Thursday, March 27, 2014

B is for Bokeh

Today in the ABCs of Photography:

B is for Bokeh

© Rob Weber
Bokeh (boh-kay): the blur, or aesthetic quality of the blur, in the out-of-focus background of an image
Originally, this term comes from the 
Japanese word boke, meaning "haze" or "blur", or boke-aji, which means the "blur quality"(1). Popularized by Mike Johnston in Photo Techniques magazine in 1997, the English spelling of bokeh has become the spelling of choice, though you can also spell it "boke"(2)

As you learned in our "A is for Aperture", your f/stop controls the depth-of-field in your image. That blurriness in the background of your image is called bokeh. You can achieve this blur with a large aperture, and long focal length. This image to the right was taken with a 400mm lens at f/2.8, allowing for the subject to become the only focus, literally and figuratively, of the image. 

Stay tuned for more photography tips and tools.

(1), (2) Source

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A is for Aperture

Today in the ABCs of Photography:

A is for Aperture

Aperture (ˈap-ə(r)-ˌchr, -chər, -ˌtyr, -ˌtr\): Opening that controls the amount of light that passes through a lens (such as a camera lens) 

Iris blades opening and closing. Source
The aperture is one of the most basic aspects in learning about your camera. The aperture, or f/stop, is just one of the ways you can control the exposure of your photo. As you can see on the right, we have an aperture opening and closing. The size of the hole determines the amount of light allowed to hit either the sensor of your camera, or the film; the bigger the whole, the brighter the photograph. Traditionally, f/stops range from f/2.8 to f/22, but as photography becomes more advanced, we often see f/1.2 all the way up to f/64. It all depends on what lens you are using. There is even a set of lenses, created by Carl Zeiss and commissioned by NASA, that reach f/.7! Now that's wide. 

So, why adjust aperture instead of shutter? Well, aperture controls your depth-of-field: 
  • You'll want a very large aperture, like f/2.8, to give your photograph a very sharp subject and blurry background.  You may want a larger aperture when shooting portraits, food, nature close-ups, etc.
  • You'll want a very small aperture, like f/22, for a generally sharp scene. You may want a smaller aperture when shooting landscapes, architecture, large groups of people, etc.
To learn more about controlling your exposure, check out our blog posts on shutter, overexposure and underexposure. And, stay tuned for more photography tips and tools.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feedly: Why This is the Reader You Should be Using

A few months ago, Google’s Reader was shut down and many bloggers were forced to find another site to read their blogs. Reader was a Google app that allowed people who read lots of blogs to put them all in one simple feed, like you Facebook newsfeed. Foto Care ended up switching to Feedly, and we love it!

Signing up for Feedly is insanely easy. Just visit Feedly and log in with your Google account information, and BAM! All of your blogs are imported for you!

The interface for Feedly looks great. You can choose different color schemes by visiting “themes”, set your default fonts in “preferences”, and organize your content by clicking on “organize” (at the top left of the page) and separate the blogs you follow into categories. (For our Feedly account, we have blogs categorized as photography, fashion, food, and miscellaneous, allowing us to either view them all at once, or one category at a time.) Play around in all of the settings and preferences to get the look at feel you want.

One great feature we’ve taken advantage of is the “you might also like” list on the right side of the page. Feedly will look at the blogs you already follow, and suggest other blogs that you might like. Beneath each blog post are options to share that post, from Facebook to Twitter to email. In your preferences, you can turn off any or all of these share buttons. You can also set Feedly to integrate Pinterest in your preferences, so that you can pin any photo in your feed by hovering over the image. We use the Pinterest feature A LOT.

And that’s just the free version!

So, we definitely recommend trying out Feedly, and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Having a Facebook Business Page

Facebook. Everyone knows about Facebook, and it seems like everyone has a personal Facebook account. But, you may not know that you can create a business page for your photography business. But, as with any social media site, there are some positives and negatives to creating a business page.

