Brooklyn Bridge Engagement Sunset Shoot

photography tips

Just as I had written a post last week about my Brooklyn Bridge shoot, a couple contacted me wanting to do an engagement shoot of sorts on the bridge at sunset! They had lived in NYC for a few years but moved to Boston for medical school, and wanted to come back to do a shoot before they got married. I was super hyped to help them capture this moment, so I said of course!

I was excited to shoot again on the bridge, but this time I shot on the BK side, so the shots had a little bit different feel with the Manhattan skyline in the background. I’ve decided that either side works perfectly, and it just depends what time of day you’re shooting to which side you might want to shoot from.

Evening was the only time that worked for them, and I knew that would be a little tricky with all the people, but we managed to still get some adorable shots even with all the tourists walking the bridge! If you have the time (and don’t mind getting up at dawn) then I’d definitely say go for sunrise or early morning shots. The benefit to this is that hardly anyone will be on the bridge, so the background will look a little cleaner.

We ended up having a few breaks of people and I had enough time to snap some shots without anyone in the background, which was lucky because there were hundreds of people crossing the bridge! But sometimes you have to be crafty with your angles and just make it work.

The other tip I’d say is that Ela was wearing heels and I had forgotten that it’s a pretty long trek to get to the archway of the bridge (at least a 10-15 minute walk on the BK side) so definitely bring a change of shoes if you’re planning on wearing heels or something that’s not too comfortable for a mini hike. Besides that, the weather was perfect and we had a great time shooting!

You can check out my favorite photos from the shoot below:

If you like these, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Success Tips For Emerging Creatives

Inspiration, photography tips

I know what you’re thinking: here we go, another one of those vague articles about how to be successful that doesn’t actually explain anything at all, except ending with some inspirational quote like, “the world is yours, so get out there and do something!” They’re kind of inspiring, but also never really say what you’re actually supposed to do. Well, this week is my one year anniversary of being a college graduate, and so far the real world has taught me a lot more about failure than success. So I thought I’d write about what I’ve learned thus far, in hopes that other young creatives might find it helpful.

Stop Comparing Yourself. First of all, in creative careers especially, your definition of success will most likely be wildly different from someone else’s, even in the same field. As a creative, you can’t compare yourself to other people. My graphic designer and illustrator friends are amazing, but they do a totally different job than me, a photographer. You should appreciate the value of the other people in your team, but you do a highly specialized and individualized job, too, and that’s worth a lot. And just because you have less experience doesn’t mean you’re any less of a professional. That’s something I had to learn to accept. When I’m bidding jobs against other photographers who have ten or twenty years more experience than me, I have to be confident in my craft (that, or fake it ’til you make it).

Identify What You’re Trying to Achieve. As a freelancer first starting out, it can be especially difficult and confusing to determine where to even begin. Should you make connections? Advertise yourself? Do a few free jobs to get your name out there? The most important thing you need to do is figure out what you’re trying to achieve. What’s your end goal? Analyze your objectives and determine what quantifiable steps you can take to move toward them.

For me right now, as an emerging photographer, success means networking, making connections, promoting myself and getting new opportunities. Once you have that outlined, you can make an action plan. Sometimes small steps make the biggest difference. For example, to get my name out there, I made some flyers of my images and my Instagram username and posted them in areas around London that I knew models and makeup artists would see them. It took an hour of my time, and around $15 to get color prints, and I’m still getting emails from designers to shoot their lookbooks and new collections.

Say Yes, and Keep Saying Yes. Since I’ve been in London, I made a little deal with myself. I agreed that I would accept all the shoots that I’m offered, even if it’s not my specific niche of fashion portraiture. In the past few months, I have shot concerts, a designer handbag collection, street style for a fashion blogger, red carpet events, and even the London Fashion Week runway. It totally pushed me out of my comfort zone, and every single one of those shoots taught me something new. 

