Bob Barford Photography: Blog en-us (C) Bob Barford Photography (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 23 Apr 2018 01:34:00 GMT Mon, 23 Apr 2018 01:34:00 GMT Bob Barford Photography: Blog 119 120 Getting Organized- Part 2 Getting Organized - Part 2

This is a follow-up from my post earlier this month that spoke about the many things that a photographer or anyone within the industry should consider when working either from the standpoint of a serious hobby through a full time profession Anatomy of an Event

Anyone in the photography industry often has many, many hats that he/she has to wear and it is very easy to get overwhelmed especially if working alone. There is help out there, some better than others in the form of software and services. One such product is called 17 hats.  This is a subscription based service that has many if not all of the tools that someone may need. I know that some shy away from subscription services (yes, I was running Photoshop CS6 long after Adobe when to the creative cloud). However, this service is certain worth looking at, especially since it offers a 17 day free trial.

17 Hats offers:

  • A contact list that lets you know what is happening by whom in the next week
  • A project list that let you know what stage each project including which are active and those complete.
  • A lead generation tracker than links directly to your website
  • Questionnaires  Allowing you to develop customized questionnaires online
  • Quote Templates  To send to perspective clients
  • Contracts  That offer E-signing without having to worry about faxes
  • Invoices  That can be sent to clients with reminders
  • Online Payment  That accepts credit cards and paypal
  • Bookkeeping  Which can especially important around tax time
  • Calendar A shareable calendar which synchs with Outlook or google calendar
  • To Do  A concise list or multiple lists of things to do
  • Time Tracking  How much time are you spending on certain projects- you may be suprised
  • Workflow lists  Recurring tasks are automated so you don't have to re-enter them
  • Email Templates Tired of retyping the same email again and again?
  • Email synch to Projects   Emails that you receive can be linked to certain projects


All of this included in a custom dashboard that displays highlights of what you need to know.  When pre-paid, the service is $200 per year which is about mid-range for such services. It certainly is worth taking the free trial to take a look at the service!

-Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) 17hats business organized Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Couples Recently I was Shutterfest (Highly recommended), which is a trade show for photography held annually in Missouri. Within the show they had many classes, demonstrations, and lectures, once of which involved a groom and a bride.  While instructor was discussing lighting and poses it seemed as though the models portraying the bride and groom were uncomfortable around each other regardless of the pose. There are any number of reasons for this, but one reason that may come to the forward is that they may have never worked together before.  Bride and groom pictures are often posed very close to each other with poses such as hands around the waist, touching each other faces, holding hands, etc..

This can be difficult for some models, both male and female. I have noticed an uncomfortable stance at different shoots as well. It can be difficult at times in simulated intimate poses when one person does not know the other person.

I would recommend for the best possible results for a couples shoot, bridal shoot, or really any shoot where two subjects may be in close contact with each other to have both models meet a least for a short time prior to the actual photoshoot. The photographer should develop a mood board and discuss what he/she has planned to the photoshoot. In the best of all worlds, actual couples should be used who are willing to be photographed. This will give the most genuine emotion and connection between the two people possible. A real life couple need not be professional models and they may appreciate images provided by the photographer after the photoshoot.

Just a quick thought for the next time a 'couples' shoot.


Image courtesy of Pinterest

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) bridal couples photography Mon, 09 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Oh my lord.. I forgot! (Anatomy of an Event) EmotionEmotion Anatomy of an event

(or.. consider things things to avoid a REALLY bad day)


Unless you are working for a large studio, chances are there are many pieces of a photoshoot that you will need to take care of. This is true for the photographer, but also true in many respects for talent, such as models, vendors, make-up artists etc..

Lets assume an event is in the planning, and YOU are the person responsible for coordinating that event. How effective communication is (or is not) can drastically affect how well the event is perceived as being run by you. Depending upon what type of event, things to consider may include:

  • Start/end time:
    • Is there free time to shoot after the main event?
    • What time is talent expected to arrive?
    • What time is vendors (if any) to arrive?
    • What time is setup/tear down of any sets? 
  • What EXACTLY are participants going home with? Do you have a firm plan as how to deliver that? Backup plan? Are you VERY familiar with what you are offering in the event someone needs help? 
  • Parking: Where? Is there a charge? Do you have Valet?
  • Exact meeting place - Room number? Do you have a dressing area? Makeup area? Do you need signs if outdoors?
  • Contact info: Do you have everyone's phone and email info? Do you need to share that information with other people?
  • Social Media: What site(s) have you posted the event? Do you keep each site updated? Have you shared portfolio info of any talent?
  • Paid event: How are you keeping track of who has/not paid? Do you accept payment at the door? Do you have change if someone hands you a large bill?
  • Are you serving food? What if people have special dietary needs? Do you have a caterer? Backup plans?
  • What about props? Special lighting? Set design and setup? Deliveries? Extra supplies in the event a participant 'forgot'?
  • Are you providing any paper based information? Mailing time? Badges? 
  • Do you need security staff? Runners? Helpers? "Expert" resources for things that you may not be familiar with (eg. Camera settings for a Nikon camera if you are a Canon or Sony shooter).
  • What are your expectations of any talent? What do they go home with? If they are paid talent when, how, and under what conditions do they get paid?
  • Do you have appropriate permits and releases according to any regulations or laws?
  • What type of follow-up will you make after the event has finished for the day? With talent? With participants? Any others involved? 

