Relaxation, a recently closed challenge, made all of us want to climb under the blankets and snuggle. Winter weather can be harsh on your body and mind, so do not forget to relax and self care. Here are a few of our favorite submissions to help you get in the mood:

Photo by: PRO |  Misha Kreker

Photo by: PRO | Misha Kreker

Photo by: ADVANCED |  Esteban Perez

Photo by: ADVANCED | Esteban Perez

Photo by: SHOOTER |  Rolf Jager

Photo by: SHOOTER | Rolf Jager

Photo by: PRO |  Rick Theis

Photo by: PRO | Rick Theis

Photo by: ELITE |  Marko Klaric

Photo by: ELITE | Marko Klaric

Photo by: PRO |  Attila Adam

Photo by: PRO | Attila Adam

Photo by: SHOOTER |  Eric Yain Setten

Photo by: SHOOTER | Eric Yain Setten

Photo by: SHOOTER | Olya Niekrasova

Photo by: SHOOTER | Olya Niekrasova

Winter Photography: Tips & Tricks for Shooting in Cold Weather

Winter brings in shadows, gorgeous snowy landscapes, Northern Lights, and holiday portraits, but it also blows in extremely cold temperatures that can do more harm than just frostbite on your finger tips!

Photo by: ADVANCED|  Rebecca Rajkowski

Photo by: ADVANCED| Rebecca Rajkowski

Follow these tips to protect your equipment (and your nose!) before going out to explore over the bridge and through the woods to all the winter wonderlands.

Bring Spare Batteries & Keep the Warm

Ever gone skiing with your phone in your pocket only to get to the top of the mountain to get that perfect selfie to have your one hundred percent charged battery to be dead? Same goes for your camera batteries. The cold kills batteries, even if they are not being used. To avoid being stuck with a dead camera, bring extra batteries and keep them close to your body. They are sensitive and like to snuggle close to your heart.

Avoid Instant Frostbite on Your Nose on Your Camera

You read that and laughed. I can hear you all the way from here. But you won’t be laughing when your nose gets stuck to the metal of your camera like a tongue on pole in A Christmas Story. Wear face masks and shoot with tripod while looking at your camera’s screen instead of the viewfinder.

Take Care of Your Hands

In the spirit of frostbite, wear good gloves and use hand warmers. If your fingers are cold, your whole body will feel miserable (that is what my Grandmother told me) so keep them toasty! Fingerless gloves are perfect for snapping shots, but keeping warm on your palms.

Photo by: EXPERT |  Evan Sheehan

Photo by: EXPERT | Evan Sheehan

The Magic of a Ziplock

Take it from someone who has been shoulder deep in snow with all of her equipment, you need an airtight plastic bag! This will protect you from obvious snowflakes melting (or unexpected drowning in mounds of snow) but as you move from freezing to warm temperatures moisture can form inside of your equipment if not complete dry. No one wants condensation (that will turn to mold!) on their favorite 50mm. Before you head inside after your adventure, seal the bag with some of that cold air trapped in with your camera. Let it warm up slowly for a couple hours without forming water droplets! Take out the battery and memory card beforehand to give you the ability to start downloading and editing immediately.

Pay Attention to Your Settings

Yes, yes, all that white can be beautiful, but it can also cause your camera’s exposure meter to go crazy due to confusing glares from the snow resulting in underexposed imagery. Bracket your images by shooting one stop higher and one stop lower than the initial meter reading. This will insure that you have the perfect shot when your eyes are no longer frozen and you can actually see what you are editing.

Photo by: EXPERT |  Vrushali Lele

Photo by: EXPERT | Vrushali Lele

 Now bundle up, find Frosty the Snowman, and create some beautiful imagery! Upload them to your profile and open challenges - we cannot wait to see your winter wonderlands!

How to: Shooting Lifestyle Stock Photography

As the landscape of stock photography changes, it’s important to be aware who is purchasing stock photos and what you, as the creator, can do to create a more successful stock portfolio. With sales transitioning from a single image to larger orders containing multiple images from a single set.

Photo by: Master |  Maureen Im

Photo by: Master | Maureen Im

By following these five steps; Theme Selection, Talent and Location Acquisition, Choosing equipment, Engaging Direction and Cohesive editing, your stock photography sets are sure to rise to the tip in quality and value.

Theme Selection:

Choose a theme broad enough to grant you the ability to create multiple scenes from. For example, if you’re going to photograph Millennials and Technology, you should be looking at the photographing millennials using technology in school, millennials using technology in social settings, and millennials using technology in start-up settings.

If a buyer is looking for multiple images of technology and millennials, this will offer plenty of variety. The theme should allow for you to dive deeper, being transferrable to multiple locations and translate across a diverse cast of models. An additional tip is to be attentive to the world around you, photograph themes that are relevant in today’s society and predict what could come next.

Photo by: ADVANCED |  Gavin Carter

Photo by: ADVANCED | Gavin Carter

Talent and Location Acquisition:

It’s 2018, your models need to be extremely diverse  - all themes can be relatable to any group of people. Sets of images containing multiple models hold a higher value. Prioritize scenes in your shoot where you can have 4-6 models in one frame. Buyers who are looking for sets of images, will look for consistency of models across the sets of images. The best way to find talent is through your friend circle, social media, and casting calls. Facebook is a great place to start and many regions have groups for model castings.

