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Beginner Photography: Street

Hey folks! This week’s topic is street photography, which I love. I’m really excited to have Gisele Duprez on the live show. She’s an incredible street photographer and a good friend of our crew. You can see a blog that Gisele wrote for us a while back here.

You can also see my first post on street photography here, which, frankly is better than this one. San Francisco served for some great shots. But to be fair, I was shooting over a whole weekend. This week I just went out for a few hours. My family went with me down to Kelly Drive, which is a lovely jogging/biking trail along the river in Philadelphia. It was a nice day and there were a lot of people out. I didn’t want to capture joggers and bikers though, as that’s where I’d shot for my sports blog previously.

There are a lot of challenges to street photography, but many of them are self-imposed. It’s scary to photograph strangers! I have the tendency to never get close enough, which can cause me to miss focus and include too much busyness in the background. When shooting street photography, you want to look for interactions between people. To zone in on a moment in the midst of a lot of unfocused chaos. But what you’ll see a lot of is people on their phones, or determinedly zipping through a crowd. It can take a lot of shots to find something worth seeing.

Technically, here are some tips. Using a smaller camera with a movable screen on the back is great. You can hold your camera down and pull out the screen which can disguise where you are pointing your camera and whether or not you’re even shooting. Holding the camera to your eye is certainly more conspicuous. I choose to shoot on aperture priority at a low to moderate f/stop so that I have some leeway on my focus. I almost always convert my shots to black and white in post to eliminate distractions which inevitably exist in street photography. Here’s a helpful video from Chelsea on the subject:

Here’s what I got:

f/4, 1/400th, ISO 2oo

This one is my favorite, the eye contact made it.


f/4, 1/640th, ISO 200


f/5, 1/400th, ISO 200


f/4, 1/1250, ISO 200

I realize now that my camera chose a crazy fast shutter speed to freeze the water, which was unnecessary. 


f/5.3, 1/400th, ISO 200


So those turned out okay. The first shot is the only one I would really keep, but I love street photography and practice makes perfect. I have a few spots I know I’d like to go out and try again. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with this week and to hearing from Gisele on Thursday!

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Live Show Recap: Portraits with Chris Gampat

We had special guest Chris Gampat, The Phoblographer, on our live show this week reviewing your portraits! It was a lot of fun, he was a great addition to the team.

First we find out that he’s an expert in all things film photography, eateries in New York, and camera bags. Also that Chris’ parents were camera bags and he has possibly never met them.


Get our shirts on sale from! (Does not come with Justin)

We also have Stop It coming up this show! A handful of your sent in your worst photos and we get to tear into them.

Okay, let’s get into your photo submissions:

-invisible corn on the cob? Or Italian gesturing?

-Chris like creatures that eat children

James Birtwhistle, first pick!

-the dangers of shooting white clothes


-cool wig

Over to me for your questions:

-your favorite gear for doing on-location portraiture? Chris loves the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 with the 6D. For film he uses a Fujifilm JW693 film camera with a rangefinder 90mm f/5 lens and the Mamiya RB67 Pro S. Chelsea likes a 70-200 but also the Sigma 24-105. Tony likes the new a9 and the 70-200.

-how much of the portrait subject’s body do you keep in the shot? Depends on the use and your artistic preference! There’s goo discussion of Chris’ Tindr profile.

-(I don’t listen well) can white clothes for a portrait cause a problem? Yes! You get reflection from the surroundings color casting on the face.

Time for Stop It! Where we get to make fun of your pictures which you volunteered to us for this purpose.

-cool knife

-blurry rabbit

-no focal point church “clutterers”

-sweet hat


-dead body?


-lady and a grow

-“doing a doody in a bud?”¬†

-don’t go in

-Canadian Napoleon?

-birds are not dinosaurs

-spot color death

-sweet Segways, dude

-humping cows

-panorama mistake

-jumping girl


-be careful getting your heel stuck in your underwear

-don’t look up Prickasso

Okay, back to real submissions:

-gorgeous mood, Jim!