My point is this: while new opportunities can be terrifying, they are are important, if not crucial to expanding your knowledge and skill set. Those shoots made me think outside the box and determine creative solutions that I had never dealt with before. Besides cultivating a deeper understanding of your craft, those kinds of skills will be useful in any potential future job. That’s why I think it’s highly important to say yes, even if that particular job isn’t specifically part of your end goal.

Put In the Work, and Work Hard. This one might seem obvious, but from observing my peers in the industry, I think it’s a pretty underrated and necessary step. You have to put in the work. You will have long shoot days and late nights editing. You’ll have to carry a reflector and sometimes get coffee for people, but it’s not for nothing. It’s propelling you closer to that end goal, even if you can’t see it just yet. For example, I assisted for a photographer in London on a one-day shoot, and it wasn’t a big deal, but I made sure to be as helpful and cheerful as possible on set. A few months later, he came back to London to do a cover shoot with a big magazine, and he asked me to assist again. Because of that, I met the entire creative team of that magazine and was able to make connections with them.

Every opportunity leads to another one, if you let it. You just have to be paying attention. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t putting effort into actively promoting yourself and trying to get clients and make contacts, they won’t come to you. You have to go to them. You have to be a little pushy sometimes. Make calls to agencies, send a lot of emails, and accept that you’re going to get a lot of rejection replies. They will still sting a little, but it hurts less each time. Send more.

So, while I can’t tell you that adding all the editors of Vogue on LinkedIn will be a guaranteed way for you to make new connections in the fashion industry, I can tell you from personal experience that if you try these tips, you will be pushing yourself and making tangible strides toward the success you want to achieve. And the most rewarding part is that you’ll meet some really talented and likeminded people along the way.

How to Properly Store Your Digital Files

photography tips

Moving into the digital age, film isn’t the dominate photography medium anymore. We don’t have physical negatives that can be kept in a filing cabinet for when we need to make copies. Instead, we have thousands of digital files that don’t even exist outside of pixels and file extensions. Just like in life, it’s good to have a back up plan. And with photography, it’s not just a good idea, it’s entirely necessary.

Think of all the money invested in your gear, your time, and your photo shoots. But more than that, think about the images that are simply irreplaceable. The big production beach shoot with six models that cost a fortune. The bride and groom’s first kiss right as the sun was setting. You can never recreate those moments. And you can’t take the risk of losing them, either.

Backing up and storing your digital files is definitely not the fun, flashy part of photography. But it will save you if anything were to happen. You know that horrific moment when you realize that you just formatted your SD card without checking to see if all of those files were backed up? When you are searching for that one edit and you can’t find it anywhere? What do you do when your memory card becomes corrupt, as they occasionally do? Your Mac crashes, your laptop gets stolen? This is to protect you from all of that.

My philosophy is that it’s way better to be safe than sorry. So, here’s my photo file storage workflow. To start, every year, I get two matching 2 Terabyte hard drives and label them with my name and the year. Then I make a folder for every month. Then, after each shoot, I make a folder with the name of the shoot and the date and copy the files over. No matter if they still have a lot of space left or not, come December, a final copy gets made onto a separate (third) drive. Then, one copy stays with me, and the other drives get archived into storage in the safest place in my house: a fire proof room.

So let’s start right after the photoshoot. You have memory cards full of huge files, all waiting to be sorted, processed, and adjusted in post. First, before going through any images, I copy all the raw files onto both of the external drives. They are identical back ups. If I dropped one on accident, the other one would have my back.

Then, I edit. Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge, whatever your workflow is. After the white balance is correct and the curves layers are adjusted to perfection, it’s time to back up the final shots. I upload those to my website, which functions as an online backup, as well. The client gets the files, too, depending on the contract we have agreed on. And then, the final images are copied within the folder of the raw images on each external drive. That’s a minimum of four places that the files are stored.

I also make sure to do a Time Machine backup of my laptop every week, because I’m constantly keeping my current projects on my desktop. Last year, my Macbook Pro died after living a long(ish) six years of life with me. But when the screen went black for the final time, my contents were backed up and everything was saved once I restored the new computer as a Time Machine back up. This will be a lifesaver one day, I promise.

