Bob Barford Photography: Blog en-us (C) Bob Barford Photography (Bob Barford Photography) Sat, 11 Nov 2017 18:59:00 GMT Sat, 11 Nov 2017 18:59:00 GMT Bob Barford Photography: Blog 119 120 Backstories I have noticed that many people, including myself, will often post an image to social media and may not include much more than maybe the subjects name or possibly "I'am available on...".  Well, that may work, but what if just a little more was added? What if an image including a captivating caption. In the image above, "Do you know what your future holds?" "Mistress of the unknown" or "Are fortune tellers real?".

Photographers and others who post images hope that the viewer will not scroll by quickly and at least spend a few seconds on an image.  If the image is stunning, that may be all that it takes but most of us understand that not everyone shares the same viewpoint on what is (or is not) stunning. 

In certain forums, images also get criticism for what some may feel are imperfections in the image. Too dark, too light, distracting tree branch etc..  Well, what if there was a brief (one or two lines) backstory or theme to the image.  Suppose you really wanted the branch to be where it was? Not everyone will immediately understand your creative concept behind an image; sometimes a few well chosen words may help. How did you light the image? Where was it taken? Was there something funny that happened during the shoot?   In the same respect, you may not want to write a book about each image that you place on social media.  The viewer can easily get lost in a sea or words and the overall impact of the image may be lost. 

Hashtags can certainly help, and sites such as All hashtags  can certainly help when you are at a loss to know what tags to use on sites such as Instagram.  Although some suggest ten or twelve hashtags, a sea of disjointed hashtags can actually distract from your image. Hashtags can certainly help when someone is searching for a particular type of image but can also confuse people.  Sites such as Instagram also have a banned list of hashtags. These banned hashtags may not always be obvious so every now and again it is probably a good idea to visit a site such as Banned hashtags just to double check. Repeated use of banned hashtags can get you Shadow Banned which will reduce your reach to your audience.

Captions that draw in a viewer to your image may be the difference between a quick scroll over or a quick like to someone actually spending time to really appreciate the image itself.  There are multiple sites such as Gramlike that can spark your imagination to creative captions.  Inspirational quotes may be another option depending upon the type of image that you may be posting. For those who are promoting a service, it is critically important to add your location within a caption. There are MANY times I personally see a promotional post and may initially assume it is local only to find out it is located hundreds of miles away. 

The next time that you post, consider adding an extra line to the image and you may be surprised at what happens!


- Bob Barford is a portrait and glamour photographer located in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) backstores captions hashtags Mon, 13 Nov 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Shooting animals through glass More often these days zoos and animals preserves are placing their animals in glass enclosures. There are several reasons for this, not the least is spectator and animal safety. There have been notable cases of people throwing things through bars, or even jumping over bars into the animal enclosure. Some facilities have opted to place wire mesh along with bars around the animal enclosure, but this can make it more difficult to actually see the animal.

Glass, or heavy plastic materials, do make it more difficult if one wants to photograph the animal. Images make show light reflections, may look washed out (see left above) and may generally unappealing. There are ways around this using a few techniques on site and post production in Lightroom. 

During the actual shoot:

  • Try to shoot without a lightsource directly behind you (this will limit reflections), particularly if you are indoors. If outdoors, try to shoot early in the morning or later in the afternoon without strong sunlight. Shooting on a cloudy day can also work well. Special note- The animal may also be more active during early morning and later in the afternoon.
  • Make sure that you have a protective filter on your lens and try to shoot as close to the glass as possible, even touching the glass with the lens if possible. This will reduce light flare and reflections from the glass.
  • Of course, do not use flash on or off of the camera.
  • Try to find a "clean" section of the glass to shoot through.

Post Production:

The following applies to lightroom, but of course similar adjustments can be made in Photoshop if you prefer.  

  • Shooting through glass will often cause you to loose blacks in your image.  In lightroom, Moving the black slider to the left will almost instantly show improvement in your image. In photoshop, the easiest and quickest way to achieve the same effect is using a levels adjustment layer. Move the slider on the left side of the histogram to the right and you will see an improvement.
  • In the case of the Lion, I moved down to the HSL panel in lightroom. I added saturation to the yellow and oranges. Once again in photoshop, the "Hue/saturation" adjustment level can be used to accomplish the same purpose.
  • I added some vibrance (+20), contrast (+15), and clarity (+15) to this image, I also reduced the brightness of the image slightly and opened up the shadows (+25), all within lightroom.  The degree with each of these adjustments will vary with the image itself.

Although it can be difficult to get a perfect image inside a glass enclosure, you can produce something close with a little through during the shoot and a little post production magic once you come home.

I had also posted in the past a similar technique for obtaining a cityscape from your hotel room in the blog post  From your hotel room which also contains a link to a short Youtube video.


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) animals glass photography photoshop zoo Mon, 06 Nov 2017 13:00:00 GMT
You are being hired! HappyHappy As a professional, or semi pro in the modeling and photography business, a potential client may approach you and ask you to work on a project for them. It may be initially paid, or may lead to paid commissions in the future.  Clients may be anyone including fellow photographers and models.   Some things to think about include:

As the client explains what he or she wants, start thinking to yourself, have I ever done something like this before?  A simple request for a head shot within an office may be doable with little prior experience, however shooting a large wedding for the first time where you may only get one chance for a particular picture may be a little problematic. Hopefully the client has seen some of your work in the past and that is what drew them to you. It is certainly ok to review of couple of images that you shot and ask the client if this is the look that he or she is looking for in their images.  For a model, does he/she have experience or feel comfortable in that style of modeling?  A makeup artist may be great with beauty makeup, but can he/she do theatrical makeup? 

