Between the filters, the Gaussian blur, and the "creative" photo angles using a phone produces, getting a reasonably flattering picture on Instagram can seem like a challenge. Fortunately, there are a some easy and smart ways to make sharing your #selfie on the popular picture-taking app work in your favor. So before you start showing off your holiday hair and makeup, check out five simple ways to get better Instagram results when you read more.
It's easy to understand how spending time on picturesque farms in Europe could convince a painter to pick up a camera and start taking pictures. That's exactly how then-art school student Erin Kunkel, whose images have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, and many cookbooks, was first bit by the photography bug.
The San Francisco-based photographer's deep appreciation for food and where it comes from is evident in her vivid images of fresh produce, harvesting tools, and vineyards. The pictures are so warm and radiant that it's almost like you can taste and smell the fruits and vegetables. In fact, at Canon's Pixma Pro "City Senses" event in San Francisco, we got to experience an interactive exhibit featuring Erin's work, along with the flavors, smells, and sounds that inspired the photos.
After getting to see her images up close, we spoke with Erin to geek out over camera gear and discuss how she uses imagery to tell stories.
"I'd say farmers and chefs. I love working with real people and telling a story about what they're doing. I also shot an amazing designer today . . . working with artists and creative people is always fun."
"I went to art school and, stupidly, didn't take a single photography class. I studied sustainable agriculture and worked on farms in Europe for a couple of years. While I was there, I just started shooting because I was in such beautiful places. When I get to work with farmers and chefs, it really ties those things together. I really care about food and where it comes from, and then documenting that through photography is really fun."
"Probably Big Sur is my favorite. It's amazingly beautiful, and the weather is crazy. You just don't know what you're going to get, and it's kind of a magical amazing place."
"I had a Hasselblad, and I have to admit, I didn't really know how to use it. When I was in Europe, I bought a really simple Canon. At that time, which really wasn't even that long ago, you could get film developed even in the smallest of towns. It was just a simple film camera, and I shot all slide film."
"I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, and I shoot motion and stills. It's just a beautiful, intuitive camera. I play with all sorts of cameras, but that's my go-to workhorse camera that I feel most comfortable shooting."
Favorite Camera Bag
"I have a ridiculous number of camera bags! They all serve a different purpose. I have a Think Tank camera bag that doesn't look like a camera bag that I love for being on location, if I'm on shooting in a city far away and I don't really want it to be obvious that I have all of my equipment with me. I have a rolling Lowepro bag that I can fit so much gear in and that I can fit in the overhead compartment of a plane. A lot of bags say they can [do that], but they can't."
"There's a company out of LA called Langly, and they make beautiful canvas bags. They're camera bags, but they would be beautiful with anything inside."
Camera Bag Essentials
"I always have two camera bodies — two 5D Mark III's. I shoot with a 50mm and a 24-70mm, a 100mm macro, and those are the staples . . . And they're not that big, either, so it's reasonable for someone my size to be carrying them around on a daily basis . . . If it's a portrait shoot, I might bring an 85mm. Last week, I was in British Columbia shooting surf, and I saw wolves and bears. I had a really long lens and was glad I had that . . . "
"I have like, 20 Chapsticks in my bag — I freak out if I don't. I also bring notebooks, just because as much as we [use our] iPads and iPhones, just writing down ideas and getting someone to write down what something is . . . more personal, ongoing journal that I have. Usually some sort of thin sweater is in there, too, because I'm always cold."
"I work with a lot of amazing prop stylists and food stylists, but sometimes I bring things on my own, like tweezers or gaffer tape, which comes in handy for pretty much anything. And snacks! Often, when I'm shooting, I don't have time to eat, anything and then I feel like I'm about to keel over. Just having some little granola bars or something healthy makes a world of difference."
Read on to discover the one indispensable photography tip she's learned over the years.
With the HD powers of the iPhone 4S camera, iPhoneography is a medium even professional photographers praise. If you've become obsessed with capturing images on your mobile phone, here are nine quick tips from Stephanie Roberts to maximize your shooting style, efficiency, and effectiveness.
