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Chic Critique is THE elite magazine, community, & resource for women who love photography (yes, we’re biased!)
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Get your CHIC on with our Celebrity Photographers who inspire, teach, and critique to help increase confidence and improve your images!

CREATIVITY PROJECT | WEDNESDAY WINNERS

The Creativity project is a weekly challenge in the forum that will help you jump start your photography and help you slow down and think about what you want to be shooting and how you should shoot it. You can find the threads located under Current Events and Happenings and then it’s under the Creativity Project in the Forum.  Check it out HERE and join the fun!

Every week we will have a new theme that you can add one picture to. The nice thing about this challenge is that you guys can vote for the pictures that you like the most and those pictures will be featured both on the Chic Critique facebook page and also in the Chic Critique magazine. It is a wonderful opportunity for your work to be seen by others. Why don’t you check out this week’s challenge?  Can’t wait to see what you guys will share with all of us.

Here are some of the past winners:

Fresh: Yvette Hammonds of Photography by Yvette

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Inspired - Brittany Putnam of Brittany Putnam Photography

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Peaceful- Melissa Avey of Melissa Avey Photography

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Pastel- Kelsey Waits

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Perspective- Yvette Hammonds of Photography by Yvette

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Motherhood- Megan Bryant of Megan Bryant Photography

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And don’t forget to check out this week’s theme of PATTERNS in the forum!   Just go HERE to share your inspired picture!

Not a forum member yet?  Go HERE to join the fun!

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FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY 101 | TEACHING TUESDAY

Guest Contributor | Jean Smith of Jean Smith Photography

FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY 101 

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

Are you wanting to learn more about flash photography, but not sure where to start? Maybe you feel it’s not for you because you are a “natural light” photographer?  Today’s guide to Flash might help you think otherwise.

Flash can be used in many ways (to create drama, add depth and dimension, etc), today we are focusing on using flash combined with ambient light to create a “non-flashy” natural looking image.

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography - I Heart Faces

Have you ever found a great location (indoors or outdoors), but the available light is crummy or non-existent so you either come out with unusable images or you just can’t use that location?

Maybe you have been scared to show up for a newborn session because you are worried about what kind of window light is available in your client’s home?

Have you found yourself not shooting at all or scared to take sessions during the cold, darker months for fear you won’t have enough light?

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

I absolutely love natural light.  But, I am here to announce that I love flash too.  It has opened up a whole new world for me and has given me so many more options while shooting.

Now, I don’t have to worry about asking my client’s about their windows, how big they are, and what direction they face.  If the natural light isn’t there, I create my own.

 

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

 

Introduction to Flash Photography

* Camera and Flash settings are used in manual modes

If you don’t want to have the flashy-deer-in-the-headlights-with-the-background-all-dark look, you need to remember two things…

1. Take your flash off of your camera!

You want to have directional light coming from somewhere other than straight in front of your subject.

You will need a speedlight (here are samples from Nikon and Canon), a light modifier (such as an umbrella), stand and umbrella adapter, and something to trigger your flash (I use PocketWizards, but any cheap remote or even your camera’s pop up flash will do the trick).  You will also need a cold shoe adaptor (to connect your speedlight to the umbrella adapter).

In all of the images shown above, I was in front of my subject with a speedlight and umbrella at about 45 degrees to my subject.

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

 

If you have a speedlight (external flash), but none of the other equipment I mentioned, you may be able to still practice with your flash off camera (depending on your camera model and flash). Pull out your camera’s owner manual and learn how to trigger your speedlight with your camera’s pop up flash. Have someone hold your flash and point it straight up toward a white ceiling. Start shooting and you will get amazing, directional soft light that is being bounced off of the ceiling (vs straight from your camera).

2. Shutter Speed & Aperture.

When you are using flash, SHUTTER SPEED CONTROLS HOW MUCH AMBIENT LIGHT COMES IN. APERTURE CONTROLS FLASH EXPOSURE. When shooting in natural light, we are taught not to go below 1/250 shutter speed with children for fear of blurry images. Because flash will freeze the motion, you can use a lower shutter speed (such as 1/50) to bring in a lot of ambient light to give you a more “natural light” looking image.

Another myth is that you can not produce nice bokeh when using flash.

You can still shoot at a wide aperture ( f2.8) if you just lower the flash power on your speedlight. In the closeup image of the sleeping baby, I shot at f2.8, ISO 200, and lowered my flash power down to 1/64 (1/1 being full power and 1/128 being the lowest power) to get a proper exposure. You can see that shooting at a wide aperture, even with flash, you can still achieve beautiful bokeh.

In the images below, you can see how controlling the shutter speed and aperture can produce totally different results. Both were taken within minutes of each other. Both were taken with flash.

In the first image, my camera settings were 1/250, f5.6, ISO 200, and flash was around 1/4 power. These settings produced a more “flashy” image with deeper contrast and more vivid colors.

