Bob Barford Photography: Blog en-us (C) Bob Barford Photography (Bob Barford Photography) Sat, 16 Oct 2021 21:04:00 GMT Sat, 16 Oct 2021 21:04:00 GMT Bob Barford Photography: Blog 119 120 Targeted adjustments- Revisited Targeted Adjustments - Revisited

Photoshop has long had a tool that what Adobe calls a targeted adjustment. It is located under the curves dialog box which looks like a pointed finger.

In theory, you may select a portion of the image with this tool (either in RGB mode, or a color channel) and by moving the 'hand' icon up or down one should be able to achieve the effect desired.  In the real world, this is often not the case. For example, in the landscape image above, it I wanted to increase the reds in the trees, the tool would adjust all reds, including the reds in the tee shirt.  Yes, there certainly other tools such as hue/saturation adjustments, but what if you really wanted to zero down to a very specific part of the image?

You could of course make a selection of that very specific portion of the image and then use one of the adjustment layers just to affect that selection.  There is yet another way to work this issue.

In the image above, the trees below the cliff are very drab. Not at all how I remembered the shot. I could add a vibrance layer, but this would affect the ENTIRE image, and that is not really what I want.

I am going to add a vibrance layer, and then I am going to INVERT the layer mask so that it is black (black conceals).  Now I am going to adjust the vibrance slider to what ever level I wish, and then paint with the brush tool set to white ONLY on the trees below the cliff.  The only portion of the image that is being affected by the vibrance layer is the trees. 

This techniques not only saves the time of having to select and mask portions of the image and can be a great boost to workflow in many types of images. Of course, I could have selected a different type of adjustment layer with a layer mask, so this process is certainly not limited only one type of edit.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color creative Photography targeted adjustments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Lack Luster Images?

Lack Luster Images- Tonal Values in Lightroom and ACR

Many photographers have shot an image that although the camera settings seemed correct, seemed to lack luster when the image appeared on their computer screen especially if shot in the raw format. Sometimes that image may need a little adjustment, or quite a bit. The above image was shot against a grey sky, and of course, the bridge is a steel grey so the image even seemed a little out of focus.  There are a few options here to adjust tonality of an image:

  • Contrast- Increasing or decreasing contrast will increase or decease the level of brightness between adjacent light and dark pixels. The effect is global and will typically affect the entire image.
  • Sharpen - Works along the edges to increase contrast between adjacent pixels. Typically this too is a global effect for the entire image.
  • Texture: Tends to target the mid-tones in the image to sharpen or blur the finer details. A less extreme of clarity and typically does not affect luminance or saturation.
  • Clarity: A more intense version of texture and it darkens contrast areas, reduces saturation, and slightly bleeds over from pixel to pixel. It may increase brightness of an image globally. Clarity in portrait images tend to work globally on midtones.
  • Dehaze: Affect large areas of contrast often resulting in a non uniform color shift by boosting saturation. Can be used on landscape images with foggy or misty appearance.


Many of these controls have a global influence on the image.  Clarity when used very sparingly can soften the skin on portraits but may also brighten an image that may be bright to begin with. Texture has a more subtle effect on portraits and can also soften the skin. Increasing texture can bring out the details in buildings, rocks, and bridges, and other objects with a hard edge in certain landscape images.

Combining one or more of these control may be able to rescue and image that you may have decided to pass by without much thought. Although they may not be able to fix a blurred image due to a shaky camera or missed focal point, but they are certainly worth giving a try.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) contrast lightroom luster sliders Mon, 27 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Are physical filters useless? Are Physical Filters Useless?

In a time where filters, presets, actions, and assorted other features are available within graphic editing programs as well as cell phones, are physical filters that you apply to your lens useless?

I would argue that they still have a place within mainstream photography. Most photographers try their best to get things right within the camera. There are some great reasons for that including workflow. It can be difficult and time consuming in some cases to duplicate of certain filters even in programs such as photoshop.

Two such filters that I would claims still have a strong place include the neutral density filter and well as a polarizer. Take the two images above, straight out of camera with nothing done other than a little cropping. A circular polarizer was placed on the lens after the first image. Notice the high flare especially on the windshield.  Now take a look at the second image which was polarized. Once can easily see the interior of the vehicle and the glare is not distracting. Granted the effectiveness of a polarizer will depend upon ambient lighting conditions but the effect can be dramatic.  It would be time consuming to get the same detail in post production especially since glare may be so significant to completely blow out highlights.

Another useful filter can be a Variable Neutral Density Filter. There are many out there in the market place ranging from less than $100 to several hundred dollars. Price is often a function of the quality of the glass within the filter.  When one is shooting in bright sunlight, it is often necessary to use a higher f-stop to get a proper exposure. What if you wanted to blur out the background with a shallow depth of field? A neutral density filter, whether a variable unit or a set of filters can come in handy.  Neutral density filters can also allow you to use a very slow shutter speed if the photographer wants to blur water movement, such as from a waterfall.

Take another look at these two filters if you do not already own a set!

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) filters Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Magic of Duotones

Magic Of Duotones

When some people think of Duotones, they think something along the lines of the image above. The subject is split between one color and another. Yes, there many cases of images which may be colored in one or more tones of color. The technique is fairly simple as shown in this YouTube Video and the results can be very creative if colors are chosen well.

There is MUCH more to Duotones, Tritones, and even Quad tones which is included in the current release of photoshop. There are dozens of possible combinations and it is possible to change the background of a subject without the use of masks, cut-outs, or any other extraction mode. This is one of my longer posts, so please bear with me.


