 2
This is another classroom session where you will get a detailed input of the entire wedding day – from getting ready to the first dance.  Nick then goes through case study images taken from previous weddings to complement what you have already learnt.

DVD 3
A classroom session covering the integration of video into your slideshows and whether this would lead to closing more clients, make you different from the rest, or is it just a gimmick and will make no difference?  This DVD ends by covering lighting and going through a low light tutorial as well as case study images, and going through video editing and slideshow software.

DVD 4
Nick goes out on location going through shooting the bridal preparations.  Using flash, natural light, saving ‘poor’ images, and shooting the dress and portraits.

DVD 5
Nick is still out on location here, including the church, and there is great input on shooting in low light, special portraits and group shots in various locations.

DVD 6
Nick takes his delegates to a fully dressed ballroom of a grand hotel in Weymouth where he covers shooting the cake, camera settings, making sure you are prepped for the speeches, first dance, some post production as well as another excellent case study of a wedding that was shot with both stills and video.

DVD 7
The delegates are taken back to the classroom, and in my opinion this DVD alone is worth its weight in gold, to cover the business side of wedding photography.  You may be an excellent photographer, but if you don’t know the business basics then you will get nowhere.  Nick covers how to start your business, building upon your foundations as well as expanding it in an ever demanding market place, both from customers as well as from other photographers who are looking to find clients.  Finally, Nick covers social media as well as how to price yourself.

DVD 8
This is the bonus DVD and here Nick interviews three industry professionals as well gives you access to other reference books and FREE entry for 6 months to his site ATPMembers – something I very highly recommend.  It is a great community, you can upload images and get critiques, as well as meeting new friends and seeing your learning curve go through the roof!  I learnt loads here especially in relation to stock.

Naturally, you have read a lot here, and you cannot invest in something that you have not seen, so here are some clips for you to see this excellent resource in practise!

For more information about the Wedding Photography Blueprint click here

I hope you enjoyed this review.  Let me know what you thought and whether you have invested in Nick’s training DVDs!

Until next time,

Todor

Nick’s Website

My site

Shootin’ stock in the ‘hood!

I have been really inspired to shoot more and more stock since I have discovered that you should never second guess whether an image will be either accepted, and sold.  There are thousands of buyers out there looking for images for all sorts of applications and uses.  There are loads of places that I would love to go to in order to shoot some stock, however, personal circumstances dictate otherwise, so I love exploring what my local neighbourhood has to offer.  And believe you me, there is a lot, not only here, but where you are, too.

Since taking up stock I have been ‘seeing’ more when walking around my neighbourhood, especially when I have my camera.  Now with the added knowledge of stock I have really started to experiment and take my shots to new and different levels just by trying out something new – whether it be angle, or subject for instance.

I seem to be a fan of taking shots to submit them as abstract background textures.  Here are a couple for you that I have taken lately.

If you, like me, would like to learn more about stock photography and how to make money from your photos, then click here to buy Nick Stubbbs’ fantastic book which is a goldmine of information.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Stubbs.  If you missed it please click here to read it.  A very informative blog piece.  Follow Nick Stubbs’ book step by step, take the shots, upload, accept the rejections, and see those images sell and make you money.  Click here to see Nick’s great site All things Photography – a wealth of useful info from amateur to pro!

Here are some links to sites that I contribute to:


Fotolia

London Photo Walk

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting friend and fellow photographer Nick Stubbs.  Some of you may recall I interviewed Nick for this blog about his website, All Things Photography, as well the other strands to his succesful photography business – weddings and stock [click here].  We have been talking about getting together here in London and taking the odd photograph, or two not only for our portfolios, but also for potential stock.

We had a great day out together.  We started off in Euston and the obligatory pilgrimage to Calumet Photographic, then walked down towards Covent Garden.  One place we stumbled upon (somewhere I never knew existed) was Neal’s Yard, near Covent Garden.  Wow, what an amazing place with gorgeous colours and buildings.  Here Nick spent some time recording some video footage, and me taking a number of images of the brightly colorued buildings.  We then walked into Covent Garden, then down to Embankment, South Bank, Blackfriars, crossing the Millenium Bridge, then returning to Embankment Station and returning home.

