book africa book GT book Portfolio book

Coffee Table Books for Gifts

One of the best personal gifts people can give is a photograph. The reason for this is that photos have the power to keep all our precious moments alive. And giving the gift of an especially well-chosen photo is a way to preserve a fond memory with someone you treasure.

The gift of a photograph today has many ways for presentation. One way many use now is a greeting card. This photo however is typically an individual or family sharing one of their personal memories with their family and friends.

bagIf you give a photo to an individual the photo of something that you shared can not just show your friendship with them, but help remind them of a memory that the two of you share.

Besides giving a print of the photo, you can have the photo put on just about anything. Here is just a sample of the items you could put the photograph on for that special gift:

travel mug• Coffee cup
• Candy Tin
• Blanket
• T-Shirts
• Aprons
• Coasters
• Calendars
• Neck Tie
• Ornament
• Porcelain Plate
• Puzzle
• Digital Photo Frame
• Coffee Table Book

water bottleIf you have the time and enough variety of photos the photo book is one of my favorite things to come along. You can produce a very nice coffee table book for your friend for as low as $20 for a 20 page soft cover book.

If you choose to make a book, my favorite book publisher is www.Blurb.com.

Go online to www.MyPhotoPipe.com where you can not only get prints, holiday cards, but have canvas prints made.

For items listed above here is one place to lookhttp://discountphotogifts.com/.

Have Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Ten Steps To The Family Christmas Photo

Our family photo this year for Christmas cards.
Every year I take our family photo and, like many of you, send it out as a Christmas card. Here’s what works for our family photo, try it with yours.

First we do it outside. Everyone is more relaxed out there than in a studio environment. It’s an informal setting so casual, comfortable clothing look good and comfortable cloths make for comfortable subjects. It is easier to make good family portraits with a relaxed family. 

Maybe one year, for a really great photo, we can have on our pajamas! That’s probably not a good idea.

Second it is easier outside. There is plenty of light and we can control it by where we place the family. We can use open shade, or backlighting or, for soft light, we can do it on a slightly overcast day.
Third I look for a good background. I love our backyard with all the trees. While looking for a good place to do the portrait I take a few test shot to make sure what I see is what I’ll get.
Fourth I use a tripod and a radio remote control to fire the camera. This way I can be in the photo and make the shot when we’re ready, not when the timer fires the camera. The remote also allows me to make several shots without running back to the camera to re-set the timer.
Fifth with three children plus my wife and I all in the photo and me not behind the camera watching for expressions it’s a real challenge to come up with good expressions on everyone at the same time. Usually the problem is with only one person and it is usually me.
Just FYI: Back in the good ol’ days of film Kodak did some research and found that each person added to a photo required seven times more shots to get a great expression of everyone at once.
no flash
No Flash
Meanwhile, back to present day and the digital image… So everyone, except me of course, has a good expression in one of the photos. It would be great if I could remove my head in that shot and replace it with the one image where I actually have a decent expression. (Now is when we fall in love with our tripod.) By having the camera on a tripod and with software like PhotoShop you CAN take my head, or yours, from one photo and put it into another. The latest version of PhotoShop has a menu item that makes this so much easier.
If you don’t move your camera during the photos and everyone stays pretty still you can combine the best expressions of each person into one photo.
Sixth I compose the photo, figure out where I need to be and take a couple of test shots of my family minus one. If the light looks good on everyone I join the group and fire away.
Catchlight
Catchlight
Seventh If your family looks lifeless hopefully it is only because of a lack of catchlights in their eye. A catchlight is a photographic term used to describe light reflected in the subject’s eyes. The lack of a catchlight, even in an animal’s picture, can make the subject seem comatose.
You can use a white sheet to bounce light into the subject’s eyes or use a flash. This year I used a flash.
If the subject is backlit your flash or sheet becomes more than just a way to create a catchlight—it becomes the main light.
When using flash balance it to the available light. Start with a medium f/stop, like f/8, to ensure the group is all in focus. (We’re talking about depth-of-field or how much is in focus in front of and behind the point on which the lens is focused. But that’s another whole newsletter.) Make some test shots at different f/stops and see what you like the best.
Once the light looks good on the family we can explore a few ways to control how the flash balances with the outdoor light. With everything on program mode you can adjust the ISO from 100 up to 400 or higher. The higher the ISO the lighter the background will be provided the f/stop remains the same. The lower the ISO the darker the background provided the f/stop remains the same.
It is easier to do darker backgrounds later in the day or early evening. For lighter backgrounds do the session earlier in the day.
Eighth Have everyone dress in the same or compatible colors. Earth tones like browns, greens and tans work well outdoors. Just be sure on one is dressed so differently that they look like the lead singer with a backup group on a Motown group CD cover.