Choosing the Right Equipment:

Equipment isn’t the most important aspect but certain equipment will create more engaging images. 24-50mm is the sweet spot as wide angle lens allow you to get more information in the frame and when photographing activities, can make the viewer feel as if you’re right there and have a more organic feeling to them. 50mm lenses give you the option to isolate emotion and actions while adding a portrait element to the set. Choose lenses that are fast, shooting around F2.8 to F4 can highlight the actions, pulling the viewer in. Traditionally, lifestyle stock is not photographed with anything higher than 50mm as the depth compression gives the images more of a product/staged feeling. Remember that all lifestyle stock should be photographed with natural light. Artificial lighting can be used, but it should be used indirectly, bouncing a diffused light off a wall or ceiling.

Engaging Direction:

Block out your scenes before you start shooting, this will give you confidence in placing your models correctly in the scene and giving you grounds to begin. Once you’ve set your scene, let your models act it out while being you shoot. Be attentive to what each model is doing, you’ll want models to repeat certain actions and understand what sequence they should do to get your desired result. Having a variety of models will allow you to direct them to cycle throughout the scene, giving everyone a chance to be the centre of focus and play out different roles - this cycling will not only give you a large volume of images with variety but it will also boost fo the confidence of your models by giving them an opportunity to learn and try other roles. Actions should never be forced, what you might want is in the middle so run through the actions a few times, shooting from multiple angles. Tethering is a great way to help directing your models and blocking your scenes in real time.

Editing Process:

The first step in the editing process is to cull your images. Select the best 2-3 images from a burst, any more will saturate the set and cause the buyer to have difficulty selecting one. Once you’ve selected your images, begin editing out any logos visible in the shot (yes, that includes Apple’s little apple.) These images should feel bright and organic, and light contrast. Consistent saturation with no grain or noise will give you clean, cohesive look across a whole set. Batch editing can be more efficient, but make sure to spot check images as you go along!

Photo by: MASTER |  Marjan Apostolovic

Photo by: MASTER | Marjan Apostolovic

Happy STOCK Shooting!

The Perfect Gifts for Photographers

December is here and that means the holidays are just around the snow frosted corner. Now I know we are older and don’t have time to cut toys out of the ads and glue them on a Christmas list to send to Granny, so I thought I would put together some gift ideas for the photographer in your life (or for you! treat yo self Santa’s little helper!)

Instant Camera - I know you love your photographer so much that you would buy them the Lieca M10 Digital Rangefinder if you had 7,000 dollars in your holiday budget, so why not opt for the a little more expense friendly with a Polaroid camera! Different sized prints, a variety of colors of cameras, takes artsy shots and selfie with friends, this is the perfect gift for any age photographer.

Massage Gift Certificate - Running around after bridesmaids, sitting in the dark hunched over your computer editing for hours, and climbing to the top of the lookout at sunrise is not easy on your artist brain and body. Relax at the spa and get those shoulders rubbed.

Subscriptions to editing tools such a Vsco, Heck Yeah, Dirty Boots and Messy Hair, or Priime. Editing can help define your style. With help from presets, photographer’s work can quickly look cohesive and stylized if a quick and customizable manner. Gift them an extra editing buddy this season.

Camera Strap - Support small businesses while supporting your camera. Etsy has an amazing amount of unique camera straps to keep your equipment safe and stylish.

Heath Insurance - Let’s be honest, most photographers now days work for themselves. While that is fun on editing days in your pijamas, when you get sick, no coverage can be as costly as a new lens. If you have the ability (I see you rich Auntie that likes to spoil!) I suggest you find a local basic insurance plan to keep your little artist healthy in the new year.

Camera Bag - Small to large, your photographer needs a place to hold their artist tools and damn there are some funky cool bags out there. I suggest ONA for the classy/sophisticated, Lowepro for the adventurer, and Gogroove for the stylish.

Hopefully that helps your holiday shopping go quick and easy! Want everything on this list, but afraid to buy it for yourself? Send it over to your family and a little hint that this year you might not want socks!

Ten U.S. Cities Spots To Take Your Holiday Cards This Year

For lots of families, taking a holiday photo to send out on snowflake marked cards is a cherished tradition. Pull out the matching plaid, Santa hats, and say cheese smiles. Whether you are a family photographer or a couple looking for a perfect spot, here are ten locations sure to make your holiday cards stand out:

SHOOTER |  James Ngo

SHOOTER | James Ngo

  1. Maui, Hawaii - Haiku Mill

  2. Brooklyn, New York -  Dumbo view of The Manhattan Bridge

  3. Seattle, Washington - Creek Tree Farm

  4. San Francisco, California - Mount Davidson Park

  5. Los Angeles, California - Marvimon

  6. Salt Lake City, Utah - Pierpont Avenue

  7. Stonington, Connecticut - Saltwater Farm Vineyard

  8. Dolores, Colorado - Dunton Hot Springs

  9. North Yarmouth, Maine - Barn on Walnut Hill

  10. Morrow, Oregon - Boardman Tree Farm