Living in Manhattan - My First Year in NYC

posted on: September 7, 2014

We did it.  We survived our first year in Manhattan and learned a lot along the way.  In many ways it feels like one year of living and working in Manhattan is like a lifetime in other cities.  So many things can happen in just one day, plus the city is in a constant state of change, so there are new experiences to be had even if you walk the same streets every day.  It's hard to know where to start with what I've experienced over the last year of living in this city, so I'll just go with what comes to mind after meeting over 200 residents living and working with me in this little overpopulated island of people... (all photos are from my personal instagram feed)
How many times have people said, "Meet me at the clock in Grand Central"? #nyc #grandcentral

1. Manhattan Can Make A Millionaire Feel Broke
Overheard at a party, "... they aren't hedge fund rich, they're just lawyers and doctors."  Professions that would likely score you a mansion with a nice plot of land in the rest of the country can score you a cozy 500sq.ft. studio apartment in your favorite neighborhood of Manhattan.  I've met CEOs and CFOs of major companies looking to rent out their space in Manhattan while they travel because they'd like someone else to pay the rent so they can enjoy a little more vacation cash.  In a way, it's also a bit leveling in the playing field.  What neighborhood you found an apartment in and if you got a deal on rent is often a topic of discussion as you get to know people here.  It's not as taboo as other parts of the country because it can occasionally take people 6 months to a year just to find an affordable place to live.  The people who get shy to share are the ones who are paying under market rate for their place because they know jealousy will ensue.  To emphasize his rent-control deal without revealing numbers, one guy said, "if I told you what I was paying in rent, you'd punch me in the face."  I bring this up because EVERYONE feels like it's very expensive to live here because they KNOW they can get more for their money elsewhere, no matter what end of the income spectrum they happen to fall on, but they continue to stay, pay, and make sacrifices because they love this place and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
Makin' it rain  #nyc #soho #windowdisplay #fashion #design #omflyer

2. Manhattan is Designed for Short Skinny People
As a tall and large-framed female, I am very aware of how much larger I am compared to the intended comfortable consumer of this crowded city.  I would estimate that you might feel quite comfortable with only 2sq.ft. of personal space around you if you were a 5'5" 130lb person.  At my height and size, that leaves me with little more than 3-4" of space on any side of me, which becomes a blessing in a crowded commuter train where everyone is just attempting not to sweat on each other.  However when you're having dinner, those few inches of space are crucial to being able to move your arms for things like cutting your food or grabbing a glass of wine on your table without elbowing a diner sitting at the table next to you.  I'm quite certain the maximum occupancy and fire codes for Manhattan buildings are based on a completely different standard than the rest of the country.  While there are certainly exceptional places that provide a comfortable sense of personal space for even an NFL player, there are enough places that are not designed with this in mind to remind me every day that that the average New Yorker is more petite than the Midwestern types.
I'm in love with this outdoor patio in the #EastVillage #NYC - totally reminds me of the eclectic taste at Life Alive in Lowell.


3. A Couch in Manhattan Is Free Hotel Room for Friends & Family
When the alternative is paying $300 - $400 a night for a hotel room, the couch in your living room is suddenly an amazing option for anyone interested in visiting you.  I knew people would want to visit, and we certainly did our share of encouraging people to visit, but we almost needed to create a separate visitor calendar for our couches just to make sure we could accommodate our visitors.  Once you move here, you become a destination trip for friends and family who want to visit for a long weekend or more.  Hosting guests in Manhattan teaches you exactly how to sleep 6 people comfortably in a one bedroom apartment with two couches, and it gives you reason to do all the touristy things you rarely make time for otherwise.
I love my job. #architecture #skyline #rooftop #realestate #nyc #manhattan #anneruthmannphotography

4. Manhattan was Made for Walking
Before moving to Manhattan, a mile seemed like a long walk.  I now think nothing of walking 15-20 minutes or 20 "short blocks" to my destination.  I probably walk 3-4 miles a day when I'm on assignment shooting different properties around me.  Depending on your destination, walking may even be faster than taking a taxi, bus, or the subway.  When friends and family visit, we usually take them on a tour of the neighborhood which can easily turn into four hours of walking around outside and stopping various places.  Then, like clockwork, they end up crashing in a 45-90minute nap in the middle of the day.  If they stay overnight, their hips usually hurt the second day from all the walking the first day.  While there is accessibility for those who are handicap, it's rare to see anyone in a wheelchair on the subway, but I frequently see 90+ year seniors almost doubled over in half walking around without a cane.  These lifelong New Yorkers are inspiring with their elderly mobility.  This city is best experienced on foot any day of the year and you can easily miss a lot of the random cool things around you when you're flying by on a bike, in a taxi, or underground.
World Trade Center West Concourse from Port Authority

5. Manhattan Is The Loudest City On Earth
Aside from the public health issue of not having enough oxygen-producing plants to compensate for the 8 million people living here, there's also the public health issue of protecting your hearing.  That blasting fire truck siren may be an annoyance in your apartment building at night, but when it approaches and whizzes by you on the street merely 5 feet away, the decibels of that siren are at the threshold of auditory pain.  The trains pulling in and out of the subway as they squeal and rattle by can also be seriously ear-drum piercing.  Talking to someone in a crowded NYC restaurant or bar is easily the same loudness required by an opera singer projecting to a crowded ampitheatre.  If you think New Yorkers are stubborn and loud, it's more likely that they are just deaf and used to louder environments.  (Caveat: I haven't been to Mumbai or Beijing - but I imagine they'd be equally as loud.)
We're all just a bunch of yawkers. #nyc #les

There are many more things I've learned since living in Manhattan, but those are the ones you should definitely know if you plan to move here too.  New Yorkers learn to tolerate a lot of things that might bother people who aren't from the city, either out of necessity or because life is simply less stressful when you aren't bothered by everything.  I've learned which people sitting and begging on the street are neighborhood regulars and perfectly sane people versus the ones who may need to be avoided.  Also, for the amount of people and the diversity we have in this city, it's actually quite safe, and I've gone an entire year without being a witness to a single crime, theft, or assault (knock on wood.)  That doesn't mean I completely let my guard down or stay out really late, but I'm more relaxed walking around than I was when I first moved here.  Of course there are a lot of bonuses to living here that I haven't shared, but I'll save those for another post. ;-)

How to Remove Watermarks from Photos

posted on: July 3, 2014

Honoring Veterans Flag Raising-16

Why do photographers watermark photos?