I photographed my subject against a grey background, and then loaded the image into photoshop. Like most things in photoshop, there are many ways to proceed, but I will try to describe a technique that is very flexible.  First steps include:

  • Duplicating the image (Control J)
  • Making the duplicate a smart object (right click on the layer, and choose convert to smart object)
  • Now double click on the smart object to open the 'protected image'

  • Click on the Image menu
  • Choose the Mode selection
  • Your image moving forward will need to be 8 bit (not 16 or higher)
  • Reselect mode again (if necessary) and convert your image to Greyscale
  • Once again, under the mode selection, choose Duotone


A dialog box will open will a dozens of presets that you can choose from. Consider the many emails that you may receive on a daily basis for photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. Some of these offers can get expensive, and yet you have a large library of possibilities.

You could continue to Tritones, or even quad tones, but for this post lets keep it simple.  Choose one of the presets and your image will change color corresponding to the preset that you have chosen.

Now, save your project (file-save), then return to your original document.

Your New image now rests above your original picture.  You can adjust opacity of the newly created image if you wish if it appears too intense. The next step is to blend the two images together.  You can scroll through the blend modes, however in my case I wanted to go with soft light blend mode.

So you can see, I how have a blue toned background with almost the skin tone of my original subject intact. In some cases however one additional step may be necessary when the blue tone overlaps onto the subject. There seems to be a little bleed over, especially in the subjects hand.


To normalize the skin tone back to the original, Choose layer styles (Fx button at the bottom of the adjustment panel) to bring up blending options.

Sliding the "Underlaying layer" slider to the right will bring back some of the natural tone to the skin from the subject. 


A video description of this This process can be found with step by step instructions relating to background material and some additional editing tips. Although the speaker does not deal directly with changing the background, clearly it can be done with a little experimentation when it comes to blending modes.











]]> (Bob Barford Photography) blending creative duotone education Photography Mon, 13 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Triggers - how many? Triggers- How many?

If you shoot with photographic strobes most photographers will understand that the shutter release signal needs to get to the studio strobe in some manner in order for it to fire. There are several ways you may be able to get this to happen.

  • Synched camera and studio strobe
    • The camera talks to a specific strobe and fires the strobe(s) on command. This can be very convenient, but then again you are limited to that system. If you go to an event that has studio strobes other than what your camera can signal, you may be shooting with natural light inside a darkened room (not good).
  • Wired connection 
    • While it is certainly possible to connect a synch cable from your camera directly to your strobe and this can be very reliable. The problem of course is short cables, tangled cables, and it can be difficult to make this work with more than one strobe.
  • Speedlight -optical triggered
    • If your studio strobes can be optically triggered (most can), pointing a speedlight at the ceiling or a reflector aimed at the studio strobes can work in a pinch. The problem comes into play with a very high or dark ceiling and the optical sensors are hidden with modifiers.
  • Wireless Triggers
    • Clearly the most common and most convenient for most photographers.  Most are very reliable and are available from a variety of vendors.  A transmitter is mounted on the camera, and a receiver is attached to the studio strobe.

A valid question is how many wireless triggers do you actually need? That really depends on how many studio strobes that you own and how you use them.  If you use bare bulb strobes or modifiers such as umbrellas or even softboxes, you may be able to deal with one transmitter and one receiver. An umbrella or even a bare bulb will typically scatter enough light to fire quite a few strobes if the strobes have optical slave functions.

But suppose you have a modifier that has a grid?

The light can get so focused that one strobe may not be able to 'see' light coming from another studio strobe using the optical trigger feature depending how you have arranged your lighting around your subject. In this case, each individual studio strobe must have a wireless trigger and in many cases set to the same channel. Depending on the model of the trigger, this can become VERY expensive often costing hundreds of dollars. So the question you may ask yourself is do you use a very similar lighting setup for each concept. Do you experiment with different lighting setups? How much room to you have to be flexible with your lighting setups?

If you vary your lighting setups, is there a budget minded option?  The answer is yes of course there is a budget option. Vendors such as Neewer supplies the budget minded photographer with trigger sets such as:

that can meet the need of many individuals with a limited budget who many occasionally need many triggers for multiple lights. While these triggers may not be the high end name brand triggers than many are used to carrying in their camera bag, they certainly can come through in a pinch and are typically reliable.  If your typical go to triggers are not quite operating the way you may like, an extra set of triggers may be just what you need!






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education Photography Triggers Mon, 06 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Traveling light- need a subject? Traveling Light- Need a subject?

Recently I needed to make a presentation featuring how to shape light to a small group. I really was not sure how many people were actually going to show up for this meeting, and even if one of the group would be willing to model, he/she could miss the information. My options were to bring a professional model or try to bring a life like manikin.  Funds were tight, and the full sized manikin did not quite fit into my light case.

I happened to like Halloween, so I had several foam heads in storage so I chose one which was relatively lifelike. I pulled a small lightstand out and hung an old shirt on it. It really did not work well for representing a human torso.

So I pulled and old wire coat hanger out of the closet (I could have just as easily used Craft Wire) as long as it was at least 18 gauge. I secured the hanger with some gaffers tape (non sticky) and molded a set of shoulders to give the subject some form. I buttoned my old shirt around the neck of the home made manikin, mounted the head on the light stand and a quick and easy subject was born (ok, the shoulders are uneven in the shot above). 

For my purposes and possibly anyone who is just testing out lights, this subject worked very well. I was able to find a flesh colored foam head, but a human face mask could have worked. White heads without human features tend not to work quite as well if one is trying to get a real feel for the exposure. Be careful not to spray paint a white wig foam head since the solvent in the spray paint will melt the foam!

