Lightroom 101 is here!

If there's one thing in this world I know, it's Lightroom. So I thought I may as well share some tips and tricks with you! 

Introducing: Lightroom 101!!!

Ok, that's a bit dramatic. But I'm super excited to share this series with you. Lightroom 101 is a totally comprehensive, in-depth, all-inclusive guide to all things Lightroom. The series is broken into 3 episodes to organize content and to make watching it all easier on you:

Episode 1: Importing, organizing and managing photos

Episode 2: Editing!

Episode 3: Exporting and printing (coming soon!)

So go ahead and check it out! Like I said, I couldn't be more excited to put these episodes out there, and I really hope some of you can learn at least something. Within the episodes are, of course, general overviews of all things Lightroom. But I also includes tips and tricks to make navigating easier and workflow quicker.

No matter who you are, I know you can find something in these episodes that can help you.

As always, thanks for the support, and enjoy the episodes! 

My favorite wedding yet... and it almost didn't happen!

My favorite wedding yet... and it almost didn't happen!

Two weeks ago marks the date of by far the most amazing wedding I have ever photographed. It was a fairytale in real life. The photos I got that day are shots that will be in my portfolio for a very long time. But the day almost didn't happen...

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And so it begins... Wedding season is back!

And so it begins... Wedding season is back!

I can't believe I'm already saying this, but yes, wedding season is back! It seems like just last week I was wrapping up the last few weddings of the winter season, and now spring marriages are starting! Come with me to the first wedding of the year: Luke and Stephanie's amazing urban wedding.

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I'm the luckiest man in the world, and she's why...

I'm the luckiest man in the world, and she's why...

"When I take a moment to put my camera down, look over the glass, and see the stunning, sexy, fun-loving woman posing in front of me, my heart skips a beat. I forget I'm supposed to be taking pictures because I am overcome by pure thankfulness that I am able to share my life with her. Her beauty is vibrant, it carries over to her personality, and it overwhelms me."

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I got a new job, and it's helping me achieve my lifelong goals

I got a new job, and it's helping me achieve my lifelong goals

This past year, I've gone through my fare share of trouble when it comes it finding my place in this world. But if I've learned just one thing, it's that everything you do in life, no matter how mundane, is worth it so long as you do so with a long term goal in mind. Keep reading and I'll explain...

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What photography gear should you buy?

What photography gear should you buy?

A fully comprehensive video spelling out in detail exactly what photography gear you should buy, and the order in which you should buy it in, whether you're a beginner or expert. Click to read more and watch the full video!

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Starting a Youtube channel

Starting a Youtube channel

I decided to launch my own Youtube channel, as well as the work that comes with it. What does it really take to manage a Youtube channel, and what are some of my favorite channels?

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Easy DIY Dramatic Photo Lighting Setup

Easy DIY Dramatic Photo Lighting Setup

You need to see this simple, 30 minute AT HOME product photography lighting setup to amp up your portfolio. Check out a quick tutorial as I photograph a coffee still life for a print to sell to clients.

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The start of a new chapter of my career...

The start of a new chapter of my career...

I could not be more excited to announce the launch of my newest venture: an online fine art printing storefront. Yes, that's right. I've traveled all over the world, from war-torn Eastern Europe, to rustic western USA, to stunning Eastern Australia. And I have an arsenal of beautiful travel photographs that I can't wait to share with the world.

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The Big Move | Making a photo career in a new city

The Big Move | Making a photo career in a new city

College is over: no more homework, no more roommates, the diploma is in the mail. Time to make the big move to a new city, to begin a new job, and freaking out every step of the way.

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NEW Adobe Lightroom CC Dehaze Tool Review - PHENOMENAL!!!

NEW Adobe Lightroom CC Dehaze Tool Review - PHENOMENAL!!!

Adobe advertises this new Lightroom tool as the "dehaze" tool, but I think they should rename it "Lifesaver 1.0." Read here to learn what I think of it and to see some sample images.