The watermark over a photo is there to protect that photo from being used inappropriately by someone who does not have permission to use or distribute the image.  This is especially important when images appear in online galleries that can be accessed without passwords, most often with services like Facebook or Pinterest, which require that you give their company full permission to use a photo anywhere and for any purposes whenever you upload an image to their site.

Without that watermark, someone may find an image of you, your children, or your product online, think it's a free google image that can be used without permission (because there's no obvious watermark or copyright info on it), and then slap it on a website or poster advertising a disease or medical condition without your knowledge or permission.  Suddenly you become the poster child for a viral disease you've never heard of, or for an organization you'd be embarrassed to be associated with. While that example may seem extreme, it's not far from the truth of what I've experienced when finding images of my clients that they'd uploaded to Facebook without watermarks, on websites for companies they'd never heard of.  If they'd uploaded an image that had been watermarked, the company probably would't have used the image on their website.


Where can you find images without watermarks?

The best place to find images to use on business websites, concert posters, or for advertising promotions is on stock websites like iStockPhotoShutterStock, or Getty Images.  You can be super focused in your keywords for finding just the right image with these stock image banks, and because the images were MADE for commercial usage, they're always sharp, eye catching, and professionally photographed without the expense of hiring a photographer for a custom project or piece.  It's a small fee for each image, but a huge peace of mind to know that know one is going to accuse you of stealing, or worse yet, send you a much more expensive bill or court date for illegal usage.

If an image is being used to illustrate editorial content or a blog post, it may qualify under most Creative Commons uses.  The best place to find free images that have a creative commons license for editorial use is on Flickr's Commons Search.  You can search by relevance, interest, or recent imagery that fits a topic or theme, and you can even define if you'd like the license to be fully public, creative commons, or ones that allow commercial usage.




OK, but how do I get a watermark removed from an image?

The only person who has legal permission to remove a watermark from an image, is the person who put the watermark on the image to begin with.  Hopefully the watermark provides information about the photographer's name or website so that you can contact them directly to see if the image can be used or purchased without a watermark.  If the watermark is too elusive to identify the creator, see if the image has copyright or creator information stored in the extended EXIF data of the image.  Once you've identified the creator of the image, send them an email with the following information when making a request for watermark removal:
  1. Email the copyright creator with the subject: Request for Image Use
  2. Include a link to where you found the image online that provides a preview of the image
  3. State how you'd like to use the image and why it's important to use this particular one (this assumes that you've already searched the stock photo agencies and flickr commons mentioned above without luck of finding anything similar that was already available for usage)
  4. Provide a sample of how the image would be used as well as what website it would appear on
  5. Ask if the image is available for use without a watermark if credit is given or if usage is paid
  6. Provide a phone number and email so that the image creator can contact you to discuss more details about the image and its usage
  7. Follow up if you don't hear back within 7 business days
  8. Assume usage is illegal or unavailable if you don't hear back within 14 business days
If you find an image on Google that doesn't have a watermark or any EXIF info, it's better to assume that it's fully copyrighted and illegal to use than to assume it's freely available.  There's nothing worse than being served with a large bill or court case just for making a bad assumption.

If you have any other questions, please leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer them!

July Travel Schedule

posted on: June 26, 2014

For the month of July, I'll be working remotely from a few different places around the world and I'd love to connect with you in person if you happen to be in one of these areas when I am:

June 28 - July 8: Southeast Michigan
July 11 - 13: Santiago, Chile
July 14 - 19: Curitiba, Brazil
July 20 - 25: Porto Alegre, Brazil
July 28... Home in New York City

Internet and phone connectivity are not always predictable during international travel, however, I always respond as soon as I can.  

I look forward to sharing all sorts of interesting sights from South America, so make sure you've added me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to get the personal updates from my travels!

Let the adventures begin!

My Evolution As A Professional Photographer

posted on: June 17, 2014

I decided to record an audio version of this post so you can just sit back and listen for 13 minutes over coffee, lunch, or some photo editing.  However, if you're a speed reader, it will probably only take you 5 minutes to read the text version below the audio file.  What you can't read are my tone and inflection, which lets you know exactly how I feel about different parts of my journey as a professional photographer.

If you're viewing this over email, you may need to visit the page online to hear the audio by clicking play on the Sound Cloud embedded file (my advance apologies for the mistakes in the recording, it's my first real attempt at a podcast style recording)...


Dear Blog Reader,

If you've followed me since I started my blog, you've seen me overcome a lot of moves and changes in my business.  Unlike other bloggers who've erased their past on their blog, or uprooted to a completely different blog, I've stuck with this blog all along and my archive remains open and accessible so all can see the parts of my journey that I've been able to share here.  I have some cringe-worthy material in these archives, but wouldn't trade a single post for all the experience and wisdom I've gained.

When I decided that I would pursue photography professionally 10 years ago while living in Michigan, the only vision I had for myself was as a portrait & wedding photographer.  It all started by helping friends with their modeling portfolios and headshots, as well as documenting choir concert tours and gifting wedding photos that I'd taken as a guest at friend's weddings.  Those portraits ended up on recital posters and the headshots got people paid gigs as models, the concert tours became designed and bound albums with recordings on CD or DVD slideshows, and the wedding pics ended up in albums and large wall collage frames.  It all started so simply to me, just doing what I love and giving it to people I loved while occasionally asking for their help with the cost of film, developing, and printing.

When I decided to get professional about it, I learned how to apply my previous business knowledge and experience in order to create a business that was profitable from the very beginning and has remained that way.  Once I decided to go full time with my business while moving to Indiana for my husband's first career move, I went from 11 weddings in one year to 30 weddings in a year.  In my third year of business I shot 47 events & portraits, keeping me more than busy every single week of the year.  I hardly had to try, and I felt like the universe made it very clear to me that there would be no problems making a living doing what I loved.

We knew Indiana wasn't going to be a permanent thing, so I marketed myself heavily online, blogged a lot, won some contests, got published a lot, and really worked on gaining a national reputation in anticipation of whatever move would happen next.  All that effort paid off so that when my husband found a job he really liked in Massachusetts, there were already people in the industry who knew me and allowed me to step into leadership positions and trusted me to speak in front of crowds of photographers, just 4 years into my career as a professional photographer.

I quickly saw the good and bad side of photography "rockstar" fame and it put everything I loved about photography into question for me.  I no longer wanted to rise to the top if all that fame stuff had to come with it.  I could feel my ego ballooning out of control while the quality of my work started suffering because I had to spend more time managing my online reputation than I could spend actually serving my clients.