We like to goof around for some of our photos.

Ninth If you want to have a lot of fun let everyone change outfits for different looks. If your family is like our family we like to take some goofy ones too.

Tenth Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

“Windows to the Soul”

Reynaldo Cifuentes Velazquez, president of Café Justo – a coffee cooperative. He lives in Salvador Urbina, Mexico.
According to Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, there are two kinds of smiles, the “Duchenne smile” and the “Pan American” smile. Here is how Seligman describes the two smiles, “The first called Duchenne smile (after its discoverer Guillaume Duchenne) is genuine. The corners of the mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of your eyes crinkles (the crow’s feet). …The other smile, called the Pan American smile (after the flight attendants in television ads for now-defunct airline), is inauthentic.”
A Genuine Smile Goes a “Long Way,” was published by Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D in Mind Publication in 2002. Studying a high school year book researcher’s divided the class photos into the Duchenne and Pan American smiles, which by the way was almost 50/50. Then they followed up with the two groups at age 27, 43 and 52 and asked about their marriage and life satisfaction.
Father Flor Maria Rigoni is a missionary with the San Carlos Scalabrini and works in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. The pastoral mission of the Scalabrinians is the care of migrants.

The results showed that those with Duchenne smiles were more likely to be married and stay married. The finding was that a habit of genuine smiling may contribute to happiness and better adjustment in life. The researchers considered good looks and found this had no bearing, but genuine Duchenne smile did effect ones happiness in life.

Few people are more beautiful than those with a warm and natural (Duchenne) smile.
As a photographer I have learned how to recognize a natural smile and know how to get it most of the time out of subjects most of the time. Personally I cannot produce a genuine smile on command – yet.
Olga Sánchez Martínez runs an amputee shelter in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

A trick models use to learn how to control their face expressions and to get the eyes to be expressive is to look in the mirror and use a handkerchief to cover everything below the eyes. Before this can be effective you must know what you are looking for in expressions of the eyes.

Tyra Banks, the famous model and TV producer of America’s Next Top Model tell how to learn to smile with your eyes. She did a video for the NY Times Magazine on fame, her career and what every model needs to know. She talks about seven types of smiles in the video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdLZNeM3CH8]

Tyra says a big mistake people make is smiling with your mouth and not your eyes.
The muscles used to smile with the eyes are involuntary and normally only become engage in an authentic smile.
Photographer can help people to smile for the camera, but only about 50% of the folks will present that genuine Duchenne smile on command. So what do you do for the rest of the folks?
Luis “Pelayo” Manuel Diaz Perez, enjoys the hammick during an afternoon rain in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico. Pelayo is a coffee grower and part of www.justcoffee.org a cooperative making it possible for the members to stay in Mexico with their families rather than migrating north.
A real smile arises from your own personal joy. A photographer must get the subject to think about subjects that make them happy. That’s why a pre-session consultation is important. During a consultation it’s easy to discover the makes them smile naturally. Perhaps it is their families or their hobbies. You’ll spot the genuine smile while talking with them. Just make notes and use the subjects when you photograph them. A trick I use is to ask them to tell me the name of the person they have just been talking about; invariably it brings a smile not only to their mouth, but the eyes smile, also.
Remember what Tyra Banks demonstrated where the eyes were smiling and not necessarily was it a big teeth smile to be a real smile.
After a while you will be able to get more than just the Duchenne smile but maybe all the 275 smiles that Tyra eluded to. Most research shows more than 50 types of smiles.