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Get up and personal this summer! Your shots will benefit...

Get up and personal this summer! Your shots will benefit...

Get in their face... As I shoot the New Student Summer Orientation here at MU, I am reminded of a simply tip that helped me become a better photographer. Read more to find out what I've been up to and how you can do what I did to improve my photographs.

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Lens Lessons #2 - Leave your camera at home during the holidays!!!

Leave your camera at home?! What?! Am I breaking the photographer cardinal rule? 

You're a photographer. You're used to people asking to take pictures for them. Word gets out, and everyone, especially family members, know you're good at what you do, and they request your services. I love photographing my family more than anything. Building a relationship with your subject is crucial, so it's great having that relationship before you even start the photo-taking process.

I won't lie, I treat my family well when it comes to taking their pictures. I won't make them pay me to take pictures of my little cousins or their dogs. I love doing them a favor while simultaneously saving them a buck or two.

But one time I will decline taking pictures is a family event.

Weddings, picnics, parties, reunions, whatever it is, I will leave my camera at home. I won't think twice about it.  I do this because I, a photographer, need to live just as many moments as I capture. Yes, it's my job to capture moments for people. Give them a timeless image of a memory they wish to cherish forever. But if I live my entire life looking through a lens and shooting the moments, I won't have any to experience.

What is the point of capturing these moments? To give the subject(s) the nostalgic feeling that they felt while the picture was taken. When a person looks at a photo, they should be reminded of the joy, happiness, sadness, or any other emotion that they then felt.

If I went to every family party and focused on taking pictures rather than laughing with my loved ones, playing some football in the back yard, and catching up with people I haven't seen in months, I won't have any feelings to remember. No matter how many pictures I end up with, they will not remind me of the amazing feelings and memories of that time because I was on the wrong end of the lens.

This is just my personal opinion, but I think there are a lot of things to balance in your life other than what you love to do. When I look back on my annual "Rib Cook-Off" for example, I would rather have one or two selfies while I was laughing my ass off than have 50 amazing photos of everyone else laughing their ass off. Memories may not last like photos can, but they can be more powerful.

So put down the camera these holidays and take in the magical joy that these couple months bring. There's no other part of the year like this, so take advantage of it. Spend time with your loved ones. Pour an extra glass of the spiked eggnog. Feel the joy of giving and seeing the smiles on people's faces.

Moments to photograph happen every second, and missing a few of them is worth experiencing countless memories with your loved ones.

There probably won't be another post from me until next year, so, with that, happy holidays, and happy shooting.

~Connor

PRO TIP REMINDER: 

iPhone cameras (and various other smartphone cameras) are becoming so advanced these days. Bring your phone to the party, keep it in your pocket, and if you see a must-capture moment, whip out that phone. The quality of those photos will be just fine. This way, you can experience the party AND capture some moments at the same time. Don't stay glued to the phone, but don't hesitate to take that perfect picture.

Beginners Tip: SIZE DOESN'T MATTER

 Photo from WeTravelAndBlog.com  

Photo from WeTravelAndBlog.com  

No, I'm not talking about what you think I'm talking about...

I won't ever claim to know everything. I will never say I have all the answers. Especially now. I'm still a college student.  I haven't seen it all or been everywhere. Time-wise, I'm still a beginning photographer.  I haven't gone through the ropes like long-term pros have. I am new to this business and I am trying to find my spot.

That being said, I know exactly what it's like to be an envious photographer. I know what it's like to be intimidated by the pros sitting next to you with the 7D Mark IIs and the 400mm lenses and the fancy light meters and multiple bodies for different situations and blah, blah, blah. It's scary. You wonder how you will ever get to that point. Here is what I have to tell you:

You may already be there... Just look at your photos!

The saying "size doesn't matter" perfectly applies to photography. I am a broke college student, so I shoot with a T3i, a kit 18-50mm, a 200mm, and a 80mm 1.8. That is a cheap setup, and besides maybe the 80mm, you won't see many "pros" using this equipment. And I won't lie, when I am sitting on the floor of the basketball games and I see the guy next to me with three bodies and even more lenses getting every shot, I get jealous and intimidated. 

