How to Put a Border Around Pictures

Here is a very quick & easy "how to" for you all, inspired by my Photog-mentor...

How to Put a border Around Pictures.

It's something I've always wanted to know how to do, but had no clue how to it without actually cropping the picture. That is until very recently when my mentor told me a quick & easy way to get these wonderful white borders in Photoshop...
Just click Image --> Canvas Size ...
And I always use an actual measurement (not percent, since the borders aren't guaranteed to be the same size with this method.) Simply add the same amount to the width & height of your canvas size.
Voila - you have a professional, polished border around your picture.
And you can always go back and readjust the canvas size to make the border more or less prominent (to your liking)
As you can see, the borders work for a variety of different shots. The white border does work best when there isn't a ton of white in or close to the edges of the photograph. Otherwise, your borders are endless!

Tan ~ Thank you so much for this (along with all the other endless, amazing Photography information) that you've shared with me. I'm now paying it forward because of you.


Wordless Wednesday - Featuring Country Flair

Some accidental sun-flair while snapping away in the beautiful countryside...

For more Wordless Wednesdays, please visit 5 Minutes for Mom & The Wordless Wednesday Headquarters. Thank you!!! Much love to you all and God Bless.

SOOC & Edited Pics - Engagement Ring Pictures

SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera) pictures are perhaps a rarity in day digital day & age. Photoshop and other photo editing software make it so easy to pump up pictures, that sometimes we don't even worry about getting the best picture possible.

The best SOOC shots actually require little-to-no editing. Though they can be edited in many ways, the original pictures by themselves still look fantastic.

Take the following sets of engagement ring photos:

[Slight brighten, curves adjusted on ring to make even more shiny]


[Slight brighten, curves adjusted on ring to make even more shiny]


[Slight brighten & edge burn]


[Slight brighten, curves adjusted on ring to make even more shiny]







The how-to's on the very simple editing: Every photo brightened was manually adjusted within the levels; every curves adjustment was also done manually with only parts of the ring selected. Edge burn was done by taking dodge/burn tool, adjusting to a large size, and simply going around the edge of the picture.

Though the final products differ slightly from the SOOC shots, they would still hold their own without any editing.

I encourage you all to try to get at least one SOOC shot every time you do a shoot. A shot that you would be happy to show without any editing. And I am challenging myself to do the same.


Scheduling Posts

One of the hardest things to do when maintaining a Photo Blog is to have regularly written posts over the course of weeks or even months. That was definitely one of my hardest obstacles to overcome once I started my Photo Blog.

Even if you're not interested in attracting a readership - if this blog is totally for yourself - you still need to maintain some type of regular posting. When writing for others, obviously they want fresh, new content on your blog almost every day they stop by.

For yourself, it's more of a matter of holding yourself accountable to see how far you've come. Without any posts in months, it's sometimes hard to see where you've come & if you're headed in the right direction.

A lifesaver for my Photo Blog has been "scheduling posts." When writing or publishing photos, I just click the "Post Options" and place a future date and time as to when I'd like the post to actually go up.

I do my posts about a week in advance (sometimes more or less), but that takes pressure off trying to get a new post published just before bed every night. And if there are days that I have the time to do an extra post, it's just icing on the cake.

Another thing I do is only schedule my posts Monday through Friday. Though sometimes I might sneak in something on the weekend, I know it's not something I hold myself accountable for. I am trying very hard to maintain my Monday through Friday postings though. And scheduling my posts has made this remarkably easy.


Teaming Up

I once read from a wonderful, inspiring photographer... "This is why photographers hire other photographers to take pictures of their children!" (Referring to the faces her child was making in the photos that followed...)

Being a parent myself, there are times when I too want to hire out another photographer just to get a decent shot of the child! I just hate to fork over the dough... Isn't there a better way?

Of course there is! If I'm a photographer & a parent, I'm surely not the only one. The best thing to do is find someone like yourself and team up with them. "I'll take pictures of your kid if you'll take pics of mine...!"

Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about: My Aunt is a WONDERFUL photographer. I cannot say enough about her and her work. And as no one always has their camera on them, the few times that we don't have our cameras are the times we seem to need them most. Which was the case this night...

My Aunt & her daughter came over to my sister's jewelry party. Meg was dressed in the cutest little dress... and my sister has one to match! The girls decided it would be so neat to get some photos in their matching outfits; I more than gladly obliged.

Afterward, I gave the memory chip to my Aunt. She downloaded them in a flash & gave the card back before I was even ready to go home... And this is what she did with the photos:

It was so wonderful to have these perfect, edited, wonderful pictures! And best of all, I didn't do any of the work. Let's face it - taking pictures of my sister & cousin is a blast and a blessing. My Aunt did all the hard work!

So even though this team is a bit lopsided (my Aunt's way too sweet in editing them all & sharing), teaming up with another photographer can be so beneficial to the both of you. Not just for a photo session, but for a friend in photography.