-textured face


-smoking lady, Tony misses smoking


Back to me for some questions:

-$$$ thanks James, Kevin, and Rob of course

-Rob, we’re glad you’re alive. Don’t let your battery expand.

-what’s a portrait vs a head shot? A head shot is a type of portrait that is generally meant to market a person professionally or otherwise.

-Chris insults nerds

Back to photos:

-more smoking that Tony loves

-drinking on a mountain

-Andy Shields always kills it

-more smoking!

-weird disembodied head

-fancy hat

backlit beauty

-double exposure

-“I reached for the P but you beat me to it” “You sound like Donald Trump”

-hold on a tick

-album cover

Krystal Weir!

-great color

-and more!

-a puppy always gets a pick

Final comment:

-we didn’t save Rob’s life, but he is okay

And that’s our show! Chris was great, get his course at

Dogs can see some color, fine. But birds aren’t dinosaurs.

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Beginner Photography: Portraits

More portraits! I made my husband, Eric, model for me almost a year ago here¬†and then again in some family portraits here. There are certainly some things I’ve improved on in the past year, but some things I can’t seem to get past. I wanted to shoot Eric somewhere other than our backyard, which seems to be the setting for many of my projects. He’s a big, tattooed gentleman, so I wanted a setting that fit his look. There’s a great graffitied underpass on our hiking trail that I’ve shot in before that I thought would work well. It was a bright and humid day, so I thought being in the more muted light under the underpass would be flattering, but what it wound up being was too dark for my camera. My biggest complaint of the Olympus E-M10 is how terrible it is in low light. It made the focusing near-impossible and the images came out pretty noisy.¬†

Here’s a great video from T&C on shooting portraits outdoors:

Now I just need to work on how to teach my model to pose, or not feel horribly uncomfortable in front of the camera. He did great though!

My first handful of shots were in front of the most vibrant area of graffiti, but they all came out unusable because I missed focus on every single one. Then I did a series in front of the lines of the underpass, these were also so noisy, but I got a few that worked well. The last handful I took outside of the underpass but still in the shadow of it that worked better. Here’s what I came up with:


f/5, 1/30th, ISO 1600


f/5, 1/40th, ISO 1600


f/5.3, 1/80th, ISO 320


f/5, 1/200th, ISO 200


The last shot is for sure the best and the most representative of Eric. He looks comfortable, he’s got a natural smile, and the lighting is nice. I did some post processing on all these shots in Lightroom for the crop and exposure. I also messed with the noise and sharpening to try and reduce the noise on his face without losing the detail in his eyes especially.

This week’s live show is on portraits (obviously) and we’ll have special guest Chris Gampat! It’ll be a great show and I look forward to seeing everyone’s submissions.

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Live Show Recap: Fashion with Roxy Rodriguez

This show was so fun! Roxy is an absolute delight and was such a wonderful guest. If you aren’t familiar with Roxy’s work, you can see her portfolio here. She was a contestant on Top Photographer and was a fan favorite. Roxy reviewed your fashion photos with us this week.

You may have heard rumors of Tony and Chelsea being the cheese couple, you can see why here.

Next week’s topic is animals! And Cowboy was in the studio with T&C.

We start the show off with some photo news:

Now to your pictures, here are our favorites and some fashion photography tips:

  • pay attention to details! Hair ties, nails, etc.
  • coat
  • “I think her arms are looking great, but her knees need work.”
  • great tips on styling here
  • a big theme this show seems to be mismatching the clothes and the setting

Time for a portfolio! Daniel Skog, you get a man card. Maybe combine your categories and pare down photos. Your architecture is a stand out.

They get real weird with the Squarespace ad here.

Now over to me for your questions:

  • how do you define fashion vs lifestyle or boudoir? Attitude. Tell a story in an image that fashion is just an element of.
  • what percentage of your shots are planned vs incidental? Roll with the punches, it can go either way.