Tommy Bassett, tri-founder of www.justcoffee.org enjoying visit to El Aguila, Mexico to meet with the coffee growers.
Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing” had Leo say to Bartlett “Act as if ye have faith, and faith shall be given to you. To put it another way, fake it till you make it.” It might just be a biblical principle. The writer of Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
The windows to your soul are your eyes so learn to smile with them and not just your mouth, because people are drawn to people who exude happiness.
To many people a smile in a photograph is like location in real estate – it is the most important part of the deal.

Writing With Light

<!– .style2 {
color: #FFFFFF;
font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
body {
background-color: #0000FF;
}
–>

Natural LightAvailable light with no flashes at night.

In writing we use italics, bold, quote marks and other techniques to emphasize parts of the composition. In photography we use light to do the same thing.

Theater and movie directors many times use light to draw our attention to the main subject in a scene. This may be as dramatic as turning a spotlight on a character while everything else goes completely black. More often it is much more subtle. Without the light to guide us we might lose the lead actor on stage amidst all the other actors and scenery.

During a concert a spotlight is constantly on the main performer. So rarely are they not in that spotlight that the famous clown Emit Kelly did a comedy act where he tried to stay in the spotlight only to give up in the end and sweep the light up off the floor.

 

fill flash
Using fill flash to capture it in the camera.

Another way to lead the viewer’s attention to a person or part of a scene in video photography is zooming in on that subject. In TV and film they use multiple cameras to help direct the audience. The director will cut from a camera with a wide view to one showing a close-up of the subject.
Still photographers don’t have the luxury of simultaneous shots zoomed in or out cutting from a wide to a close shot. The still photographer can do all of this, of course, but he or she ends up needing to tell the whole story in a single shot. Print advertising does this all the time.

The still shooter should do all that is reasonable and feasible to capture the image in as high a quality as the situation will allow. (More about that in a minute.)

There are two ways that you can help direct the attention to the main subject using light in photography. One is done in the camera and the other is done in post processing.


Getting it in the camera

Available light Students are taking a test, so I used available light.

Available Light

With today’s digital cameras it is relatively easy to work with the available light in almost any location.

If people are sitting at a table with poor light move them to a table in better light. After a few moments they’ll pick up on the conversation where they left off and you now have them in light that will work for the photos. In a photojournalistic coverage this is inappropriate, but for advertising or a corporate shoot it is perfectly fine to do.

Use a reflector to help improve the light. It is much less intrusive than flash and can work just as well. Have an assistant hold a reflector just out of the view of the camera and bounce the light back into the subjects face. This helps to draw attention to the main subject.

Adding Light

Used a flash to light his face inside of a furnace/air conditioner blower. No other lights in the room.

You can use either a constant light source or flash to light the subject. Use spotlight effect as much as possible rather than floodlight where everything is lit equally.

Another trick of the trade is to place a colored gel over a light used on the background. This will simplify a junky background by making it all one color. The orange extension cords and red tools hanging on the wall in the background no longer vie for attention with you subject. At least two lights are needed one on the subject and one on the background. The light on the subject should be brighter than the background light.

Postproduction lighting

flash at fire Using fill flash to capture it in the camera.

This is done so much today that a photo being “PhotoShopped” is now a verb and not just a noun. Before the days of PhotoShop, photographers would “burn” and “dodge” in the darkroom. A face could be lightened and the background darkened.

With digital today you can do even more than we did in the darkroom and with more precision. You can select only the subject, just a single color or anything one part of a photo and alter it in many ways. You can remove, change or add color. You can make objects lighter or darker. Parts of the photo can soften or blurred.

If all this can be done in post processing… why use lights?

using gels Using colored gels to help the background and create a science look and feel.

The need for post processing disappears if you capture it in camera saving time and money.

A properly exposed subject contains information at its fullest value.

When should auxiliary lights be used and not used?

(Here’s the “more on” reasonable and feasible.)
In Hollywood everyone is being paid to produce a professional product people will be willing to pay to see. (Pardon the alteration; I got carried away as always – oops.)

In news coverage the only ones being paid are the news crew or maybe just a single photographer and they are being paid to get the story regardless of the quality. Sure, it should be as high a quality as is practical, but the story is the thing.

neurtralizing with color The colored carpet and chair colors distracted you now they don’t with the gels.