Most of the bulleted topics above could be broken down even further depending upon what type of event is being held and who is actually coordinating it.  Although coordinating an event can be exhausting, it can also be very rewarding when everything falls correctly into place and most people are happy at the end of the day. If something does not go well, consider it a learning experience for the next event. 

I am including a form that some may find helpful when planning events here Event planner .  This is in Microsoft word format, so you may modify the form to meet your individual needs.


Bob Barford is a published award winning photographer based out of Southern PA.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) events organizing planning Mon, 02 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Umbrellas Silver beadedSilver Beaded Umbrella









                     Beaded silver                             Mat Silver                         White Bl. backing                               Translucent refl.                 Translucent Shootthru                             

Umbrellas are still very common is photography studios, and they come is a vast variety of styles and sizes. A question that I recently asked myself is what impact would different styles of umbrellas have on an image. I set up single strobe kept it at the same power throughout the test. My camera settings were the same, as was my relative camera position. The umbrellas were 33" umbrellas during this test. 

The styles I tested were:

  1. Beaded silver 
  2. Mat silver with a black backing
  3. White umbrella with black backing
  4. Translucent white umbrella used as a reflector
  5. Translucent white umbrella used as a shoot through

The mat silver seemed to produce the highest level of specular highlights in this test; the beaded silver to a much less extent. Interestingly enough, the white backed umbrella caused a slight color shift. The translucent umbrella used as a reflector was the darkest, yet captured most of the actual tone of the image and still stayed within acceptable exposure range according to the on camera histogram.

As you can see, there are some subtle and not so subtle differences between each umbrella. In a real life situation of course, power and camera settings would be adjusted to provide the best results. Which is 'better' is really a subjective response depending upon what the actual purpose of the shoot may be intended to produce.

Umbrellas are probably here to stay, even though photography vendors are marketing an expanding variety of light modifiers. Umbrellas are relatively inexpensive, travel well when folded down, and setup quickly. Strobes and even speedlight stands continue to have slots to position these modifiers. In addition to those tested above, a variety of shapes and sizes are available for most styles. Shoot through umbrellas can often be close to your subject if you like the soft wrap around lighting for many female subjects.

Umbrellas can be purchased up to 7 feet in diameter, which would be ideal for group shots. A softbox of that size would be VERY expensive.  Softboxes tend to be a little more focused with the light that they produce, especially when used with a fabric grid. Of course softboxes take longer to setup, and in some cases can be difficult to assemble correctly. When used outside the umbrella almost always needs to be weighted down since even a gentle breeze will often send it tipping over. 

In the end, the choice is yours and your creative concepts!

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) umbrellas Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Original Themes in Cities




Many people will say that there are no more original themes anymore in images, this may or may not be true, but when making your images it's a good idea to think about how can I make this image better or more original? This may be from an unusual angle or location as you frame your shot. If many photographers are huddled in one spot, well that means that each photographer will likely get a similar picture depending upon the actual camera settings.

I recently visited New York City, and it is fair to say that likely millions of images have probably be taken of the city over many years from many different positions. Photographers have certainly made color graded images, black and white images, abstract images, close up of buildings, etc.. as well as many other possibilities. So when taking many images of the city I ventured up to the 86th floor of the Empire State building. Of course there were many people with cameras, and no doubt that thousands of images have been made of the city from this location.

So I happened to notice that pigeons were flapping around the observation deck. I started to think what what about the birds view of the city. So, patiently I waited until one of the fine feathered friends landed at a spot that I had picked out which just happened to be a corner ledge. It almost seemed like the bird knew what I had in mind since he (or she) ventured near the corner of the ledge and looked down, and then looked at me as if to say, did you get the picture.

I had chosen a high DOF for this image (f22) hoping to get as much of the image including the bird in focus as possible. Obviously is was a little tricky getting a good exposure since the bird was dark colored against the brighter sky. Fortunately within light room by adjusting shadows slightly and toning down highlights, I was able to get details including the birds eye well exposed within the image. 

The next cityscape or landscape that you make, look for unusual props or actors that will bring a new light to your image. You may be as lucky as I was and have a cooperative bit of wildlife or bird stop by for a photo opportunity.


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) cityscape original perspective Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Compelling B&W images

Despite the popularity of vibrant colors from even home printers, black and white images still are popular among many people. The B&W aspect of an image brings out a feel of traditional artwork dating back toward the beginning of photography. Black and White images often evoke emotion from a viewer that is not always possible when processed in color.

Since  these days, I photograph people more often than other subjects, I will focus primarily on getting some good results when shooting people. Some principles to other forms of photography can certain apply.

In most cases, we are looking for a high contrast image. This means that a dedicated, directional source of light is ideal. Shooting people with natural light coming from a large window on an overcast day will probably not bring forth your best results.  Also shooting with an umbrella will 'probably' have light so scattered that it will be difficult to control the direction of the light.