Aside from spending some really good time with a friend, I learnt a number of things regarding my photography and images that I capture.

The main lesson I learnt from our walk was to raise my vision a little more and not focus on what is at street level.  Just before Covent Garden Nick spotted a gorgeous three toned building – green, red, grey set behind some traditional buildings.  This is something I never even thought of, nor would have seen as my vision was too focussed on the ‘ground floor’.  Raising vision and capturing an architectural image that is different will now be on the forefront of my mind in future.

Here are a couple of images that I took –

All these images were taken using Aperture Priority Setting on the camera at either f7.1 or f11.

Here is a video that was created by Nick Stubbs –

I hope that you liked the images from our photowalk? Please feel free to leave your comments.

Many thanks

Todor

Links –

Nick Stubbs

Stock Market

I have been working on some more stock photos utilising my favoured and reliable model, my son.  The other week we did a shoot at home with the theme being ‘washing teeth’, ‘baking’, and painting.  I have covered baking before, however, this shoot was going to be a selection of images that have been isolated on a white background.

At home I don’t have a studio, so I made use of the garden, and our kitchen.  The set up was a large white sheet on the wall behind, a 60″ umbrella, and a flash set to slave to fire at the background sheet.

The key to this shoot, and any shoot where I use my son, is to make it a fun activity as opposed to me giving instructions on what I want him to do.  This would not be fun, and it would lead to unatural images.

Painting
The trusted Ikea table was set up, the paints/brushes were out, and lights were set.  I just snapped away whilst he was enjoying himself. The reason the garden was used was not only for the space, easy to clean, but it was cloudy and the light was nice and soft.

Baking/Teeth
Here I was in the kitchen and again the set up was similar to outside.   The sheet was stuck against the back wall to keep it nice and white, and as well as the 60″ umbrella I also made use of a large reflector to make the images look nice and bright.  I gave my son the ingredients and told him to just take his time and enjoy himself, which he clearly did.
For the teeth washing I was conscious that we had been shooting for a while so I really kept it simple and quick.  I had him in his vest to look more like he was washing his teeth before bed, or in the morning.

The shoot over I took him out for a lovely lunch, which was polished off! I cannot emphasise more, that whomsoever you use, family, or otherwise, always reward them in some fashion for their time and efforts!

Post Processing

The post processing was simple.  I ensured that everything was 100% in camera, so all I did in LR was to pop the colour, and sharpen.  In photoshop I did the following:-
::Adjusted the levels
::Checked for areas where the background was not white
::Skin tidying/eye popping/skin softening using skills learnt from Scott Kelby’s book [click here]

And that was pretty much it! The images were saved and uploaded to Dreamstime [click here]

So, I would urge anyone who has an interest in selling their photos to read this eBook written by Nick Stubbs.  Here I learnt what is required from a photographer to start a career in Stock Photography [click here].

Thanks for reading!

Todor

Other Useful Links:-

Dreamstime

Nick Stubbs

Scott Kelby

Todor Ostojic

Recommended microstock agencies

Some of you have been in contact and asked which microstock agencies I submit to after reading the interview I did with Nick Stubbs [Click Here].
Here is a list of the agencies I have succesfully submitted images to and ones that I would highly recommend.

Dreamstime

Fotolia

Bigstock

Shutterstock

123RF

Each agency has their own initial submission rules, so please read the instructions carefully prior to making your submissions.  Also, don’t make the same error I did with one, and that is to check your image at 100% and make sure it is perfect prior to submission. Not only is it frustrating, but it will penalise you (with some) for at least one month!

Over time I will add to this post by adding more about the agencies that I have mentioned above.

Please get in touch if you have any comments, or questions.

Good Luck!

Todor