The Pros:

+ Once you create a business page, you’re able to separate your personal account from your business account, but still link the two. This is great, because clients don’t have to sift through your status updates, changes in your relationship status and miscellaneous posts to see your work. It’s always a good idea to keep your personal life, personal.

+ Potential clients can find your business page and look at your work without changing your privacy settings. Like many people, I have set my personal account to “only friends”, meaning only my friends can see my information, pictures and statuses, but having a business page allows people to find you, without finding you.

+ You still have the ability to receive messages, create statuses and “like” other pages through your business account. This is especially nice, because messages from people you don’t know won’t get put into the “other” folder. (Tip: if you are looking at Facebook on a desktop computer or laptop, click on your message folder. Next to “messages” you can see a faint grey “other”. The other folder holds all messages that were sent by people you are not friends with. It cuts down on spam, but can also hide important messages.)

+ Insights! Insights is a way for you to see how the content you’re posting is reaching your fans. From the number of people that read a post to what country they live in, gender to age group, Insights allows you to determine whether or not the content you’re posting is helping or hurting your business.

+ People can review your business, which in turn helps other potential clients learn more about you. Of course, as with any reviews system, this could help or hurt you.

The Cons:

- Once your business page gets a certain number of “likes” you can no longer interact 1-on-1 with individuals. Your newsfeed will only contain updates from the pages that you “like”.

- Your posts will not always appear in all of your fans’ newsfeeds. Something I’ve noticed about the business account is that the statuses you post will only reach a small number of fans at a time… unless you pay for advertising. Once you pay for advertising, you may get a lot more interaction from fans, as well as more “likes”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will become a client, or that they will interact with your page after you stop paying.

- Always be aware: your photos are not always safe on Facebook. Seriously consider whether or not you want your photography on Facebook by reading the terms and conditions, and think about adding watermarks to your work.

How to link your accounts:

This is a question I get asked a lot, but once the accounts are linked, it is the most helpful part of having two pages. 
  • Once you are in your business account, click “edit page” in the top right of the page and choose “Manage Admin Roles”. 
  • Type in the email address that you use for your personal account and the password for your business account. 
  • Log in to your personal account and accept the request. 
  • Once you’ve accepted the request, click on the small gear shape in the top right of your screen and click on the name of your business page to toggle between the two accounts! 
This allows you to quickly, and easily, go from one page to another; no more log-out-log-in!


For more tips and tricks about using Facebook, and all social media, to promote your business, stay tuned! Have questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Professional Women Photographers: Gallery Opening

This past weekend, the Professional Women Photographers group hosted a student exhibition gallery show in our rental department. The show featured images from high school girls from all over, the theme of which was self-portraits. With Debra L. Rothenberg as the guest speaker and a silent auction, the show was so much more than just a gallery opening. There was an absolutely amazing turnout, and we're glad that we were able to put the show together for these ladies.  

Debra L. Rothenberg talking with the attendees about her work

Silent auction table. One of the items up for bid was
Debra's book, 
Bruce Springsteen IN FOCUS Photographs 1980-2012

Why You Should Be on Pinterest

Recently we blogged about “Why You Should be on Instagram” and we’re continuing the social media marketing trend with Pinterest. The lesser known website serves as a digital inspiration board. Filled with thousands and thousands of photos, Pinterest is ideal when looking to overcome your photographer’s block*.

From left to right: Hereus de Joaquim Gomis, Claude Nori, Ben Zank. Posted to "Places We Like", "Magnificent Make-up and Hair" and "Photographs We Like" respectively. 
Now, to get into the details. Once you create an account on Pinterest, you can start pinning. What that means is you create a “board” (kinda like a folder that you keep your files in) complete with name, description and category. Then, you start uploading photos to that board, or multiple boards if you’ve started creating specific boards (if you visit our page, you can see we have a few boards: for women’s fashion, food, animals, kids, etc.) With each photo you pin, you can add some information; we try to attach the site we found the photo on as well as the photographer, if applicable. And, that’s pretty much it.