- Discover your go-to shooting app and keep it within thumb reach on your home screen.
- Get comfortable shooting with one hand.
- Play with lighting and exposure effects by tapping on different areas of the screen.
- If the image is well composed, don't delete it! You can work wonders with apps!
- Capture different patterns and textures and consider using them as layers in various apps.
- Few apps meet all your creative needs. Use multiple apps to create your own personal style.
- Back up your photos often and keep your apps up to date!
- Go to "Settings" to adjust photo app settings for maximum image quality on capture and save.
- Keep a charger or battery pack handy. Taking photos and editing in multiple apps is taxing on the battery.
Source: Instagram user KristyKorcz
Back in the good ol' days, an Instagram filter was enough to make your photos standout, but not anymore. This is where PopAGraph comes in. It is a free masking app that adds fun colors and 3D effects to instantly make your photos pop. With image-recognition technology (sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie!), PopAGraph works to isolate the subject of your image by applying filters separate to the background, which creates a dramatic contrast. You can then get fancy with frames, shapes, and text. When all is said and done, upload your gem to Instagram (or other social media channels) and watch the hearts roll in.
Thanks to the gorgeous rustic backdrops, camping trips provide great photo opportunities — well, except for that complicated campfire issue. Strange lighting, tricky exposure settings, and unavoidable weather conditions can make it difficult to take frame-worthy photographs around a campfire. Hoping to snap some pictures during your next outdoor adventure? Here, five essentials points to consider as you click:
- Time of day — First, decide what kind of mood you'd like to create. One of the most optimal times for shooting? Just after sunset. Still, photos taken in a bit of daylight can make for better lighting conditions and interesting background details. That way, you're not stuck with a pictures of floating faces beside the fire.
- Setup — Before you begin, focus on your subjects' faces to judge the exposure. Ideally, you'd like their faces to be lit evenly by the fire so that you can avoid awkward shadows. Easy tip: for additional lighting, place lanterns in strategic positions outside the frame.
- Flash — For a moodier effect and a flame-centered focus, you'll want to turn off the flash. However, if you do use a flash, then you'll be bringing extra light to your subject so that the exposure levels for the faces and the fire are more balanced.
- Composition — Consider the placement of people, the inclusion of surrounding objects, and the distance between your subjects and the fire. If your subjects are too close to the fire, then the exposure may be off, but if they're too far away, then their faces may turn out as silhouettes.
- Shutter speed — Don't be afraid to toy around with your ISO, aperture, and shutter-speed settings. A slower shutter speed will help to blur the campfire, while a quicker speed can give a crisp, clearer look to the flames.
Tell us: do you have any tips for shooting around a campfire?
Light painting, the night photography technique where streaks of light and color somehow move through a still picture, results in the coolest photographs on the web, and it doesn't take years of professional experience to master. On a recent photography excursion with Sony, I light painted with the company's camera experts and learned it's nowhere near as intimidating as first thought — plus, long Summer nights are the perfect excuse for practice sessions. Learn to create messages, drawings, or whatever inspiration may strike with these five steps to light painting like a pro.
The following suggestions are best used when light painting with multiple people: one (or several) to control the light sources and another to work the camera. Use a shutter remote to control the camera if working as a one-woman photography unit.
- Set up a tripod — Light painting calls for long exposure times, which can cause slight unwanted shakiness (and not of the light paint streak variety) in the camera when held by hand. Set up a tripod like the Vista Explorer 60-inch tripod ($25). If a tripod isn't an option in your photography adventure, substitute another stable surface like the ground or a nearby table.
- Pick your light options — We used sparklers (which you'll want to be very careful with) and glowsticks in our Sony-sponsored light painting session, but you can look to practical light sources as well including flashlights, flashlight apps, or LED light-up keychains.
- Shoot in the darkness — If you're inside light painting, get to a dark room and make it even darker. When outside, get as far from street lights and cars as possible. Those "painting" the light should wear dark colors to limit their appearance in the picture, unless that's what you want.
