Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fashion Posing for Glam and Nude Photography

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My friend Dan, from Studio Prague, has done it again with another terrific posing guide. This time, he's put a posing guide together that integrates elements of fashion posing (or fashion-like posing) with nude and glamour work. Utilizing these sorts of posing techniques can truly help your pretty girl shooting stand out!

I sometimes like to direct my models in ways that evoke fashion poses when I'm working with them. (Rather than relying solely on traditional glamour poses.)  Not only can doing so often result in great images, I've found that many models love posing this way.  They seem to feel that adding fashion-like posing techniques challenges them to take it up a notch or two from what they're most often asked to do, posing-wise.

Dan's new posing guide features the very sexy, talented, and gorgeous art-nude model, Vicka Star. (I sure didn't grow tired of looking at Vicka's pics in the posing guide.)  Vicka nails it in all her photos -- with pose, expression, and more --  and adds an exceptionally luscious ingredient to Dan's new guide.

If you want to learn more about Dan's new posing guide, Fashion-Like Nude & Glamour Poses, simply CLICK HERE.  Better yet, if you decide to purchase, you can use the discount code JIMMYD1 at checkout and, for a limited time, you'll get 25% off!  That's $6 off the $24 purchase price!  But if you want to take advantage of the discount, you'll need to do so before midnight, October 31, 2013. (That's only until tomorrow night at midnight the discount will be in effect.)

So, what are you waiting for? Click the link and check-out Dan's new posing guide.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let me tell ya 'bout eBooks

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Lately, I've been fairly immersed in the world of eBooks. More so than, say, six months ago and before. I'm talkin' 'bout photography eBooks, of course.  And not just about authoring and marketing my own books -- plus promoting a select few others -- but also in terms of the photography eBook business as a whole.  It's quite an interesting and complex business!

First off, I've come to the conclusion there are two overall types of instructional photography eBooks available in the marketplace:  Those that are mostly instructional and those that seem little more than an (instructional) excuse to showcase the author's photographs.

The mostly instructional eBooks seem less inclined to attempt to impress people with the photos included between their cyber-pages.  Instead, they use photos to illustrate and underscore the instructional information contained in the book. The "showcase" eBooks seem mostly intended to impress with photos -- and often with a slick and stylish layout and book design to go with them -- sometimes setting too-high instructional goals for readers who are (either obviously or subtly) challenged to try to make photos that are on a par with those in the books.  In other words, to try to shoot photos that look like the author's photos.

Now don't get me wrong. Some of the "showcase" eBooks have their rightful place in the world of instructional photography eBooks. There's nothing wrong with less-experienced photographers aspiring to shoot photos that look similar and as good as the photos of photographers they may be fans of or whose eBooks they've read.  And there's nothing inherently wrong with instructional photography eBook authors showcasing their exceptional work... providing, of course, they actually provide enough instruction (along with their exceptional photos) for the less-experienced photographers/readers to easily digest and integrate into their shooting skills base. (Some "showcase" eBooks do and some don't.)

Here's an example:  If an exceptional photographer routinely shoots exceptional photographs in exceptionally exotic locales around the world, it's pretty freakin' obvious that those exotic locales are major contributors towards making the photos exceptional. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of their books' readers, no amount of instruction is going to make up for the value of the exotic locales the exceptional photographer routinely shoots in.

Here's another example, one that's aligned more closely with the theme of this blog, as well as my very first eBook endeavor: If I were able to author and release a nude/glamour/tease photo eBook with nothing but exceptionally killer shots, captured in truly awesome locations, and with a bevy of incredibly sexy and beautiful models, the kinds of models most photographers will never see in front of their cameras, how fair would it be if I were challenging my readers, either obviously or subtly, to match my photos in terms of their "Wow!" and "Holy Mother of God!" values?

It wouldn't be. Fair, that is. Nor would it likely be too instructional of an instructional photography eBook.

Okay, moving on... (I can already tell this is going to take more than one blog update for me to feel I've said/written all that I feel like saying/writing on this subject.)

You might be wondering, "How do some instructional photography eBooks make their ways to so many people's computers, tablets, smart phones, Kindles and more?"

Marketing, of course.