First two images by Ben VanOrt, third unknown and, last by Fox Fodder Farm. Posted to "Places We Like" and Fantastic Flowers and Plants" 

Full disclosure: the first time someone showed me Pinterest, my initial thought was well, this is stupid. And, a lot of people think that as well. I mean, why do you need an inspiration board at all, let alone a digital one? Look at a photography book or a magazine, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. But, once I started using the site, like really using it, I found out why so many people had become dedicated “pinners”.

Left by William Eggleston, right unknown. 
Posted to "Delectable Drinks"
The trick to getting into Pinterest is to follow the right boards. It’s not as easy as it sounds, I mean, how do you find good Pinterest boards? Of course you can follow your friends, but they may not be pinning things that you are really interested in, or things that inspire you. So, the next step is to do a little digging. The first accounts I tried to follow were found by Google-ing “best Pinterest boards to follow,” which turned up some good results, but, not great. So, I started searching for specific photos I wanted to see. For example: let’s say I wanted to see photos associated with Kinfolk Magazine, just search and photos from Kinfolk pop up. In many cases, the people that like Kinfolk are into the same kinds of photography I’m into, so I follow them, then I see who they’re following and find other boards I like and follow those, too. So-on-and-so-forth until you have a whole slue of awesome pins piling up in your feed that you can then “like” or “repin”. Pinterest is a lot like Instagram in that way: search, find, follow. Pinterest also offers other ways to find boards, including suggested boards below pins as well as other than have pinned the same photo.

Photographers unknown. Left photograph of Shannyn Sossamon, right Morrissey. Posted to "Celebrity Photography"

Now that we’ve covered what Pinterest is and how it works, why should you be on it?

This brings us back to photographer’s block. As a photographer myself, I know what it’s like to want to go out and photograph something, but what do you shoot? I find that when I spend a significant amount of time looking at photo after photo that inspires me, I suddenly know what it is that I want to shoot. I’ve already started working on a personal project inspired by an editorial campaign I saw on Pinterest. And, just like that, the site justifies why it exists.

Photograph of Ariel Alasko's workspace. Posted to "Awesome Office Spaces"

But, be aware: there are A LOT of photographs of Paris on Pinterest; may cause wanderlust and travel envy.  

Pinterest is helpful in other ways, too. With recipes, interior decorating tips, life hacks and fashion spreads, it’s easy to find a million other ways Pinterest can influence a million aspects of your life. But, we’ll let you see that yourself.

Left photograph by Herriot Grace, right Seven Spoons. Posted to "Savory Food"

If you didn’t already pick-up on it, we’re on Pinterest. Follow our boards to see what kinds of photo-related tidbits we’re pinning!

*Photographers block is the creative hump you experience when you just don’t know what to shoot. Much like writer’s block, but Pinterest cannot help with writer’s block.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Crowd-Funding Your Photography Project

Crowd-funding has become a huge development in the art industry. Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow creatives to tell people all over the world about the projects they are working on, but just can't seem to complete without proper funding. By reaching fellow creatives and enthusiasts far and wide, many of these artists are able to raise the money, and actually realize their vision. But, there are some serious risks involved with crowd-funding, and I'm here to talk about some of the pros and cons of funding your project on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. (I am leaving out other sites, like GoFundMe, because these two site are geared more toward artistic endeavors, while others are used to fun personal goals.)

I LOVE Kickstarter. I've actually funded a ton of projects on this site, and the variety and diversity of projects on Kickstarter amazes me. I am also a big fan of Kickstarter, because the only projects allowed to be funded on Kickstarter are creative projects, including photography, film, dance, music, and much, MUCH more. 