What time frame is the client looking for? Is this a time time frame generous and are you as the professional have tons of free time? Will there be travel time to and from the shooting site? If the shoot requires significant lighting equipment the photographer may have to take into time setup and tear down time. A model who is hired to be body painted, will probably have to wash the body paint off at some point which will take time after the shoot. A makeup artist will need to know when the subject of the shoot needs to be camera ready (ready to be on set).

What props, resources or other people may need to be involved to make the concept happen? Is the client providing anything or does it potentially have to be purchased? Again, depending upon the nature of the concept, resources may be limited or difficult to obtain. Do you need permits to shoot at a particular location.  Does a client want a model to dye her hair green? 

What are the clients final expectations for the end product? Is he she looking for social media images or looking for poster sized prints? For the photographer- can your camera shoot poster sized prints at good quality?  A model may want absolute rights to her images so that she can sell them. How may images are expected from the concept?  Is there special processing that needs to occur with each image prior to release to meet the clients expectations. Remember, image editing programs such as Photoshop are great, but there are limitations. Will the client want to see images and request re-edits? Remember that you may not always be the right person for a job, but potentially could recommend someone else.  If a client wants a model for an underwater shoot, hopefully the model knows how to swim. Does that client want sharks in the same underwater shoot?!

Sometimes, with the notable exception of a wedding, it may be possible to do a test shoot or "proof of concept" for a client particularly when one or more members of the team are inexperienced.  The model may want to 'try' an underwater shoot. These "tests" are often confidence boosters for everyone involved including the client.

In the end, its about managing the expectations of the client. If it is a paid shoot, what budget is available and terms of payment? Asking plenty of questions and getting the answers that you need will often make for a great experience.


-Bob Barford is a published photographer based out of southern Pennsylvania.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) clients hired models mua photographers Mon, 30 Oct 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Gradients for Portraits? When it comes to portraits, most photographers try to get as much right in camera as possible. At times though there are limitations during the shoot such as time or equipment. Sometimes it takes a little creative thought in post production to make something just a little different. The image above is ok in its own right, but we can work to make it a little more dramatic. 

First, lets make the image a little darker by adding a brightness/contrast layer and reducing the brightness just a little. You will see in a little bit why this makes the image work just a little better. 

Now add a Gradient Fill adjustment layer (not a gradient map). Choose the second option where you see the dark corner fading into a checkerboard pattern and check OK.

Here you can see the the lower potion of her body fades into shadows, giving a little more dimension to the image. Could this have been with the proper lighting? Of course the answer is yes, but always remember that there are many ways to achieve a good image. This is one quick and easy way to give some pop to a portrait shot during post production.


- Bob Barford is an award winning photographer based in Southern PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) gradients lighting photoshop post production Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Relationships CuriousCurious Typically I will post instructional or informative material within my blog, but this week I wanted to feature an editorial post concerning relationships within the photography industry. 

Most photographers and models are within this industry because they have a passion to create art. With the notable exception of a few, this is not a industry where professionals become rich and famous quickly and it may take several years, hard work, and near constant networking to get noticed within a highly competitive and largely unregulated marketplace.

Friendships often develop as a result of working closely together in a variety of genres, and if lucky, those friendships can last for many years.  For most, these friendships are just that, friendships. There is no romantic or sexual overtones but rather those involved really enjoy working with each other, much like any other typical job.  Of course, a photographer or model may maintain a strict working relationship with those within the profession having friends only within their personal life. Many photographers and models are either married or have serious relationships outside of the profession that they cherish.  Clearly some single photographer's or models date, but I wanted to focus in on professionals who have a romantic relationship outside of the industry.

Romantic partners of photographers or models sometimes misunderstand the profession. This may happen when a model or photographer travels and works with the glamour or artistic nude genres. For various reasons that I have heard recently, a partner may ask, or even demand, that their partner leave the profession. Trust, lack or understanding, control,  fear of 'what if someone sees.., or even some moral issues with a style of photography can be some reasons why a partner may exert pressure for the professional to stop what he is she is often passionate about.

Obviously, this can create friction in the relationship regardless of which direction the model or photographer choose to take it. If lets say, the model, continues to model, there may be continued stress from her partner urging her to stop. This may affect what assignments she accepts and how well she performs in front of the camera.  If she decides to give up modeling, she will likely be unhappy and potentially even resentful toward her partner openly or passively.  A otherwise healthy relationship with almost always suffer at least in the short term.  Some people will leave the romantic relationship entirely which of course causes stress on both parties and probably everyone around them.  Friends often give well meaning advice, but often increase stress the the situation.

Is there any answer?  Well, a frank and open discussion of how important modeling or photography is to an individual is an important step early in the relationship. The romantic partner could even be invited to a photo shoot to see what actually happens during the job. Belief and trust within the photographer or model as a professional and caring for them as a person can make this work. Will it work for every romantic relationship, probably not, but placing the effort to accept a person as they are can often built a strong relationship that can last for a lifetime. 


Bob Barford is a published photographer based on Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) model partners photographer relationships romantic Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:00:00 GMT
The Witch! With Halloween approaching, the possibilities are endless for costumes, photo's, and events that many people attend. The image above is a behind the scenes prep for a witchcraft style shoot.  There are of course several ways that you can set up similar scenes, but here is one approach.