LightingSetupLightingSetupUse this to share your lighting setup or to document your setup for future reference. Email me at kevin@kertzdesign for comments and/or suggestions. Not for commercial use. In many cases, a strobe with a reflector focusing the beam of light can be used quite effectively as in the diagram. A strip light with a grid can also be used effectively. In the top image, a strobe was placed camera right. Most black and white images are defined by areas of brightness and darkness (contrast). Since little to no light is hitting the model in the top image, there is a relatively clear border between the lightest portion of the image and the darkest portions.  Since the wall behind the model was relatively dark itself, her back falls into nearly full shadow where her face and upper body appear relatively very bright.

The transition between darkness to light will also depend upon the size of the strobe and distance from the subject. Smaller light sources will create a much harsher contrast. Also, moving the light 4-5 feet away from the model will also increase contrast, whereas bringing it in close will result in a very quick fall off of light as it hits whatever may be behind her. Experimentation is often the best route here to decide how close to place the light source to the model.

Also important, when shooting people, position of the shadows and camera angle is important. Positioning the camera approximately in line with her shoulder allowed for capture of the 'contrast' line and curves highlight the pose. In most cases, camera crop will be fairly close to the model depending upon the purpose of the image.

In post production, your friends in Lightroom will be your shadows and highlight sliders. In Photoshop, levels and curves can be very useful in pinpointing exactly what areas that you want in shadow and how deep you want the blacks. Some photographers prefer texture to the skin, and will actually add grain (noise) to the image. Other photographers will reduce the clarity slider in lightroom (or use a small amount of blur) to create a much different look to the final image. In the end, the choice is up to your creative spirit!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) b&w images Mon, 12 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Skin Tones Have you every taken a set of images where the skin tone just does not look right to you?  Your white balance could be off for a number of reasons including improper camera settings or mixed lighting (strobe/daylight/colored gels).  Ok, so you forgot your color checker, or did not perform a custom white balance, it happens to almost everyone. The question is though... is the appearance of the skin really off? Is your monitor calibrated? Are you trying to edit at 3 a.m. in the morning? 

Checking your monitor calibration with one of the tools such as the Datacolor Spyder  or Colormunki  is always a good idea, especially if you print images on a regular basis.  There is great info on both products within the links that I have provided above. Lets assume though that your have already have performed your monthly monitor calibration.

Within Photoshop, you can gain some quick as important info using the eye dropper tool.  The steps are pretty easy. 

  • Open the info panel in photoshop
  • Place the eyedropper tool over what appears to be a well exposed area of the skin. Do not sample an obviously a under or overexposed portion of the skin.
  • Now look at the CMYK portion (checked above) the info panel.

In almost every case, the %yellow should not fall below the % magenta. Most Caucasian skin will fall 5-20% more yellow than magenta. The more bronze the skin (as tanned) the person may be, the higher yellow and magenta will be in terms of percentage. For example, A fair skinned Caucasian may have 25% yellow and 20% magenta, whereas a very tanned person may have 62% yellow and 45% magenta. 

The same technique may be applied to looking at skin tones in other cultures. African-American skin tones are fairly close together when looking at the yellow-magenta percentages.  Asian and Hispanic skin will typically have 10-20% more yellow than magenta.

Well, what can you do about it? 

  • You can try to sample a near grey or white portion of the image with the eye dropper to color correct.
  • You can open up a Hue/Saturation layer, choose magenta, and reduce the hue, saturation, or lightness; or boost yellow

  • You could try selective color (a little less precise)
  • You could try a photo filter

​​​​​​​As with most operations in Photoshop, there are of course other options. As you might imagine though this can get rather tedious particularly if you have shot hundreds or even thousands of images.  A good rule of thumb is to be sure to take a good look at what lighting conditions are (or might be) around you and make appropriate adjustments while you are shooting.

-Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color balance photography photoshop skin tones Mon, 05 Mar 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Matching colors to a near monotone scene There are certainly many ways in Photoshop to edit and match colors within a scene, but here is a quick tip that will work with primarily monochrome scenes such as the one displayed above. The mermaid was shot in a studio setting and then composite the image into the coral scenery. The overall cast of the scene is sort of a hazy blue with some of the corel being slightly darker.  Obviously we want to at least match the mermaid to her surroundings as close as possible.

There are numerous tutorials on compositing, and I have discussed different techniques in the past such as using greenscreen or even shooting on a grey background. For this quick tip, lets assume that you have your subject placed and sized appropriately on the background with at least an appoximate brightness that you desire. Now take your "eye dropper' tool, and sample a clean area in the background. In the image above, I sampled away from the corel in the top portion of the image to get a 'True blue" sample.

Now, take a VERY large paint brush, set to a opacity of 20% or less. This setting may be slightly more or less depending upon your image. Paint over the entire image. You may have to take more than one pass over the entire image to help with the process.  What you should find is the tone of the image including your composited portion now shares a similar appearance. 