The external drives work best for me as a backup system because they are small and portable, and don’t need to be plugged in, so I can take them on set or throw them in my backpack when I’m editing. Lots of people do more online backup, or a second computer drive, or flash drives, or CD’s, or memory cards. It doesn’t matter how you back up your files, as long as you aren’t leaving them in just once place (you’re making me nervous). Because technology will inevitably fail, or crash, or die, and along with it will go your files.

Some people keep their images randomly, one on a drive, some on Dropbox, others online, just the final edits here, the raw images there, etc. Don’t do that. It’s crucial to your workflow to be organized and dedicated to backing up files. No matter if it’s a bride you photographed five years ago that’s calling to ask for a canvas print of one of their wedding photos, or a magazine that wants to include one of your old shots in high res for their new issue, you have to have the files stored and you have to know precisely where they are. No exceptions.

In this digital age of photography, having a backup AND a backup of the backup is essential. Technology is amazing, but it can also delete all your years of hard work in a matter of seconds. It might sound like I’m being a bit meticulous with all the backups, but I promise you that you will exhale with relief when just one of these backups saves you just one time. It’s worth it, for the peace of mind when you are formatting your memory cards. For when you power down your laptop at the end of the day and know that the images you care about, that you are working so hard to make, are safe and secure.

PS: It takes time to keep everything organized and backed up, and it’s part of the job. So don’t feel bad about including an archival fee when sending an estimate to your clients.

3 Suggestions From Your Wedding Photographer

photography tips

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve shot a wedding or two–or fifty– and I wanted to share a few tips from a photographers perspective to help create some ease on the wedding day. Here are some things I have noticed that can really make the day go a lot smoother:

1. Scheduling. As wedding photographers, we know that your special day is going to be really busy, and trying to fit everything in can get kinda crazy. What most people don’t realize is that the wedding photographer is going to be with you all day long, so scheduling is very important. Most weddings fall into this general schedule: getting ready, portraits, wedding, reception. But things can be tailored and adjusted depending on the details of your wedding. For example, do you want to do a first look? If so, the wedding party photos can all be done before the actual ceremony. That will save time later so you can relax and freshen up before the reception. Talking with your photographer in detail about the schedule can clear up any confusion and help decide the right schedule for your wedding. 

2. Hotel Decor. Drab rooms with dark curtains letting in no natural light will be the death of your getting ready pictures. Make sure that the room you choose to get ready with your bridesmaids has windows for a lot of natural light. Also make sure that it’s big enough. There’s nothing worse for a wedding photog than falling over everyone getting ready in a tiny room while trying to stay out of the way, and get the pictures you need. Photos of the bride getting her hair done, spending the morning with her bridesmaids, and putting on her gown will set the tone for the entire day, so make sure there’s enough space and light! 

3. Guests. Your family and friends are excited, and want to capture this special moment for you. But a huge problem nowadays is having every guest standing during the wedding holding out their iPhones to take photos. Nothing ruins a gorgeous first kiss photo more than all the aunts and uncles trying to take photos and videos from their phones. I promise the quality of those will be terrible, and you hired a photographer to get that perfect shot for you! Let us do our job of capturing your day and kindly ask your guests to limit the technology if possible.

These are just a few common issues I see often while shooting weddings. The key is to keep your photographer informed and communicate so you can work together to capture such an important day in your life!

Making the Most of the Golden Hour

photography tips

What is this sorcery that some of us call the Golden Hour? It’s the time of day right after sunrise or before sunset where the light is warmer and softer because of how low in the sky the sun is. Cool and science-y, right? Well, it’s a dream for photographers because of how appealing the lighting is during that short time!

Any professional photographer will tell you that golden hour light is pure magic. It has a cast that’s warm and seems to caress the face like a bright hug from the sky. Golden hour light feels like love formed into rays of light. It’s literally light from heaven that’s the most gorgeous thing ever. So how can we use this amazingness for better results in photography?