The scene was shot outdoors with the thought of having trees as supports for the books. Books were purchased at a local thrift shop for less than $1 per book. Very thin monofilament line was hot glued to various points on the books. In some cases, along the spines, in some cases midway through the book. The books were fairly lightweight, so the translucent filament was perfect for them. 

Trees were important for this concept since the books could be hung from various limbs at different heights to give the illusion that they were actually floating in the air. It was important that the books appeared in different positions with pages open, upside down, and backwards to further give the illusion of levitation.

Camera angle was important here as the 'magic' is coming from the character in the cloak.  Several books were positioned around her, but the image was also framed so that some of the books appear as though the character is throwing books toward the viewer with her magical spell. Above you see several books very near the edge of the frame. along with the other books that are still floating around her.

Of course next steps would be to darken down the scene, but not too much, because in order to be believable, there still needs to be some light to showcase the floating books. The 'witch' of course would then assuming a magical menacing pose as through she were actually casting the spell to cause the books to fly. Other objects such as cards, light weight appliances, or many other common objects could have been used to accomplish a similar scene. Depending upon lighting, you may need to erase the lines that are supporting your objects to increase the illusion. The healing tool is great in Photoshop for this work.

Of course, this is just a starting point for a series of other images that could be make for magical scenes. Levitation photo's are popular, so I have also include a reference for those who would like to add this to their holiday shoots or simply experiment with levitation photography is general. The Photo Extremist show us a common technique here Levitation to get thing moving up in the air!


Bob Barford is an award winning photogapher based on Southern Pennsylvania.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) halloween magic photography witch Mon, 02 Oct 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Creative supplies and resources SecretSecret Whether you are a model, photographer, or any other professional, you are probably always looking for inspiration and supplies to make a certain concept work. Places like Goodwill, thrift stores, are often a treasure trove to many creatives, but they do take time to look through and you may have to visit a couple of these gems before you find just the right prize. 

Create it yourself... well, for those skilled artisans this is a great idea and very rewarding. Unfortunately not all of us are blessed with the talent needed to sew a costume or built that perfect prop (I don't even own a sewing machine).

There are are many resources on the internet, many of which can deliver just what you need to your doorstep and in many cases under a week. Most of use are familiar with resources such as Amazon, or Etsy but there are a few others that I would like to share with you:

If you happen to be looking for some really cool contact lenses Cameo eyes has a wide selection on contact lenses from the theatrical to simply changing your eye color. These lenses are reasonably priced, but are designed to someone who does not need vision correction. Wicked eyes will accept prescriptions for those who wear glasses.

A wide variety of makeup and body paint can be found at Silly Farm . Fake blood, latex and foam appliances, hair products, makeup pallates, glitter,  as well as variety of books can help with makeup needs.

Dresses can be bought and rented from a variety of places on the internet, such as Dress Lilly . This site sells dresses, shorts, sweat clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags, and accessories all at reasonable prices. Outfits on this site range from daily wear to some pretty extreme styles. The interesting thing about this site is that it also provides clothing for men in a variety of styles. On the high end side the site Enception Rentals will provide a some unique dresses for that special concept.

Cosplay is very popular, and who does not want a realistic sword?  Well the site True Swords can do just that for you. From the ancient Japanese swords, to Medieval swords, and even Fantasy swords can be found through this vendor.

Setting off smoke bombs can be very effective at creating special scenes. In past posts I have detailed quite a variety of methods of creating smoke ranging from the DIY bombs through creating smoke in Photoshop. One vendor Inspect USA creates a quality product that is not as irritating to the eyes and respiratory passages as gun powder style smoke bombs. These smoke emitters generate a controlled flow of smoke which can be perfect if you are not working with a large production team. 

Who does not occasionally need realistic fake flowers for a photo event?  Silk Flowers offers a variety of flowers at reasonable prices from single stem flowers to entire bouquets. 

I hope everyone found this helpful!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based out of New Freedom PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative supplies Mon, 25 Sep 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Do you experiment? Recently, I was at a shoot where I was only able to bring a very limited amount of equipment. Professional strobes were not available nor there were any modifiers such as grids or anything elaborate at all. I also had a very limited amount of time with this model since she was in relatively high demand during the event that I attended.

I started out with a concept of a strip light, but ended up with something very different. The above image is straight out of the camera without the aid of Filters, layers, or adjustments of any kind.

I asked to the model to pose next to two full size V-flats. I took my speedlight and placed strips down the lens so that only a narrow slit of light emitted. I next zoomed the speedlight to its max setting. I then adjusted the position relative to the model both in height and relative to her sides.

As you can see, it almost looks like I used a beauty disk with a very narrow grid. Shots from this technique ranged from glamorous to almost creepy looking.

I really did not know how what exactly the effect of my little 'experiment' was going to be on my subject, but the combination of her white dress and golden blond hair certainly worked in my favor. You may or may not like the effect, but the point of this post is to try to experiment now and again with lighting. Use a piece of equipment in a manner unlike what you have ever done before. 

This certainly does not only apply to professionals in a studio, but to anyone with any sort of camera. Experiment with getting down lower to take images, stand on a ladder, place a colored piece of plastic in front of a cellphone lens. By trying new things you may never that you may be creating a masterpiece of art!

Bob Barford is an award winning photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative experiment light photography speedlight Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Just for Fun.. Food images Although I am primarily a portrait and glamour photographer, I do occasionally photograph other subjects sometimes to sharpen my skills and yet other times just for fun. Food photography is a genre of itself with the need to make the food look as appetizing as possible. Photographers who specialize in this field may work for restaurants for advertising agencies and many of us a bombarded each day looking at images that entice us to stop what we are doing and grab some food. There are some tricks that some use to make the food look especially mouth watering.

