February 2012

Tips for Photographers going on a Shoot

When you start out in the photography world you soon realise that things can get a little complicated when you expect a certain result, but end up with something different! This is also true for some situations where you expect things to go one way and you end up with it going another way. More often than not these things happen due to poor planning and/or you forgetting something which could affect the outcome of a shoot.

Before you start a shoot (the day/evening before):

  • Double check everything

Has it ever happened to you that you arrive at a location ready to start snapping photos and you realise you forgot something at home? If you are lucky it may not be vital, but if you forgot your camera battery in the charger at home or your memory card holder on the desk at you PC then you may have a problem! Make a list of your equipment and check off you equipment the day before a big shoot and again before you leave for the shoot. This may seem like a time waster, but it could save you embarrassment. When you leave a shoot, use this same ensure you packed everything. You don’t want to drive all the way back, especially if it is far, for something small but vital to your photography kit.

  • Scout your location

If you are planning a shoot at an unfamiliar location, go there a day or two before at around the same time you would be shooting and check what the lighting is like and if anything at the location will make things difficult. Visualize as shooting path and where you would like to move your model(s) or other people you will be photographing. Plan how you would like to shoot the shots and what lens(es) you will be using as well as lighting including flashes and reflectors.

  • Empty your memory cards

This seems obvious, but I have heard of so many people starting a shoot only to realise after 40 or 50 photos that the memory card is full and it is too late to do a format!

  • Charge your batteries

Another one that seems obvious, but this is part of double checking. It is not only your camera batteries that need charging, but also those for your flash and any other equipment you may have that uses batteries. It is also a good idea to invest in a battery charge meter. I also like to take along spare non-rechargeable batteries to a shoot, just in case.


At the location (or even in studio)

  • Check your ISO setting

We all change the ISO setting sooner or later and you don’t want to do a high ISO shoot when there is more than enough light for ISO100 adding noise to you photos! Believe me, this has happens.

  • Check white balance

Many photographers shoot in RAW and just opt for auto white balance which they will tweak later in processing, but if possible, set the white balance at the location every now and again as it will make things easier and better looking. Get a white balance card and learn to use it.

  • Check exposure

Most camera have a exposure compensation setting, set it to what is appropriate for what you are shooting and don’t settle for “I will fix is in post-processing.” Checking exposure includes checking you metering method!

  • Check File mode

Check that your camera is shooting in RAW. You never know when you have changed this, or perhaps someone else. Do NOT assume just because it was in RAW the last time you did a shoot it will still be in RAW. If you are not shooting in RAW, look up the HUGE advantages of shooting in RAW on google.


I hope the above few tips help a few of you out there. These things a very simple, but VERY important.


Special Offer for February 2012

Limited Special Offer (till end Feb 2012)!

Pay only for the photos you want @ R20 per photo in studio.
If you choose more than 10 photos I will include the extra shots at no-charge.
Valentines couples, now is your chance to get those special studio photos at an affordable price!
Shoots limited to 15 minute sessions with 1 photo minimum.
Applies to in studio shoots only. Must bring own flash disk, memory stick or Blank CD/DVD disk.
Photos supplied at highest resolution, so make sure you have 160Mb (10 photos) or more free on your storage media when arriving.
Contact me on: 076 350 6221

Kickboxing Photography – Klerksdorp Kickboxing Club

Earlier this month I was contracted by WOW Magazine (www.wowmagazine.co.za) to do photography at the Klerksdorp Kickboxing Club for an article celebrating their 10th year and an advertisement. I realised that this was going to be a challenge since they wanted the real feel of action during a normal training session. Nothing would be staged and all the shots I took would be of real training.

I decided to take a long two wireless flashes to cover the lighting effects as I knew that the indoor venue had high ceilings and lights, but not nearly enough. To get a fast enough shutter speed for the action without causing motion while not under-exposing the images you need more light!

Kickboxing ActionAt the venue I had a brief chat with Sensei Charl Pretorius who informed me I had open ground and could move anywhere during the training. I also explained a couple of idea of what he wanted. I set up my wireless flashes on two stands and started following the action.

Kickboxing is very fast! Getting a shot was not the issue as I could simply slap a flash on the camera and aim straight at the trainees, but that would result in flat and boring photos, so I moved my wireless flashes back and forth, around them and changed the hight. The trainees never stay in the same position so timing and luck have to come together with the correct light position for a good result.

