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JLP Florida Blog Feed

Tampa Photography Blog

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Feb 1, 2011
Category:General In the News Tips and Tricks 
Posted by: Jessica

The website Gizmodo is featuring 175 images shot at nighttime that look as though they've been shot during the day. These images were simply shot with a very long exposure so the maximum amount of light would appear in the photo. An amateur photographer could try their hand at these shots by using a tripod (or a steady place to balance the camera), shooting with a camera with manual settings for long exposures and staking out a place that you think might be a good shot.

The photo above was taken by K.C. Alfred and he explains his technique below:

"I was camping with my son at San Elijo State Beach in San Diego, CA when I took this photo of a lifeguard stand in the middle of the night on Jan. 23rd, 2011. Since I did not have a tripod, I just leaned my camera against the staircase. When I was editing I noticed you can see the constellation Orion in the clouds at left. (Nikon D3 17mm, f2.8, 6 seconds, ASA 4000)"

To see the whole gallery, click here.

Oct 29, 2010
Category:General Behind the Scenes Tips and Tricks 
Posted by: Jessica

Every year, a few bored, artsy photo geeks figure out how to turn a physical object into a camera. It's actually quite easy once you get the hang of it and it can be done with almost any object including cans, boxes and pumpkins!

Check out this video to see a step-by-step demonstration on how to turn your Halloween pumpkin into a pinhole camera. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Aug 20, 2010
Category:Tips and Tricks Behind the Scenes General 
Posted by: Jessica

The Photojojo Store takes being a photo geek to a whole new level.

My logo designer, Javier Sola, sent this site to me and I'm dying to spend some hard earned money on these silly, fun photo gadgets.

They have everything from inflatable frames to a camera lens mug! They also make being a photographer even cooler and stranger than it already was. With bowling bags used for SLR cameras and glasses that double as a video camera, I cannot say enough about this weird little photography website.

So the next time you find yourself wondering what to get the photo geek, or photographer, in your life, check out

Jun 28, 2010
Category:Tips and Tricks Behind the Scenes General 
Posted by: Jessica

When it comes to hiring a professional for a business head shot, most people go to a name they know like Sears or JCPenney because they think they’re saving money. I’m writing this article to map out the different options including hiring an independent professional photographer and going to studios in the mall.

First, let me start by stressing the importance of hiring a professional for your head shot. Asking a friend or family member to shoot your head shot with a point-and-shoot camera is not the same and it shows in the final product. The reason businesses hire professionals is that they know there’s a reason we exist. If you’re an accountant or a doctor or a lawyer, I would hire you for your services because I know you’ve been trained well to do your job and I cannot do it for you. Photography is no different.

Second, when you choose not to hire a professional photographer and use a head shot created by an amateur, it shows your client you don’t think it’s worth the money to invest in a real head shot. If you won’t invest in your business, why should anyone else?

Third, I did my research by calling or visiting these other studios in person so I got an accurate price list for Tampa head shots. I used the area of Carrollwood as my base since there is a JCPenney studio, a Sears studio and a Picture People location in Citrus Park Mall.

Let’s start with what I offer for my head shot package. For a group session (a minimum of five people), the rate is only $75 per person and I travel to your office. The best option is for me to set up my mobile studio in a conference room. The $75 head shot rate includes five final images that are retouched and ready to print. The client has full rights to reproduce these images in any way they see fit. It also includes an online gallery of raw images where the client can choose their favorite images.  I recommend a dark grey/black backdrop but I also have light gray, dark blue, red, white and black to choose from. The client may wear as many different tops as time permits.

I visited Picture People and the associate told me that for only three retouched images on CD, the rate is $90. At JCPenney Portrait Studio, the rate for three head shots on CD is $70. I called Sears Portrait Studio and after being on hold for ten minutes during normal business hours, I decided to look online for pricing information. The current sale offered on their website is one retouched business portrait on CD for $65.

The general public might think they are getting a great deal by going to a department store studio. I researched these options so others can see the difference. My rate compared to those studios is only a $5-$10 difference and, in one case, my rate is nearly 20% less expensive.

My other concern is that if you want your head shot or business portrait to look creative, it is sometimes hard to find that in a department store setting. The employee photographing you usually has a part-time position with little to no real world experience outside of the mall as a professional photographer and more importantly,  he or she may not be there if you come back with any problems or questions.

I always tell clients to do their own research. I believe in what I do and if your only concern is cost – not quality or service, then sometimes the best option is Wal-Mart. When you’re ready for a professional set of images to set your business apart from the others – I’m ready and I’ll be here to help before, during and after any session.

May 15, 2010
Category:Tips and Tricks General 
Posted by: Jessica

When a couple gets engaged they seem to only have days of bliss, then the focus immediately goes to planning the wedding. It doesn't have to be stressful and one of the most important ways to make it go smoothly is to be educated when you choose your vendors. I hope this guide helps brides and grooms choose the right photographer for your wedding.

1)      Be honest. Sit down with your fiancé and decide what the number one factor in choosing a photographer is. Style? Cost? Wedding packages? Experience? Location? Personality? Reputation?

2)      Do your research. Explore at least ten local photographers in the city you are getting married in. This will help you understand what the local market average is for wedding photography and who is overcharging. (For example, you will be charged much more in Los Angeles or New York than you will be in a small, rural area.)

3)      Discover what your photo style is: traditional, contemporary, documentary, etc. You can easily do this by looking at the definition of each style or by asking photographers that you like, how their style is defined.