Steaming foods: 

Steam coming up from a dinner roll or baked potato can look very tasty. How do photographers get just the right shot? Instead of constantly cooking food for hours, some photographers place wet cotton balls in a microwave and then place the cotton behind the food. Back light the steam (just the same as you would do for smoke) and you have a nice out of the oven hot dinner roll

Ice cream:

Any one who has ever eaten ice cream, especially outdoors know that it can melt pretty quickly. This can be very messy especially in a warm studio. Guess what some people substitute... Mashed potatoes! Get the Mashed potatoes just at the right consistency add a little coloring and it can be difficult in a photo to tell the difference.

Do you ever put whipped cream on some of your ice cream? Whipped cream, especially under hot constant lights can become very runny and loose its shape and hard to shoot correctly. The answer... Shaving cream!

Does anyone pour chocolate on their ice cream? Well, sometimes the photographer can not get just the right consistency for a pouring or dripping shot of liquid chocolate (or even some other liquids). The solution, colored wax added to the chocolate in just the right amount can make it pour just right!

Milk and Cereal:

Any one who has ever done a milk shoot knows that Milk can look a little pale in photo's. Commercial photographers have a trick not only to keep the 'milk' pure white but also to keep things like cereal from looking soggy and sinking into the liquid. They often use  Glue! They place the cereal in a shallow dish on top of a few inches of white glue and shoot for as long as they need to shoot.

Tasty Steaks?

Grilling perfect steaks is almost a science unto itself, but photographers who shoot for advertisers want the meat to look just perfect. Do they hire a master chef? Not always.. The steaks are often cooked in an oven and then the perfect grill marks are painted on with shoe polish!

Fresh Fruit

Some people see that fruit such as applies may have a very thin coating of waxy like substance to maintain its freshness. This may not quite be enough in a photo to get just the right shine to make the apples or pears look tasty. Some photographers use Spray deodorant to pump up the shine!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Cooking that perfect turkey for the holiday season can be difficult. To save a little money, the birds are often just barely cooked and the stuffed with things like newspapers or even mashed potatoes and then sewn shut. A air brush artist comes in to finish up the job with a perfectly painted roast turkey!


Surprised? Yes, but we know photographers can be very creative!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based out of Southern Pennsylvania



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative food photography tricks Mon, 11 Sep 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Car & Boat show modeling and photography Some people are car, boat, or even motorcycle enthusiast and enjoy going to outdoor shows. You may even want pictures of yourself (or your model) by some of the more exotic vehicles. Here are a couple tips that may make the event a little easier for everyone whether you are a pro or just there to take a few images.

These shows often draw big crowds, and you may run into people around popular vehicles almost constantly which may make it more difficult to get the shot that you want. Even if you have specifically been hired to photograph the show you will be limited as to what equipment you may be able to use in large crowds. Tripods, lightstands, large modifiers will often get kicked or tripped over by visitors.  Consider bringing a zoom lens that you can shoot with a shallow depth of field if necessary. A speedlight will often provide enough fill to bring out details, but obviously pointing it directly at bare metal will result in a nasty flare.

 Consider, what makes that car, motorcycle, or even boat especially attractive. For a car, it may be the engine particularly if it is chrome. Take some close-ups of the engine parts, dash panel, or even the grill work. Just at the right minute as you are already close to the car, you may have a few seconds to snap that one image of the entire body. Which brings out a great point that although you may love the fixed lens on your camera 90% or the time, now is the time to bring out your zoom lens to get the shots that you may want in a very small amount of space with limited time.

Motorcycles in particular are often parked side by side is almost a straight line. Patterns and leading lines can really set off an image and even if you capture a stray visitor, you may be able to crop or even remove that person in post production. Try changing your body position from a higher perspective to a very low near ground perspective as you continue to shoot. Look for lines and curves within the vehicle. 

If you happen to have someone with you (or even a model) with whom you would like to make a few images, be sure to ask the owner (if available) before someone leans or gets into a vehicle. Particularly if it is a vintage show, the vehicles have certainly received loving care and no one wants an unpleasant scene or worse yet a broken accessory. Offer to take a few shots of the vehicle with the owner and promise him/her that you will email back some nice shots. When including people in the image, you may want to use a on camera flash properly expose your subjects face.

Especially when shooting outdoors, reflections from the sun can be very dramatic, and even a bit of lens flare can set an ok image into an image that you may be very proud to show. In the same respect, remember, particularly for darker parts of a vehicle you may need to bracket your exposures (one stop above/below what you believe to be the correct exposure). This step may bring out details that would have been otherwise missed in the shot.

Even if you are not very much into car or motorcycle shows, try visiting one with your camera. These events can often sharpen your photography skills in ways that you may not have imagined.


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern Pennsylvania


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) boats cars models motorcycles photography Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Underwater? DCIM\100MEDIA Underwater photography is a style of photography that can be fun and rewarding as well as unworldly. There are certainly things one can do underwater that are nearly impossible to photograph well on land without some very sophisticated and expensive equipment. Like another other photography though, it does take a little preparation but the results can be very worth it.

Your camera:

Some things to consider when choosing a camera may be how often do you plan on using it, where (pool, lakes, ocean), how much time you wish to take in preparation of the camera, as well as ease of use underwater.