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

In the second image, my camera settings were 1/60 (lowered my shutter speed to let in more ambient light), f2.8 (allow more depth of field), ISO 200, and flash power was around 1/16.  These settings produced a more “natural light” feel with softer contrast and colors.

A Beginner's Guide to Flash Photography via I Heart Faces

Don’t be afraid of your flash!  Yes, it does take practice.  Yes, you will probably have to pull out your owners manual to your camera and/or flash and learn a few things.  But, you will love the new options that will open up to you.  No more worrying about the light available to you.  If it isn’t there, create it yourself!

jeansmith1 Jean is an on location photographer who is currently exploring the world for one year with her husband and four little boys. For work, she loves all “genres” of people and therefore photographs them all…babies, kids, high school seniors, and couples. She likes to consider herself a natural light photographer, but madly loves incorporating off camera flash into her work as well. Jean is incredibly passionate about photography and teaching others. She, along with her rad husband, Travis, teach photography workshops around the country.

Jean Smith Photography | Facebook  Blog | Twitter 

 

Jean will be the Chic Moderator in the forum all month long answer questions, giving peer critiques and posting her amazing images!  Are you ready to “hang” out with Jean?  

Not a member yet?  Join the forum HERE!

 

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JEAN SMITH | CELEBRITY INTERVIEW

Ever wished that you could just hang out with some of your favorite Celebrity Photogs?  Tired of stalking their blogs because you just want to chill with them. Well now you can! Each month we’ll have different Celebrity Photographers floating around the forum answering your questions, giving critiques, talking about business and posting inspirational images. This month’s Celebrity Moderator the fabulous, Jean Smith, of Jean Smith Photography.

jeansmith1 Jean is an on location photographer who is currently exploring the world for one year with her husband and four little boys. For work, she loves all “genres” of people and therefore photographs them all…babies, kids, high school seniors, and couples. She likes to consider herself a natural light photographer, but madly loves incorporating off camera flash into her work as well. Jean is incredibly passionate about photography and teaching others. She, along with her rad husband, Travis, teach photography workshops around the country.

Jean Smith Photography | Facebook  Blog | Twitter 

 

Receiving honest and constructive feedback on your photography is one of the best ways to find your strengths and weaknesses and find new ways to improve. I am so happy you are here and I am excited to work with you!  

I believe that having someone else view and critique your work is the easiest and most efficient way to find your strengths and weaknesses…as little or big as they may be.  Trying to find those on our own is sometimes impossible as we are emotionally connected to our work and view it completely different than an outside source.

 

What camera do you use? Favorite lens?
I photograph with two cameras at all shoots and weddings…mainly because I like to switch lenses often and this makes it easier for me. I shoot with a Nikon D3s, Nikon D700, and my favorite lenses are my 24-70mm 2.8 and my 85mm 1.8. I also love my 14-24mm 2.8 and my 70-200mm 2.8 lenses.

What has been the most helpful critique you ever got on an image?
A few years ago, I received some accidental critique that altered my entire shooting style and way of thinking. As a compliment, someone mentioned to me that my images are “very nice and flatly lit.” Gasp! I didn’t want flat. At least not all of the time. I wanted depth, emotion, and drama in my images. So, I became…hmmmm…let’s say OBSESSED with light…both natural and artificial. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and studied and practiced (times ten) shooting in all types of lighting situations.

What 3 words would you use to describe your style?
Emotional, Happy, Unique

Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Three main things…Pinterest, movies, and editorial magazines or even catalogs. I mean seriously, have you seen the Anthropologie catalogs?

What is one specific way that you balance work and family?
I had a few years of severe unbalance (too much work) and it resulted in guilt, lack of sleep, time lost with my kids and husband, and a resentment toward photography. I have learned several ways to regain my balance, but my number one rule is to decide how much work I can take on while still being able to be a rock star mom and wife and BEING ABLE TO SAY NO AND STICKING TO IT.

Best biz/photo advice?
Don’t start your business until you know you can produce an entire session of quality images, and when you are at that point, DO NOT underprice yourself. You want make it worth your time, effort, and talent.

What have you learned the hard way?
That you can’t “fix” bad light in Photoshop. Get it right in camera :)

How does your business deal with the rise in photographers. What have you done to standout and compete?
I am a true believer that you need to find your strength in photography and deliver that to your clients. It will not only make you a master at what you do, but will set you apart from the many others out there. I have found that my strength is capturing emotion…through light and relationships. Maybe you are a newborn whisperer. Maybe you are amazing at styling themed shoots. Maybe you only do black and white images. Maybe you love photojournalism and bring that element to family sessions. Find your strength and embrace it. It will become your style and people will come to you specifically for it.

Where have most of your 2014 clients come from (besides WOM)?
I actually don’t do any formal advertising. All of my business comes from word of mouth and social media (thanks Facebook).

What is your most popular product?
Session disc of images

Join Jean the whole month of August in the forum!  

Not a Forum Member?  Get in on all the action HERE!

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