4)      Set a realistic budget and stick to it. This ensures you won’t waste your time or the photographer’s time if you have a clear idea of what you want to spend. If you want to put a priority on your wedding photos, decide what else you can sacrifice to make it happen. Can you do smaller centerpieces? Can you skip favors or Save the Dates? Maybe you can offer open bar but with wine and beer instead of top shelf liquor?

5)      Meet with the photographers if you are not having a destination wedding. Ask lots of questions. You can also get a good feeling for how professional they are by their timeliness, presentation and personality. A client once told me his deciding factors for hiring a photographer was using a ratio of 50% personality, 25% talent and 25% rates.

6)      Make sure you actually get your images! There are different schools of thought on this but I believe you should always get a DVD of your high-resolution images after the wedding. Some photographers will only show you the proofs and ask you to buy prints from them at an inflated rate. I understand others profit from their print sales a great deal but I still believe the bride and groom alone should receive their digital negatives after making such a substantial investment.

7)      Analyze the wedding packages offered. As I said above, ensure there is a DVD included. And ask the photographer how long it will be before you receive your images. My brother did not know the answer to that question and waited EIGHT months before he received the DVD. All packages are different but they should include an engagement session before the wedding, a DVD of the wedding photos and an online gallery of both. Prints and albums are optional but some photographers like me, prefer to keep it simple.

8)      Ask for two to three recent references and look for reviews online. Some photographers are listed on sites like The Knot and The Wedding Wire and will have clients post reviews about their work.

9)      Understand you will not look exactly like the couples you see on the photographers’ websites. Everyone is different so even though you will look your absolute best on your big day, you’ll still be you. And that’s ok! J

10)  This is extremely important so don’t be fooled that it’s last on my list: Read your contract! Most professional wedding photographers will have a contract that states their rights to the photos, explains what will happen if you cancel, payment schedules, refunds, how a natural disaster or illness would play out and what is required of the photographer. If you can have at least two other people besides you and your fiancé look it over, it will ensure that nothing is slipping through the cracks. Wedding photography is personal and creative but it’s still a business.

I hope this helps brides and grooms in finding the right wedding photographer for your tastes and budget. I understand I don’t fit everyone’s needs so I offer a wedding vendor list (that includes at least five other photographers) to brides and grooms so they can make an informed decision. It’s your day and it’s a huge investment so don’t rush your decision!

Good luck and best wishes!

May 2, 2010
Category:Tips and Tricks General 
Posted by: Jessica
Many clients like to photograph their family members in between sessions with a professional. It’s not only possible to do this as an amateur photographer but it can be easy and fun if you follow a few guidelines.

1)      Choose the right location. Think about what kind of family you are and pick a location that fits your style. Are you an artsy family that likes to dress up for special occasions? Maybe Ybor City is your style. Are you easy going beach bums with pets? Try Honeymoon Island Dog Beach. Do you love the thrill of amusement parks? Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa are great places to show your personalities for family portraits.

2)      Choose a time with the best light. Photographers call the light at sunrise and sunset “God’s light” because it’s perfect. Most people don’t want to shoot their family portraits at sunrise so aim for sunset. Arrive at your location about two hours before sunset so you can pick a place and you’ll have plenty of time to get what you need.

3)      Ensure everyone is well fed and rested. Eating a light early dinner before the shoot is a great idea. Make sure everyone had a good night’s sleep the previous night and if naps are necessary for kids, make sure they get them before you leave the house.

4)      Bring entertainment for the kids. If you’re going to an amusement park for the day, you don’t have to worry about anything! But if you’re going to a park, beach or other public place, games work best to keep everyone in a fun state of mind. On some of my family portrait shoots, families have brought water guns, silly string, sand castle shovels, Nerf balls and horseshoes.

5)      Be aware of the weather. If it’s a hot July afternoon in Florida, bring lots of cold water in a cooler so no one gets dehydrated. If the adults need some caffeine to keep their energy up, bring your soda or coffee with you or make a last-minute trip to Starbucks on the way! And, of course, dress for the weather. If you’re shooting family portraits in the middle of summer, bring comfortable clothing like tank tops, shorts and flip flops. And if senior members of the family are participating in the session, bring umbrellas and hand-held fans for them so they don’t overheat in the hot Tampa sun.

6)      Choose comfortable, “non-clashing” clothing. Some families like everyone to wear the same outfit. That’s not necessary to make a great portrait. Every person has their own personality so it’s not imperative that you dress the same. If you’d like to dress similar, choose one color that everyone can work around. If you choose blue, allow people to wear different shades of blue and different kinds of clothing—polos, tank tops, strapless shirts, button-ups, etc. Also, everyone can wear variations of blue with designs like stripes, plaids, solids, etc. If you don’t want to have a unifying color, just choose colors that go well together—pink and brown, black and red, etc.

7)      Create a reward for the kids. Maybe you can take them for ice cream or pizza after the session. Or give them an incentive like extra time doing one of their favorite activities at home. Kids always cooperate more when they know the goal and reward.

8)      If you don’t have a camera with a timer, you won’t get the entire family in the photo so let family members take turns shooting the photos. If your kids are old enough, allow them to be a part of the session by showing them how to shoot photos of mom and dad. You might be surprised how good they are at it!

9)      Clean up your backgrounds. When you’re shooting, make sure there are no other distractions in the background that would take away from your photo. If you’re shooting at a park, look for tree limbs and other families or parties that might pop up in your photos. If you’re at the beach, you probably have fewer trees to battle with but you might have more people. There’s nothing more upsetting than looking at your family portraits at home and realizing there’s a stranger in the background!

10)  Have fun! Family portraits are supposed to be fun family time and not a stressful, horrible experience. If you follow these steps, I promise you you’ll have no regrets!