Will this technique work for every image, certainly not images that have a lot of vibrant colors. Again this technique is one way you may get a composited monochrome image to look a little more natural. Other tools within photoshop that may help include the 'blend-if" functions, hue/saturation layers as well as using trying the 'color match' feature of photoshop. Photoshop has a myriad of tools, and almost certainly one will work for you.


Bob Barford is a photographer located in Sourthern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color composites matching photography Mon, 26 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Do you capture the character of your character? Many photographers go to conventions, comic-cons, or similar events and make images of the participants. Some outfits are very elaborate, and some of the participants REALLY get into their character. So the question that may occur to you is who is the character? Not just what the costume represents, but what makes the character special enough that someone may want to model that outfit. If you understand that, chances are you will really come out with some outstanding images. 

For example, Catwoman (above) has endured in the Batman world for many years. The costume is certainly very well done, and the participant may even want images of the entire costume not already taken by a camera phone. The way the costume fits and is designed may give you ideas for future concepts. But clearly there is much more to Catwoman that just the outfit. From the almost tame nature of the cat to the more aggressive and dominant characteristics that has made Catwoman famous within the Batman world.

Conventions are often very crowded with very little room at times, not to mention most participants may not want to spend hours posing for pictures. If you as a photographer, like a character, it may help if you spend a little time with the con-goer to find out about not only the character being played, by what makes the character special to the person who is modeling the outfit. 

One you have this rapport, you may get dynamic images that you thought may not have even been possible!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) characters conventions photography rapport role play Mon, 19 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Trigger and strobeproblems at events? Many photographers will go to events where photography is promoted and studio strobes are commonly used for lighting. At times, even professionals will participate in general meetups to network with local photographers, models, and others who will frequently provide important contacts.

There are certainly many triggers on the market from manufacturers including Pocketwizard, Paul C. Buff, Phottix, as well as other well known brands. In general, signals from one manufacturer 'should' not interfere with signals from another manufacturer's units. But what happens when you press the shutter button and the strobe does not fire, resulting in a radically underexposed or totally black image?

Think about a couple things:

  1. How fresh are your batteries? Remember that even if you have only shot with the batteries once of twice, voltage drops over time even with batteries sitting in your camera bag.  What type of batteries are you using? Purchasing 1000 no-name batteries in a plain brown wrapper may not be the best investment. The power setting on the strobe will also affect how long a battery may last. It's not a bad idea to periodically check the voltage in your battery supply, and when they start to get weak toss them. One last note, most batteries WILL leak if left in a device for long enough. Don't risk ruining an expensive piece of equipment.
  2. Are several people at the event using the same style transmitter on the same channel?  Try picking an unusual channel like channel 6 or 7.  One hint that people may be on the same channel may be that your strobe is firing when you are not taking pictures (there are other reasons, for this of course).
  3. Are people close to you on the same channel and pushing the shutter at the same time (or close) to what you may be shooting? This is like two people talking at the same time- signal collisions may cause mis-fires.
  4. Strobes need to re-charge their capacitors after being fired. If you are pressing your shutter button more frequently than once per second, the strobe may not have had time to recharge. The higher the power setting on the strobe, the longer the recharge time.
  5. Is the optical slave turned on? In this case, it really does not matter which manufacture of transmitter you or another may be using, if the optical slave is turned on the strobe will likely fire in response to another strobe in the area. Keep in mind that your strobe may be firing from a REFLECTION off a wall from another strobe. This will affect recharge time and possibly prevent your strobe from firing at the moment you want it to.  If you do not need the optical slave, turn it off (or cover it).
  6. What condition is the trigger in? If you are borrowing it, it could have been dropped or abused in some way. There are several inexpensive triggers on the market for the casual photographer such as this time Strobe trigger  .

It can be frustrating missing that one great shot, but perhaps with a little planning it may not happen too often!

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) lighting meetups strobes triggers Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Window light magic Natural light can create dramatic images that can challenge even the most proficient studio based speedlight or monolight professional. Natural light by the window can even produce images that may otherwise be difficult or very time consuming using artificial light.

To get the some of the best result from this type of this type of photography lies in a little planning. The model, time of day, outfits, and poses all play into a successful shot.  The most success with this type of photography is having the model wear simple,  at least 3/4 solid color dress. A multicolored outfit or elaborate outfit may detract from the type of image. The model's outfit in this case was a light blue color and if you want patterns from the window, try to avoid very dark colors. Of course, some very effective artistic nude images have also been created using window light.

You will most likely want the model close to the window so that you can get a nice wrap around effect. Keeping her away from walls will eliminate the need to get rid of distracting shadows. In the image above, the model was 2 feet away from any wall and positioned herself about a 2 feet away from and in line with the window frame. Standing in the 'middle' of the window may have caused unwanted lens flare. 

The time of day of course is important, with the sun casting shadows from the cross beams of the windows into the room. This may occur early in the day or later in the evening. In these images, I also focused and metered on the model closely so as to expose her correctly. I wanted the background to fall into darkness. 

Subtle shifts of the arms and head into various poses can produce dramatic effects. In may of the images the models eyes are closed or half open. Sunlight coming in through a window can be uncomfortable for many people to work in for an extended time. If you want to get a shot with her eyes, try the count 1-2-3 open technique.