Time it Just Right. Since the golden hour only happens for a short period of time each day, make sure to come early and prepared. Get set up and be ready for when the sun sinks lower and the magic starts happening.

Shoot Shallow. If you shoot with an open aperture, not only will it make your subject pop, but the glorious light streaming through the trees will create the most amazing bokeh you will ever see. Here’s an example of that:

Some other things to consider: fill light, contrast, and color balance. Color balance is crucial because you want to create a balance of warm but also don’t go overboard with warm tones. That’s really up to artistic merit, so just work with the images in Photoshop to get a balance you like. Same with contrast. It can be easy to overdo it, so really focus on a nice medium. And you can always try a speedlight to create some drama and to add a little pop of fill light to the images during the golden hour! The key is to experiment and see what you like.

Lens flare, shadows, and silhouettes. The golden hour can be a great time to play with silhouetting objects since the sun is so low. Lens flares can also be fun. Here’s another example of a golden hour silhouette. Feel free to play with shadows and use the lighting to create the emotion you are going for!

Overall, there is no better time than the golden hour to get outside and experiment with natural light photography. It’s a great time for me to gain some inspiration and shoot some personal work when I’m feeling like I need some photo creativity. Grab some friends, a speedlight, a reflector, and have fun! 

4 Rookie Photographer Mistakes

photography tips

When I was a teenager, I picked up a camera and started clicking the shutter at everything my eyes could see. I would capture everything from dirt on the sidewalk to candids of my family and friends. And I’ll be honest: I had no idea what I was doing. But over time, after hours of practice and repetition, I slowly got better. And just like a lot of self-taught photographers, I made virtually all of the technical and logistical mistakes along the way to finding my voice with photography. But throughout the years, I have managed to figure a few things out, and I thought I would share some of the mistakes I made, in hopes that it helps out other emerging photographers.

1. Shooting in JPEG. When I first started out, I thought it was crazy that anyone would want to shoot in RAW. It took up so much more room than JPEG and used up vital space on my computer. But the good thing is that it also captures a lot more information in the files, so you have more options when doing things like color correction or brightening shadows, for instance. You can also print the images much larger in the RAW file format. Not to mention that every time you open a JPEG file, it loses data, which is, obviously, really bad. You don’t want your files to be deteriorating every time you need to open them in Photoshop. So if you don’t have enough space on your computer, simply buy an external hard drive to put the files on. 

2. Not Backing Up Your Stuff. Speaking of external drives, another huge mistake is not having backups of your work. It’s way too risky to rely on one piece of technology when they break or fail so easily. Especially as a wedding photographer, I just can’t risk losing those precious, once-in-a-lifetime images. I highly recommend two different places minimum to store your (hopefully RAW) files, whether that’s external drives, CDs, or using something from the Cloud like Dropbox. With 2 and 5 Terabyte drives becoming more accessible and inexpensive, you will be able to rest easy knowing your files are backed up, and not at the expense of your wallet.

3. Using the Wrong Lenses. A beginner might be temped to just use the kit lenses that usually accompany the first DSLR body they get. Please, I am begging you, don’t. Get some higher quality, more durable lenses. Lenses that have higher apertures (3.5-2.0 range) will allow you to shoot with lower light conditions and create a shallow depth of field to help the subject pop from the background. If you can’t afford to go all out and purchase a new lens, you might even consider renting them (I used to do this all the time when shooting weddings-works like a charm!). Yes, these options are more expensive, but you can immediately see the results. If you don’t believe me, do a quick test. Take a kit lens and shoot something and then try a higher quality lens. Compare the two and I can guarantee you will see stunning improvements between the images. It’s another key element to taking your work from being good to being professional.

