Should we be using Photo-Trends?

Photo trends

Ok tell me. Are we still wearing bubble skirts with leg warmers and jackets with giant shoulder pads? Or Bellbottom pants? No? Why not?

Fashion trends change all the time and so do photography trends. So should we be following these trends at all? Surely we should be on a rigorous search for our own timeless style! Ignoring all trends and pursuing whatever’s deep inside us?

For a long time I thought I needed to do just that – ignore all other photography and practically reinvent it for myself. I put on blinkers and ended up on quite an isolated journey. And you know what? I got nowhere! I was sitting in a vacuum. It was only once I realised that I had to try out what other photographers were doing – try it on, see what fits and trash what I absolutely hate – only then I could grow and develop my own style. I think we need to allow ourselves to be influenced by everything we see, pick out what works for us and leave behind what doesn’t. Everyone picks different combinations and that creates a variety of eclectic styles in the end.

Trends can widen our perspective if we do not turn them into hard and fast rules. They have their place and can help to give a current feel to a small body of work. Think of the yellowy tones in the 70’s photos. It’s a wonderful and important to be part of a specific era. But it’s important to choose carefully when to use the current trends and not to lose your core style. If I want to make a grapefruit look juicy, I’m not going to use the current soft-grey nostalgic look, but capturing the atmosphere of drinking coffee around a camp fire would be a total different story.

So my vote is YES!! Have fun! Play! But don’t get stuck there and use it wisely!

What’s your vote?

Leave me a comment at the bottom of the post.

5 Decades of PHOTO-TRENDS

Here are some of the processing trends that I’ve picked up over the last 5 decades, with short explanations below:

5 decades of photo trends

  • 60’s : Beautiful black and white images processed in such a way that the darks are deep inky blacks with crisp white highlights. Factual, with strong compositions.
  • 70’s : The Kodak yellowy hue. Soft images, with low contrast. Quite dreamy and idealistic.
  • 80’s : Film with much brighter colours and a variety of speeds, become freely available. Agfa’s deep dark greens become popular. Everything is sharp and crisp and bright. Perfection is what counts.
  • 90’s : Many photographers play with cross-processing, using slide film as normal film. This brightens colours, creates a film grain and a cyan (turquoisy) colour cast. Digital becomes more freely available and there’s the debate whether to change over or not.
  • 2000’s : Back to more natural colour, but lots of digital enhancing and retouching. Purposeful blurring of the background.
  • 2010’s: With the increased use of cellphone photography, there is a tendency to be more honest and show reality as it is. There is a call for an “authentic image” – often made to look as if it was just taken by chance. The “matt-effect” is used to soften this reality. It harks back to the style of the 70’s, but greyer rather than yellowy. Seems to be a reaction against the style of the perfect product.

using photo trends(pin me if you like this post)

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Back to basics – 2 simple steps to improve your photography

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 10.22.02 AM

Can you believe it’s already June? We’ve had a lot of visitors recently and we’ve been busy busy busy. Time’s flying and it’s not always easy keeping up. When it gets like this, I find the best way to cope is to simplify everything. Find the essentials and just let go of the rest.

So I’m on this mission to go back to basics.

In photography, the best back to basics tips that I can give are to:

1) simplify what’s in your image
2) simplify your light source

To simplify what’s in your image, find an angle that cuts out the background. Go in really close or turn your subject around to include as little clutter as possible, in the background. A wonderful trick, if you’re photographing children, is to go in slightly from below and use the blue sky as a backdrop. The opposite is to get them to lie on the ground, you stand on a chair and use the lawn as your background. In that way you simplify everything in your shots and the main subject really stands out.

Simplifying your light source, makes it easier for you to see where the highlights and shadows are – and makes for a more natural looking image. If you’re outside, it’s quite simple – the sun or overcast sky is your single main light source. Sometimes this light can be a bit harsh, though. Try sitting your subject on a light neutral coloured blanket. The light that comes from above will bounce back up into the shadows, making the shadows a little lighter and your image softer.

Inside things can be a little trickier, so simplify.  Switch off your house lights and switch off your flash! Try using natural light. Choose one window as your single light source and get your subject right up close to it. One article I read suggests that you place your kids’ table or play area right near that window. Then they’ll generally be in the right sport for you to take pics. A favourite chair in that spot will also work! Then try taking your shots with the main light source to the side of your subject. That way your image will have a balance of light and shadow.

Here’s a quick and basic photo challenge:

Get your child to sit in that chair that you’ve moved right near the window or glass door. Now you squeeze up right up to the window, so that the light source is coming from the side, but you’re seeing the slightly more of the lighter side of them. Switch off your flash. Get them to show you the latest Lego toy they built and tell you about it. They don’t have to smile, just sit and chat to them and click away. Or even better – get granny to sit there with them and read them a story…

I have a lovely series of photos where my children were sitting in some white couches, right near the window, where lovely soft light was streaming in. The light bounced up off the white couches, (under their chins and into their darker eye sockets) and created a lovely soft glow. My longer lens allowed me to come in close, without disturbing them – so that only the couches and the plain white wall got into the background of the shot. Then, I simply captured their expressions while they were watching TV.