Back to photos:

  • glamour, frokeh
  • “fashion is so boring”
  • cloning out stray hair is hard
  • lots of people shooting with the 50mm f/1.8
  • Roxy has shot with a 60D almost her whole career with a manual lens! Then Adorama gave her a 5D Mark IV.
  • Chelsea sings some Journey
  • bored dude
  • howbouda?

Back to me for some questions:

  • my dog tries to break into my house
  • how do you style, shoot and model yourself? Don’t! Get a team.
  • what do you do when you shoot a model but it doesn’t come out well and you don’t want to share the photos? Tell the model they can share it without your name!¬†
  • is it harder to do a creative shoot when you don’t like the fashion? Yes.

Back to some last photos:

A few more questions from you before we head out:

  • how to get paid shoots as an experienced photog? Act like you have clients! Do test shoots to fill out your portfolio, shoot what you’re looking to get hired for.
  • Roxy, the colors in your photos? Use color to tell the story you want for that shoot.

And that’s our show! Check out Roxy and follow her on Instagram. It was great to meet her and we look forward to working with her in the future!

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Live Show Recap: Portraits with Scott Borrero

Hey! We had a big get for last night’s live show. We had the winner of Adorama’s Top Photographer,¬†Scott Borrero¬†on the show! He’s a great photographer, a prolific Instagrammer, and Twitter ranter. He was so fun to talk to and gave great constructive criticism for the portraits we reviewed. If you haven’t watched Top Photographer yet, you can see it at¬†¬†and watch the past episodes and look forward to the next season!

He talks about some behind-the-scene info on the show, like that in the first episode they only had 30 minutes to both shoot and edit! Here’s his tips on getting Instagram followers (which, like it or not, is part of the business):

  • be consistent
  • put in time, quality over quantity
  • enjoy it

Engaging on social media can get you work, bottom line. Adapting to the time is important and it’s a way to market yourself for free.

So we don’t get into a ton of your photos this week, that’s just how it is when we have a guest, but there’s a lot to learn from the information given in this show. Don’t worry, we’ll do portraits again (we seem to every few months.)

We get into your shots¬†here. We hardly give any picks this show, I would just watch through to hear Scott’s critiques, they’re really specific and helpful.

  • first¬†pick!¬†
  • someone submitted a photo of¬†Chelsea¬†and Scott didn’t realize it was her

Over to me for some viewer questions for Scott, and some weird stuff happens with my head:

  • Were things tense between contestants on the show?¬†
  • What’s your workflow from camera to Instagram?¬†

Next we review a portfolio, Deveney Photography. Scott, Chelsea and Tony all have different ideas about pricing pages. Good “About Me” page, try and put all your sections on the main page, use a different leading image, there are better in your portfolio.¬†

We take a few minutes to look through Scott’s Instagram (@scottborrero) to see how you get 372,000 followers! He bought a point and shoot to take video and to shoot casually.

 Now back to viewer submissions:

  • “you gotta thump it, just thump it real hard”
  • only the second pick of the night!
  • Scott talks photo cliches

Over to me for some more questions:

  • ¬†what point-and-shoot did you get? Canon G7-X Mark II
  • Smaakjeks is insane
  • how did you get your first business client? Going door to door with business cards!

We finish out the show with your worst photo submissions! We asked people to stump us and send in pictures you thought we could not say anything nice about.

  • “Oh a bone wreath, Scott, I’m gonna let you take the lead on this one!”
  • “a mother and father bringing another generation into the world”
  • “I think what’s nice is they keep their grass at a really good height?”
  • “the birth of a serial killer”
  • “I hate to see like, an entire nose, I only like to see a small fraction of a nose”
  • Tony is really good at this.
  • “This kid came from those freaky shadows and now he’s a monster”
  • “He’s a badger that just turned into a man”
  • possibly a prison tattoo

And that’s our show! What a blast. Go watch Top Photographer¬†to see the competition and Scott’s win.¬†

Tune in next week to submit your best photos of 2017! Happy holidays to you all, have a great week until we see you.