4. Not Charging Enough. As a student, I used to feel guilty for charging my clients. Someone would say, “Hey, what would you charge to do my daughter’s senior pictures?” and I would stutter around the question before throwing out a number that would barely cover my gas money. In my head I was thinking, how can I charge very much when I am barely older than the girl getting her senior pictures taken?! Well, here’s how. You have to factor in the cost of all the gear you are using and your time as a professional. If you have quality work, it doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 48. You have knowledge and a specific skill set, which is very valuable and worth the cost. I have found that more often than not, people are willing to pay more to know that they are getting professional quality work. Lastly, don’t forget to have confidence in yourself. Just keep practicing, and you are on your way to conquering the photog world!

Why It’s Important to Invite Your Wedding Photographer to the Meal

photography tips

Brides magazine recently published a truly terribly misinformed article advising brides not to feed their wedding photographers, stating that photographers should pack a lunch themselves or make sure it’s in the contract. As a professional wedding photographer, I can tell you from personal experience that not feeding your photographer is a huge mistake. Wedding photographers are there from the very beginning of the day, usually starting with the bride’s hair and makeup early in the morning. A typical day is anywhere from 6-12 hours, and we are on our feet shooting and working our hardest the entire day to make sure we get everything. We don’t get breaks. Most of the time, we don’t even get lunch. So, brides, not only should you feed your wedding photographer, but you should save a spot for them at your reception to eat dinner.

A lot of brides choose to give a vendor meal to the wedding photographer along with the DJ and other people who are working on the wedding day because it is less expensive than the meal that the guests will be eating. That vendor meal typically consists of a cold sandwich and a side, like chips. I am here to tell you that a vendor meal and ushering the photographer out to sit in a small room outside of the reception area to eat will not lead to a happy photographer. And brides, the last thing you want on your wedding day is a disgruntled photographer.

Your wedding photographer is the person who will be with you the entire day. We are working hard and taking literally thousands of photos to document this special day of your life. We are the only ones who are there the entire time, following you from getting ready to the first look through the “I do’s” and late into the night, usually until you leave. It’s more than just a business agreement. We are experiencing some of the most previous and intimate moments of your life, and we are capturing it. Giving us a hot meal and a place to sit for a few minutes at the reception is a small, well deserved token of appreciation that you can do for your photographer, and I promise that it will go a long way.

Too often, wedding photographers are treated like they are just another an employee. But we have a unique position on the day of the wedding. We are artists, creating images that will document this important day for you, and that you will treasure for years to come. We want you to have photographs that capture great memories from the day. You are letting us into your life, and in exchange, we are putting our heart and soul into these images.

The cost of a few more dollars and a seat at a table will have a huge impact: getting a short break from all day of standing, getting some hot food for nourishment and a cold glass of water for hydration will leave us energized and ready to photograph all of the dancing that is sure to follow dinner. Not to mention the appreciation we will have for the bride and groom. The extra effort you give will be reciprocated by the extra effort we will put into your photographs, guaranteed.

How to Talk Camera in 5 Minutes or Less

photography tips

Going to a photo gallery opening? Want to impress your new art major girlfriend? Or just want to sound cool when conversing with friends? Check out my quick guide for camera terms!

Lens: This one is easy. It’s that piece of glass that is attached to your camera. A Zoom Lensis simply one that zooms in and out so you can crop how much of the scene that you want to be in the frame. A Prime Lens just means that it cannot zoom because the focal length is fixed and unmoving. How to use it in a sentence: “Wow, nice prime lens! I bet that shoots so sharp!” 

Exposure: This word means how much light is being exposed in a photograph. How do you know when a photo is overexposed (too much light is being let in the camera, so it’s too dark), underexposed (not enough light is being let in, so it’s too bright) or the correct exposure? Well, it’s a good exposure when you can still make out details in the shadow areas and in the highlight areas.

But please note that photographers use the word “exposure” interchangeably. Some variations: “I just took an exposure of that tree, and boy does it look great!” “Ugh, I’m so annoyed because my camera keeps overexposing the sky. I’ll have to bring up the shadows in Photoshop.”