You can of course also play with color temperature with the light. Depending upon the time of day, color temperature can vary dramatically. In the last image, the model is actually sitting on the window sill and wanted to give her a nice warm glow. I also wanted to overexpose the windows since I really did not care what was outside but wanted to focus on the model. There are MANY, MANY ways to accomplish this in Photoshop or Lightroom including a large assortment of presets and actions that are both commercially and free. If you want a little more control, this clip from Lindsay Adler will also help Color Grading in fine tuning your images.

One final tips is be sure that you are primarily metering (even if from within your camera) on the model herself. it is very easy to meter the entire scene and have details in the model overexposed from sunlight flowing in through the window. Check the back of your camera and histogram on a regular basis since clouds and the position of the sun can dramatically effect your exposure. 

- Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern PA.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color drama photography windowlight Mon, 05 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Taking control of Vingettes Some people love Vignettes for drawing attention into their subject, while others don't use them at all. Certainly, like anything else if overused vignettes can be distracting to the viewer and should be used with a clear purpose.  In the image above, the room is reasonable well lit throughout, but what if we wanted to draw just a little more attention to our subject.  There are certainly no shortage of actions for photoshop or presets for lightroom, but what if you wanted a little more control. Many vignettes apply shading around the edges of the frame evenly, which can certainly work in some cases. Suppose you wanted just a one corner a little darker or lighter?

As with Photoshop, there are many ways to accomplish this, but here is a relatively quick and easy method.

  1. Add a new layer and then fill it with black
  2. This layer should be below your original image.

3.  Select your gradient tool and in the fly-out (top) menu, choose the "Foreground to transparent" (2nd) option.

4. Add a layer mask to your original image

5. Select the layer mask

6. With the Gradient tool chosen, lower the opacity to 20 -35% ( You may need to experiment)

7. Drag from the corners or edges and you will see "a gradient" of darkness along the line that you have traced. If you want it a little darker, simply trace from that corner or edge again (make sure you are still on the layer mask).


Just a quick tip to be just a little more creative!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer based on Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education gradients lighting photography photoshop vignettes Mon, 29 Jan 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Model Releases- Confused?? PosingPosing Model releases can be confusing at times with questions like:

  • What exactly is a model release- does it help me?
  • I took the picture, I have the copyright, I can do anything I want with the image -right?
  • Do I always need a model release?
  • Are there different kinds of model releases?
  • How long do I need to keep them?

A model release is a document that you provide to your subject that gives the photographer to publish an image on a blog, website, social media, print magazines, or just about any medium in which the public can view that image. Generally the photographer will need a release whenever a recognizable image of a person is taken. There are exceptions such as newsworthy events or a public figure in a public location. If you took a picture of a crowd at a fire, you would not need a release from everyone in a crowd since the group is may be on public property and may be reported by a new agency. People in the group do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in these events.  If you managed to take a picture on a political figure at a rally, he/she does not have an expectation that pictures will not be taken (in fact, he/she expects them to be taken).  An example of a release can be downloaded here Model Release  from the SLR lounge. A release 'can' offer you protection in the event of a civil lawsuit.  

If you are an art lover or history buff and take pictures for your own use, then in 'many' cases you will not need a model release. You don't plan or printing them for public display, or selling them. The question you need to ask yourself though is, what if you take a picture that becomes valuable in the future? It definitely has happened  and will continue to happen!

It is true that if you took the image, you own the copyright and have limited protection against it being stolen. This does not give you unlimited rights to use the image however you want. There have been many lawsuits on record relating to defamatory images made public, and now more than some other points in history people believe that they have a right to privacy in most areas of their lives (there are exceptions, see above). Laws relating to model releases vary greatly from state to state with some states having no written law relating to releases (eg. Maryland, Vermont). Some states have vague laws that suggest that a model release is needed such as Arizona and California.  Other states such as New York and Pennsylvania specifically require a model release. A complete listing of state by state requirements may be found here  State lists for Model Releases.  

There are definitely different kinds of model releases. There are portfolio releases which simply state that images will be used for the purposes of self promotion such as shown here Self Promotion.  Some models may be reluctant to sign a general release because he/she feels that the photographer will sell the image and make $$. There are releases for children which require that a parent sign the release found here Release for a child.  There are of of course commercial releases that state that the photographer may sell the image if he/she chooses to do so such as in this release  General release . Take special note in THIS release, the photographer specifically states how the image will be used. Although this is not always required, in general images can not be used in a defamatory nature. If a person feels that an image depicts them in an unsavory manner that person may have grounds for a successful law suit if the release does not specifically state the purpose(s) of the image. 

If you are a photographer who makes sexually suggestive or explicit images, you will also need a 2257 release found here 2257

which clearly states that the subject of the image is an adult. Severe legal penalties can be imposed if the photographer fails to collect this information and RETAINS this information for inspection by law enforcement. Although the law is disputed by many, the intent is to limit child porn images. Elements of the 2257 release of course can easily be included in a general release. Some photographers will even take a picture of a model holding his/her drivers license for added protection.