Until I edit my photos. When I slide that SD card into my computer and see the quality of photos I have, I forget about my cheap setup. I couldn't care less about how expensive or large my glass, because my photos look badass! (Heehee, rhyme) Then I compare my photos, the photos taken by the college student looking to make a quick buck, with the professional's photos who does this as a career, and sometimes I can't tell the difference. Just take a look at the pics on this site. All of them are with the simplest of equipment.

Size doesn't matter guys. No matter how big, expensive, or plentiful the bodies and lenses, none of that matters unless they are in hands that know how to use them. I know it seems like photo equipment becomes more and more advanced every day, but the quality of the final images haven't changed much since cameras were invented. I've seen photographer show up to events with old film cameras with no digital screen and end up with beautiful results.  

That being said, one day you and I will have that equipment. Once this becomes our career, we will be able to afford those trade-ins for the big-boy stuff. And we will do that not because it will make us better photographers, but because it will make our work easier. Sure the results of an old film camera and a 7D Mark II can take similar pictures, but one is much more advanced than the other. 10 fps, 50,000 ISO, highly advanced auto focus features, multiple tabs of menu options, high quality digital display screens, horizontal and vertical grips; all that makes it easier to take the photo, but does nothing to the final quality.

So embrace your small bodies and dinky lenses. Use the hell out of them and smile when you see the results. Focus more on improving your compositions and capturing the moment than saving for a $2,000 lens. Keep your head up and shoot with confidence next to the pros, because, believe it or not, one day they were in your shoes.

SIZE DOESN'T MATTER

~Connor

^^^All photos above taken with Canon T3i and kit lenses^^^

Lens Lessons #1 - Photos in the Dark

Preface: As a photographer (and any other photographer will surely understand this) I learn things as I go. The best way to get better at something is to make mistakes doing it. This blog series will address just that.  The Lens Lessons Series will take problems, challenges, and lessons I endure throughout my gigs, tell you how I overcame them, and offer suggestions for how to avoid this problem in the future.

Photos in the Dark - Ahh, lightless photography. One of the first, yet important problems a photographer endures. Whoever you are, and whatever you're shooting, light is the most important thing for a photographer. In the wrong situations, without the right gear, taking photos in the dark becomes almost impossible.

I am here to tell you that usually there is a way to make it work!

Last night I was hired to shoot a sorority formal at a bar/club.  Here was the situation: a low-light entry corridor with a "step and repeat" stand for the couples to pose in front of as they entered the party. They then proceeded into a pitch black, with the exception of some black lights, dance club. My job was to photograph tipsy and picky sorority girls while simultaneously making them look good. It was a sticky situation that pretty much set me up for crappy photos.

Tips for how I handled this scenario:

  • Don't overreact. Think through the problem.
  • Get out the external flash!
  • Keep your lens on manual focus (auto focus won't work in the dark).
  • When in doubt: Low shutter, low f-stop, high ISO

Don't overreact. Think through the problem.

This may seem elementary, but even the best photographers need a reminder sometimes. I pride myself for my composure, but when I was thrown into a dark and raging party with hundreds of college girls begging for their picture to be taken, my heartbeat quickened. Every few seconds a someone would tap my shoulder to get my attention. Photobombs were numerous. The level of patience was low. So I told myself to relax.

People love people who stay composed. Think about that well-dressed person you saw yesterday strutting their stuff down the street in a new tailored outfit. Remember how you thought, "Wow, that person has got their life together." You already have the good stigma of being a photographer backing you up, so fortify that with some confidence. Your photos will make this party last more than one night, so act that way. Run the show, tell people to wait their turn, and act like you know what you're doing. Doing this will allow you to focus on the light and not freak out.

Get out the external flash!

