Pinterest is being touted as the hottest social media tool since Facebook. (For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a photo/image/recipe-sharing site where members can create virtual pinboards of subjects that interest them. Images can be “pinned” to boards from the Pinterest site or from anywhere on the web. Pinned images are, for the most part, credited to the original site they came from.) I have photographer friends who love it and are inspired by it, photographer friends who are alarmed by it, and all kinds of friends who have never heard of it or think it’s dumb.
Who loves it? People (mostly women, as I gather from the stats) who are creative, visual, and love to share and organize ideas in a social media context. Many find it addictive and a heck of a lot of fun. Some photographers love having their images “pinned,” as it can add visibility to their work.
Who is alarmed by it? Some photographers and other artists see this site as a violation of their copyright. Many are alarmed that portraits posted on their websites are fair game to be “pinned” by Pinterest users, thereby violating the photographer/client agreement. Others see their ability to sell images for commercial use going out the window. Some are equating it to the Napster controversy, and the jury is certainly still out about where all this will end up.
I recognize that the Internet has changed the image sharing game forever. Some photographers embrace how easily their images can be shared, and others are concerned about unauthorized use of their photographs and take steps to ensure they cannot be reproduced. I see both sides of the argument, and am continually reading opinions and keeping up with the ever-evolving points of view.
As for me and Pinterest, I did create an account and started pinning on a (very) small scale. I wasn’t hooked by the process, and my interest waned after creating a couple of boards. Although it wasn’t for me, I can see why people love it.
But here’s the thing. Pinning design images felt fun and innocuous. But as I created a board about my favorite photographers, I realized that I had no permission whatsoever to pin images by these masters to my boards. And Pinterest specifically states that when we pin an image, it is our responsibility to ensure that we have the right to do so. I’ll bet that almost Nobody does that. So, although my account is still active, I have deleted those boards that I feel may cross the line when it comes to the copyright issue. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
The summer months invite us to bring out our cameras to capture fun times with our families. Here are some solutions for common problems parents encounter in photographing their children at play in the yard, in the park, or at the beach.
- My photos never look the way I expect. Every time you take a photograph, look carefully at what is in your viewfinder or on the LCD screen. Is your subject too far away? Is there clutter in the background? Is there a pole growing out of someone’s head? Is your child’s face in shadow? Sometimes all it takes is moving to your right or left to get better composition, moving your subject to a different location, or zooming in to cut out unwanted objects.
- How can I take good photos on a sunny day at the beach? This is a tough one! The beach in bright sun is one of the hardest places to photograph because of harsh lighting that creates strong shadows and “owl eyes.” The best times to shoot outdoor portraits are in the first or last hours of sunlight (known as “the golden hour”). At these times the sun is low on the horizon and casts a soft, warm light and avoid the overhead shadows from the midday sun. But to get passable results during the day, try turning on your camera’s flash to fill in the shadows. Also, look for any available shade, such as a cabana or umbrella.
- My photos always look the same. Little changes can shake up your photography. Try photographing from new angles. Get down to eye level with your toddler, or point the lens skyward as your six-year-old climbs the jungle gym. Tip your camera sideways for an edgy look. Come in close to photograph just a part of the face. Experiment with capturing different emotions and special moments. Let yourself go! With digital cameras, all you need is the “delete” button if your creative attempts fail.
- My kids always have silly grins on their faces when I take their pictures. Up until your kids hit the age of four, it’s relatively easy to get nice candid photos, as they will ignore the camera after a minute or so and go back to playing. After the age of five however, the mugging begins! If your child seems perpetually aware of the camera, practice patience. In my experience, just telling them to wipe that grin off their faces never works, and they will keep doing it just to bug you. (Note: They are probably doing this because adults have this misguided urge to tell their kids to “Say ‘Cheese!’”) But if you wait long enough they will need to relax that clown smile just for a moment, and BAM! You are ready to open the shutter. Also, the more photos you take in candid situations, the less attention they will pay to you. That’s the key to relaxed, natural expressions.