How long do you need to keep releases? Once again, it will vary from state to state but some states actually may require proof of a release even after the death of a photographer! In general, once you get a release, keep it for as long as you are able, particularly important for images that may become famous or images of a sexual nature.  

As a side note, certain properties will also require a release, as well as permission if you include a trademark of a company within the image.

Remember, releases are a way to protect the photographer, so don't forget! As a disclaimer, this is not meant to provide legal advice so contact a lawyer proficient in the arts for additional information.


- Bob Barford is a published photogapher based in Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) 2257 model release photography state laws Mon, 22 Jan 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Meetups GirlsGirls Meetups- An event where photographers and models 'meet' for the purposes of networking and portfolio building. Some people love them, other hate them. But the question is can they actually be useful to almost any professional?

Meetups often bring in a mixed group of people from the photography world from novice models and photographers to more experienced professionals. The 'meetup' can be highly organized, depending upon the sponsor, or the sponsor may do little more than provide a space and collect an admission fee.  Some meetups feature educational sections that can be valuable for anyone who may attend as well as some may invite makeup artists and even provide lighting and special features at the venue not easily accessible otherwise at least for a reasonable price.

Is it really worth your time and expense?  My advice is start with a plan, even before you click the 'interested' button.

  • Has anyone you know been to one of the meetup sessions? You may be able to pick their brain
  • Are any models going that you may have met, read about, or are social media friends? This may be an important point in determining the actual value of the workshop. If the sponsor has a high fee for the event, perhaps it is because he/she has recruited some very well known models. On the other hand, a high fee with novice models may be a warning flag.
  • Does the event have a maximum number of photographers? If no, you may be shoulder to shoulder with novice and experienced photographers which may make the event a tricky to get images that you want.
  • Does the event provide any equipment? If you must provide everything, it can be problematic carrying 60 lbs of lighting gear up three flights of stairs! Or even dragging it in from your can in rain or snow.

Especially at a new venue, spend a few minutes walking around and exploring. Do you shoot in natural light? How many electrical outlets are there? Is a certain area of the venue noisy, hot, or cold? Is an area visable to the general public? Now is not the time to get too involved in networking for a reason to be discussed below. 

Once your recon is done, start setting up any equipment as efficiently as you can at the prime location that you have chosen. If you wait too long, others may have 'set up shop' and you may be facing a small dark corner without an electrical plug that is either too hot or too cold! I personally recommend initially setting up with essentials to carve out your space. Bringing equipment with your is always a good idea but it should be as portable as possible, and in most cases setting up an expansive studio may not be practical. Other people will almost certainly intrude in your area, and it may take an long time to set things up. In the mean time others may be already developing contacts or making images.

If you have a model that you would like to work with, or if you are a model that would like to work with a certain photographer, contact them in advance so that they can be sure to catch up with you at a certain time. Discuss what concept that you both would like to work with in advance so that everyone can be ready.

For the model, it can be a little hectic to say the least. A model should bring several outfits and make sure that she speaks with the organizer where she can change well away from the traffic area. Depending upon how 'organized' the sponsor may be, a model's activities during the event can be carefully coordinated. In other cases, it can be many people pulling at the model so she barely has time for a break during the event.  How is a model compensated or is the event purely a networking experience with hopes of making valuable contacts for future shoots? Most models should be prepared with her contact info readily available and in some cases, prepared to sign a model release. Certain states are strict, others not so much. A model should understand how many images that she may get from the event, and what she may (or may not) do with them.

In the end, what does the model or photographer hope to gain from the event? Networking contacts? Marketing material? Social media material? If one goes to a meeting without a plan in place, she/he may come out disappointed.

Bob Barford is a published photographer located in So. Pennsylvannia 



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) meetups Mon, 15 Jan 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Are Overlays worth it? PosingPosing There seems to be endless supplies of commercial editing products for photographers as well as just the average cell phone camera user. Overlays are often artistic images themselves that are placed over top of an image, much like a new Photoshop layer, rather than behind the image such as a background. In some cases they take the form of a cell phone filter and the quality is more for entertainment purposes rather than anything else.

In other cases, they take the form of PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file that often has a transparent background so that elements from the original image show through the final product. PNG files have many uses, such as an earlier post that I wrote relating to desktop publishing shown here JPegs and PNG files.  Overlay files can of be found free on sites such as PNGtree or of course many be purchased through almost an endless supply of commercial sites. You can of course create your own PNG files directly from Photoshop as shown in this quick tutorial  Transparent backgrounds.

But the real question here is for the photographer who may be into the artistic editing side with their images, are commercial overlays worth your time and in some cases, expense?

Well here are some positive points to these images:

  • They can serve as inspiration, simply by looking at the overlays themselves
  • They can accent an image that may been ok, into an image that really catches one eye
  • They can improve your editing abilities, since many of them can be warped, toned, or otherwise manipulated to fit the overall theme of the image
  • Depending upon the overlay, they can be a tremendous time saver. You may know what you want but it may take a long time to create it with uncertain results.