When a photographer comes to do a job, particularly an event, what determines the approach? Can it be with all the lighting using multiple flashes (Hollywood) or will it need to be photographed using the available light (News coverage)?

What is the deciding factor? You need to consider the friction you may cause while capturing the moment.

Perhaps the subject or event can be moved to a more photogenic area that would not require much, if any, additional lighting. Perhaps reflectors can be used instead of flash thus reducing the interference with an event.
You need to explain to the client the choices (and the resulting photos) and together find a solution. (HINT: Whoever is paying for the project needs to decide or this maybe your last job with them.)

Final thought

Use light to direct attention; it can improve the communication of the composition.

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit.

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit.
By Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon, with an introduction by Horst Schulze, Founding President and COO of The Ritz-Carlton, is being published domestically by AMACOM Books, the wonderful publishing imprint of the American Management Association, and distributed internationally by McGraw-Hill.

It is now available at amazon.com

CBS News – The CW
Micah’s Interview on Customer Service with CBS

Real Connections

group talking
Students getting a tour of Clayton State University Campus.

Photographers who specialize in photographing people have to make real connections to quickly capture the essence of a person. Portrait photographers often know when they have captured a person’s personality because that person’s friends comment about it. When photojournalists photograph a person for a story, they capture more than expression. They take all the elements surrounding that person to place him or her within the context of the story. Those photographers who do this well are able to better transport readers into the story.

Knowing some of the skills that photographers use can surely help you make real connections with people. Learning these skills may even help you make a few more friends in the process. Here are some tips I have learned from working the past 28 years as a photojournalist and from my formal education in social work:

Firm handshake

When you greet the person, reach out and shake their hand firmly. This is not where you squeeze their hand and overpower them. You want to communicate a confidence. A weak handshake can come off like a limp dead fish and lack of self-esteem. People will shy away from you if you are weak or overbearing. The firm handshake is a fantastic way to communicate your interest in them.

interview
Administrator at Clayton State University works with a student.

Be Genuine

You need to treat people with honor, dignity and respect. Either way, people will have a gut reaction to your real motives. We are all wired with a “fight or flight response” — a primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to “fight” or “flee” from perceived attack, harm or threat to survival. The response is often due to our gut reactions and not just from something always apparent. My point here is that people have a radar which most of the time perceives someone as not being on the up and up. To gain the trust of others you must be trustworthy and honest with them.

It’s not all about you

People would prefer to talk about themselves. Therefore, telling people about yourself is not going to help you make a connection with them. If you show an interest in them first, they will then be more likely to be responsive. At some point in the conversation they will show an interest in you. At this point they will test and see if there is potential for an equally balanced relationship. They will want to see if there is some common ground for which to build a relationship.

Professor of artAlan Xie, Instructor of Art at Clayton State Campus.

Find a common interest

I look around a person’s surroundings and see what it is he or she values. If you are in their office, sometimes photos or objects around the room can clue you in. For example, I find that being a father gives me common ground to talk to someone about parenthood.

Open-ended questions

You want to create a dialogue. To do this you need to ask open-ended questions rather than close ended. Close ended questions have yes or no answers. Open-ended questions require a much longer response. “How did you pick this as a profession?” is an example of an open-ended question.

Listen and ask follow-up questions

If you are listening, you will often find that you need to ask some follow-up questions. How you ask these questions can show how well you are listening. I do not recommend asking someone to repeat something. Learn to paraphrase and then ask a question to clarify what they have said. This will show you heard and want to better understand.

A student’s ear

Listen and ask questions to learn something new. I enjoy meeting people and learning something about what they know and do for a living or hobby. Most people enjoy helping someone understand something they enjoy themselves.

studentsStudents talking between classes at Clayton State University.

Your Body Language

Look people in the eye and try to keep eye contact throughout the conversation. Do not stare, but rather be engaging by paying attention with your eyes. Sitting on the edge of your chair and leaning slightly towards someone shows interest in what they are saying. Lying back in your chair communicates disinterest. Also try not to cross your arms because it makes you look defensive.

Did you make a connection?

How do you know if you are making a real connection? Reciprocity. You will normally notice an in-kind response to you. When you are succeeding, you will feel as though you are making a new friend. If you give people the honor, dignity and respect they deserve, they will trust you to tell their stories.