Probably the least expensive option is a disposable camera such as the Fujifilm model. These are typically single use cameras in a plastic housing. These may be ideal for snorkel trips or pool shoots. These a point and shoot cameras that produce an ok image, but certainly not the quality one may expect from some other models. Often very little preparation is needed with these cameras and are often ready to go right out the packaging. Control are often minimal if any at all and you are at the mercy of the cameras presets. Video is often not an option here.

There are other point and shoot cameras that produce a little better image such as the Fujifilm Finepix or of course the Go Pro water proof housing model cameras. These cameras are often moderately priced and are well suited for those who want a little more control of the final image. These cameras are often require little preparation (GoPro requires the housing), but controls are often small on the camera. Video is often possible which again leaves you with more options.

If you shoot with a DSLR, one choice for the camera that you already own is something like the  DiCAP underwater housing which is essentially a rugged plastic bag enclosure with a specially fitted lens attachment on the outside of the bag. This can be useful for the occasional underwater photographer although can be someone difficult at times to control the camera settings. One must make sure the bag is carefully sealed according to directions or you could end up with a ruined camera. This units are best suited for pool use, and not recommended for dives more than about 10 feet.

Another choice for someone who may decide to shoot a little bit more often or go a little deeper with a camera the SeaLife camera can be a good choice. It is a dedicated sealed camera which requires very little preparation prior to use. It features a wide angle lens, color correction filters, large easy controls, video, as well as a myriad of other features. The results are typically very good, although some may consider the price a little high if you only use it once or twice per year.

Last but certainly not least are the professional camera housings such as Ikelite which may be used for deep dives for very serious underwater photographers. Once these housings enclose your camera properly (important), one can dive as much as 200 feet under the water!

Photographer Preparation:

It is probably best to practice in a pool first. Depending upon which camera you choose be certain to follow directions, if any on the camera prep. If you short cut, particularly with '0' rings, you may end up with a VERY expensive soggy paper weight! Shooting in a pool, you probably with have sufficient ambient light so strobes are not necessary. If you progress to deeper dives in open water, strobes are continuous lighting is almost a must. 

Once in the pool, exhale and descend slowly. If you jump into the water it may take 10 or 15 seconds for the bubbles to clear before you can get a clear shot. You will need to be fairly close to your subject even in a pool to obtain clear images. Most dedicated underwater cameras have wide angle lenses, but if you are using your own DSLR, be sure that you have a wide angle lens mounted. Camera settings will of course vary depending on whether you have a sunny day or cloudy day, but an ISO of 400 and a shutter speed of 1/200 sec will often be enough to limit fuzzy pictures due to natural camera movement under the water. If you happen to be in open water, sand and other debris in the water is your enemy so you will need to be very quiet and once again close to your subject.  A snorkel can help if you have one available. One other tip, when working in a pool it can be helpful to bring a backdrop (at least 10 ft wide). This can keep your images clean from unwanted pool reflections or tile designs.


Model photography can be very cool, but also difficult for both parties. Some of the same principles such as a slow descent, not disturbing sand or silt, and exhaling upon descent apply for the model. Free flowing clothing or fabrics are often popular to photograph. It can be VERY difficult for a model to open her eyes underwater especially if you are working in a chlorinated pool. Safety for you model should be the most important element here, so shallow dives (<10 feet) are best and even a safety diver may be helpful in you happen to be in open water (Open water -Do not recommend this for first time photographers or models).  Specific poses are probably not going to happen, so be prepared to capture the best image that you can with a window after 15 seconds to about 45 seconds for most models. Again you will want to be relatively close to the model to capture clear images, but be careful about floating into each other!

Post Processing

Regardless of your camera, some post processing will be necessary.  Color shifts are common with the skin appearing very blue or green. Some cameras such as the Sealife has built in filters, but many do not.  There are MANY videos on Youtube on how to color correct such as this one from You will often have to clean up which back scatter particles even in pools. One way to do this is to adjust the 'blacks' slider in Lightroom, or use the curves adjustment in Photoshop. Of course, in some cases the healing brush may also be helpful. 

Be safe and I hope you found this helpful!


Bob Barford is a published photograher based in Sourthern Pennsylvania


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) camera color model photo photography underwater Mon, 28 Aug 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Are you a creature of habit? Regardless of whether you may be a seasoned pro or a casual photographer, many of us get into the habit of doing a task in an image editing program the same way. At times, it saves time but it also may not be the best effect for a particular image. This may be true regardless of using a program such as Photoshop or applying Instagram filters.

In the image above, the left pane looked a little flat, so I wanted to add some contrast to the image. In Photoshop, there are of course many ways to do this non destructively using adjustment layers. Of course other programs and plug-ins for programs also offer 'layer' choice so that you can turn on/turn off a layer to see what effect it may have on your final image.

One choice that I had here was to simply duplicate the original image, and within Photoshop, add a 'multiply' blend mode which darkens the image as in the second panel. This certainly added contrast, but what if I thought it was too dark? 

Within Photoshop, I have the option to use the levels adjustment and move the leftmost top slide to the right (see highlighted window just below the curve). This will incrementally darken the image to the point where I feel that it looks just right. But, what if I wanted just a little more control?

Again within Photoshop, I could select my curves adjustment layer. By selecting a certain point on the curve and pulling it down, its like pulling down a dimmer switch on an electrical light. I could be very selective as to exactly where on the curve to pull down so that I get just the correct look to the image.