Those "rockstar" years sucked for me, but also taught me a lot of really great lessons about what was most important to me, and it wasn't fame.  Helping people through things like PhotoLovecat and Smarter Business Workshop?  Yes, always.  But winning contests, being featured in blogs, and getting published for visibility?  Not so much.  I much preferred focusing on giving my clients the best I could offer, rather than being an idol to other photographers.  I'm much more comfortable as a one-on-one mentor, a teacher, and a guide than I am as an industry "rockstar".  I know how to deal with the fame bullsh*t now, but back then it really took a toll on my soul.

Massachusetts gave me the opportunity to try on owning a studio space and doing more controlled studio lighting and backgrounds as well as the opportunity to be an editorial photographer for UMass Lowell's public relations, which provided a steady contract that allowed me to do more work on weekdays, giving up fewer weekends to weddings.  I also second shot a lot more because the Massachusetts market was a harder one to dive into due to everyone having such tightly established networks.  I came to encounter many more clients who wanted heavy privacy controls on their event and family images- so I became very sensitive to how personal images were being used online, which dramatically reduced my blogging, contest submissions, and publication efforts.

Before moving to NYC, I knew I was approaching the 10 year mark in my business.  When I decided I'd become a professional photographer, I felt like it might only be a 10 year career for me.  I don't know why I had decided it at that time, but it seemed like I saw a lot of my colleagues drop out of photography after their mid-thirties and the ones who seemed to remain felt old, bitter, and stale.  Maybe I just wasn't meeting the right people, because that's certainly not the case for all 40+ photographers.  I think maybe we'd just gone through so many upheavals and shifts in our industry from film to digital to prosumer cameras and affordability for all, that the more established people were exhausted from having to make all the changes to their established way of doing things.

Between 2010 - 2013, I saw a lot of the colleagues I started in photography with leave to do other things.  It was that 7-year itch.  If they weren't doing as well as they thought they'd be, they got out and moved on to other things.  It started to make me nervous- as if I was next but just couldn't see the writing on the wall yet.

I started looking for other careers I might want to do... counseling, teaching again (but in a different subject or at the college level), career advising, college admissions... all things that felt "safe" and would partner well with my husband's schedule, since that had always been a point of tension when my heavy wedding season overlapped his vacation season and vice versa.

I thought taking a long sabbatical and adventure year in 2012 would help me sort it all out, but it just put even more ideas and options in my mind, and none of them felt like I would be running TOWARD them, only running AWAY from photography.  I decided I need to make photography work for my life and my desired workflow in ways that supported me being able to do everything I really love while still serving others with my unique talents and gifts.  That one shift changed everything and started to give me fuel for at least another 10 years in this crazy industry and career.

When I first got to New York City, I was lucky enough to already have a wedding booked in Brooklyn, and a handful of headshots around the city from a random networking opportunity I'd had with a website design company in Michigan.  Again, I didn't really have to try, it all just happened, and I felt so supported by the universe in my new move to New York City.  In January, I decided I wanted to shoot and explore the city a lot more than I had been, so I turned on my ability to accept Airbnb assignments in NYC, something that had only been random and infrequent opportunities in Massachusetts and Australia.

Since NYC was getting ready for the Superbowl, the requests to photograph apartments here were pouring in and I could have booked 3-4 assignments every single day of the week if I'd wanted to.  Instead, I decided to just dedicate 2-3 days a week to Airbnb assignments, so that I could still have the rest of the week for other clients and opportunities.  I also decided I wasn't going to take Airbnb clients more than one week in advance, both for the hosts ability to have a guest book last minute, and for my ability to have a different type of client book one week in advance.  Fast forward to today, and I've photographed over 150 New York City apartments in three boroughs.  It's certainly given me a new appreciation for living in this city and making it a home that I never would have had otherwise.

At this point, you could say that 95% of my photography work over the last 6 months has been residential interiors and architecture.  I freaking love it.  I love the fast turn around that comes with getting a job produced the same day it's photographed.  I learned how much I loved short production times after working with UMass Lowell on same-day deadlines for things like media opportunities with politicians and celebrities.  It's a huge difference from the long perfectionistic work I do with weddings.  Yes, I could do weddings differently, but I want them done the way I'd want my own wedding images done.. as beautifully as possible, no matter how much time it takes.  With PR work and Real Estate work, the need for perfection is there as well, but there's only a need for 20 images rather than 200 or 2,000; so it's much easier to turn around on a same-day deadline.

I love nailing it, or getting so close in camera that there's hardly a thing to do in post-production.  I don't mind shooting JPG if that gets it to the wires quicker.  While I've never had the opportunity to work as a photojournalist for a news outlet, I can see why it would be addicting to have to get the shot, and an amazing shot that was cover worthy, and then have it published the same day.  My heart starts to jump just thinking about it.

Interiors and Architecture are more zen for me.  Much less ADD than event photography where I function as an omnipresent eye with a 360ยบ attention span.  With interiors and architecture, I get to take my time in person, feeling a space, seeing what makes it awesome, figuring out the mathematical equation of putting pieces and parts together in a frame to make a pleasing image, while highlighting what I love most, and occasionally surprising people with something delightful and unexpected.  I loooooove seeing how people decorate spaces- especially in New York City when they turn these tiny little clostrophobic boxes of apartments into an inviting retreat and personal paradise.  I geek out about custom ironwork, hard carved woodwork, crazy and unique furnishings, and sleek modern design.  I love it all and get so much joy out of photographing it and sharing it with the world.

While I still love weddings, events, and portraits, my life in NYC has introduced me to more architects, interior designers, real estate agents, home stagers, and furniture makers than I've ever met in one place before.  Behind the scenes right now I'm working on a completely new commercial portfolio of work that will center around interiors and architecture,  and I wanted you to be the first to know, since it will affect what I'm blogging about.

As someone who reads my blog regularly, I value you and the time you spend with my words and my work.  Even if we've never met in person (though I hope we do get to meet if we haven't yet) you've been a big part of my journey and support system in helping me do what I love and allowing me to serve others with my passions.  Thank you for always being there for me, and I hope you'll continue to stay with me through this next phase of my business and career as well.  