Focus: What can be clearly and sharply seen in the photo. The out of focus area is affectionately called bokeh and can deliver some beautiful results (see my other post about bokeh here). How to use it in a sentence: “Just got some great bokeh from shooting really shallow!”

Shutter Speed: To take a photograph, the camera opens its shutter and then closes it again. The term shutter speed refers to how quickly or slowly the camera does that (and modern cameras can do it really fast—up to 4,000th of a second!) Common shutter speeds could be anywhere from 1/250th of a second or all the way up to 15 seconds for a photo taken at night!

Aperture: It can also be called an F-stop. The aperture works together with the shutter speed to create a photo. How big or small of aperture you use to execute a photograph will determine two things: 1) how much light is let into the photo and 2) how much is in focus.

An aperture such as f/16 or f/22 is a very small opening, so not much light would be let in (called underexposing). You would need to leave the shutter open for a lot longer so enough light would enter into the camera. The reverse (having an aperture of, say, f/2.8) would be a big opening and much more light would be let in, so the shutter would be faster because the camera would not need to be open nearly as long to let in enough light. Use it in a sentence: “Looks like I need to adjust my shutter speed to a bit slower so I can capture the detail in those shadow areas.”

Making sense yet? There’s just a few more to go, and you’ll be a camera expert!

Depth of Field: It sounds crazy, but actually how open your aperture is will determine how much depth is in focus. If you want everything in focus, use an aperture of f/16 or f/22. If you want just a little bit in focus (creating bokeh!) use, say, f/2.8 or f/1.4.

ISO: It determines how sensitive your camera is to light. How to use it in a sentence: “I better turn my ISO down before my shot gets too grainy!”

White balance: It determines how warm or cold your photo is. Now, I know what you’re thinking: How can a photo have a temperature?! But it does! Warm means it is a bit too yellow, and cold is too blue. This can be easily adjusted in Photoshop. Use it in a sentence: “Wow, the sun is so bright today that all of my shots are turning out really warm!”

I hope that helped you with some camera terminology! If all else fails, just say, “Are you Nikon or Cannon?” and the photographer will talk for at least fifteen minutes about their preference, so just nod along and you’ll be in the clear.

3 Skills You Need To Be A Wedding Photographer

photography tips

Being a wedding photographer is an intense and quite stressful job with long hours (and benefits of dinner and wedding cake at the end of the day). But besides all that, wedding photographers have to be very versatile when shooting. Wedding photographers are basically three types of photographers all combined into one.

1. Documentary Photojournalist: Those candids of the bride and her mom after she puts her dress on. The photo of that laugh that the bride and groom share at the reception. All the dance floor fun caught on camera. These are the product of a photojournalist, someone who captures all of the important moments, and the small details too. Try to always be on the lookout for special moments to photograph. The key to this type of photography is to place yourself in the background, so no one feels like they are being photographed, and so natural moments can happen. Best lens for the job: 70-200mm f/2.8

2. Portrait Photographer: The well-lit, natural-light headshot of the bride after she gets ready. All of the perfectly-posed portraiture of the wedding party at the church. The gorgeous sunset length photo of the bride and groom that looks like it could be on the cover of Vogue. These are the photos from the portrait photographer, someone who knows how to pose people and use lighting and angles to their advantage. To shoot successful wedding portraits and group photos, know your light source(s) and become an expert at posing groups of two to twenty. Best lens for the job: 50mm f/1.4

3. Fine Art Photographer: The macro shots of the wedding rings. The perfectly composed still life images of the groom’s shoes, with his tie delicately draped over the side. The long exposure shot of the bride and groom’s nighttime exit with sparklers. All of these are the product of a fine art photographer, who lets their creative side out and turns the most simple shot into a work of art. For the best creative and fine art wedding photos, try stepping outside your comfort zone with new angles, dramatic lighting, or an interesting background. Best lens for the job: Macro 105mm f/2.8 

So, the next time you see a wedding photographer frantically running around at the reception or artfully posing a group of eighty people after the ceremony, thank them for their hard work. Or just hand them some cake.