I have mentioned only three methods but of course there are more. Of course there are brightness/contrast controls in Photoshop as well as almost any other program.  Many programs allow you to adjust shadows and highlights on an image. By experimenting with different adjustments and filters, regardless of what program that you use, you may be surprised at how much control you actually have over your images!


- Bob Barford is an award winning photographer based out of Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) habits photography photoshop tweaking your image Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Turning the camera around Sooner or later, a photographer whether a Pro or someone just taking casual snapshots will have the camera turned around on him/her and a image taken. This can be a little uncomfortable for some people since not all people jump for joy either with a snapchat selfie or a formal photograph.  The photographer having his/her image taken occasionally can actually be helpful particularly for a camera bug or professional. Unless the photographer is a pro, you may need to take a few steps yourself so that the image looks great.

Most of the time, natural light will produce good if not great results. Unless it is a candid moment, look for someplace that has a little bit of shade, but a dark corner, particularly with a cell phone will look more like a horror shot than something that you may want placed on social media. If you have dark circles or bags under your eyes, look toward the light if at all possible. Squinting is common, so you may need to ask for a count of 1, 2 and 3 so that your eyes look their best.

Look in the mirror occasionally (no, most of the time it will not crack!). Learn what is your good side and what may not be so flattering and face the camera with your good side. Remember, most people look their best with their chin out and down just a little. You may even want to strengthen your jawline by pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Smiles can be tricky, especially for those who do not have great teeth. But think about your best friend or loved one just walking up to you and most people can manage at least a little smile. 

Look around you if you if it is a planned shot. Few people look good with poles growing out of their heads, so try to find a simple background to stand behind. Particularly if you are not used to having your picture taken, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. If you look tense, the picture will probably show it and you will probably be pressuring the photog to delete the image. Do something with your hands; in most cases for a male putting them in your pockets works best. If you are a female, don't try to emulate the high fashion images, keep it simple.  Remember, good posture is always a plus for those with a few extra pounds (male or female).

If you can get the photographer to capture you while you are doing something that you enjoy (no, not take the picture) that even better. Things like hobbies, work, or even sports can take your mind off the camera being focused on you. 

Remember, practice makes perfect, and taking selfies that only you see can help make you more comfortable and confident when someone points a camera at you. 


Bob Barford is a published photographer based out of Southern Pennsylvania


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) candids comfort in front of camera photography Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Can you Sell it? LableLable So continuing another look at my blog post in March, The Corner Store , lets say that you work in a hospital in the education department. You provide education to a wide variety of people on many topics using a variety of media to get your message across. So, you are reading about stock photography and know that some of the images sell for quite a bit of money depending upon the size and number of downloads. 

You happen to have quite a large collection of medication container shots that you have made over the years. You feel that the images are pretty darn good. You take the images to the corner store and proudly claim that yes, you did take this images and would like a few prints to publicize your new endeavor.  The clerk hesitates a little, but finally the manager gives the clerk permission to print the images.

You start showing the prints to start generating your new income stream and one afternoon your administrator asks what you are doing. You calmly explain, but the administrator becomes very serious during your discussion and asks why you are selling hospital property for your personal income. As it turns out, as an educator, you were HIRED to take images such as what you are trying to sell as your normal course of work for educational purposes. You are technically in a work for hire status and the hospital owns the images and the copyright, therefore you do NOT have the right to sell these images.

But, lets take a look at the same situation, and lets say that you were nurse who was taking these images. Well, the nurse was hired to take care of patients, certainly not specifically hired to educate through the use of various media and this could not be considered hospital property. HOWEVER, she took the shots of just the pill bottles with the name and TRADEMARK of the medication clearly in her shots. If the drug company saw these shots, things 'could' get a little sticky for her. She simply took an image of the bottle and wished to sell it for stock images (Of course a responsible stock image company may not accept a product image with a trademark unless all releases have been submitted).

In the final situation, a therapist shoots images of a patient taking medication. The medication is mentioned, although the bottle is not clearly visible and certainly not the main point of the image. The therapist was not hired to take the image, no trademark symbols are visible. He clearly owns the image, does he have a right to sell it? Well, only if an appropriate 'model release' was obtained from the 'patient'. 

Reputable stock agencies often have on-line help that includes guidelines as what you may or may not place on their site for sale or professional agencies such as the Professional Photographers of America may be able to provide guidance.

Bob Barford is a published photographer working out of Southern Pennsylvania.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) agencies model release sales stock trademark work for hire Mon, 07 Aug 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Orphan Images- what are your rights? In March of this year I published a blog post The Corner Store that looked at practices of some local retail stores that offer photo developing and printing. One of the key points in this post was that an image may not be printed by the store if an employee feels that the image is professional and you can not prove that you made that image. 

Many of us have at some point in our lives have had a professional photo taken. This may have been a portrait shot, or it may have been at a wedding. Many years may have passed since that image was made, and suppose while un-cluttering your attic you discover an image that you really like.  The image may have faded a little, but that can be fixed- correct?  You want to do the right thing and reach out to the person who originally made the image. So, you start searching the internet for what you think was the name (or business) of the photographer and nothing turns up. 

Checking with your parents, it turns out that they do remember the image, although they remember hearing that the photographer had passed away last year.  Is the image now in the public domain so you can do with it what you will? Not really, since the copyright still may probably exist with the photographers estate. If you wanted to restore, copy and enlarge the image the law would still require you to contact the photographer's estate.  If you run into a dead end, the work is considered ORPHANED and can not legally be reproduced or even restored.