Photo Blog Benefits

Having a Photo Blog is important in so many ways. For work, play, photo shoots, editing techniques, and of course blog posts. I began my Photo Blog after some inspiration & a kick in the pants from one of my most admired photographers: Natalie Norton.

Though it was very tough for me at first, I can now say that it's something I truly enjoy doing.

When I first began this Photo Blog, I didn't know what to write or post about... I didn't know if I should include more pictures or information... All the uncertainty and questions I had found me retreating to the safety of posting nothing (rather than risk putting up something that would be looked down upon)

I soon realized that if I was avoiding posting based upon possible negative responses, I had started this blog for all the wrong reasons. When you start a Photo Blog, never forget why you create it. I created my Photo Blog to help others (by giving advice & ideas) and to challenge and better myself (as a photographer and a person).

To me, one of the most essential parts of a photo blog is that it can help others - and even yourself. By publishing free photography information for others, it also helps me. These posts give me refresher courses on skills that I learned long ago, and I get to learn even more when I do a bit of research on my topics before publishing.

So, what should your Photo Blog contain? Whatever you want it to. Photo Blogs should be as different as each of us are. Though it's nice to take suggestions or ideas from other Photo Blogs you may like, just make sure you make it your own.

Maintaining a Photo Blog is a great way to show off your talents, share information, attain & maintain relationships with other photographers, and much more. Still not sure if you should or how to get started? Take a look on Natalie Norton's Photo Blog for some fantastic inspiration - and even a kick in the pants if you still need it.


Teach a Man to Fish

As I've come across more and more actions - and become more familiar with how they do what they do, and it's going me thinking...

If someone explains how the actions are done - or give instructions on how to achieve these effects in Photoshop, we can make our own actions or specific adjustments to each picture. Just as we are taught that if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; but if you teach him to fish, he'll eat all his life.

Now, I've done absolutely no research on this. So I'm sure there is someone out there who does explain how to make your own actions to [fill in here with what you'd like to make your pictures look like. ie: brighten] And I've actually learned a few tricks about 'brightening'

There are several actions out there that 'brighten' pictures, but many are very generic and not really specific to different kinds of pictures. Did you know there's a very easy way to do it yourself in each picture?

I've alluded to this before, but I'll explain it again here. By adjusting the levels, you can attain a brightened, more defined picture; and you can do this very specific to each photo. You can also bring out the eye color & crispness by using levels.

My Aunt was the one who actually taught me all this. She just sat down with me in less than 30 minutes and showed me a whole new world of editing - and she was glad to do so.

Which is why I've been thinking... not just that it's nice to know how things are done, but having someone to show you all these wonderful things. A photog-mentor so to say.

Do you know any wise Photoshoppers or photographers in your life? I'm sure they'll be glad to teach you even just a few simple little tricks. For just as Jesus said, "Come, and I will make you fishers of men..." (Mathew 4:19)

Find someone to take you under their picture-taking or photoshoping wing. Surely your photog-mentor will help to make your pictures the wishes of men.


When Tri/Mono pods are a Must-Have

In the photography industry, there are times when you cannot get around the need for a tripod or monopod.

What are the differences between the two? Besides the obvious difference of the tripod having 3 legs, and the monopod only one, there are several other ways these pods differ.

Monopods cannot be left unattended like the tripods, but monopods are a bit easier to maneuver. Tripods can also be a bit more expensive. But honestly, it's great to have one of each.

For weddings when flying solo, I recommend to always bring an extra camera or two. One of those extra cameras can be set upon a tripod with a slightly different view than my own. By using a remote, you gain another photographer specializing in the wide angle views.

By using a wide-angle lens zoomed out for a great overview, you don't have to worry about cutting a head off or trying to capture just one person. And with a high mega pixel SLR, you will be able to crop in on these pictures as well.

Monopods are great to keep on you at weddings. Some officiants object to flash photography during the ceremony, and the only way to get even half-decent shots inside in this case is with a monopod or tripod. Monopods are just much easier to carry around.

Other uses for mono & tripods include long exposure photography, night-time photos, rain, and snow. Here, I have some examples of night-time snow pictures:
Though brightened up a bit with photoshop, these shots were all taken with a monopod as I walked around our neighborhood one snowy night last winter.

Some turned out better than others...
Even with a monopod, it's impossible to get picture-perfect shots every time.

When pictures are plagued by a bit of shake despite our best efforts, there is still hope for helping them...
Not a bad picture, but not really a good one either...

Adjusting the levels is a very easy quick-fix that can help the imperfections
And turning the photos into black & white (aka - desaturating the images) will mask many imperfections.

For a neat twist, try "fade desaturate" under the edit section after desaturating. You may find that you like the pictures even more with the faded color.

No matter what, your pictures will always stand a much better chance at night - and many other times - with a tripod or monopod.


Wordless Wednesday - Lightning

More Lightning

Lightning pictures are sometimes a bit darker than we'd like, but it's a very easy fix in photoshop to adjust the Levels & adjust the picture to the brightness of your liking.