Love,
Anne





Discreet Photography for Private Events

posted on: May 27, 2014

In the last 3-4 years I've seen a steep increase in my everyday clients requesting additional privacy of their images for things like celebrations and family portraits.  Sometimes it's because of their political stature, occasionally for the sensitivity of celebrity guests, and most often with regular families just because they really prefer to protect their image from being shared in any way that isn't approved by them first.  I've encountered more speakeasy-style events with an intimate audience in which guests are asked to leave their phones and cameras at the door, as well as home events or private gatherings away from traditional public access to keep the atmosphere secluded.  Many people want to focus on having fun, but still want some great photos to remember the event by, so they hire a photographer who helps put their guests at ease and provides private access to images, but rarely do they consider all the ways in which we can protect their privacy.  Read on to learn about the many ways you can protect your image privacy online.

Garbo_Dreams_Web_2014-24

As much as I appear to share openly on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, I fully appreciate the differences between a very public life and the privacy desired in a personal life, especially when everything else about a person's life can be so public regarding their career.  People come to feel like they know me well over social media, but in reality, they're only getting the story that's curated for public consumption.  So, when clients ask to keep their images of family photos, weddings, or other personal celebrations private, I completely understand.

Hiring a professional photographer for an event can ensure greater image privacy and quality curation than working with an amateur who has no formal privacy agreement or business reputation to maintain.  Before you work with a professional, it's important to define what level of privacy is desired in advance.  If all expectations are clear and well-defined before any work begins, it will prevent any surprises or slip-ups later on.  Whether you're working with me, or another photographer, here's a check-list of questions regarding privacy protection that you might want to consider:

Online Proofing Gallery:

  • Does the photographer offer a password-protected online gallery?
  • Is the gallery publicly searchable?
  • Does the gallery require email log-in so that invited visitors can be tracked?
  • Can the proofing gallery be made available only to the client and to no one else?
  • Is it possible to make select images private while still allowing guests to see most of them?
  • Are images watermarked to provide an added layer of protection in case of a screen capture?
  • How easy does the online gallery make it to share images on social media without registration or approval?
  • Is there an option to proof in person instead of using an online gallery?

Blogging:

  • Is it important that a blog post or portfolio of images be made available to the client first before sharing in a public format? 
  • If the photographer has permission to blog some of the images, which images are OK to blog, and which are not?  For example, a private event may approve public sharing of images related to the venue, catering, decor, and flowers, as long as no images of people or faces are to be made publicly available.  This solution helps the photographer and other vendors promote their creative work, while still protecting privacy for the client.
  • If approval is given by the client to allow certain faces or moments to be shared publicly for the photographer's use and public portfolio, can any names be used with the images?  If so, first names only, last names only, or initials only?  (This is often taken into consideration most when a family has children that they are concerned about sharing publicly.)

Social Media:

  • What sites are approved for sharing the images on, and what ones are not?  This comes into play because many social media sites and image banking/sharing sites retain permissions and controls over the images once they are uploaded to that site.
  • Will images be watermarked when shared online to provide an extra layer of client and photographer protection if they go viral?  What kind of watermarking or other image protection is important and appropriate for the images that are made publicly available?
  • If an image appears to be featured on an unapproved website or format, whose responsibility is it to pursue the removal and privacy infringement of that image placement?

Image Ownership:

  • In the event of client or photographer death, who retains permission and control over the images and honoring the privacy agreement?
  • Does the client have the ability to purchase full rights to the images, sacrificing all privacy protection and control that can be offered by the photographer?


Do you see any privacy considerations missing from this list?  Let me know by leaving a comment here so others can see what you feel is important to know as well.  If you'd like me to be your discreet photographer, please visit http://anneruthmann.com to get in touch.



Meet the Intern: Brian

posted on: May 21, 2014

Name: Brian Wright

Location: Nyack, NY

Age: 34

Website: www.allredstudio.com

How did you find out about the internship?
I found out about the internship through Facebook of course.  I have been following Anne's work for several years and I just happened to be in the same neighborhood as her this time.  I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by, although I almost did.  I lost the nerve right before I submitted my video.  I must have done 15-20 takes before I finally said 'Brian this is your last one, you better hit it on the head,' and miraculously I did.  

Why were you interested in the internship?
I've seen Anne's posts and kept thinking she is so zen-like with her business and I'm over here, freaking out with mine, not knowing where to begin.  I couldn't think of a better mentor for me, I want my photography business to be zen-like too!  

What are you hoping to get out of the internship?
I hope to absorb some of Anne's good karma with her business skills and apply it to my everyday life.  I have only been with her for a week and already the inspiration is rolling in and I cant stop thinking photography.  She is constantly motivating me to do better, quicker and easier, I am very excited for the next 6 months working under her mentorship.  =)

What is your education  background?
My educational background is Peter Johansen HS in Modesto California and the United States Air Force Technical School for Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.  When I finished HS I had no idea what I wanted to be so I joined the AF hoping to make it a full time career, or so I thought.  Little did I know that photography would be my passion and love.  When I got out of active duty AF, and signed up for the Air Guard, I pursued photography part-time and eventually started a business for a few years in Hawaii before I transplanted myself here in NY.   

Are you currently working elsewhere?
I am currently working on my photography business, getting it started with a good client base in the NY tristate area.  I think that being Anne's intern has already boosted my photography cred 10 fold. =)

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? If I knew I wasn't going to fail, I would be a traveling photographer- traveling the world documenting unknown people, places and events, hoping to bring the world together through my photography.  I truly believe there's a whole world out there that we don't know about- incredible people, magnificent places and cultural events that I would love to share with my family, friends and followers through my lens!  Traveling the world visiting incredible places and meet wonderful people...sounds like my kind of dream for sure!

LOVE IT: What We Think Of You

posted on: May 16, 2014

As a portrait photographer and occasional boudoir photographer, I resonate with all of the things that a makeup artist experiences when working with other women on their image....



How important is it to be confident with what we have and honor where we are right now?  The Atlantic recently did an article on how our own self-sabatoge is affecting our ability to lead and inspire others, it's time for a change in how we approach ourselves....
The Confidence Gap:
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/

Amateur Vs. Professional Photographers

posted on: May 12, 2014

Ever wonder what the difference is between an amateur and a professional photographer?  I've seen some amateurs that have more expensive equipment than me because they think the camera is what makes images better, only to be sorely disappointed that they still get blurry and out-of-focus images after investing over $10,000 in professional equipment, rather than 10,000 hours in developing their eye and technical understanding of light, composition, and technique, which can be applied to any camera or lighting situation.  Likewise, I've seen some AMAZING work from amateur hobby or fine art photographers who dedicate a lot of time to learning the craft, but can't produce that same quality of work when forced into situations they can't control or are outside of their comfort zone, which is why they don't sell themselves as a photographer for hire, only their work as fine art after they've been able to control all the elements.

Much like a painter - we all start with the same canvas - the world around us.  We all have the same paintbrushes and tools - the cameras that are manufactured for everyone to purchase and the software anyone can use to edit the images after they've been captured.  If you were just looking at the canvas and the tools, or even the quality of work after it's been fully controlled and manipulated, you'd be hard pressed to know who's a professional and who's an amateur!  So, here are the things I've come to understand as the defining factor between professionals and amateurs...

Cambridge_Boat_Club-1765


1. Free Without Expectation, or Paid to Produce On Deadline?
The most obvious difference between an amateur and professional is whether they charge for the work they produce and whether people are actually willing to pay what they charge for what they produce.  It seems like such a simple and no-brainer distinction, but the fact is that once people have taken payment to produce something requested by another person, there's a professional responsibility and code of ethics that must be acknowledged and upheld in order to honor that commitment, or the pro takes a hit to future business and referrals.  An amateur doesn't need to honor any commitments when they aren't being paid, and they have the freedom to do whatever they want without worrying about whether they got the right shot, did the work well, or delivered according to a promised deadline or standard.  There's a lot of freedom in not collecting a fee for your work, because once a fee is collected, so are someone else's expectations and professional requirements.

Cambridge_Boat_Club-1397

2. Knowing What Tools Are Right for The Job
An amateur photographer uses the equipment they have, because it's what they have.  A professional knows when a job or request will require more equipment, skills, or technical expertise than they have or can offer alone, so they are more likely to rent equipment when they need it rather than owning a bunch of things they don't need for every shoot, hire extra help when they need it, and outsource when they know that it will create a much better result than they have skills to create on their own.  It's also the difference between knowing why a $30,000 camera is worth it for one job, but excessive for another job that would be much better suited to a $3,000 camera, and why you might use a filter on a lens for one shot before it's taken but do filtering afterward in photoshop for another shot after it's taken.

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3. Knowing How to Use the Tools For The Best Results
Many amateurs don't actually take the time to read their camera manual and understand everything their camera can and can't do.  An amateur tends to shoot in one way and not think about any of the technical choices involved in why it might be better to shoot differently.  For example, using a camera in full-auto and allowing the camera to make automatic but unskilled decisions that may lead to mediocre or missed results, rather than selectively choosing when it would be best to have more control by using manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, or bulb.  The same goes with lens choices.  An amateur will often be satisfied with a kit lens because it covers the majority of their needs, rather than understanding why you might want a 50mm prime lens for some things, or a lens that can zoom across its full range at f/2.8.

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4. Getting The RIGHT Shot, Not Just ANY Shot
Amateurs are often satisfied with first or second look at a subject and tend to have an "I already got it" mentality after taking a photo, where a professional might take 10 shots an amateur would be satisfied with just to get one image that a professional would be satisfied with.  An amateur will quickly move on to the next pretty thing, while a professional might obsess over making the shot better until they're satisfied or absolutely must move on for the sake of time.  An amateur will be happy with all images captured from a basic level or position with whatever light and background are already there, where a professional will carefully choose their angles, background, framing, composition, and lighting for their subject.  Most amateurs don't have the patience to wait for a better shot to happen, while a professional can sense in advance that there may actually be a slightly better moment, expression, or lighting situation if they just take a little more time and patience to explore the scene in front of them.

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5. Editing Is Everything
An amateur is often happy with 80-90% of the images they've taken because they shot it as they saw it and they're satisfied with what they saw to begin with.  A professional is often happy with about 10-25% of what they've taken because they saw it one way, then another way, then another way, and finally the way they really thought was best.  An amateur will share so much more of their work because it's not about how they saw it, it's about what they saw, where a professional will carve down everything they saw to the very best way of seeing it.  An amateur may be happy to throw a quick and easy action or filter on everything, whereas a professional is going to take the time to adjust more than what a filter can do until the image is its best possible representation of the image according to the professional's eye and style.

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6. Backups, Storage, and Insurance
When someone doesn't collect money for the work they produce for others, there's no expectation that they'd need to backup their work, store it for any length of time after it's beed delivered, or have on-site equipment backups or insurance in case something goes wrong while they're shooting.  There's also no expectation that they'll correct any errors, or provide a reshoot if the shoot just wasn't right the first time.  A professional is paid because they are expected to deliver no matter what the conditions are, and no matter what curve balls are thrown at them.  If one camera stops working, they have another to the rescue.  If one battery fails, they have several others to get them through the rest of the day.  If they break a leg before an event, they have backup photographers on call that will fill in for them so their client isn't left high and dry.  A professional has a contract and honors it, while an amateur doesn't need to honor anything because there's no risk or reward involved except personal fulfillment.

Hopefully this helps outline some of the major differences between an amateur and professional photographer.  Is there anything I left out?  What do you think is the difference between an amateur and pro?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Brooklyn Blossoms - Desktop Images

posted on: May 1, 2014

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Over the weekend, and before our record breaking rainfall of 5+ inches in one day, I set out to capture as many spring flowers as possible while enjoying the Cherry Blossom Festival at Brooklyn's Botanical Gardens.  The delicacy of spring blooms, especially on trees, are often a fragile and fleeting encounter, easily washed away by a day of spring rains.  In fact there weren't many cherry blossoms open yet, but plenty other flowers were in full bloom.  What better way to freshen up your desktop for spring that to add a little bit of nature and color to your computer screen?  Feel free to grab one of these images for your own workspace!

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Private Outdoor Event Spaces in New York City

posted on: April 28, 2014

When most people think of outdoor events in New York City, they think of Central Park, Battery Gardens, and Fort Tyron.  While public places are nice and easy to access, some of the most amazing outdoor venues are actually hidden inside buildings and are much more favorable for private events.  Here are some of my favorite lesser-known outdoor venues in Manhattan that provide an amazing event experience with full service and event planning.  BONUS: Since these are all walking distance to my home office, contact me for a special photography offer when booking your event in any of these locations.  (Note: photos are referenced from each venue's website.)


Gilligan's at Soho Grand
310 West Broadway / Soho
60 - 300 Guests
Special Bonus: Pet friendly



The Bowery Hotel
335 Bowery / Lower East Side
75 - 600 Guests
Special Bonus: Fireplace & heated outdoor garden




Isola Garden & Patio at The Mondarin
9 Crosby St / Soho
55-175 Guests
Special Bonus: Year-round glass conservatory garden



Studio Urban Garden at The James
27 Grand Street / Soho
10-75 Guests
Special Bonus: David Burke menu

Photography Business Internship Opening - New York City

posted on: April 24, 2014

Now that I'm finally starting to settle into my new office location in NYC, I'm feeling ready to take on another intern or two again.  This one-on-one intensive mentoring experience becomes a pivotal moment for photographers before they launch their own business.  They see the real deal of what a photography business looks like behind the scenes- the good, the bad, and the crazy.  Some of my past interns have gone on to have successful businesses of their own and some have decided that this whole running a business thing isn't as fun as they thought.  I'm not going to sugar coat it, but for the right person, this is an incredible experience that can't be obtained in a classroom or even as an occasional photo assistant or second shooter.  It's like getting a free hands-on freelancing business education without the hefty tuition.  This is the real deal, nuts and bolts, of what it takes to run a photography business.  Are you ready?

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I asked some of the people who've worked with me before what they'd say if you asked them what you could learn from me:

"Working for Anne was an amazing eye-opening learning experience.  You'll learn all about what it takes to run a small business and what photographers really do when they aren't shooting - the long tedious back office work of answering emails, fulfilling orders, creating marketing pieces, dealing with difficult clients, etc.  Not to mention culling and editing photos when you're not busy with sales and marketing!  I learned so much from her!  Anne is genuine and a great mentor, which I think is really hard to find these days in photography due to competition and saturation.  My business definitely wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for Anne!" 
- Emily Ku  http://www.emilykuphoto.com 

"The most important thing I learned from Anne is the power of the question, "what would you do if you knew you could not fail?" If you work with Anne, you'll learn all kinds of photography tips, business advice, where to source your products, etc., but there are a lot of places you can find that information. What you can't get anywhere else are Anne's unique point of view, her amazing and generous heart, and the powerful, probing questions she'll ask you about life, your business, the universe, and everything. That question continues to shape my life and I have Anne to thank for it."
- Alexis Helmrath http://www.alexishelmrath.com

Union Studio Yoga, Andover, MA

You Should Apply If:

You're an optimist who's excited about the idea of running a professional photography business and can commit at least 5 hours weekly to showing up at my office in NYC for at least 6 months with motivation and dedication to doing the work.

Location:

You will be working from my office near Washington Square in New York City; and occasionally meeting over Skype.

Weekly Office Hours:

- 3-8pm Tuesdays and/or 12-5pm Wednesdays
- Additional hours as necessary away from the office

Software You Should Already Know:

- Mac OSX
- Adobe Photoshop CS
- Facebook
- Twitter

Equipment You Should Already Have:

- Cell Phone
- Laptop w/ WiFi Access
- DSLR Camera

Tasks That You're Already Comfortable Doing:

- Talking on the Phone
- Basic Image Editing & Retouching in Photoshop
- Writing Emails & Blogging
- Using a DSLR Camera in Manual Mode

What You'll Learn During Your Internship:
- Marketing with Imagery
- Professional Networking
- Social Media Outreach
- Business Management
- Client Workflow
- Image Management
- Vendor Relations
- Product Sales
- Photography Tips

How you will be compensated:
- Weekly One-on-One Business Mentoring during our 6 Months Together ($5000 value)
- Access to behind-the-scenes operations, workflows, and contracts in my business (priceless)
- Opportunities to receive paid assisting, retouching, and second shooting jobs as available and depending on your creative and technical strengths. ($$$)

******Deadline To Apply********

THURSDAY MAY 1, 2014

You must EMAIL A VIDEO INTERVIEW OF YOURSELF.  Written applications alone will not be accepted.  You can upload something simple like a smartphone/webcam video to YouTube, Vimeo, or just embed it in your email to me, but it should be at least one minute long and provide the video content requirement listed below.  Caution: don't wait until the last minute to send your video, or you may run into technical glitches and not get your application in on time.


Include the following details in your message to info@ anneruthmann.com:
  1. Email Subject: Internship Application 2014
  2. Email Content: Your Name, Phone Number, and where you'll be traveling from each week
  3. Video Content: Share why you're interested in working as an intern, what skills and experiences you already have, and what you hope to learn during your internship.
An emailed response to your video application will be sent by Saturday May 10th.

Last, but not least, because I don't think it's fair that you have to send a video without also seeing a video of me, here's an interview that Dane Sanders did with me in 2012- you can thank the awesome Australian humidity for that crazy hair:
Anne Ruthmann on Fast Track Coaching with Dane Sanders from Dane Sanders on Vimeo.

.... and going even further back to 2008(?), a tiny clip captured while I was teaching a photography workshop on painting with light, in Indianapolis...

Why I Don't Photograph My Family's Weddings

posted on: April 21, 2014

wedding guests with cameras up to faces
I have somewhere in the area of 30 cousins, many who have yet to get engaged or be married (if they choose to)- it seems like I, the professional photographer in the family, would be a natural fit to photograph their weddings, right?

It's easy to think that hiring a family member to photograph a wedding would be a natural fit and a smart choice, especially since you're doing family a favor by giving them business.  I would even say that this would be a smart choice if your family members are dress makers, florists, bakers, or maybe even ceremony musicians.  Those are all jobs that can easily be done before the wedding, or at the wedding in ways that don't necessarily detract from the family member doing their job well, while also enjoying the opportunity to see other family members during a special occasion.  Wedding photography, however, is quite different.

Why Lie, It's For Beer
As a wedding photographer, I need to have a dedicated and objective eye on everything that's happening around me.  Moments are happening out of all corners of the room and I am there to capture them and preserve them for the couple and the families.  When I'm surrounded by family I know and people who haven't seen me in a while, they often want to catch up with me, which distracts me from the job at hand.  Naturally, I want to catch up with them too- but then I'm not paying attention to what's happening in front of me.  It's also really difficult to ignore someone who can call out your name from across the room to capture a photo of them, when really the most important thing happening is somewhere completely different in the room, but could easily be missed when being pulled in different directions by people who are comfortable making additional personal requests for themselves, because you're family and they just expect it.


When there's a family connection with the people at the wedding, there's a tendency to focus on and capture the people we are most familiar with, rather than remaining completely objective to both families and observing them all as unique and interesting in their relationships to each other as well as the couple.  I figured this out early on when I was just a guest at weddings and noticed that all of my images centered on one side of the family that I knew best as well as the friends I was most familiar with, almost excluding everyone from the other side of the family at the wedding.  It was much easier to be objective at friend's weddings than it was at family weddings.  Likewise, when couples have shared photos from friends & family that were taken at their weddings while I was the professional, I noticed the same tendency over and over, to only document the people that were most familiar to them.

silly family wedding portrait
When I'm a hired as an outside professional, I have the most objective view of all the relationships and important people in the room, and can approach both sides of the family with the same level of attention and dedication.  I can take in the silly quirks of family members and document them instead of rolling my eyes and walking away because I've already seen them behave that way a million times before at other family events.  I can appreciate the over-attentive aunt instead of being frustrated by her desire to make everything perfect.  I can delight in a kid's antics instead of scolding or correcting him as a family member.  I can just observe, document, and be present, rather than judging or assuming things that I may or may not already know.  Point blank, I can provide the best service and coverage possible when I can remain objective and be held accountable to a professional standard.

slingshot boy at wedding

If you know someone who is considering a family member to document their wedding, please share these insights with them.  I want them to have the best wedding photography experience possible, and avoid making any mistakes that they might regret in the future.  To all of my family members who I've had to say no to, please understand that I'm looking out for you, and that I may still bring my camera and shoot what I can with one lens and no flash so that I don't disrupt the professional images being captured, but that it's nearly impossible to be "on my game" when being distracted by our family members!

The Secrets to Finding An Amazing Wedding Photographer

posted on: April 14, 2014

Looking Glass
There are SO MANY wedding photographers to choose from, aren't there?!  I would be so overwhelmed if I had to pick a wedding photographer now.  I thought it was overwhelming 10 years ago, but technology has made the market so much bigger with so many more inexperienced people just creating a website and giving it a try.  I know I can't possibly serve everyone as a wedding photographer, but I can at least share some insider secrets about the wedding photography industry that might help YOU find a really great and experienced photographer for your wedding.  Here's some insider knowledge on where the most amazing wedding photographers can be found, and how to find the ones who are near you...

Glocester Lighthouse Engagement

Word of Mouth Referrals:

Talk to 5 recently married couples about their wedding photography experience and what they wish they did differently as well as who they'd recommend working with.  It's important to talk to married  couples, since an engaged couple who has selected their vendors hasn't really gone through the full experience and delivery process yet.  If someone is highly recommending a photographer you haven't seen anywhere else, it's probably because that photographer is awesome at what they do and they don't need to advertise.  Some of the best photographers simply cannot be found in traditional wedding websites and directories because they already have enough business from referrals that they don't need to put themselves out there in any other way. I know many amazing photographers who have really old websites and don't advertise anywhere because they spend all of their time serving clients rather than working on their online presence.  (I'm equally guilty of this!)  The best people to get word of mouth referrals from are other recently married couples, independent wedding planners, and venue coordinators at your favorite venues*.

*BEWARE of the Venue Vendor List:

Before blindly accepting a vendor list from a venue coordinator, ASK if the venue coordinator has actually worked with AND recommends the people on their vendor list, or if it's just a list that people pay to be on.  I've talked to many venue coordinators who say they'd never actually recommend the people on the list they hand out blindly to couples in their venue packets!!  It makes me cringe to think there are coordinators who are not providing quality referrals just because they're receiving a kick-back or commission to share names of people who want to work at their venue.  A great venue coordinator will be honest about this and give you some handwritten referrals that might not even be on their list.  Just know that paying to be on lists is a common practice in our industry and by taking the time to ask for a personal recommendation, you will get better results than assuming a list is handpicked to begin with.  If they can't give you any personal recommendations, than they may not have been working in the wedding industry for very long. Unfortunately, due to the stress and long hours of the event industry, there's often a high turnover in venue coordinators- so take note of their personal experience level as well.

Punta Cana Destination Wedding Night Portraits

Pre-Screened Professional Wedding Photography Organizations:

If you don't have enough personal referrals, this is often the second best place to find photographers who are highly qualified and produce amazing work as wedding photographers, but who aren't advertising or paying to show up on highly visible wedding websites.  Some of these professional photography websites can even help you find photographers in your local area to help narrow your search.  I've been on and off these sites depending on how much time I have to accept non-referral inquiries and how much I want my photography work to be seen.  When I'm really busy, I pull back from contest sites and professional organizations, but I love participating in them and getting accolades for my work when I have the time to invest in preparing for a contest.  There is a small caution in only using these sites: while someone may have amazing photography work and win awards from other photographers, you still need to check that couples have had great experiences working with them.  Some amazing artists aren't the best business people, so definitely go the extra mile to get references from previous clients if you decide to go with an award-winning photographer.  Here are my favorite places to find award-winning wedding photographers who are pre-screened for high-quality imagery before ever being accepted into the organizations:

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REAL weddings in LOCAL Magazines & Blogs:

Do yourself a favor and skip the national magazines and blogs.  It's frustrating to look at a big list of people who might not even be in your area, or who you'd have to pay extra travel expenses for.  Go straight to your local magazines and blogs, but skip their vendor directory where people pay to be featured (no matter how long they've been in business or if they're a good photographer), and head instead to the REAL weddings section for your local area.  Look at the names hidden in the crease of that magazine or under the headline of that article, look for the photographer credit on that blog post.  Once you're armed with some names of photographers who have been featured in magazines and blogs, check out their reviews on Wedding Wire, Yelp, or Pictage to see what other clients have said about working with them.  If they have no reviews, don't assume anything is wrong, just ask them to share references with you.  I've worked with hundreds of couples and only half of everyone I ask for a review actually ends up getting around to leaving one- but if people never ask for reviews at all, and their couples are perfectly happy, they may never get reviewed.

Hopefully these industry insider tips help you find the most amazing photographers who aren't paying to advertise in the directories, who aren't doing wedding shows, and who are otherwise very difficult to find online or in print.  This isn't to say that anyone who pays to be in a directory or does a wedding show isn't a great photographer, only that there are a lot of amazing artists who hide out from the public eye and take a little more sleuthing to find!  I wish you the best in your search for an amazing photographer, and if you found this post to be useful, please share it with other engaged couples who would appreciate getting the inside scoop as well. ;-)

Divorced? Don't Toss Your Wedding Photos!

posted on: April 8, 2014

While it's perfectly understandable why someone might want to toss wedding photos and everything else that represents an ex-relationship, I would like to invite you to consider all of the other amazing sentimental moments that only occur on a wedding day and should be preserved even if you don't have children to pass wedding images onto...

Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance:
For many people, their wedding day is the only time in their lives that they dance with one of their parents.  This is often an incredibly meaningful moment between a parent and child, and it may never happen again, so definitely save and print these for archival purposes.
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Elders & Extended Relatives:
Weddings may be the only time that we get to connect with distant parts of our family, and if they're older than we never know when or if we'll see them again, so it's best to preserve these images in the event that one day it's the only tangible memory you have of them.
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Siblings, Cousins, & Friends Looking Amazing:
You probably have a few family members or friends who ONLY get dressed up for a wedding day, and the images from your wedding may be the only proof that they've ever worn something nicer than jeans in their lifetime.  Why not give them a copy to help them see how good they look when they put some effort into it?
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Social Proof:
That your dad can dance, that your cousin really can crack a smile and laugh, that your aunt can make a killer floral arrangement, that your best friend has lost so much weight, or that little Sam made it through an entire day without a total meltdown.  There are subtle clues in your wedding images that can help people remember who they are or how far they've come, and can provide a great pick-me-up when they're feeling down.
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Memorials:
Another way that wedding images are also used fairly often is for funerals.  When no other great photo of a person exists, there may be an awesome image of them from the wedding, looking their best and enjoying themselves, which is how so many people like to remember their loved ones.

When you consider how many meaningful and joyful moments unfold on a wedding day outside of the ceremony itself, it makes the images that much more important to invest in and hold onto like any other significant investment you make in your lifetime.  Please print what's important to you because technology changes and fails quickly, but archival photographs survive many generations.  If you know of someone who's dealing with a divorce or separation right now, please share this list to help them appreciate the investment they made in the event that brought their closest friends and family together in celebration.

*Sincere thanks to my sisters who have held onto their weddings photos and allowed me to share some here. ;-)





What Headshot Background Should I Have?

posted on: March 31, 2014

The background for your headshot or portrait helps to establish a mood and atmosphere that provides subtle suggestions about you, your work, and your style.  To help you decide which background would be best for you, here are a few things to take into consideration:

How Will Your Portrait Be Used Most Often?

Does this photo need to blend into a website, conference poster, online directory, or anything else which requires a standardized look?  If so, white or plain colored are backdrops often used to create a consistent look on a website or in a directory of other professionals.  If you already have a website that your image needs to be standardized with, it would be good to share the site in advance with your photographer so that they can also choose the appropriate lighting for you and your background.  Lighting alone can be used to create a mood and feeling for your portrait, and it's important that this lighting be carefully considered by a professional when using a plain background.

Does this photo need to quickly and clearly communicate something about the person or an  experience or feeling that isn't directly apparent otherwise?  If so, carefully choosing an environmental background is going to be the fastest method to communicate an intent most clearly to the viewer.  Magazines, news publications, and small business websites often benefit most from portraits that provide more context and information about the person in the portrait, so that the image itself can tell a story about a person before any further information is given.

Health Coach Headshot - DawnKelli's Headshot


Environmental Background:

Benefits: Environmental portraits can be taken indoors, outdoors, during the day, or at night and help provide a context, situation, or scenario that the viewer can identify with beyond making assumptions from hairstyle and clothing alone.  For example, showing a female in a workout outfit on white might suggest a studio yoga instructor to one person or a runner to another, but putting her in the context of a gym with weights will help more clearly identify her as a personal trainer.  Seeing a man in a suit on a grey background might suggest a general business person, but when photographed in the context of a courtroom or library can more easily suggest a lawyer.  A happy face in an urban environment suggests something different than a happy face in a beach environment.  Subtle clues are provided by environmental context that can help a portrait more clearly and easily communicate a role, career, or context for working with someone that cannot be easily achieved with plain backgrounds in the studio, which is why environmental backgrounds are often used in magazine and news contexts.  Environmental backgrounds can be found anywhere and allow for a variety of lighting methods.

Drawbacks: Not all environments are ideal for photography and some may produce distracting elements that take the attention off of the portrait if not photographed carefully.  It's important to work with an experienced professional who can carefully craft an image in an environment that keeps the attention focused on the portrait itself while still using the background as a true secondary element in the image.  This is the easiest type of portrait for many people to take, but the hardest to make look professional if you don't know the subtleties and art of portrait photography.

Where It Shows Up Most: Editorial magazine features, newspaper articles, small business portraits, modeling portfolios, executive portraits, and actor headshots.

Suburbia Headshots for UML Off Broadway Players

Marta Sinclair - Author Headshot


Plain Colored Background:

Benefits: Colored backgrounds can help suggest a mood without suggesting a specific context, and can be used to help highlight and flatter different skin/eye/hair tones in a portrait.  Color psychology can be applied to help attract the right audience or generate desired feelings about the person in the portrait.  A colored background creates a natural frame around an image that is less likely to blend into the white page of a magazine or online article.  A wide variety of lighting techniques can be used to achieve a great portrait against a colored background.

Drawbacks: Colors can often be tied to certain periods of time and may help date the image over time (but this is no more dramatic than hairstyles and clothing).  Colors can repel certain people as easily as they attract others.  Clothing choices may need to be chosen carefully to avoid blending or clashing with a background color.

Where It Shows Up Most: Fashion advertising, actor headshots, modeling portfolios, small business portraits, corporate headshots, and printed directories.

Singer Headshot - Sara

College_Student_Headshots

Doug Personal Lifestyle Portrait


High Key White Background:

Benefits: A completely clean white background can be versatile in many different contexts and helps keep the attention of the image focused completely on the person being photographed.  A true white background can create a borderless look when placed on a white page in websites, conference booklets, annual reports, and presentation posters.  If used against a dark page or background, the high key white will help the headshot pop off the page by creating a high contrast and brightness point to draw the eye.  High key white offers the most consistency when paired with other high key white portraits photographed by different photographers or at different times..

Drawbacks: Portrait may come across as sterile or institutional due to the lack of context.  Provides no additional mood or clues for the viewer.  May create a surreal "floating head" effect if used the wrong way on a white page.  May require additional lighting on location or studio expenses to achieve the high-key look.

Where It Shows Up Most: Stock photography, corporate portraits, and online directories.

Citi Center HeadshotCiti Center Headshot

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