The real world problem would be if you were able to get it restored, or printed and then uploaded it to social media or even had the image published in a (Bridal) magazine. If a family member or a former business partner of the photographer recognized the image, a case for copyright infringement may be headed your way.  There may be some relief in sight with constantly morphing laws surrounding copyright, but for now it may be safer to enjoy the original image or talk to an attorney who is versed in orphaned images.


- Bob Barford is an published photographer based out of Southern Pennsylvania.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) copyright orphaned photography Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Creating a Timeless Portrait What would you consider a timeless portrait? Is it one that evokes strong memories of your past? Is it a photo that evokes emotions from almost anyone who looks at the image? Is something very personal? Well.. it can be any of these and much more.

A timeless portrait can feature one person, or it may feature a whole family with their friends. The shot can be of famous landmark location, or it can just as easily be someones backyard. The subjects may be cat napping or engaged in playful activities. So, the real question may be, how can one set out to make a timeless images. Sometimes these are candid moments, other times a little planning may go into the image.

In the image above, the child is jumping off a rock into a pond below. This is a popular spot with hundreds of visitors in the summer months for many years. When one looks at the image, most people may think "WOW..I would love to do that" or "I remember that spot, it has not changed much" or "Lets go next weekend". The image draws people into the moment looking at the airborne swimmer. People who may have visiting the pond may have fond memories of the forest, birds, camping, or just being with someone that they care about. People who have never visited the pond may be curious to know where the pond is located. They may start to think about areas close to themselves that may be similar to the pond. They may want to just want a get-away to clear their heads from daily stress.

Of course, the image would be much simpler, such as the couple shown here. Romance never goes out of style and many people can relate, one way or another to a photo such as these. The couple with colorful autumn leaves catches the eye almost immediately.

So, how to create such as image? The image needs to be relatable on an emotional level and often tells a story. It really does not matter if the image of the young couple was taken 20 years ago or yesterday, love is eternal. Keep in mind that a timeless image does always have to be pleasant or appealing. There are many world war II images that generate a great deal of emotion just to look at them, regardless of whomever you may be.

Some common elements may be strong composition, vibrant colors (or B&W), emotional appeal (in some cases even anger), as well as the basics such as exposure and focus.  Being in the right place and the right time certainly helps, but certainly not the who story. Interestingly enough, who took the image is not important to most people who look at the image. The viewer may momentarily acknowledge the photographer but it is really the content of the image that makes the image timeless. Is your next image going to be Timeless?


Bob Barford is an award winning photographer based in Pennsylvania.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative education photography timeless Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Do Textures add Interest? color dresscolor dress Almost anyone taking a photo that they wish to share want the image to grab the attention of the viewer and keep it there. If the photographer can reach out and pull someone into the image, he or she has certainly created something special. Of course there are many ways to accomplish the goal with subject, poses, lighting, etc.. but one relatively simple technique can work for the newbie photographer or the accomplished pro. By adding a subtle texture to an otherwise bland background can sometimes enhance an image. 

While it is certainly possible to buy a variety of backdrops, this can get rather expensive after a point. Searching out the ideal location that has a background that does not distract from your subject and yet compliments can be a VERY time consuming process.  Adding digital textured backgrounds is a relatively easy process and almost any photo editing program that supports layers will work.  Textured backgrounds are readily available from many places on the internet both paid packages and free backgrounds.  One site that offers inspiration and free backgrounds comes from Brook Shaden's website Promotion Passions which not only offers free textures, but also inspiration for projects.  Brook not only provides the textures, but an easy to understand tutorial on how to use these images for your projects. 

Here is an overview of this process in photoshop, however I would strongly recommend viewing the video for additional details.

color editcolor edit


1- Open the image that you wish to edit. In most cases, the background should be smooth to give the best blend.

2- Select a textured image. In most cases, you will want to start with a B&W texture so that it does not contaminate the colors in your original image.

3- Copy the texture onto the image (SELECT..all; EDIT..Copy.. EDIT..Paste)

4- You may have to resize the texture

5- Change the BLEND mode to "soft light".  This blend mode will most often give you the most natural blend.

6. In most cases, you will not want the effect of the texture on the subjects skin.  Add a layer mask to your original image. Since the layer mask is white, you will want to paint on the layer mask with black (black conceals). Paint over your subject until the texture is removed from the skin and clothing.

This completes basic steps. In my image, I added color to the texture and changed to opacity of the image slightly. This technique is reviewed in the webpage Textures .

Textures can add an entirely new dimension to images that you thought may have thought were just ok to make them outstanding!


Bob Barford is a award winning published photographer based in Pennsylvannia


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative education photography textures Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Never Stop Learning CuriousCurious It really does not matter whether someone is a casual photographer with a cell phone or a seasoned professional, if one likes taking pictures there is almost something new to learn. Sometimes not necessarily involving photography at all.  Tell the truth.. most people would occassionally like a challenge or to at least know how to make a better image.

One site that has developed and improved over the years is the streaming video channel Creative Live (  CreativeLive started out several years ago producing one educational video per month, aimed at photogaphers. Programs were always featuring well known experts in the field and free programs were aired over a 3 day peroid. Of course, there was always the option to purchase the program once the lecture had ended. 

CreativeLive has expanded to running programs throughout the month at times, with multiple programs running on the same day. Programs remain free during the initial air time, and some single day programs may be purchased for as little as $20.00. Although much of their program still features photography, programs have grown to include art and design (drawing and painting), musoc, crafts, money, and general lifestyle topics such as raising bilingual children. Speakers are still recruited for their expertise and most programs are organized and well planned out.