Of course, almost everything has it's negatives:

  • The quality of some overlays is not professional grade
  • When used to excess, overlays may actually detract or decrease the value of an image
  • Reliance on overlays may limit your ability to learn and develop your Photoshop skills.
  • Some commercial overlays are overpriced for what they offer. The effect could be quickly and easily accomplished with only moderate editing ability.

Using overlay files in Photoshop is relatively simple. Steps are as follows:

  • Load your original image into Photoshop and make any necessary edits to that image.
  • Choose FILE...PLACE from the Photoshop menu
  • Navigate to where your overlay may be found and choose that overlay
  • Resize and rotate the overlay as appropriate then hit the check mark at the top of the screen
  • You may also add change the color of the overlay by adding a Hue and Saturation layer. You will need to apply this just to the overlay, not all layers.
  • For those more visually attuned, here is a quick demo  Using an overlay file  


Overlay files can be productive and inspiring as long as they are not overused!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative education overlay photography photoshop Mon, 08 Jan 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Into the new year.. but what about the earlier images??? PhotoshopPhotoshop We are just about to enter a brand new year with lots of amazing opportunities. However, what about images from last year and even years past? Obviously we don't want to loose them, if no other reason they bring us great memories. Past images can often be recycled into different portfolios, sold, or if you are the creator edited into a different form. How do you keep your images safe? Do you back them up? Many things can happen to images that are stored in a single location from accidental erasure to total system failure. There are several options open to you.

The Cloud

There really is no shortage of options here. Essentially you are uploading your images to a service which stores your images on a server, ready for you to access.  Services such as offered through Goggle, IBM, Carbonite, Microsoft, Dropbox, and iCloud only a few that are available to you. Some services such as iCloud will let you upload directly from your phone which is handy. Smugmug does charge a small starter monthly fee but does allow for significant customization that some other sites lack.  Prices and storage vary considerably with almost all services offering several GB's free and then a low monthly charge for additional storage. One of the best deals is through Mega who offers 50 GB free to start. But.. what if you don't always have internet access?

Portable Hard drives

Hard drive storage is certainly an option and prices for external and portable drives are affordable to many people. Western Digital and Seagate hard drives are only two that have provided drives that are very reliable and affordable in a variety of capacities. Drives that are solid state (SSD) and or conventional drives than run at higher speeds (7200 rpm) are typically your best bet. This option may not be for everyone, since hard drives can be delicate and easy to damage, though some like the LaCie (B&H photo) have rugged protective covers as well as a recovery service for lost images.   Many drives will come with the optional backup software that may allow you to back up images automatically without having to remember. But, what about the backup software??

Backup Software

Acronis backup software has long been recommended as one of the easiest to operate and efficient software packages on the consumer market. It can clone an entire disk, or allow one to select one directory to backup on a regular basis once configured. The backups are in a compressed format to save storage space rather it be on the cloud or on a portable hard drive. It can backup social media material as well as other images.  Of course there are other well recognized services such as Carbonite and Veritas that work well for many people.  Backup software of course can backup to more than a portable hard drive or the cloud of course...

RAID Drives

Somewhat more expensive than some of the options above, but certainly a very viable option for high volume high worth images. Redundant Array of Independent disks (RAID) combine multiple disks into a system that allows for fast access to your data. It's primary benefit is that if one disk fails (as will eventually happen with many hard drives), the data will still be safe. Combined with appropriate backup software, since system has served business users well for many years. Western Digital, LaCie, and G-Technology are only some of the systems that provide this technology.


Whether you have cherished family photo's or run a high volume business, backing up your images is important. Images can be lost taken from a $100 cell phone or a $10,000 professional camera. Although data recovery services are available, the are often very expensive are results are never guaranteed (regardless of what a vendor may promise). If you do not back up now, please start in the new year!


Bob Barford is a published artist in Southern PA



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) backup Mon, 01 Jan 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Do you have fun? Often photographers, models, and others involved in the production process get VERY wrapped up in the process of making the best image possible. Is the lighting perfect? Is the composition and focus correct? Is the pose appealing? Is the make-up done just right?  Certainly these things are important but also within a project its important to remember in striving for the GREAT image, we may be creating a great deal of stress for everyone and, just sometimes, the stress shows through in the images. It may take more time to get things set up, things may get rushed, a moment may be missed which could actually be the best shot of the series.

For a photographer sometimes getting things right means a little practice setup prior to meeting a subject. If hiring a model, it may mean building in a little extra time in the session. For a client it may mean keeping options open to slight variations on a theme. A model, while she needs a core concept, can certainly build from that concept in terms of poses and possibly props.

Keep things conversational during the session can help work out details as well as make everyone just a little more comfortable with the days conception execution. When possible try to keep things a little light during the session and be ready for spontaneous moments. Mixing things up a little during the session can even be a little fun. As in the image above, the model was posing for come typical cute elf pictures for a Christmas shot, yet a simple suggestion like 'Santa is leaving your coal this year' turned a cute elf into a grumpy elf.


Something to think about during your next photoshoot!


