Archive for March, 2011

iPhone Photography Tips

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

If you know me, you know that it’s no secret that I’m a big proponent of all things Apple. Their products just work. Apple products run my business day to day and I use my iPhone when I’m not in my office for taking calls, emails, checking and making appointments, etc. It’s a fantastic tool for running a small business. The iPhone is also a fantastic way to carry a camera with you at all times. Having a camera with you means you can capture spontaneous moments or fun scenes where ever your travels may take you.

If you don’t buy into the Apple fanfare, that’s alright – many phones on the market today come equipped with cameras that are perfectly capable of taking and making decent images as well. It’s all about the camera that you have with you. For the sake of this post, however, I’m going to talk about the iPhone. In 2010, I documented each day with an image, and the majority of the images taken were taken with the iPhone. You can see the project HERE.

Some tips to get the best images out of your iPhone

Hold it steady
The iPhone (and other camera phones) often use a pretty slow shutter speed. If your intention is to have sharp images, then you’re going to want to hold it as steady as possible. Hold it steady with two hands on either side of the phone, and slowly press the shutter button to take the picture. You don’t want to jar the phone just as you press the shutter – it could result in a blurry image. Also, take more than one image if time allows. I’ll generally take a series of images of whatever I’m photographing, that way if the phone exposes weirdly or if the image is blurry, the odds are better that you’ll get a passable image.

Focus on simple compositions
Camera phones are not on par technologically with the digital SLR’s that we’re all familiar with these days. They’re fairly low-fi in comparison, and shouldn’t be expected to be able to capture the fine details that DSLR’s can. That being said, the iPhone is fantastic at capturing simple compositions. Look for lines, shapes, shadows and highlights in your images and focus on creating a strong composition from those simple elements.

Edit each image
Like any camera, the images as they are shot don’t always have that ‘pop’ that you expect to see in a good image. To counteract this, download a couple of photo apps to help you get the image looking a little more lively. I posted a blog post about some of my favorite iPhone apps last year, you can check it out HERE. At very least, you’ll want to tweak the color and contrast a little bit, maybe add a vignette or convert the image to black and white for maximum effect. Play a bit, don’t get caught up in making a technically perfect image, just make an image that looks good to you.

Use it’s size to your advantage
Because the iPhone doesn’t have the physical size that a digital SLR has, you can put it many places that a digital SLR cannot go. Play with angles, reach over your head to capture a different perspective, or place the phone on the ground to get an ants’ eye view of the world. It’s all about seeing things differently.

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New Products for 2011

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

It’s so important to print the pictures you love.

We seem to be stuck in this sad rut this day in age where we generate tons of images with our digital cameras, but we never seem to print many of those images. I’m as guilty as any, although I’m trying to be better about printing the pictures I love.

It is so important to print the pictures that are made during your wedding day, engagement session, or family session. It all goes back to the basic reason why you hire a professional photographer in the first place – to preserve memories for years to come. If in years to come, you aren’t able to open a CD on your computer (remember 5 1/4″ floppies?) then what value do those images have? The point is, you’ve got to print your pictures to fully enjoy them. Make large prints, put them on your walls and display them proudly! It’s a peek into a moment in your life the way it is right now.

I’m excited to share a few new printed products that I’m offering in 2011 with you.

The first isn’t a new product at all, but one I’ve never shown on the blog. The canvas gallery wraps are a wonderful way to display your images. It’s an art piece out of the box, and looks great on the wall framed or unframed. I prefer them unframed – they just pop off the walls. The canvas gallery wraps are made up of beautiful high quality printing directly onto canvas then stretched around a 1.5” wooden frame. It rivals the best art. They come ready to hang.

These bamboo mounted prints are the newest addition to our line of mounting materials. They are made from carbonized vertical grain bamboo, bamboo panels are a sustainable, FSC certified material. With a pre-drilled keyhole on the back, Bamboo panels are ready to hang as soon as you receive them. Bamboo Panels are 3/4” thick. Ask to see a sample, they are stunning!

High quality printing directly onto sheet metal! These are cutting edge and will make your images pop off the wall like nothing else will! The images are stunning and really shine with engagement session images as well as senior portraits. Ask to see a sample.

If you’ve already done a session with me and haven’t ordered prints yet, now is the time! There are some really fantastic ways to print your art, there really is no better time. If you haven’t yet done a session with me, what are you waiting for? Email me today at info@smithbrad.com to set up an appointment!

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PVD Street Studio

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

I stepped out of my comfort zone yesterday. Fellow wedding photographer James Hazelwood and I ventured up to Providence to a busy street corner on what turned out to be one of the warmest days in months! It was a technically simple shoot – just a 50mm lens and a white backdrop – but it was difficult in other ways.

We set up our white backdrop right outside Aruba Steve’s bar on the corner of Dorrance and Weybosset. We each took a couple of test shots to determine our exposure values and we were ready to go. What followed was a lesson in rejection, a lesson in learning how to speak to strangers (especially for me, who rarely approaches people I don’t know) and a lesson in getting people comfortable within a matter of seconds. Usually, during a normal portrait session, there’s time factored in at the beginning of the shoot to warm up to each other a bit, with the Street Studio, there was none of that. It was fast paced and remarkable simple once we found a willing subject. Many people asked us, “What is this for?” – to which we replied, “Just for fun.” Others asked, “How much will this cost me?” – obviously, it cost them nothing.

It was a great afternoon, and I’m real happy with the way these images came out. If you feel up for it, please check out the whole gallery of my images by clicking on the image below.

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The Story of a Lost Roll of Film

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Earlier this year, Todd Bieber was cross country skiing around the neighborhoods of New York City (after one of the heavy snowfalls the Northeast saw) when he stumbled upon a roll of film. He picked it up, developed the images, and vowed to find the owners of the images.

He made a short video and posted it to YouTube. It went viral and was watched by millions of people. The video eventually made it’s way to the owners. This is the story of Todd Bieber and what he did to find the owners of this film.

It’s a cool story, it’ll take about 10 minutes of your time. Take a look!

Watch Part 1 below, which will link to part 2 and part 3, or you can click the links below.
Watch Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtzN-Ltob2w
Watch Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI93y2oJ4ck

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Playing w/ A Studio Setup

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Studio setups isn’t something that I come across every day, but it’s something I’d been meaning to revisit in the off season. Just about all of my work is done on location, whether it be weddings, portraits, or senior sessions. But in an effort to never stop learning and developing my craft, I took some time to play with a studio setup for a bit last week.

I photographed alongside my friend, Robyn, as we lit our model, Monica and tested various setups from dramatic and hard, to soft and forgiving. These are just a few of the ones I liked from the session.

I’m not going to give up looking for unique locations for most of my shoots, but it’s something I felt like I needed to be familiar with as a photographer. I would love to hear your thoughts – do you prefer on-location or studio backdrops? How would you want to be photographed?

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Aruba Steve’s: Open

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Aruba Steve’s is a brand new bar right in Downcity Providence. It’s in a great spot right on the corner of Dorrance and Weybosset Streets. It opened just a few weeks ago and already is proving to be a warm little spot for a tropical drink or frosty beer, even in the recent cold snap we’re in that we’ve been calling Winter. Aruba Steve’s is owned by a friend of mine, Steve, who has been working hard to make it a fantastic, welcoming downtown bar.

I recently paid them a visit and took some images of the lively bar, on a night where an acoustic guitarist played by the front windows and tropical drinks were being served to many of the happy patrons. I spent some time photographing a few of Aruba Steve’s food and drink offerings, then when the music started, photographed the musicians and tried to capture some of the ambiance inside the bar.

Thanks, Steve, for being a gracious host, and I’ll be back! You’ve created a cool little taste of the tropics in Downcity Providence. Keep up the good work!

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The First Look

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

There’s a tradition that on the wedding day, the bride and groom don’t see each other until the bride starts her walk down the aisle. But as we’re seeing more and more lately, things are changing. In the past year, several of my brides and grooms have opted for what is called a “first look”. It used to be that seeing the bride before the ceremony would bring bad luck, but I have yet to see any of the couples that opted to have a first look get that ‘bad luck’. If the photography portion of your wedding day is important to you, you should consider doing a first look.

A first look is essentially a block of time prior to the wedding ceremony, after the dress is on and makeup has been completed where the bride and groom see each other for the first time. Normally, it’s a quiet moment where the groom waits with his back to where the bride will be arriving from. She’ll walk up from behind him and turn him around and they’ll each get that first look of each other. It’s a tremendously emotional moment where the bride and groom can take the time they need to say hello, and spend a moment together before the madness of the rest of the wedding day events begin. My role in this moment is to stand back (usually with a long lens so I’m not in your face) and capture those quiet moments. Once you’ve had a few minutes, we’ll normally begin with some family formals. Everyone is looking great, feeling good, and excited for the day ahead.

There are many reasons that you might consider incorporating a first look into your wedding day. Here are just a few.

It will re-balance the wedding day schedule and save time shooting formals.

From a photographers standpoint, anything that helps you get from your ceremony to your reception swiftly is good for all. We’ve all been guests at weddings and have seen an hour, sometimes two hours go by before the bride and groom reappear and get announced into the reception. A first look will avoid that epic downtime between events because you will have already taken the bulk of the formals prior to the wedding ceremony. It’s also a big help if your wedding ceremony is finishing up after the sun has already set.

You will avoid that ‘rush-rush’ feeling between the ceremony and the reception altogether.

By taking care of many of the family and bridal party portraits before the ceremony, it cuts down on the amount you’ll need to cover between events. It allows your guests less wait time before being seated, and it keeps the pulse of the day moving swiftly.

You get to slow down and make some fantastic and emotional pictures of just the two of you.

This is probably my favorite part of the day – the couples portraits. It’s the detail that really shows the connection between the bride and groom more than any other images from the day, in my opinion. Taking the time before the ceremony to photograph some (or all) of those quiet, relaxed portraits really allows the bride and groom to slow down and savor the moment before getting pulled hundreds of different directions once the day gets moving.

It may not be something that you’d previously considered, but the first look might quite possibly be a welcome addition to your wedding day.

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