For current or future business owners, CreativeLive provides a long list of well established sucessful speakers who provide insight into a variety of topics. Often speakers will provide written materials that can be downloaded from the presentations so that those watching do not need to take notes.  

Photographers, whether casual or professional benefit from classes that explore lighting, modeling, software, marketing, travel, video,  bridal shoots, as well as creative and artistic fine art projects.

I would highly recomend logging on to the CreativeLive website at CreativeLive and take a look at what they have to offer.


Bob Barford is an award winning Pennsylvania based photographer

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creativelive education internet on-line Mon, 10 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Can you shoot nudes without being suspected as a creeper? SnakeSnake I was at a portfolio session several years ago and the speaker went around the room asking what genres that the participants shot. I mentioned genres such as fashion.. portraits.. and occasionally artistic nudes. He comments was quite direct in that I had to be careful not to be considered a creeper!

Many of the elements that I have mentioned in prior posts apply directly to shooting nude images. Specifically working well with models, having a mood board, communication, and careful planning.

New photographers should almost always start by photographing clothed models. This allows the photographer to gain confidence in his or her skills with lighting, camera operation, and not the least of all communication with the model. If the photographer is not confident, it will make the session even more awkward for everyone and potentially set a bad reputation for the photographer.

Commercial group nude workshops can be a good jumping point once the photographer has the basics down.  Although these can be somewhat expensive, these workshops are often organized by experienced photographers and attended by professional nude models. These events often allow models and photographers to meet and greet before or after the sessions and allows a chance for everyone at least a chance to get to know each other.

Many models may check references before agreeing to model nude in front of a photographer that they have never worked with in the past. Having a list of models that are willing to vouch for the photographer is almost a must when venturing into this genre.  Provide names of models that you have worked with 1:1 in the past. If you have not worked with any models 1:1, now is the time to start.  

When contacting and working with a nude model,

  • Be VERY specific and honest as to what you want to shoot. Date, time, place, wardrobe (if any), makeup, and concept. If you tell a model you want to shoot artistic nudes and when she arrives start talking about erotica, she may turn around and leave or easily double her price!
  • Don't ask for nude pics of her (or him). This is a MAJOR creeper alert. If the model has posed nude in the past, her nude images are likely in the portfolio that you should have reviewed prior to contact.
  • Don't push boundaries. Don't try to push a fashion model into a nude shoot. Even if she agrees, the images will likely awkward and not work to anyone's benefit. Again, pushing could land you a creeper label.
  • Consider having a makeup artist or assistant with you, especially with a female model. If your concept involves body paint- hire a professional body painter. You may wish to provide an area for the model to shower after a body paint session.
  • DON'T use slang names for body parts. Be respectful and use commonly accepted names for body parts such as 'bottom' for someones rear end.
  • Obviously DON'T TOUCH a nude model.
  • Keep a robe ready for her (or him) when not actually shooting. This is respectful and may also keep the model warm in a cold studio. An associated point, if working in a studio- keep in slightly warm.
  • If shooting outdoors, make SURE that you are in a private location.  If you have an assistant, he/she can keep watch for anyone who may accidentally walk into the set.
  • It can be helpful to start a session with the model at least partially clothed, even if the images will not be used in the final concept. This helps build confidence for all involved. 
  • Avoid using phrases like: "You are very sexy..."  This could put up the creeper antenna and certainly is not professional. This also goes for any images that may be posted on line with few exceptions.
  • Allow the model a private place to dress and undress without you watching.
  • Social Media- remember terms of service for sites like Facebook or Instagram that do not allow you to post nude images. 

Remember, most states only allow someone 18 years or older to pose nude. Ask for identification and make sure that her actual age is listed on any model release. There may be legal penalties for the photographer for not obtaining this information. Nude art has been around for centuries, and some fantastic images can be made with professionals work well together!

Bob Barford is an award willing published photographer based in Pennsylvania.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography communication model nude Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Fine Art Nude... Men? MusclesMuscles When we think of nude models- specifically fine art nudes most thoughts will drift to the female form. This is certainly not surprising since females are most often sought after and therefore provide the majority of the subjects whether it be in photography, drawing, sculpture or other art forms. Artists often look for graceful and flowing forms for many concepts.  However, nude male models certain have their place within artwork as far back and the ancient Greek statues.

Genetically, males are typically more muscular than females (obviously there are exceptions). Well defined muscles can be appealing on a male subject and through the careful use of side lighting highlights and shadows can emphasize muscular form.  A little Photoshop can emphasize these muscles even more:

Emphasizing muscles- Blend IF

Male formMale form A flowing image can even be created with a male figure as shown here. Notice how the model is posed so that your eyes move throughout the form. Lighting is also key here with carefully sculpted rim-type lighting creates highlights along the models right side.  Careful lighting along the form may also create some interesting bodyscapes.

FormsForms Many female nude models are reluctant to work with male nude models due to the persistent belief that a male and female together equates to a sexual encounter. Clearly however, some incredible images can be created by professionals working together. Careful control of light and shadow can produce images unlike that of a single model.  Poses can be dramatic and powerful particularly when photographed in black and white. The traditional 'couples' poses are almost never used in fine art however some images can provoke a feeling of 'connection' rather than sensuality. 

There are many books and videos available which cover poses, lighting, and concepts with male models including this one:
Male Posing 

* Images were taken from Pinterest

* Bob Barford is a award winning published photographer based in Pennsylvania



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Male Nude Photography education posing Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT