The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, March 01, 2010
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Welcome Note
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Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Camera Thieves...
Q&A 2: Indoor Portrait...

"In four well-planned lessons, Rob Sheppard's course has helped me to take my photos from routine to more interesting. The fundamentals are essential to being able to capture the beauty in the world, but they can be overwhelming. Rob's down-to-earth approach and support make it easy to get started!" -Michelle Allen, student in Guaranteed Better Photography

For his street portraits, instructor Ibarionex Perello has found success with pursuing expressions, not just smiles. Says Ibarionex: "I'm not trying to make my subjects smile for the camera. I'm simply taking them as they are at that given moment." Read more in his excellent BP article...

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Add Drama with Double Exposures
"Multiple exposures create an interesting and beautiful interpretation of a single flower," writes Deborah Sandidge. Read her tips and techniques - and see some inspiring photos - in her Instructor Insights blog...

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Welcome to the 462nd issue of SnapShot!

With the new month, we are looking forward to next week's start of the March photography school session! Our 8-week online classes return to action on March 10th, and so do our our fun, fast, and to-the-point 4-week courses. Enroll now, since you can get started with an early lesson. ... Also, we have some excellent new courses - including Basic Masks In Photoshop and Photoshop: Think Outside the Box. In addition, two courses have brand-new names that better describe their outstanding content: Getting Started in Commercial Photography and Understanding Digital Photography: Beyond the Basics ... In this issue of SnapShot, check out the work of two BP instructors: Ibarionex Perello ("Street Photography - How to Capture Expressive Portraits") and Deborah Sandidge ("Add Drama with Double Exposures"). ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography! †† Kerry Drager†† Newsletter Editor †† Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter: BetterPhotoJim

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Updates From BetterPhoto

Our next online photography school session begins on March 10th. But enroll now, and get started now with an early lesson! See the school schedule... The "Tips and Tricks for Digital Photographers" course taught by the popular instructor team of Susan and Neil Silverman has a new name: Understanding Digital Photography: Beyond the Basics ... And the "Business to Business: Commercial Photography" course taught by lighting master John Siskin now has this new title: Getting Started in Commercial Photography Keep up with the BetterPhoto community! Check out our What's New page for links to photos, announcements, etc.

Photo Q&A

1: Camera Thieves

I was in Portland last week and had my camera pack (Lowepro Vertex 300) with 5D2, 40D, 17-40, 24-70, 70-200, 100-400, 580EX & 430 flash inside. I took the bag from a friend's house out to the car and went back in the house to retrieve another bag and say my goodbyes - 4 minutes later, I went back to the car and my bag was gone. A local kid saw a guy take it and through a series of phone calls, we were able to locate the guy but he wanted $1000 or he was going to start selling it off. I didn't have the $$ since I had just bought the 5D2 just 2 days before. My friends came to my rescue and loaned me the $$ and, through a friend of a friend, I paid the $$ and got my pack back.

I have an ongoing police case open but I am just so grateful I did get it back. I know better than to have any Nikon/Canon logos visible anywhere on my packs. My Vertex pack should only be recognized as a camera pack by other knowledgeable photographers but it is big and heavy and any pack can attract attention.

In the last 2 days, I have read 2 other stories very similar to mine so for whatever reason, there seems to be some sort of crime wave going on with camera gear in the Pacific Northwest right now.

Lesson 1. I made the mistake of not immediately renewing my Photographers Insurance ($1 million) policy, which expired last month as I am switching to a different provider so I was not covered for this theft.

Lesson 2. Don't leave your bag unattended for even a minute.

Lesson 3. Get some sort of tracking device embedded in the bag. I am still researching this option & welcome any opinions.

Lesson 4. Get a voodoo doll and place a curse on all camera thieves...

- Carlton Ward

Thanks, Carlton, for sharing your story. I'm glad that you were able to recover your gear and hope the police can help you postulate due justice.
This problem is not limited to the Pacific NW. Here on the East Coast, there is a seemingly endless gaggle of crazed crooks out there lurking in the shadows hoping for a quick score to finance their next fix.
In areas where tourism attracts foot travel, photographers walking alone are too often targeted as easy marks.
Having backpacks and other carrying gear which are generic and inconspicuous does help disguise expensive gear but there are no guarantees.

Some of my preventive measures include "dressing down" (i.e., old clothes, crumpled cap, a home-made hiking staff, a pair of L.L. Bean Pac Boots, etc.)
Another thing I do religiously is to lock my car door and engage the alarm ... even if I'm just running into a Quick Mart to grab a cup of coffee.
If I have any gear in sight, I'll cover it with a jacket or something while I'm away from my vehicle.

So far, I've been lucky.

- Bob Cammarata

Hi Carlton,
The good news is you got it back at all. I believe in urban camouflage. My car, my cases - in fact, my gear - all look like something that has already been run over by a truck. Actually, that is too nice, but I canít say what it really looks like. I used to have radiation stickers on my gear, but that causes too much trouble now. Most of my cases now are military surplus. I have had thefts, but they were all from my studio. I donít leave things like tripods visible; Iíll cover them with a blanket. Glitter creates envy.

- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Basic BetterPholio™:

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commecial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
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2: Indoor Portrait Ideas

I have a client who is in a hurry to get some family portraits done. She does not want them done in my studio or outside, as it's the middle of the winter here in the Midwest. Does anyone have ideas for good indoor locations that work well? Outdoors, studio and weddings are my comfort zone, so I am not sure where to even begin to look. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
- Todd Snavely

Did you check out the house of your client? Or perhaps get your client to suggest favorite places and you go check them out? Other ideas could include the library, city hall, a cozy coffeehouse, or a nice restaurant?

- Sarah  L. de Jong

Here's another idea - do you have a favorite church setting (from one of your wedding shoots), Todd? I was thinking maybe stained glass windows, polished pews, bride's room, indoor meditation area. A Botanical Garden Conservatory might work, also.

- Kathy Wesserling

As a portrait photographer for the past 30 years, I have had occasion to photograph families in lots of places. One, friends of mine from church where I had always seen them "dressed up," came into the studio. Looking at the results, they said, "this is nice but it's not us." We went to the rec room of their home, posed them in casual clothes around the couch with the family dog, and they were very happy with the results.
At a wedding out of the area, I went a day early to photograph all of the family - in the hotel lobby (a large hotel, obviously.)
Several times we have used the space of a church of photos. In some instances, the family was an integral part of the church, and vice versa, so the church setting was appropriate. Other times we just used the large space, occasionally with a studio background to set up a location studio that was easier. Extended families larger than 10 will not fit in my small studio and we have to look for these spaces. As long as you are not using some of these spaces on a regular basis, most public places are happy to accommodate a photo session and are often flattered to have their site chosen for such an important event. They might even be interested to include a copy for their web site. Once you start brainstorming, there are usually several possibilities. Good luck. Lots of good ideas here depending on your area.

- Bruce A. Dart

Hi Todd ... During the wintertime (it gets pretty nasty here in Toronto, Ontario, as well), I suggest my favourite greenhouses at Allan Gardens, which is pretty central and huge. At Christmastime, the various poinsettias are beautiful, and at other holidays, flowers are planted to suit. My second favourite is Valentine's Day, when I suggest to my clients we do their engagement portraits. If there's a greenhouse (or large flower shop), try it out. The big plus is that greenhouses are nice and bright!! All the best...

- Thea Menagh
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