I can't speak higher about an external flash. You can pick up a decent one for $50, and it will make the difference. Ever notice those red eyes and greasy faces when you use the flash attached to your camera? With the external flash being farther away from your lens, it's almost impossible to get those red eyes and unattractive faces. What I like to do is point the flash straight up. By doing this, you are bouncing the light off the entire ceiling, and that softer, less dense light, is coming down on your subject. This eliminates the harsh light that you can see coming from a flash pointed at the subject.

But make sure you learn how to use your flash. When I bought my first flash, I tried to use it without learning how. I ended shooting all night with the flash not synced with the shutter, and my photos were useless. Learn how the different flash settings sync with the actual camera, and you will have beautifully lit photos.

Finally, don't use a high ISO setting. We will talk about ISO later in this post, but just trust me when I tell you not to use high ISO with a flash. People always think, "But it's dark, I need high ISO." Well, the room won't be dark when the flash goes off. Actually, it'll be lighter than it would be if all the lights were on. So keep the ISO down. You don't want super grainy and noisy photos.

Keep your lens on manual focus (auto focus doesn't work in the dark).

Have you ever tried to take a picture in low light situations and waited for the auto focus to work for 5, 10, even 15 seconds? Well you don't have that amount of time while shooting college kids, especially when there's hundreds of them. Here is a trick I like to use: go to a well lit area with a subject, such as a coat rack. Stand about as far away as you expect to be from the subjects that you are going to shoot in the party. Focus in on the coat rack manually, and keep the lens there. This way, when you enter the pitch black room, your lens will be already focused and you can snap a photo in less than a couple seconds.

This doesn't always work, and it isn't ideal. You may see a shot farther away from you that you can't take because your focus isn't set up for that shot. If that is the case, you could try to fiddle with auto focus, then go reset your focus with the coat rack. This idea is better than nothing for me.

When in doubt: Low shutter, low f-stop, high ISO.

Don't have a flash? Don't panic. You can make it work. If it's pitch black, there isn't too much to do. But if there is minimal light, you can get some photos. This last tip will be basic for experienced photographers, but it is an extremely helpful one to those who are beginning as a photog. 

Shutter Speed - It's basically how long your sensor is exposed to the light in front of you. The longer you open the shutter, the more light you let in, and the clearer your photos. The ideal shutter speed is slow enough to let in light, but fast enough that your image isn't blown out with light. Your goal for a low light party/concert is to find a speed that is slow enough to let in some light, but fast enough that your subjects aren't blurred.

Aperture (f-stop) - If you don't know what this is, all I'll tell you is it affects how blurred out the background of your image is. For a more elaborate explanation, look it up. Sorry but I'm not here to explain it. I will say that the lower the f-stop, the more light your are letting in. So, you guessed it, keep it low. More light is good!

ISO - We talked a bit about it above, and I told you to keep it low. Well, if you don't have a flash, you're going to have to bump it up. A high ISO will brighten your image. In the days of film, ISO was the type of film you used. Certain film turned out lighter than others. What's the problem with ISO? I wondered the same thing. Basically, it makes your images grainy and noisy. That means the image is unclear. It looks like the image was printed on sand, not paper. That's no good right? Yea I know. But sometimes you can't help it. The only thing you can do at that point is save your photo in post editing. 

 High ISO: See the grainy and unclear image? This is an example of a high ISO making an image not as attractive.

High ISO: See the grainy and unclear image? This is an example of a high ISO making an image not as attractive.

So there you have it, a few short tips for getting good photos in the dark. I wanted to share these tips because they are lessons I learned early on, and I hope I can help at least a few of you next time you shoot in the dark. So remember: 

Calm down! Act like you own the place. They hired you for a reason!

Use a flash! It's the simplest answer. What's the best way to tackle a dark situation? Brighten it up yourself!

Use the manual focus. It can be annoying and doesn't always work, but it's better than nothing. I used it last night, and I got some good results.

Remember the faithful trio: Shutter, aperture, ISO. You need to know them if you want to be a photographer, and they are your best friend in low light situations.

With that, thanks for the read.

~Connor