  • Kickstarter has become hugely popular over the years, so the exposure alone is great. 
  • You fund projects through Amazon, which is super nice, because almost everyone already has an Amazon account.
  • Right on the Kickstarter homepage, you can find featured projects, or "Staff Picks", which is incredibly helpful in getting your project the support it needs to get fully funded.
  • If your project is not funded, you don't get to keep any of the money you raised (it all gets refunded to the backers), but there are no fees. 
  • As mentioned above, if your project is not funded, you don't get anything. Nothing. Nada. Better luck next time!
  • If your project is successfully funded, Kickstarter gets to keep 5% of your earnings, as well as an additional 3-5% in processing fees from Amazon
  • Fraud is no stranger to Kickstarter. There have been cases in the past of projects that were successful, but the project was also fake. Backers lost money, and that sometimes deters people from funding projects in the future.

Indiegogo, though not as popular as Kickstarter, is still a great place to fund your project. You don't necessarily need a creative project to use Indiegogo, though most of the site is filled with art projects. The biggest difference between the two sites is the fee attached to using the site.

Pros & Cons:
  • You can choose a flexible or fixed funded project. For the flexible project, if you're project is not successfully funded, you still get to keep what you earn! Fixed projects do not allow you to keep your earnings if the project is not funded.
  • For both categories, if your project is successfully funded, Indiegogo keeps 4% of earnings.
  • For flexible projects, if you do not reach your goal, Indiegogo will keep 9% of your earnings, and there is an additional 3% processing fee as well as $25 for non-US campaigns. 
So, you can see why there is a real choice you have to make when deciding which site to use, because the fees are a big deal for some project creators.  So, choose wisely and good luck!

Professional Women Photographers Student Exhibition

As many learned yesterday, Calumet Photo has closed it's US stores. We'd built a strong relationship with Calumet, as they were not only in the photography industry, but also our neighbors and friends. Located just across the street on West 22nd in Manhattan, our two stores always did what we could to help out one another, whether it be through the store or the rental department. We are very sorry to see them go. 

Due to the untimely closing, we've been trying to help out the Calumet customers, and, thankfully, the Professional Women Photographers group. This Saturday, from 4:30 to 6:00pm, the PWP Student Exhibition (featuring the work of high school girls throughout the northeast. The theme is self-portraits!) was set to take place at Calumet, but we've been able to move the exhibition to our rental department.  

Details from the PWP event page:
"This year we are honored to have Debra L. Rothenberg as a guest speaker.
Debra L. Rothenberg is an award-winning photographer, residing in New York City. She is an accomplished professional whose photographic range consists of music/concerts, celebrities, news, sports, CD and book covers, newspapers and magazines, portraiture, children, and private events.  Debra's latest book is Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980-2012.  Debra has been a concert photographer for New York Daily News since 1999. Her extensive clientele includes TV networks, major national publications, and universities.  Among her many accomplishments is a National First Place award in the sports category from the National Press Photographers Association. She is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and is listed in Who’s Who Among American Women.
Join us at this reception for meet Debra and show your support for these talented young women. If you have any questions, please email
There will also be a silent auction for all kinds of gear, tickets and more! And, please visit their website for more info.
So please be advised of the change in location, and stop by to support the students and this wonderful organization! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Photographers are Creeps: The Negative Portrayal of Photographers in TV and Movies

Warning: this post contains spoilers. If you have not seen "Hard Candy", "Road to Perdition", and certain episodes of "The X-Files", "Dexter" and "Law and Order: SVU" you may want to stop reading this now.

Patrick Wilson's character Jeff Kohlver from "Hard Candy," a movie about a photographer who took pictures of a child being molested, but is defeated in the end by a young vigilante.

Photographers are creepy. Or, at least that’s what crime dramas want us to think. Full disclosure: I watch a lot of TV, a lot more than I care to admit. But, that is how I’ve come to notice that there is a trend, a trend years in the making. From shows like "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" and "The X-Files", to movies like "Road to Perdition", we see that where there’s a photographer, there’s a bad guy. Often times, the photographer is seen as the murderer, the rapist, the all-around creep. But, why is that? I’ve compiled a small list of examples to show you what I mean as well as a few thoughts as to why this negative portrayal of photographers keeps dominating media. 

First, let’s begin with a classic TV show, "Law and Order: SVU". In the first episode of the third season, entitled, “Or Just Look Like One,” we are given this description:

Creepy photographer portfolio alert!
“After teen model Jazmin Burgess is dumped, beaten, and raped in front of Roosevelt Hospital, Benson and Stabler investigate to find out why a sixteen-year-old girl was out alone after midnight. High levels of drugs in Jazmin's system lead them to take a look at not only the modeling agency with which Jazmin was signed, but also the photographer who was supervising her last shoot and had booted her out because she was 'too heavy'.”

Yes, this fashion photographer sounds like a jerk, I agree. But, of course, it turns out that not only was this photographer a jerk, but also a major creep with a Polaroid collection that show models with him as a way further their modeling careers. Boy, those fashion photographers can so creepy. Not convinced yet? How about an example from the show “Dexter”?

Fashion photographer Jonathan Farrow, RIP 
In episode seven of season four of "Dexter", we’re introduced to Jonathan Farrow, another fashion photographer creep. Having previously “beat” a rape charge, Farrow is now suspected of the murder of a model (come on guys, what’s with all of this violence against models?) after the Miami Police Department has come across his sickening, and creepy, portfolio of work. At one point, this guy even says, “I could make you a star. I just need to get you in my studio. Whip your clothes off, and rough you up a little bit” to one of the detectives! Turns out, the guy didn't kill her… but, he was such a creep! Of course he was a suspect!

Here’s the deal, though: there are famous fashion photographers out there with sexual abuse and rape allegations against them, and that is a large part of why fashion photographers have developed such a bad rap. More about that, later.

Now, let’s get to the weird stuff.

A scene from “Tithonus” in which the photographer is just about to claim another victim. 

Get out of the elevator!
The X-Files. In “Tithonus” (episode ten of season six), an extremely accomplished photojournalist has made a living capturing accidental deaths for decades. How does he do it? Apparently, this guy can see when someone is about to die, just by looking at them; the soon-to-be-deceased appear to be in black and white. (Don’t you just love selective color?). He spots the victim and follows them until he can meet their untimely demise with his camera. Yeah, that elevator full of discolored people… you know what’s going to happen next. This right-place-right-time-photograph-of-death reminds me of a movie…

"Road to Perdition" is the story of Tom Hanks as a gangster during the Great Depression just trying to escape this life with his young son. But, forget all that, we’re here to talk about Jude Law’s character, Harlen Maguire. Harlen Maguire is also a crime scene photographer who, as a side job, also kills people, sometimes right at the crime scene. He’s the bad guy; I mean, look at that face!

Marlen Maguire. The horror!
So, why are photographers such creeps? As mentioned above, there are cases in which a famous photographer will use his/her reputation to manipulate people into doing what they want. Don't get me wrong, these guys got what they deserved (spoiler alert: they all die), but that shouldn’t be the image that reflects all of us. I mean, why does the photojournalist also have to be the killer? 

The idea of photographing something as a souvenir or momento is almost as old as photography itself; documenting people and places, travels and milestones. Photography is a way to show other people "proof" of the things you do in your life, because, as our friend Gerry Schnauz (below) tells us, "pictures don't lie". But, somewhere between the Kodak Brownie and pocket point & shoots, documenting everyday life somehow became creepy. 

You can blame it on the paparazzi who stalk celebrities outside of their homes, or the "suspicious guy with a camera at the park". Somewhere, something just went wrong. 

But, I'm here to say: how about we all leave photographers alone, okay? Unless, you know, that one photographer really is just a creep. 


I did not include "One Hour Photo" in this post, because Robin Williams' character was not a photographer. But, I acknowledge that he is the biggest creep of all time.