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Beginner Photography: Portraits

I feel like my photography is one step forward, two steps back. Once I feel the slightest bit confident, I have a shoot that I just cannot get right. This is one of those weeks. I’m starting to feel limited by my resources. I would have killed for an external flash for this week’s project. My Olympus does not seem to do well in low light, even though I didn’t feel like my setting was particularly dim!

So this week the subject is portraits, which we did a few months back (you can see my blog post on it here.) It is discouraging to see that my shots then were better than what I came up with this week, but the setting was certainly more conducive to shooting portraits.

So, since I took individual portraits last time, this week I decided to try and take some family shots of my husband Eric, my daughter Eloise and me. Here’s a super helpful video that Tony made on shooting groups:

Here are some tips from that video, some I followed, and some I didn’t:

  • Neutral clothing. You don’t want distracting logos or bright colors busying up the shot.
  • Clean background. If you don’t have a home studio, pick a clean background and get as much distance as you can between your subjects and the background so that you can get some background blur.
  • Use soft light. It’s very difficult to light everyone evenly, so if you can use a bounce flash or a softbox, do.
  • Shoot from the waist up.¬†The face is the most important subject, you don’t need the whole body.
  • Camera Settings.¬†Use a moderately fast shutter speed to freeze any movement, somewhere between 1/60th and 1/125th, depending on if children are involved. You’ll need a high f/stop as well to get multiple people in focus. Somewhere between f/8 up to f/16 depending on how many people you are shooting. Your ISO is going to have to go up accordingly.

So I wound up breaking a lot of these rules, and my shot suffered as a result. I don’t have a home studio, it was far too cold to shoot outside, so I though I’d try getting an environmental shoot of our family near the Christmas tree.¬†That meant we were using indoor lighting, a mix of the tree lights, a regular lamp, and the small bit of outdoor light we had coming through. That made a pretty inhospitable environment. Here’s what I came up with:

¬†You can tell just by looking at it that my f/stop¬†and shutter speed are too low (0.6 seconds? f/4.5?) I also didn’t realize I had my ISO set to 200 for the whole time. I’m not sure what’s in focus, but it’s not our faces.

And that was the best of those.


This is essentially a snapshot. Eloise wanted to pose with the cat, who is facing the opposite direction. 


So that night was a flop. The next night I thought I’d try shooting in another room that had slightly better light. But you’ll see the shadows cast by overhead lighting.

This actually came out a bit better.¬†My ISO was jacked up this time, so it’s a bit noisy, but seem to have gotten more in focus.


My husband in the chair where he draws.


So these photos are fine. My mom will be glad to have them. But they are not good. Did I mention how hard it is to shoot a photo with yourself in it? Because oh man, what a focusing nightmare. 

Here’s a whole page of videos on how to shoot portraits. Seems I need to revisit them myself!

And just for fun, here’s an in-between shot, once our dog Hungry busted into the room:

Look at that guilty dog face.

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Live Show Recap: Portraits with Matt Granger

Guys! We had Matt Granger Skyped into the show this week and it was a blast. We review your portraits and we got some gems!

Matt is doing a trip to Bhutan which he tells us about here.

NO SHOW NEXT WEEK! Remember and don’t be disappointed. But in two weeks we’ll be looking at your landscapes.

We start the show with Chit-Chat, everyone’s favorite segment where we talk about mean/funny/weird¬†things that people say to us on YouTube.

  • Nkeyah and David, hittin’ on Tony
  • if you missed it, Nigel Barker was on a bonus live show this week! Today is the last day to submit to¬†to compete on Nigel’s new show, Top Photographer.
  • moon troof. “oh, you speak maniac”
  • erratically flying head
  • “this guy spends his days listening to mowers.” TLC “Scrubs” sing-off!
  • Home Alone-ing

Okay, we start looking at your portraits here. Please forgive the crazy echo on Matt, we get it fixed around 18 minutes:

  • toilet pose
  • first pick of the day
  • this baby is watching the news, and bad things are happening in the world”
  • this baby is having feelings”
  • balloon fro
  • ¬†“Matt, how’d this person get a picture of you?” “people don’t realize how much they hate Christmas.”
  • that baby has her Phd in posing” “do you think that baby’s gonna kill him after?”
  • first portrait attempt, first pick!
  • “it’s like when someone points out how you walk¬†and then you forget how to do it”
  • great mood, great lines

Over to me for some questions for the crew:

  • jack o’lantern camera?
  • how to get your model relaxed for a portrait? Weed. Jk, be set up totally beforehand, have inspiration photos and a run sheet prepared, etc.
  • Best portrait lenses for Nikon DX and for Canon EF? Depends on your setting says Matt. Tony loves the Sigma 50-100 f/1.8.