Manikins can be expensive, with a plastic human appearing manikin starting at about $150 and above. Fiberglass manikins can often cost much more and articulating manikins can easily cost several hundred dollars and above. Full sized manikins can be bulky to move and painted manikins are prone to chipping. 

The next time you need a subject quickly or need to travel light yourself, give this project a try!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) lighting manikin photography subject Mon, 30 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Creative Light Masking-Drama Creative Light Masking- Drama

Creative light masking and shaping typically involves molding light to allow it to fall where you wish, and prevent it from spilling into unwanted areas of an image. There are dozens of light modifiers that soften and redirect light but creating drama typically needs a little more planning than off the shelf modifier. 

Suppose you wish to create an image similar to above, with just highlighting a portion of your subject. This image appears a little mysterious, dramatic, and even relates a little to some of the images that you may see in movies. Of course you may be able to create such an image in post production, but what does it take to create it in camera. Now, you can purchase a dedicated device such as The Wellmaking device , but there are other options that many studio photographers already have immediately available to them.

Here are a few things that may be helpful:

  • A studio strobe 
    • A constant light could be used, if you have a means of a tight focus
  • A snoot with a grid
    • You may be able to achieve a similar effect with high end lighting, zoom reflectors, and small grids, but this option is much more expensive and complex.
  • A dark background
    • Ideally black or grey
  • A cut out mask/gobo. OK, so you may ask where do I get these? The easiest and most creative way is to make a mask out of sturdy construction paper, or you could order a set Design Gobo's.  If you make your own, you can custom fit it onto your snoot. You can certain make any cut out shape that you wish.

Now you are set to shoot:

  1. Set up your snoot on your studio strobe and turn on your modeling light positioned about 2 feet from your subject, then insert your gobo while  positioning light until you get a reasonably crisp image. If you are using a snoot with a grid, cut the gobo to fit directly into your grid housing.
  2. Set your camera to manual, with an ISO of 1250 to start, F 2.0, and a shutter speed as fast as possible (1/60 sec or better) depending on your lens.  You may need to mount your camera on a tripod. Adjust ISO as necessary.


In post production, adjust highlights and shadows according to your personal preference.  Of course, if you plan on using creative light masking on a regular basis you may choose to purchase one of the commercial units with a focusing lens from companies such as Godox, Newer, or Wellmaking.  






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Light masking Photography Mon, 23 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Old- not so great images Do you have older, not great images?

Many people have photographs from many years ago, some taken with early digital cameras and even scanned images from film cameras. It goes without saying, that every image whether digital or in print does not need to be a masterpiece. Sometimes an image can bring back pleasant memories from the past even if the photo itself is not the best quality. But, what if you want to bring just a little bit of life into the image?  This post will not deal with restoring very old damaged photo's, but rather older images that simply lack luster.

The photo above was taken over 20 years ago with a plastic point and shoot camera. It was a overcast day at a beach. Certainly not a really bad image, but is certainly flat. Can we bring a little life back into the image while still keeping the overall mood? Of course we can.

I wanted to keep the moody appearance of the image but wanted give it a little spark. The greyed out sky was an area that I wanted to improve.  Programs such as Luminar and Photoshop  both have sky replacement features. There are also a variety of third party vendors that offer a quite variety of skies( Sky replacement). Sources such as Etsy has sky packs for less than $5 Sky replacement packs.  The key in using the sky replacement is to try to match light and at least close to your original image. While Photoshop and Luminar typically do a great job in replacing skies, there are some images, particularly poorly scanned images, that either program will not be able to fix automatically. In these cases, here is a very quick and easy was to manually replace a sky Sky replacement in 2 minutes.

Of course, we will often will need to make additional adjustments to these images. Some valuable changes that I have found in landscape images include:

  • Increasing contrast
  • Increasing clarity
  • Opening Shadows
  • Reducing noise
  • Vibrance and Saturation
  • Sharpening the image

I am also including the following reference that includes some detail as how to adjust sharpness and noise if you use Lightroom to edit your images Sharpness and Contrast.

Take a look at your old images, and see if you can breathe a little more life into them!





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) editing education old Photography replacement skies Mon, 16 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Templates Have You Used Photoshop Templates?

As artists, we often want to create our own original work from start to finish. That certainly is a goal that we should all strive for in most cases, but there may be exceptions now and again. Suppose you have a concept, and you may not have the artistic drawing skill to bring your concept to life? There may may time limitations that although you could draw your concept, it may actually take you several days to bring it to life. There is another option, photoshop templates.  If you have ever used a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, you probably understand what a template may be.  It essentially is a pre-formatted element that one may insert other items into to create a final product. In word, this could be a business letter, a business card, or even a flyer.

Photoshop has pre-installed templates, that are fully licensed and Adobe allows you to use for your personal projects.  Quite a number of templates are available on the internet, and if one chooses to go this route please make sure that it is licensed for the purpose that you have in mind. The following video (Ok, it is a little wordy) Using a photoshop template  outlines the steps necessary to insert your image into a prepared template.


  • Make a COPY of the template before you start.
  • Open the template
  • Click on the small square in the corner of the template (it will often say insert image here)
  • A new window will open where you can then paste and size your image
  • Save the project 

Depending on the template, text may be included and the above video also reviews how to alter the text. One can often move the image around slightly even after the image has been saved within the template frame.  There are numerous Youtube videos that will explain how to create your OWN templates. This can be very valuable for future projects where one may have spent hours or days on artwork, and potentially may want to insert different views of a subject into the template.  This can be an incredible time saver!  As mentioned in steps above be sure to make a copy of the template before you import any image. Once saved, the template contains your imported image and can be time consuming to start over with the original template.


If you have not used templates before, give them a try!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography Photoshop Templates Mon, 09 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Some thoughts on beach photo's Some Thoughts on Beach Photo's

Quite a few people flock to the beaches during the summer and apart from the water there are quite a few photo Ops that we can take advantage of during our trip.


One thing to think about even before you hit the beach is 'how will I protect my gear'? The most obvious threat is sand and water so think about how will you keep you equipment clean? Sand can blow, be transferred by your hands, and can easily transfer from clothing or even your cloth camera bag. Think about putting your camera into a hard shelled case for the day, possibly even water proof. There are quite a few options out there but one of the most cost effective can come from Harbor Freight.  Be sure to bring a lens cleaning kit along with you. Strongly consider using a telephoto lens, even if that is not your norm. Remember, each time you change a lens, you potentially expose the inner workings to sand.

What about heat? Leaving your camera equipment hot temperatures for extended periods of time may degrade the cameras function. Returning your camera to your car is usually not the best option since the temperature inside a car can easily reach 105 degrees F while sitting in the sun. 

Do you really need to bring your most expensive camera with all the accessories? The reality is that there are those on a beach just looking to 'pick up' expensive equipment.


While some people dismiss the idea of screw on UV filters, this filter at the beach can potentially keep an expensive lens from accumulating sand and scratches. Just be sure you purchase a quality filter so not to degrade your images.  A polarizer filter can also help here, but reducing unwanted reflections from the water or sand. 

Giant Reflector Compensation>>

Just about everything is going to reflect light at the beach. Sand, water, sidewalks, some rocks, buildings etc... and can really throw off the metering in your camera.  Using exposure compensation controls on your camera can actually bring out the texture in the sand (-1 EV will underexpose). Look for areas that may have a bit of shade, and if you are shooting people in the afternoon sun consider a inexpensive speedlight to lessen harsh shadows.  Also consider SPOT metering if you want to avoid overexposure or underexposure of your images.  Check your histogram frequently on the back of your camera. 

Beach Sunsets >>

Can be tricky to be certain as the light values will often change minute by minute.  One of the manual modes, aperture, time, or manual is usually best for this type of shot. Take a meter reading from the sky starting at about F8. Bracket your shots by one stop in either direction, and in many cases your camera will allow you to auto bracket.  Based on the camera, it may either change the F-stop or exposure compensation value, and will allow you to take 3 or more shots normally exposed, underexposed, and then overexposed. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust your ISO manually as light level changes.


Beach shots can be dramatic- give it a try the next time you are on vacation!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Beach creative Photography shots Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
The Best Camera is... The Best Camera is... The One You Have With You!

Camera manufacturers from most brands put out new models every 12 to 16 months and often several versions of each model. Lenses complete with the finest optics made. Prices can range from a $500 for a starter lens/camera to several thousand dollars for just the camera body alone.  Cell phones with high end optics can run well over $1,000 per phone.  Yet, is there an ideal for everyone in each circumstance?

Before I go any further, this is not a camera comparison post nor is it is to recommend a specific camera. I have blog posts in the past that deal with various cameras and there are many sites such as DPReview that can help you if you are looking at your first camera and lens, or are just thinking to upgrade what you may already own.

As mentioned, cameras can be expensive and many are bulky. The trend toward mirrorless cameras is certainly making things a little lighter to carry around, yet they remain VERY pricey. So, do you want to take $10,000 or more equipment to be beach with you to lug around on a hot day, risking sand and water damage? Do you want your modifiers to fly off the end of cliff like a kite? Do you want to be walking around in a crowded street with someone who may be looking to steal an expensive camera and sell it within 30 minutes?

One does not necessarily need their best camera with them under all circumstances. Of course, if a photographer is being paid by a client, the client will want the best results possible. Yet, suppose the photographer is just on a family vacation?   A studio photographer has almost total control of the environment, yet once outdoors many things can and do happen unexpectedly and sometimes fairly quickly.

In every circumstance it is really necessary to set everything in manual mode? Aperture priority can lead to some pretty bad ISO or shutter speeds.  Shutter priority can also lead to some unfortunate choices in aperture or ISO. Yet, there is the dreaded PROGRAM mode, that some professionals try to avoid at all cost (By the way, depending on the camera, it is a very viable option in some cases).


The next time you go out, especially for a personal project, consider what you really need (or don't need). For anyone who may choose to read this blog to the end, the images shown were taken with a $200.00 cell phone!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Camera cell phone cost quality theft weight Mon, 26 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Was I drunk or what? Was I Drunk or What?

Sometimes it happens, and one may not really be sure why, but the camera is not quite level during a shot.  It could be that the photographer was shooting fast, the background happened to move, taking pictures while traveling on a vehicle, or some other reason :)

This can be very disturbing when vertical or horizonal lines are within the image. It could be the wall, as above, or it could just be the horizon on a landscape shot.  Fortunately, in many cases in Lightroom, Photoshop, or several other editing programs, there is a solution.

Many photographers are aware of the ruler (or align) tool in their editing program. This shot shows an image from Lightroom. Grab the ruler tool, draw a line along a vertical or horizontal line within the image and in many (not all) cases the image is now level.  This is often at the expense of cropping out part of the image as seen above the process has cropped out a portion to the bottom and right of the image (Hint: It is almost always a good idea to shoot a little wide).

Lightroom also has additional tools when the ruler just does not work for an image. 

The transform section in the develop module of Lightroom can potentially save an image when the ruler of a simple crop will not straighten a image.  The dialog box has several buttons as well as some manual control over the photograph. My experience has been the vertical button can be the most useful. Lets take a look at one more image below:

The image to the far left is well...slanted.  In this case the ruler tool did not help much.  If we take a look at the transform box and select the vertical button, we get a crop similar to the second image. The tool has cropped the right and left side of the image quite substantially leaving white space to either side of the shot. We could of course continue to crop out the white space, but here is yet another option within the transform box.  By scaling and adjusting the aspect of the image we are able to get close to what we hoped for in the original picture.  Again, as with the ruler tool, one can see that a substantial portion of the image still is absent from the final product.

Of course you can always experiment with the other sliders such as the vertical horizontal slider, to see what works best for your final image. The "Auto" button seems to generally result in the worse results.  Also keep in mind, there is also LENS  CORRECTION tool also found in Lightroom that may also be able to help.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) crop lightroom Photography Transform Mon, 12 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Is there any benefit to Model Mayhem anymore? CuriousCurious Is There any Benefit to Model Mayhem Anymore?

Model Mayhem was once a go to resource for nearly all within the modeling and photography world. Founded in 2005, it once boasted over 6 million members world wide. One could find photographers, models, makeup artists, wardrobe designers, as well as many other professionals. Members could issue casting calls, network in forums, participate on contests, create online portfolios, as well set up events with other members.

Although all features still remain, membership has dropped significantly to slightly over 1 million members as of today, many of which are active members. There could certainly be many reasons for the decline, which no doubt includes the popularity of several social media platforms. Controversy has long surrounded the service since nearly anyone could join with only a few images for approval.  New memberships are slower than many other competing services.

Everything considered, Model mayhem does still retains some valuable services even at the free membership level. For example, lets say you are looking for a specific type of model within a certain genre, age, hair color, etc.  One could apply various filters and search by state and city a model that met your requirements. That can be a real time saver when compared to most other means of searching out models. One could also search for photographers, makeup artists, retouchers, or even body painters.

To use the service effectively though, an important detail to take notice of is when the last time a member has logged into the service. Some members may have logged in a hour ago, some members may not have logged in for almost a year. Taking the time to contact only active members can certainly produce some powerful leads.  If you are traveling to a new state, or even country you may be able to find just the right person locally without having to pay to fly in talent to your location and therefore may save some production costs.  One can ask for help in a number of forums, and there almost someone willing to express his or her opinion.

Premium membership is about $6/month currently which allows you access to things such as unlimited casting calls. The service still provides options that one may readily find elsewhere and is certainly worth taking a look at or revisiting if you are a member who has not signed in recently.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Mayhem Model Mon, 05 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Hotels- An Option? SecretSecret Are Hotels a Viable Studio Alternative?

Studio rentals can be expensive by the hour and can subject to availability by location and slots available for photography. When lighting and modifiers are provided, such equipment may not be what a photographer is comfortable using on a regular basis. Home studios are an option, but of course that means bringing strangers into your home as well as a dedicated space in most cases. Owning a studio property almost requires a steady income to cover the cost of operating the property even if it is not used on a regular basis.  So, can Hotels be an occasional option?

There are reasons why this could be an attraction option in some cases.  Hotels are available in almost any location that one can think of so they are convenient for the photography and modeling community.  They are certainly cost effective when comparing an equivalent amount of time in a commercial studio space. Some major hotel chains even have restaurants  and other stores nearby.

On the other hand, hotel chains discourage commercial operations on their property. In some cases, you may actually be told to leave if management discovers that you are engaging in a photoshoot.  As with anything, some careful planning is needed when deciding if a hotel is right for you.

  • Have you actually visited the hotel before? What are the rooms like? Some budget hotels have rather small rooms with furniture bolted to the floor so it can not be moved.  
  • What do you plan to shoot? A straightforward boudoir, lifestyle, or fashion shoot may work out well, but if you are shooting something potentially messy you could end up with a cleanup bill on your credit card.
  • How much equipment will you need? Keeping it to essentials will benefit you. If you are noticed carrying in bags of equipment or worse yet assembled photo gear you could attract unwanted attention.
  • Are you shooting with a single subject, or a group throughout the day?  High levels of foot traffic in and out of your room may also attract unwanted attention, especially if you are not in a resort area. Also keep in mind that space will likely be limited.  Any model should be attentive to wardrobe especially outside of your room.
  • Perceptions- There may be excellent reasons why a hotel is a good idea such as a suitable studio may not be located at an area where both you and your talent wish to work. On the other hand, your professionalism may be questioned if you book a bargain rate hotel in an isolated place.

If you do decide a hotel is a good choice, here are some additional tips:

  • Exercise superior communication with any talent. Specifically WHY are you shooting at THAT hotel? Stay on concept which is important for any photoshoot and avoid changing concepts simply because a bed is available. Working with professional models is highly encouraged since experienced models are likely to understand your reasoning for shooting at a hotel.
  • Choose at least a mid-range hotel. Talent walking into a room with stained carpets and water stained walls will not give your talent a good impression of you as a professional.
  • If your room has an exposed window exposed to the outside, close the curtains. Other hotel guests may easily walk past your room.
  • Consider your angles and strobe power.  Strobe flashes, particularly during the evening, may attract unwanted attention.


With a little preparation and good communication, a hotel may your answer to getting some great images.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) hotels photography Mon, 28 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Airbnb - an opportunity? BeachBeach AirBnb- An Opportunity?

Airbnb is a world wide agency that operates a travel and lodging service as an alternative to traditional hotels and motels. Many times properties are offered from individuals who may own condos, vacation homes, or even apartments at rates that rival rates and accommodations provides by the major commercial travel chains. 

As you may expect, marketing is a major aspect of this company and as such requires photographers and even videographers to highlight properties. Although the company certainly maintains a regular staff they also hire freelance workers.

Are you a photographer that enjoys making images of buildings and home both exterior and interiors? Can you light a larger area properly? Can you tell an exciting story about a building that you may have visited? Are you interested in working with a company that has a brand that you can easily support?

Airbnb is also looking for freelance photographers who would like to photograph properties that are relatively close to their own home. The company allows you a reasonable amount of freedom, but of course images will be submitted to editorial staff in order to be published as part of their team.  Although real estate photographers sometimes have specialized high end equipment, the company only requires a wide angle lens, a 16 mp camera, tripod, and basic retouching skills to start.  While you may not be doing any wildly creative work for the company, it could be a good start if you are interested in this genre.


Air bnb


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Airbnb Photography Mon, 21 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Paid site Usage? CuriousCurious So Your Model Wants to use Your Image on Her Paid Site

Paid sites (fan sites) are very common these days and are used by a wide variety of people, including of course models. I have discussed copyright in the past, so I will not be delving into that deep topic, but lets assume that she wants to use the images that you and she (or he) may have made to earn some extra income.  Clearly, photography can be a very expensive venture on many levels, but models also incur expenses.

Discovering your images on a paid site without permission can lead to some nasty and time consuming issues, but lets suppose you and the model likes your images and have had the paid site discussion and have agreed as long as she gives you credit. By the way, this discussion should always occur regardless of a paid or trade shoot. A photographer may send a model a few images as a courtesy even after a paid event even through it is not required. If you were paid as the photographer, the discussion still occur as to what the model wishes to do with images delivered.

The model has a significant following in social media, so lets say you agree that you are going to License a certain number of images to be used on the site. You become the Licensor and the model becomes the Licensee.  As part of this arrangement, consider:

Exclusive or Non exclusive: Do you want to use the images on your site as well as the model using the images on her site? Keep in mind that if you duplicate the same image(s) at the same time, you may be diluting each others efforts.

Unlimited Use: The model can use on any site that she or he wishes for as long as he/she wants. Usually it is a good idea to build a reasonable time frame into these agreements.  Are there sites that you do not want the images published?

Format: Digital or Print?  Sizes? Providing both formats will require extra time on the photographers part.

Number of images: Again, more processing time.


 If you were paid for the shoot, and discussed commercial or even retail use of the images, then your rate for the shoot should be adjusted upward accordingly. There are numerous examples of pricing available and can vary significantly depending upon what region you work within. Regardless of the nature of the shoot, licensing can be a tricky situation. You may want to be compensated for your creative efforts, but there is also a relationship with your client model to be considered. You may not wish to damage a professional relationship by imposing tight terms.  In some cases, non-monetary licenses could benefit both parties in additional modeling sessions are offered at no fee.  Here is one source to get you started Photo Licensing.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) License Mon, 14 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Office Work (Part IV of series) CuriousCurious Office Work (Part IV of Organizational Info)

My last three posts focused on Market info, Communication, and budget. The 4th in this series tend to tie much of the info together in a resource that many of us have used at work, school, or even home, Microsoft Office.

As some may know, Microsoft Office has been around for 20 years first release in 2000. Over the years it has had many competitors, most notably Wordperfect was in tight competition with Microsoft Word for many years.  MS office still has able competitors, even a free options such as google workspace, LibreOffice, and Openoffice just to name a few.

Core components of MS office are Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint which are most commonly used in business and educational settings.  Professional versions include Access (database), Publisher (desktop publishing), Note (notebook), and in some editions Lync (Video conference), and Infopath (data collection/organization).

As professionals in the photography industry, we almost certainly will have need for a word processing program such as MS word, and next most commonly used would be and Excel spreadsheet. So where is all of this going?

For many years, MS office was a stand alone product, however Microsoft has followed other companies such as Adobe and has created the subscription model of MSoffice 360 (various editions).  The subscription model may work for you, but since some still even resist moving to the Photoshop/Lightroom subscription model from Adobe there is hope.

You could of course use one of the free programs, which honestly work very well in most cases. Suppose you REALLY want MSoffice? You are familiar with the interface from work or school and really do not want to spend time learning how to navigate a new suite.  There is hope!

Mr. Key  Shop is a highly trusted site where one can purchase fairly recent versions of non subscription versions of MSOffice at very reasonable prices. In fact, MSoffice 2019 is only $89.00 with older versions costing at little as $44.00. Software is avaiable via download with complete licensing info provided. If you do not need the absolute latest version of MSoffice this is a very budget conscious deal!   

BEWARE of sites that offer  versions of MSoffice for $10 - $20. The old saying that "If it is too good to be true, it probably is not" are words well spoken. Trust Pilot rates Mr. Key Shop as a "5" which is considered excellent in terms of reliability.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) MSoffice Mon, 07 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Your Market CuriousCurious Understanding Your Local Market

There are literally reams of articles, countless experts, and hundreds of Youtube video's that will feature the topic of understanding your market. This post is not intended to repeat or go into the great depth that has already been covered many times before. But regardless of whether you may be just starting out, or have been in business for a few years, it can help to have ready to use tools that are accessible and relatively easy to use.

One tool is a site called Photobooker which has been developed through Zenfolio. The intended focus of the site is to allow clients to find a photographer in their community that offers a service that the client may be interested in booking. For example, you can search the site for headshot photographers in Newark, New Jersey.  The search will bring up photographers in this area that offer Headshots.  The site will show an image that the photographer has posted, his/her rating, and hourly rate. The site will also provide allows the photographer to provide a short intro as well as display some work.  So... How can you use this information?

First, the site does allow you to sign up, provide sample images, and a short into to your services. A client can book directly from the site, and the promises only vetted high quality photographers. Obviously, this can be a time saver for some and open doors that the photographer may not had access to in the past.

A second benefit though, can be just as valuable. The site will show you that there are XX number of photographers that have signed up to use the service in YOUR area.  In the example of Newark Delaware, There are 86 photographers who have subscribed to the service and provide headshots. It does cast a pretty wide net, since some are photographers located in New York.  So, lets say that you want to to provides headshots as part of your business. This search will tell you how much each of the listed photographers are charging for this service. By reviewing the information closest to your location, you can determine what a reasonable rate that you may wish to charge for that service. Obviously, there are quite a few factors that go into a calculation as to what your CODB (Cost of Doing Business) may be in your case. Once again, there a numerous tools and spreadsheets to help with this calculation which include items such as rent, equipment, utilities, payroll, etc.. One such tool is through NPPA.

Obviously, you don't want to undercut yourself, and operate a business operating in the red.  A rate too low may make clients question the quality of your service. On the other hand, if you rates are well above the average for your area  you may see potential clients looking for a more competitive rate.  The choice is of course yours where you set your fees and you gain more experience your rates may climb toward the top tier of your geographic area.

Take a look a the site, it certainly has a dual purpose which may aid in how your operate and develop your business.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) CODB Competition Market Mon, 24 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Keeping yourself organized on a budget HappyHappy Keeping Organized on a Budget

The past year has been very hard for most people, especially with the pandemic and economy. Many businesses have shuttered their doors for a variety of reasons. While it has always been important to stay organized and methodical, in practice it can very difficult.  This especially true when dealing with the public and even co-workers.

Paper management systems can be VERY tedious, especially if other team members need to access similar information at the same.  Clearly, there is no lack of companies willing to sell business management software and with many companies moving to a subscription model, this can cost several hundred dollars per year!  For those who have stand alone copies of integrated office programs such as Microsoft Office including Excel (still available on site such as Ebay), this can be option which a variety of downloadable templates. As convenient as this may be, if the spreadsheets formulas need to be customized and linked to other spreadsheets, some specialized knowledge is certainly required.

Trello is a Free project management service that is loosely based on a Kanban board system.  Think of the sticky notes on a white board going all the way across describing ideas, stages of a project, who is responsible, and all without the mess to clean up afterwards. The service allows for standardized templates or you can design your own.  A calendar feature or voting options is available with the free service, and of course you can opt in for additional features for an annual fee.

Another service that takes a slightly different path is Asana. Starter program for this service is also free and allows for a fairly robust integration of team members input into a project or projects. One can assign a specific person to a certain project with a due date. Calendar and board views are also available with this service. Lists can be private or shared with an entire group. Both Trello and Asana are available as mobile Apps, which is also a major plus when out on the road. 

So, what if you are sort of a grass roots person, and want to built an integrated system yourself that is totally private?  Of course this is going to take a little more work on your part but is certainly possible. A service such as Tiaga may be a good choice for you. The starter package is again free, but for about $5.00 per month you obtain a step up in resources that is a reasonable value for your money.


We all need a little help now and again, so it may be worth taking a look at some of these services to see if they may be right for you.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) group management organized projects. Mon, 10 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Do you and your client understand? HappyHappy Do You and Your Client Understand?

One of the most satisfying things in the photography and modeling profession can be when everyone is on the same page for an entire project. The who is involved, where are we meeting, when are we meeting, how much (if any) money is involved, what do I need to provide, just to mention a few important details.  How do you accomplish this in an ever increasingly complex world?

Are people just glancing at your website? Have they read an email that you have sent three weeks ago (or worse yet, accidentally deleted it).  Are they dodging phone messages? Do they really understand, despite your best efforts?  Even info sent through traditional postal services can get misplaced by some people. It can be frustrating and even time consuming if a client arrives on set and is confused or disagrees on an aspect of the meeting.

Although no method is completely foolproof, one option is to have a client engage in an interactive document that can be saved electronically or even printed for reference.  From model releases to more involved contracts, the more actively involved that one is when looking at a future engagement the more likely that things may stick in their mind.  Some may rely on products such as Adobe PDF products that allow for an electronic signature. Once again, some people will skim over a document and then sign it, yet claim ignorance on part of what they have just signed.

One service Doc Hub, may be able to help.

This service will allow for customized documents, but of course many services and even stand alone software will allow you to create your own documents.  This service will allow you to send a document to a potential client, and then take the client through each field that needs to be completed. Multiple parties can sign a document, to see what other players roles may be, and then send the document back to you although this feature is still needs to be refined. The service will take a potential client through each necessary field, step by step until the form is complete. It then becomes a legally binding document.  Best of all, you can start out with a free account that allows 5 signatures on your part, and 3 return requests. The Pro version is about $60/yr which by most standards is reasonable and allows unlimited signatures.


Take a look at the site, it may be just that you need!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) communication documents education plan understand Mon, 03 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can the Healing Brush Help? Can The Healing Brush Help?

You may own a collapsible background, which is typically about 5 ft x 7 ft. They can be very convenient for a number of reasons. They fold up to about 1/3 of their expanded size, they are spring loaded so they set up much faster than almost any other form of background, and they are basically wrinkle free. These can be found B&H Photo as well as many other photo dealers.

These backgrounds are useful for head shots, 3/4 shots, and even seated poses. They are often reversible and if one side is white, they can also serve as a reflector. Sometimes however, depending on your subject, your composition may run outside the limits of this background. This can be distracting to the viewer and usually needs to be fixed in post production.