- How can I photograph a running child? The key to stopping movement is a fast shutter speed, ideally on a bright day. Dial your camera to the Sports setting, or, if your camera allows it, set it to Shutter Priority at 250/sec or higher. A higher ISO (400 or above) will also help you get a faster shutter speed. Another tip: try “panning.” Set your camera to continuous focus, focus on the subject and then move the camera along (with a gentle sweeping motion) in the direction in which she is moving. Keep the camera moving for a few feet even after you have released the shutter.
- Faces are too dark in a lot of my pictures, even when it’s a sunny day. This is a common problem, and is most apt to happen when the subject is in front of a bright background. That’s because the camera meter is trying to balance skin tone with the brightness behind. As a result, any skin tone can end up looking grayish or muddy as the camera struggles to find the right exposure. Solution: Look for areas to photograph where you don’t have extreme lighting conditions. If possible, move your subjects in front of a background that is a similar tone or darker than your subjects’ faces. Is there a bank of trees nearby that can serve as backdrop? How about the side of your home that is in shade? The key is to avoid a bright spot in the viewfinder that can skew your exposure results.
I encourage you to have fun with your photography this summer. Experiment with lighting, mood, and composition. Shoot lots of frames, and analyze what works and what doesn’t. Your creativity may surprise you!
As a portrait photographer, I find that the landscape is changing for business headshots. People are successfully using more casual photos on sites like Facebook, while sticking to the more traditional business portrait for LinkedIn. Twitter can go either way. Depending on your profession, today’s headshots can be taken in a studio, at your place of business (environmental), or even outside. (You can check out a variety of business headshots on my site.)
These days there’s plenty of room for whimsy and creativity, especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But we want to see your face, not an underexposed grey blob or a grab shot of you at a backyard barbecue. Like it or not, people will judge you and your business by the quality of your photo.
Do you need a professional photographer, even for a “casual” photo? Of course, I’m biased on the “yes” side. The key is to have a photo that makes a statement about who you are personally or professionally, and does it with class. That means a well-posed, well-lit, well-exposed image that has attitude and personality. A pro portrait photographer is specially trained in these areas, can give you advice about a makeup artist, will have the ability to retouch your photo, and will provide you with the an image that is the correct file size for your needs.
How often to change your photo? No rule of thumb. If your face is an important part of your brand, you don’t need to change it until YOU change. If you have a creative streak, it’s fun to mix it up fairly often. Just do it with an image that is a strong and positive representation of you and your business!
I got a wonderful surprise today when I was in social networking mode. In perusing my contacts, I saw that client Joy Johnson, marketing guru, had written a fantastic blog post about referrals, and mentioned me! The “me” part aside, it is an excellent article about the true nature of referrals. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/yzurdum.
Here are some of the headshots that Joy loved (makeup by Lori Johnson):
Gretje’s Holiday Offer
If you’re looking for a special gift for a family member, friend, client or employee, while contributing to a great cause, here’s an idea:
Give a gift certificate for a family/child/pet portrait session and 8×10 print (value: $335)
Your price is only $100!
And: $25 from each certificate purchased will be donated to
You can give these certificates to friends, family, clients and employees–but be sure to get one for yourself, too! This special is available until noon on December 24, 2009. The gift certificate can be used anytime between Jan. 5 and Nov. 30, 2010. Your session can take place in my Dedham studio or on location (up to 30 minutes from Dedham). Click HERE for details, or send an e-mailto let me know how many you’d like.
*This wonderful organization, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, provides “gently used” quality business attire for low income men and women who are in job training or educational programs and preparing for a job interview.
A big thank you to Randi Bussin, career coach extraordinaire, who published my headshot article on her blog. Check it out here!
And speaking of headshots, makeup artist Lori Johnson and I are having a business portrait special Jan. 13 and 15. Click here for details.
Sophie meets Gemma for the first time.
Happy Gramma (me!) with unhappy baby.
Happy Great Aunt (my sister!) with even unhappier baby.
Grandpa Bob meets the baby.
Great Grandma came to visit at the hospital!
Tired new Mom still has time for Sophie.
Here is Sophie, the high-flying Butterfly Princess, entertaining herself (and her grandma!) as we wait for her sister to be born. Due date was three days ago!
I attended an incredible reception at Digital Silver Imaging last night! The place was jammed. I felt like I was at a NYC art opening! Photos, printed by Eric Luden and framed by Ava Art, are gorgeous. Go see!