Now to a portfolio! Get a more professional portrait of yourself! Don’t include multiple shots from the same shoot. Your horror shots are great, you have good range of styles. Maybe change up your cover page.

T&C and Matt are meeting up in Germany at Photokina! You can meet up with them too.

Now back to portraits:

  • “she’s got the same bra¬†as Tony”
  • great color
  • “Is that Obi Wan or Hasan¬†in a bed sheet”
  • unconventional¬†composition
  • “Matt, could we do some cosplay¬†stuff? Like I dress up as Pikachu and you take pictures of me?”
  • so many good babies¬†this episode
  • lovely B&W
  • “I feel like this guy’s my dad¬†and we went out to lunch and I told him something that disappointed him”
  • they just tear into the styling of this¬†shoot and it cracks me up. “She’s wearing so much but so little.” Also the birth of the phrase “American teeth.”
  • portrait winner¬†for the night

Matt’s connection starts breaking up, and it’s hilarious. The show devolves from here.

  • lovely portrait by Andrew
  • “I feel like they just got their faces painted¬†at a carnival.” “that’s what you feel like? What makes you feel that?”
  • tips on group¬†portraits, make a pyramid
  • story in the sunglasses

Chelsea channels me for more questions:

  • Photokina plans?
  • comment on this image¬†on the screen real quick, lovely
  • how to make a model look taller? Put her next to short people, build small props, put her next to an innaccurate ruler, platform shoes, corrective surgery.

Back to portraits:

Back to me:

  • maternity shoot tips? Keep it classy. Just don’t do weird stuff.
  • how to keep in fresh and not get burned out? Collaborate, be grateful that you’re paying the bills taking pictures, switch genres, shoot for yourself in between paid shoots.
  • tips on the meteor shower? Night photography tips!

Here’s Matt singing No Scrubs, the thing you never knew you didn’t want.

Sharky James who is great posted a photo on Twitter of him with TLC. They were my favorite group in 5th grade.

Chelsea wants to be thanked for being here. Thanks Chels!


So again, no show next week, but in two weeks tune in for Landscapes! Byyyyye.

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Beginner Photography: Portraits

Hello friends, here goes my beginner photography training, week two. This week I’m working on portraits in preparation for our live show on Thursday with special guest Matt Granger!

So I should point out (for the sake of my vanity) that I am shooting with my phone. I have no other camera at this time, so I can pretend that I am limited by my gear and that is the reason I cannot create beautiful works of art. Really what it means is I can’t do the amount of editing I would like to do to my images to make them presentable.

I shot some pictures of my five year old daughter, Eloise, and of my husband Eric. I have to say, Eric’s came out better than Eloise’s, if only because he knows how to sit still. I chose our ivy-covered stone wall in the back yard as the backdrop, as that is really the only good option. Not to mention the natural light. So I shot them on two separate days,¬†but both coming up on the golden hour of the evening.¬†

Eloise is hard to photograph. She wiggles a lot, has no concept of smiling normally in photos, and hunches her shoulders like Lurch. But she’s adorable, so I still got a few shots that I can live with. Unfortunately the focusing on my phone camera is not the best, so who knows what part of the image it focused on.


So, not great. Her hair is a bit of a mess, her dress is wrinkly, and I for sure missed focus on the eyes.


A bit better. I got a real smile, but the previous errors are still there.


This one I like just because it captures her spirit well. She’s a wild child and an animal lover. But the background is crowded¬†and¬†her dress is a mess.

Eric was easier to shoot, although he is terribly uncomfortable in front of the camera. I did some editing on my favorite photo of him, following the directions on how to add background blur in this tutorial.¬†If I had more time, I’d do it to all of the shots I took. I might do some of Eloise’s later today. ¬†Here’s the before and after:







Isn’t he handsome? The differences are subtle, but I removed the yellow cord at the bottom left of the frame and added just a bit of background blur to make him stand out. I had tried to crop so that his face was in the right third of the frame, but it felt too cramped, I didn’t leave enough space to do it properly.¬†

So all in all I think the background and lighting worked well, they both have catch lights in their eyes, the light is soft and flattering. Unfortunately the focusing isn’t too precise and my tiniest model needs some styling and posing help. I have a feeling they are going to be forced to grow as models as I grow as a photographer. What tips would you give me that I can apply within my limited resources?

As always, feel free to learn along with me and share your progress. I post images on Instagram with the hashtag #stunnersoninsta as many of our viewers do!

To learn more about shooting portraits, here are some great free tutorials on shooting portraits and here are some on editing.

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Live Show Recap: Portraits that Break a Rule

Hey fam! This week we look at your portraits that break a rule intentionally. And… some of you got it. We’ll be off next week, but the week after that, April 28th, we’ll be doing light painting.

Tony is drinking something that makes him misspeak a lot this show, so that’s fun! #teats

The Buying Guide has been updated! Stop asking me your dumb gear questions and get this book instead.


Let’s look at your portraits:

  • awesomely dark
  • contemplative
  • “I can’t see her hand, but I assume she has a little knife”

a rule-breaking tip: nail every aspect but the one intentionally broken rule

My sound got broken, as per usual, so I’ll show up later in the show.

Let’s look at a portfolio! Really good portraits, the layout works well with your work. Add a pricing and contact page! You could definitely get work.

Chelsea pulls up some questions submitted on Twitter (#TCLive):

  • if you could only shoot one genre of photography, what would it be? T&C both say travel, with the stipulation that they get to travel constantly.
  • some tennis channel uses our hashtag, let’s take um down

Back to your photo submissions:

I’m back! Hurray! Questions for you:

  • head crop? Yay or nay? Depends on your client. Shoot wider and crop later if you want to.
  • any rules of photography that should never be broken? No, but do it intentionally.

Let’s see another portfolio and help this guy change his name. No, j/k, don’t change your name, just a name for your business. Great images, just work on a catchy name.


  • plugs plugs plugs
  • camera noises
  • “Burns Oregon Militia vs. FBI” his name and fedora tell you everything you need to know
  • “a bathroom action”
  • Nasa photos are real. How do flat-earthers keep finding us and why?

Let’s look at some more photos; speed round:

Back to me for some final comments/questions:

  • have you ever broken the law for a photo shoot? “Oh yeah, yeah.”
  • Justin, what’s your favorite camera for video? GH4¬†generally or Sony a7R II, even though it’s not fun to use.

And that’s our show! Short and sweet. We’ll be off next week since T&C are travelling, in two weeks we’ll look at your light painting photos. Thanks!


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Dodging and Burning in Portrait Photography

Dodging and burning (‚ÄúD&B‚ÄĚ) is the process of adding light or shadow to parts of a photo to create contrast and emphasis. Put simply, when you ‚Äúdodge‚ÄĚ you are increasing exposure to that part of the photo and when you ‚Äúburn‚ÄĚ you are reducing the exposure. These names come from the physical darkroom process, but for today‚Äôs example I will do my D&B on Photoshop, and I will assume you have basic knowledge of Photoshop layers and masking for the purpose of this tutorial (if not, you can see Chelsea’s tutorial here.) There are many other editing programs that support D&B, including Lightroom. The most important thing to remember when you are dodging or burning is to keep it subtle and work with the natural highlights and shadows that already exist in the image. Done correctly, D&B is an easy way to make a portrait more life-like and impactful.

Continue reading Dodging and Burning in Portrait Photography