Bob Barford is based on Southern PA and Northern Maryland.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) fun photography Mon, 25 Dec 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Clipping masks from custom shapes in PS  It's time to get a little creative within a few easy steps using almost any image. Custom shapes have many uses in Photoshop but here is a quick and easy method that you can customize in many ways.  Start by creating a new document at 400 x 600 pixels wide. You can leave the background white for now.

Lets add some color by adding an adjustment layer through the color picker. In this case, I choose grey.

Choose the custom shape tool, and will will see a dialog box open with a variety of shapes to choose from. In this chase, I am choosing the oval with the scalloped edges.

Position the shape somewhere in the middle of the image that you have already created. You can always enlarge it later if you wish.

Find an image that you wish to work with and load it into Photoshop. Paste it on top of your project (Select All,  Edit..Copy, Paste). 

Make sure that your image is on the TOP layer and RIGHT click on the layer (not the image). You will see a choice to create a clipping mask.

The image will conform to the custom shape that you have chosen. You should see a downward facing arrow from the top image indicating the the image has been clipped to the custom shape. If the custom shape is not large enough, simply click on the shape layer and enlarge it. From here you can add text or additional art work to your creation. You colors by clicking directly on the color picker layer.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) clipping mask custom shapes Mon, 11 Dec 2017 13:00:00 GMT
How do you promote yourself? CuriousCurious The question that I am posing with some possible ideas is how do you promote yourself? This is a a common challenge for those in business, but also may well apply to those who are hobbyist who want to work with a variety of talented artists. A common starting point for many people is social media. How do you handle social media so that people know what your are doing and how to get in touch with you? Is there a daily routine that you follow? It is easy to get hold of you? How responsive to messages that people may send to you?

Choosing daily images to post to various groups and social media sites can be a chore and it's easy to forget or get so busy with other things that daily posting may not happen. There are a couple apps that may be able to help you, the first being  Planoly and a second site is Later. These are both calendar type sites that will let you plan your images out for a few days up to a month at a time. These site send you a reminder on your mobile device and you decide to post.  Although there are apps that may post automatically, sites like Instagram will penalize you for using them and reduce your following, so its probably best to go with an app that is a little better tolerated by the major social media sites.  If you need a little more help, there are mentors such as Jasmine Star's social curator program that allows you some additional guidance with your daily posts.

Do you have a blog, or a website, or a group that you frequent? If you understand what your target audience wants and how you can provide it, a website or social media group is a great way to get the message out. It's not really about you, its about what you can provide to the people that you wish to attract. Once you attract them, what are you doing to keep them? Are you providing content or something to keep their attention? One thing to be careful of is to avoid spamming people. If you want people to work with you, an invitation. If you are too pushy, it like going into a store and someone grabbing you by the arm and pulling you over to see a particular display. Or even a salesperson who simply will not give up despite your insisting that you are not interested.  If someone is interested in working with you, communication is the key to a great relationship. If you fail to make it easy for them, it is unlikely that they will want to work with you.  One site that can help you keep things straight is You can book me that allows for an online calendar. If you happen to be working with a team of people, everyone can look at the same calendar. 

Just a few ideas!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) promotion self Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Net Neutrality??? MazeMaze As many people know, with the appointment of Ajit Pai, the current FCC commissioner, Net Neutrality is now at stake with a upcoming vote on December 14th.  Is this important to those within the photography field, well of course it is. It is almost a done deal that the FCC will kill net neutrality by at least a slim margin.  If the results shape us as expected, it will almost certainly increase the cost of doing business for everyone except for the largest businesses. 

In the world today, Monopolies such as Verizon or Comcast have little say what goes through the internet, and ISP's have limited ability to charge more to certain companies, or to slow down connections to the point of almost being unusable.  ISP's can not, as of today, limit access simply based on whether or not the ISP finds an individual or company desirable.

Those in favor of killing net neutrality provide reasons such as companies such as Google that send massive amount of data through the internet such as video or services such as Skype that allow people to make free phone calls using the internet. Proponents of killing net neutrality claim that ISP's should be receiving added income from those who are put strain in the internet.

Of course, companies such as Google, with significant financial assets, would likely pay the additional fees if or when net neutrality would die. Would the ISP's apply the same fees to smaller companies, the answer is probably yes. Could this cause certain businesses to fail... probably.  In a sinister way of thinking, would companies such as NBC get priority bandwidth over other companies who may not have as deep of a financial pocket? Officially, no according to those who wish to kill the act.  Indeed would individuals pay more for a slower internet connection? 

Certainly there is a risk of antagonizing customers, but today many people and almost every business is heavily dependent on the internet for a variety of services. The dependence is certainly not slowing down, with megabytes or gigabytes of transferred data now becoming terabytes of data almost on a daily basis. Companies are now becoming very dependent upon the "Cloud" , with other options being less efficient for a competitive business.  Almost for certain, even for the individual, costs will increase if the vote kills net neutrality.

There certainly are scores of articles discussing the upcoming vote, so keep your eyes and ears open for the final vote on December 14th, 2017!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) business finance internet net neutrality Mon, 27 Nov 2017 13:00:00 GMT