Simplify and I can guarantee you’ll get some good shots!

Are you a Clickin Mom?

Click sml

If you’re a mom and a photographer, striving to capture the fleeting moments of your children’s childhood I must urge you to just have a look at this site if you’re ready to grow and learn.

Clickin' Moms

Most Photography sites and magazines are aimed straight at men. The layout, the jargon the whole atmosphere is quite emotionless, technical and in-your-face bold. Now, us visual people realise when something as visual as a magazine or website design isn’t aimed at us and doesn’t make our spirit hum! Don’t we? Photography is not just a science after all. Yet there are millions of photographers out there like you and I, who for many years have been left out of the loop.

Recently that has started to change and this is one of those sites that’ll make you ooh and aah about the possiblities of photography, for hobbiests and professionals with their own beautiful feminine touch.

Clickin’ Moms actually just has too much information. You will continually learn on the site, no matter what your level. Here’s a little guide to let you know what’s on there.

Where do we start?

The Blog: Interviews with a range of photographers, from hobbiests to professionals, with detailed tips and personal information written in female language. And with stunning examples of their work. You could start by subscribing to the newsletter and have highlights from the blog sent to your inbox.

Free Tutorials:  From the very basics to more complicated concepts are covered here. They’re topics that really apply to us.

Topics like:

“8 Tips for Photographing unco-operative children”

“Ask the pros what gear do you want for Mothers day?”

“5 Tips to taking photos from the passenger seat”…

Browse through them and pick anything you want to know more about.

cmuniversity  These are paid on-line courses on a variety of subjects from technical stuff, to personal work, to fine art photography. I haven’t done any of these courses, so I can’t comment on them, but the range that they cover is sure to inspire you. Many courses offer different prices for full participation or not. I think there’s really something there for everybody.

Forums: For this section one needs to subscribe to the website. If you go there now, you’ll see the topics but not the information. This put me off at first, but I decided to give it a try and it’s great! What I am able to do, is go to the food photography section, upload my food photo and get positive constructive feedback. And in return I can have a look at what others have been doing and give my advice and support. There are also forums that challenge you to extend yourself, by taking a photo a week or a daily challenge, with themes to get your photographic mind ticking. Some forums ask for criticism, while others are crit-free forums. You can post questions about techniques or equipment and you’ll get good logical understandable feedback. Because you need to subscribe to the forums, only members get to comment and interact with you here and you get very supportive advice, from lovely fellow female photographers. At the moment they’re running a free 30 day trial period, which I would really like to recommend to you, if you have some time and would like to grow photographically.

Magazine: For Christmas, I convinced my husband to buy me the magazine subscription, which is pricey if you live outside the USA, but when it pops through my door I get so excited! It’s filled with beautiful images and photographic inspiration and advice for the PHOTOGRAP(HER) as they say, and I’m able to hold and keep all that info in print! It’s MINE!

So next time you have some time to browse on the web, push Pinterest aside and have a peak into Clickin’ Moms, you might just find yourself inspired!

Clickin' Moms

(PS I’m not being paid advertising fees here, if you decide to join Clickin Moms and use the link above to get there, I might get paid a few ridiculous cents, but you can just go directly to the site too. That’s not why I posted this. I know of a couple of photographers out there who are dying to grow, but don’t know what they’re looking for or need. I hope you’ll find what you need there. I honestly think Clickin Moms has helped me to see photography in a new way and I just love promoting feminine photography! It’s time the world sees things through different eyes!)

Light

Tulip

It’s drizzling outside. The beautiful bright happy light of the last couple of days has disappeared again and it’s replaced, with soft gentle quiet light. Shhhhhh….

My book arrived!!! And I’m devouring it! Some bits I’ve been able to skim, but even the stuff I know is written about in such a clear yet sensitive way, that it’s like learning it all anew. At the moment I’m reading about light, and how every type of light has something different to offer. There is no such thing as “bad” light. Coming from Johannesburg, where the light is generally so strong, this is a gentle reminder to me to keep looking for that literal silver lining, which she says you only really find on dark rainy days.

Photography is really all about capturing light. The light you choose sends the most subtle messages across to your viewer. Generally they don’t even notice it. It’s like an added secret language you use. You can have the most amazing image, but if the lighting is wrong it’s all just wrong (and it can’t be fixed in photoshop).

This week I was photographing handbags for a small, newly fledged company that sells custom-designed handbags. We only did the straightforward shots on plain white background, but I knew that the way I chose to light the bags would be the essence that would tell you about the quality – subtle and not simple at all.

Other times light is not subtle. This image is ALL about light, you can feel it all around her, flooding the picture with warmth.

Image

 

So today I thought I’d just remind you to look out for light. Even on the gloomy days, see how it lingers delicately on the edge of your coffee cup? See how it gently traces over your child’s face as they sit at the window?

When you’re choosing an image to photograph, draw, paint, don’t forget to ask yourself what is the light saying? If I looked at it from a different angle, how would the light change? Look at the shape of the silhouette, or the highlighted edges… switch off the flash of your camera and see what happens.

See! Enjoy! Play!