Get to camera and shutter specifics after the jump.
We're all guilty of it; we let our real (often pricey) cameras collect dust while snapping away hundreds of lesser-quality photos of our kids with our phones. But no longer! We found the remedy: chic camera cases from Loeffler Randall, Rebecca Minkoff, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and more, all stylish enough to inspire you to take that camera out on the town, to the park, and to all the other places where your kids do cute, photo-worthy things (that's everywhere, right?). Your children's future photo albums will thank you.
Baby's here — now capture all the details of the day before you forget them! Though a delivering mama doesn't need another thing to worry about, ensuring that her lil one's arrival is photographed is often at the top on her list. I asked mom and photographer Jennifer Little, founder of Fort Collins, CO-based Sugar Photography (no relation), to provide us with her best hospital photography tips. She said:
"My husband, Ryan, was able to capture these special moments for us, but he warns of the challenge, 'Playing the role of photographer, husband, father, and in some cases, new father can present huge challenges while trying to capture lasting images of some of the most important moments of your life. Understand that while your emotions will be up and down like a roller coaster, you can still capture those precious moments. In my case, there were times I couldn't even see through the viewfinder due to the swelling of tears, but in between all of the excitement and chaos, you can click away. It is important that the photos not necessarily be perfect, but that they capture your viewpoint of seeing your baby for the first time.' If you are able to hire a professional, do so, because the two of you will be able to [better] focus on your new arrival."
Keep reading for her 10 must-take photo ops in the hospital.
Photos are arguably the most important part of your wedding — you can't pull out the wedding cake to relive the big day, right? Getting the best snaps comes down to having a top-notch photographer. But that's not all: you have to be comfortable with the person and their shooting style to be truly happy with the end result. One way to make that happen? Sitting down with them to chat about all your preferences and concerns. Here are a few questions to get you started so you walk down the aisle with your mind at ease that you're in good hands.
- What's your photography style? It's possible for one photographer to have a few different shooting styles, so be clear on which one she'll bring to your wedding. Will she be using film or digital, black and white or color, shooting with a photojournalistic feel or a more creative one? Maybe you want a mix — either way, all of these details need to be discussed before the wedding so there are no surprises.
- What's your typical wedding day schedule? Find out when the photographer plans to arrive (an hour before the ceremony starts? Two hours?) so you know which moments will be caught on camera and you can plan details like when to get ready with your bridesmaids. Also something to factor in: how long she plans to stay. You'll have a different set of pictures depending on whether she waits until most guests have left or leaves much earlier.
- What is the post process like? Every photographer has their own way of getting out the pictures: figure out her way before it's a month after the wedding, wondering where your photos are. You should ask questions like, "How long will it take to see the proofs? Will I get disk copies of the photos? Is there a limit to how many I get? Will it come packaged in an album?"
Keep reading for planning for a photographer emergency and day-of extras.
The holidays are all about family and tradition, and there are few traditions as universal as taking family photos. Whether trying to capture that perfect picture for your holiday card or documenting the actual holiday, there are few things that moms (and grandmas) want more than a great picture of their kids.
With that in mind, we turned to Milwaukee-based photographer Heather Cook Elliott (you may remember her from her daughter's adorable globe-trotting nursery and her election-inspired first birthday party). Heather says that we are too caught up in getting the perfect picture. "I'm a professional photographer specializing in capturing people in love — in love with each other, in love with their children, in love with their dogs, cooking, life in general. But still, soon after my 14-month-old daughter was born, I realized why it is so hard to take great photos of your own children and families, professional or not. We are obsessed with perfection and perfect people smiling perfectly in perfectly lit photos."
Heather goes on to say that we need to stop trying for the perfect snapshot, but instead go for a great photograph. She says, "Great photographs are records of their subjects. They capture a moment in time, a feeling, a relationship, and ultimately, great photographs are about authenticity." Check out her 10 tips for taking more authentic holiday photos.