(Note: For the purposes of this blog update, I'm not referring to selling on Amazon or other places like that. My eBooks aren't for sale via those sorts of sales platforms. That might change in the future but, for now, you won't find my stuff on Amazon or similar sort of eBook seller... yet I still sell a pretty fair number of eBooks. Significantly more, quite possibly, than a large number of authors whose eBooks are exclusively sold from retailers like Amazon... and I don't simply sell mine for less in order to increase my sales. Just saying. Happily.)

Anyway, in terms of non-Amazon-type eBook sales, email marketing is the king. Actually, I should say email lists are kings.

If I had a huge targeted email list (i.e., targeting photographers) I'd be able to sell way more of my eBooks than I do now. Way more, that is, than I do without the help of my awesome sales affiliates, some of whom do have huge targeted email lists and who get paid pretty darn good commissions for using their email lists to promote my eBooks. I do have an okay sized email list collected from the records of each eBook I've sold in the last few years, but my email list is dwarfed  by some of the lists a few of my affiliates have. I mean seriously dwarfed!

A popular photography web site with an email list of, say, 50,000+ subscribers can sell a lot of freakin' eBooks! How? Simply by sending out one (1) bulk email promoting a specific eBook. As you might guess, I spend a fair amount of time cultivating new affiliates, leastwise trying to do so, especially those with big followings and who I suspect have big email lists. And I certainly don't begrudge them the commissions I pay out. (50% commission on each and every sale.) Not in the slightest. They worked hard to develop their followings and email lists and the ability to turn those followings and lists into profits are one of their just rewards.

Alrighty then. I'm done going on about this for now. I'm tired and my fingers don't seem to want to dance across the keyboard any longer without making way too many mistakes. More sometime later.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I, Negotiator

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I'm certainly no highly qualified negotiator the way some of those hostage negotiators professional politicians are. You know, the ones who negotiated an end to the government shutdown... after 16 days of negotiating.  But every once in a while I can negotiate a thing or two. Sometimes, even quicker than 16 days.

Just this week, I negotiated a special deal on Dan Hostettler's terrific glam/nude posing guides. And it didn't take me 16 freaking days to do it!  I even got Dan to throw in a discount on his dramatic lighting book. Not only that, but I convinced him to create a special, ego-stroking, "Pretty Girl Shooter" discount page.

Here's the deal: Anyone who's interested in one or more of Dan's books can now use one of two discount codes I just happen to have in my pocket.  They're only good till October 31rst, which is less than 16 days away, but that should still be plenty of time for you to negotiate with yourself, your alter-ego, your wallet, your spouse, whoever in terms of making a decision.

So, here's the two discount codes to use when you're checking out, should you decide to make a purchase:

Use discount code PGS25 for 25% off your total purchase price if you buy enough of Dan's stuff to end up with a total purchase of at least fifty bucks. ($50)


Use discount code PGS20 for 20% off any single purchase or purchases of less than fifty bucks.

Want to learn more about Dan's guides and/or use the special discounts I just negotiated?  CLICK HERE.

For the image at the top, my client negotiated with me to shoot three pretty girls for the price of one.  It wasn't a very long negotiation. Didn't take 16 minutes much less 16 days.  Sometimes, my job really sucks. (Not.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Working On My New eBook

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Lately, I've been putting in lots of hours on my new eBook hoping to have it complete for a sometime-in-November release. It's titled, "Location Flash: How to Shoot Awesome Portraits Combining Natural and Artificial Light."

While the book is something of a follow-up to my last eBook, Flash-Free Portrait Photography, I'm working hard at making it a stand-alone. As always, when I'm in the midst of authoring a new eBook (this will be my 5th) it's a great learning experience for me. The writing process forces me to carefully examine all the techniques I regularly employ, as well as research information I'm less familiar with. After each book I've authored, I think I've come out a winner in terms of heightening my awareness and increasing my knowledge of photography. Gotta love that! Then, when the books are complete, I get to share them with others. Gotta love that too!  Better yet, I even make a few bucks off my endeavors. Icing on the cake!

I spend a fair amount of time on a number of interactive photography forums-- Facebook photography groups, those sorts of places, and I often read comments by other photographers who struggle with or hope to improve many aspects of their portrait-shooting skills, whether it's glamour or some other genre. What I glean from the words of others so often helps direct me in terms of what I should be covering in my eBooks. That's one of the reasons I spend so much time reading what others have to say. Plus, I love talking about photography. Many of you probably also love doing the same.