Note: All these pictures were taken without a tripod or monopod (hence the shake effect on some). Though some pictures actually turned out OK, this is proof positive as to why a photographer should always have a tripod or monopod with them.

Check out tomorrow's post for more on when & why tripods/monopods are a must have.


Faux-tographers vs. Pro-tographers

Nowadays, almost anyone can purchase an SLR digital camera. And as soon as they learn the camera well enough to shoot a half-decent picture, they can market themselves as "professional photographers."

But most of these fake photograpers (what I like to call "faux-tographers") are quickly found out, and they're out of the out of the business before they were ever really in it.

**Note: There is such a term in Internet world as fauxtography - where the images are passed off as real photos but are actually fakes. In this case, I'm referring to a person who markets him or herself as a professional photographer, but in reality is far from it.**

My advice to anyone out there wanting to get in the photo business as quick as they can - don't. Many people are allured to the photo industry when they see how much pro's charge or hear how much can be made. Folks, it's nearly impossible to "get rich quick" in anything [legal]. And that or course includes photography.

If you've never done professional photography before but want to, I'm not saying that you can't. You just can't expect to be great 2 months out of the gate. Learn your camera & lenses, learn your photo editing software, and figure out what kind of photography you'd like to specialize in.

I would like to mention one exception to this rule, and that's anyone who first learned on film SLR cameras & felt comfortable enough to be a Pro-tographer with those. (Or those who even were professionals in film) Even these individuals may need to take some time to learn the digital aspect of their cameras and Photoshop (or other photo editing programs)

I had my first digital SLR for more than 2 years before I even considered going professional. Everyones' learning curves differ though, and I do know of someone who is almost a professional after having their 1st digital SLR for under a year. This person didn't even plan on becoming a pro - they just had amazing natural skills, and a knack for photography.

Bascially, don't rush yourself to become a professional photographer; it's much better to take the time to actually become a pro-tographer than to be known around town as the "faux"-tographer.


Pricing your Photography

One of the trickiest things to do is actually sit down and "price" your products. When someone books a wedding or portrait session, we have our list of packages & prices easily accessible. What about when someone asks for JUST the session price, and a-la-carte prices on pictures?

Before I actually began thinking about my pricing like that, I had not done the a-la-carte prices on individual pictures. Though I know many photographers who have, I personally hadn't.

Which begged the question for me: What's a reasonable price to ask from my customers, yet still make it worth my while & be able to profit?

Though I did take a look at some of the other photographers' prices around my area, I tried to provide figures that were reasonable for the customers, yet also reflected the high quality of my work & talent.

So what is the right amount to charge for a single 8x10 or 5x7? That is essentially up to you & the area in which you reside.

**Note - if you would like some help coming up with an amount that's right for you, I'll be more than glad to assist in research & give advice.**


What's My Best Photo EVER?

This question was asked in the Digital Photography School blog - a photography blog that I read quite religiously. At first, I thought picking out my best photo would be one of the easiest things I've ever done in my life...

I was quite wrong.

Before I write on, I'll go ahead and show the photo that I did pick for my Best Photo Ever...
Looking Over Lake of the Woods

I took this photo while on vacation in Canada in 2006. It was one of the very first photographs I snapped upon arriving.

So, how does one choose his or her best photograph? I'll try my best to give suggestions on how to do so, and I'll include other pictures I considered among my best when trying to decide...

Through a Child's Eyes

It's very easy for us to choose our favorite photos - perhaps they are of something or someone special; maybe they invoke a special memory.

May I Have this Dance Forever?

But finding the best photo one has ever taken... Well, that requires us to be objective. You must look at the quality of your picture, if it is pleasing to the eye, even what type of photo is is.

Fireman's Class-A Portrait

When I was going through all my favorite photos, I realized that very few - if any - were of my best photographs.

With This Ring...

Many of the pictures that first came to my mind were some of my little girl. I realized that it is impossible to look at these photos without a bit of prejudice. "Of course they're great pictures - they have my daughter in them!" So no matter how good those pictures were, I knew that I couldn't count any as my BEST.

Striking Beauty

There were several other hurdles to cross when going through all my digital photographs. Though I loved many other photos that included my family & friends, I had to stop & ask myself "Is it the photo or who's in it that I consider great?

Other photos I had in my archive were of film photographs. (Like the one above)

All these elements combined may be why I landed upon the snapshot that I did. It's scenic & beautiful, it's aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and I can say these things with complete objectivity.

Keep all these things in mind while selecting your portfolio pictures as well - don't just pick your favorites; pick your best.

So what do you all think? Did I choose the right photo? I'd love to hear your feedback. I have a poll over at my other blog - Faith, Family, Friends, Photography... Feel free to vote! I'd also like to know, what makes a photo "the best" to you?

Thanks so much for reading though this rather lengthy post. And it's still not quite over! Below are several of my favorite pictures of my daughter that I just love, but couldn't include in the running for "best" photo. Maybe they'll give you all some ideas for little girl/baby photographs!

Much love to you all and God Bless!