In the ends I had quite a number of photos that looked interesting and different to that which you would just grab with a normal camera. What is the art in taking a photo anyone would be able to capture? (more…)

How many edited Wedding Photos?

There are many opinions and debates surrounding the editing of photos and what actually constitutes “editing.” I used to refer to “adjustment” and “editing” as separate mechanisms, but now refer to any change in the original image as “editing.”

Many, if not most, wedding photographers will set up wedding packages with a certain number of photos assigned to each package. Irrespective of the number of photos taken by the photographer, the client will only be issued with these photos in an edited form. I have chosen a different route and set up my packages based on time spent at the wedding. I supply every possible photo to the client unless the photo was an absolute disaster. The beauty in any photo finally lies with the client, and not the view or opinion of the photographer. I edit every photo that I take to my client instead of just supplying the minimum expected. On average I will supply 800-1200 edited photos per wedding.

As an additional bonus I edited specific photos with extra copies which have a different look and editing style to accompany the original. This gives the customer the choice of which of the copies they prefer to have reprinted from their DVD photo disk. The DVD photo disk contains high resolution copies of each photo, and since the original sizes are so large I may provide 3 or more disks.

Photo editing in different stylesIn the example photo is a series of photos as I would supply on a disk. The original (on the left of the series) is complimented by two or more enhanced edit copies. The choice of which photo is preferred is now left to the client, and not the photographer. Many photographers will only supply the edited copies and the client is forced to accept the editing style the photographer has chosen for the photo. In the case of the example photo the original is slightly adjusted for colour-balance and exposure, then a copy is made for further editing. Once edited I may feel I would like to re-edit another copy of the original for a different look. This process may repeat itself again for more copies, but the original and all edits are always included.

Does your wedding photographer have backups?

Hiring a wedding photographer who does not have backup equipment is like going on a road trip without a spare tyre!

No matter how good a photographer is, when your photographer does not own at least 1 backup camera you run the risk of losing some or all of those special moments which can never really be recreated. In today’s technologically advanced world even the best of the best cameras can fail. What happens when your hired photographers’ camera fails during your wedding day? Yes, you may get some photos and a refund, but do you REALLY want a refund, or would you prefer the photos that preserve the memory of that special day.


Just a few pieces of my backup equipment for wedding photographyThere are NO excuses that are valid for not owning backup equipment if you are a professional wedding photographer. It is accepted that when you start out in Wedding photographey you may not own any or all the backup equipment needed, but a client should be made aware of this as well as the risks involved.

When I started out in Wedding photography I had only a single camera, but I informed every customer that this is what I had and that in a worst case scenario would refund the full amount paid for the wedding photography if I am unable to produce an acceptable set. I still do this even though I have a full range of backup equipment ranging from backup camera to extra lenses to extra flashes, batteries, chargers, stands, tripods, softboxes, memory cards and even remote flash triggers!

When you want to hire a wedding photographer you should ask more than just their to see their photo portfolio. Ask your wedding photographer what backup equipment they have in case their camera, lens, flash or other important piece of equipment should fail.

Chances are that equipment will not fail, but I have experienced other factors that had me resort to backup equipment.

Imagine one of the following scenarios on your wedding day. You arrive at the church and start walking in. The photographer rushes in ahead of you to get that perfect entry shot, but on his way in a guest is just inside the doorway holding an object hard enough to crack the lens as the photographer bumps into him. Photographer switches cameras and carries on without blinking. During the ceremony the broken part is replaced with another spare and everything continues without the bride even knowing anything had happened!

Here is another: During the exit from church shots a guest with a camera rushes in to grab a few shots of the shower of rose leaves on the bridal couple and accidentally knocks into the hired photography and breaks his on-camera flash right off the mounting! Hired photographer clicks off the remaining footpiece, clips on backup flash and continues photographing without the wedding couple even noticing!

When you hire a photographer without backup equipment, just remember the above as they happened to me and would have resulted in loss of photos.

Ideally your photographer should have:

  • 2 Cameras
  • Spare batteries for cameras
  • Spare Flash unit
  • Spare lens for each camera

Perhaps it is overkill, but I have the above and more, using 6 lenses, 4 camera batteries, 20 flash batteries, 6 memory cards, 3 flash units, 2 tripod stands, 2 flash unit stands, 2 soft-boxes and 107cm scrim and smaller extras all in spare.

Don’t get caught next to the road with a flat tyre when this road trip is going to be your most important one!

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