Anyway, just wanted to post something on the blog so it doesn't look like I've gone AWOL. Need to get back to work on the book. Later today, I'm going out to shoot more photos specifically for the new book. I'll be shooting two kids and two teens utilizing a number of different techniques and a variety of gear. Hopefully, I'll remember to snap some behind-the-scenes stuff as those pics often do a great job of illustrating how the results (the finished photos) are captured. Should be fun! Shooting is always fun whether it's a glamour shoot or photographing just about anyone. What a less interesting and enjoyable world it would be without photography!

The pretty girl at the top is Dahlia snapped out in the desert combining natural and artificial light. Very little processing on the image. It's probably 98% straight out of the camera. Used three light sources counting the sun. The artificial light sources were a Paul Buff "Zeus" head modified with a medium rectangular soft box and Buff's "Ringmaster" ring flash. Both were plugged into the "Zeus" power pack which was powered by an Innovatronix Explorer XT portable power unit.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Choosing an Aperture Value for Glam, Tease, and Other Portraits

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Generally, there are two camera exposure modes I shoot most of my portrait images with:  Manual and Aperture Priority.

When I'm shooting outside in daylight and I'm adding one of my speedlites into the mix, I usually choose to shoot in Aperture Priority. This allows me to pick the aperture value while my camera chooses the shutter speed. It's a quick, easy, and efficient way to shoot. The aperture value I decide to use is mostly driven by the depth of focus I want to achieve. When I'm shooting head shots, for instance, I often choose an open aperture, generally the most open or widest aperture my lens allows. Doing this, of course, produces the shallowest depth of focus and helps "pop" my subject's head and face from the background.

When I'm shooting in a studio or other interior location, I mostly shoot in manual mode. That's because when shooting interiors I'm almost always using studio strobes, a.k.a. monolights or monoblocs, rather than speedlites. Monoblocs don't allow for automated or semi-automated exposure settings. (I also sometimes use monolights when shooting daylight exteriors and, when I do, I also shoot in manual mode... not that I have another choice.)

If I'm shooting interiors with a seamless or a blank wall as my background, shallow depth of focus is usually less important to me unless, for whatever reason, I decide I want the focus to be so shallow that, as an example, the model's eyes are in sharp focus and other parts of her face or body are soft, focus-wise, to varying degrees. Sometimes though, I will choose to shoot at wider apertures when shooting interior head shots of women, i.e., I'll aim for a very shallow focus, one where the subject's eyes are tack sharp but the end of her nose is going soft. This helps compress the face and is generally perceived as being more aesthetically pleasing for head shots of women. (Note: If I'm shooting head shots of men, I'm  less interested in shallow focus because, in my opinion, the opposite holds true in terms of compressing a man's face.)

Back to shooting models in interior locations: As mentioned, if I'm shooting a model against a seamless or blank wall and I'm not interested in compressing her features, that is I'd like to see most all of her in relatively sharp focus, I'll stop down and shoot at larger f-stops, i.e., narrow apertures. I'm not trying to blur the background because a seamless or blank wall background is generally featureless so there's little to nothing to blur. For me, shooting at f/8 or f/11 gives me the results I'm mostly looking for.

Shooting at stopped-down apertures means I'm going to have to hit my model with more light, more intense light, to get proper exposure. That's not a problem since I'm using monolights and they're fairly powerful. Plus, I almost always have my lights in close proximity to my models since I usually want a larger light source (relative to the model) in order to produce softer, creamier light.  Some shooters like to shoot at f/16 for these types of shots. While I rarely shoot at f/16 for interior portraits, there's certainly nothing wrong with doing so. For me, however, f/8 and f/11 produce enough depth of focus for my purposes. (When I'm not looking for a very shallow focus.)

The naked pretty girl at the top with the sexy/sultry expression on her face is Ally.  I snapped this one of Ally with my Canon 5D (original) and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens zoomed in almost all the way to a 70mm focal length. ISO 100, f/11, 125th sec.  Three lights and a reflector were employed: A Photek 4' Softlighter  for my main light with a LumoPro Lite Panel under it, angled up for some extra fill from below. I also employed two small brolly boxes, either side from slightly behind her.