One method of fixing the problem may be to crop in a little tighter on your subject. This could work unless a body part is very close to the edge of the background. You may end up cutting off a body part that you had not intended.  There are several other go to tools that you could try such as content aware fill or even content aware scale. These techniques may work depending upon your background and how it may have been lit.  You could also try sampling the color, and then painting out the offending borders. You may even be willing to try the clone stamp (very tedious in many cases).

Many of these techniques may leave a blotchy appearance if the background is not lit perfectly and the material has a completely uniform appearance. This means even more time in post production!  One technique that I have found to be helpful is the healing brush.  

Starting on the main background, and while using a large brush cover the offending border to the background. You may find that not only has the border vanished, but the color tone is perfectly matched with the rest of the background. Hardness should be set to at least mid-level or else the edges may appear very soft.  You will also want as large of a brush as you can manage while not crossing over into your subject.

This technique will certainly work with the more traditional backgrounds that are solid in color.  Patterned backgrounds can be hit or miss depending upon the nature of the background. Give it a try the next time you have an annoying border to a background and you may be surprised how easy the fix may be!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) brush education Healing Photography Photoshop Mon, 26 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can Dandelions help? Can Dandelions help?

Although lawn owners may curse these small yellow weeds that appear every year, they can be helpful in a number of ways. There are many articles such as Promoting Health through the use of dandelions, but since this blog centers around photography, let me focus on that area.

As the weather gets warmer, many photographers choose to shoot outdoors featuring nature shots. These images can range from the fashionable subject in a maxi dress, to a more casual summer dress. Some even may strive for the Bohemian look when photographing outdoors within fields of flowers.  Surreal images are possible with almost a endless supply of filters, movement and even varying the DOF within images.  A prop crown can even be created using Dandelions which children will almost always enjoy.

The delicate white plant that spread seeds so easily has been featured in almost every type of nature photography ranging from fine art to subjects gently blowing the seedlings into the wind.

Here is an unusual idea for a photographer who may be planning an outdoor shoot, but rain or something else forces the shoot to be held within a studio.  Home supply stores often have carpets or rugs that have a grass like appearance to them ranging from the very short putting green type carpets to the more realistic long blade grass. Some of these carpets can quite expensive and bulky coming in 12 foot widths which can be a problem to store especially in a small studio. But suppose you opt for the smaller pre-cut carpet with grass blades barely 1/4" tall. This can a little unrealistic in a couple of ways.

Grass is rarely a uniform green color, even within manicured golf courses. These carpets tend to be a uniform dark green, but we can fix that in a couple of ways.  One way in pre-production is to purchase a can of light yellow spray paint.  Standing at least 18 inches from the carpet LIGHTLY dust the carpet with paint in random places so that the 'grass' has a more natural appearance to it.  A method that could even give you more control would in in post production in photoshop using tools such as Dodge and Burn to give the grass a more lifelike appearance.  

Grass again is rarely totally flat, so one could make a rolling hill by placing different objects underneath the carpet to give it a more natural look. A large rolled object placed behind your subject may may the carpet look like a hill is in the background.

The blades of the grass may be still a little short, unless you opt for the higher end carpets. A 12 foot x 4 foot premium carpet could cost well over $100, which unless used as part of a regular studio, could be cost prohibitive. Another option in post production may be to use brushes such as from Brusheezy while working within photoshop in post production.

OK, back to the dandelions. If you have ever picked a dandelion, you know that the stem is not very sturdy (at least not for long). One way to effectively place dandelions, and perhaps even some small flower is to look at the stem. A dandelion stem is hollow, so you could easily place some craft wire (or even 16 gauge electrical wire) within the stem to allow the flower to stand upright. The wire could be taped to the carpet of even poked through the carpet into some styrofoam.  Of course, if we go to Amazon, they even could provide you with Fake Dandelions for a more permanent look for a set design within a studio.

By using a combination of these methods, you can obtain a reasonably realistic 'field of grass' even within a studio on a one time basis or as a regular set.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Dandelions Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can your subject get into the moment? Into the Moment?

There are many ways to draw your viewer into a photograph. Contrast, Highlights, cropping, vibrant colors just to name a few. The question is, can you get your subject to play an active role in your image? Of course, how it plays that role really depends on your subject itself.

In the set above, the two models who were cosplaying had fairly elaborate period costumes. I certainly could have photographed them together, changing the crop, angle and possibly even the shadows falling on the subjects. However, the male was cosplaying a character similar to jack the ripper. So as you can see, I asked 'Jack' to sneak up on his prey and she was not to notice him until the last minute.  Her expression seems like utter surprise and even fear as he brings his knife around.  This mini set certainly is a little more interesting than just have two models stand side by side to show off their outfits.

If you are a food photographer, for instance, are your able to get your subject into the moment? Yes, lighting and composition play a role into making food look good, but there are certainly things to make your subject for appealing such as Food Tricks.

Domestic animal like dogs and cats can be a little tricky to work with especially when you are trying to get them to look at the camera. Having an animal interacting with their owner can really bring the eye of the viewer into an image. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of 'bird in flight' images, but what if you could capture an image that is not so typical such as this bird looking over the city as if trying to decide where to go next.

There are countless other examples of getting your 'getting your subject into the moment' regardless of your subject.  What about a tree with mis-shapen branches against a stormy sky? Sometimes captions can be helpful as well such as a car pulling into a garage with a caption that says 'home sweet home".


Let your imagination run wild and you may be surprised at the results!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) The Moment Mon, 12 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Bad picture-really? DCIM\100MEDIA Bad Picture - Really?

Did you ever have an image that once you looked at it, you asked yourself "did I really take this?!". It could be out of focus, composition could be bad, over or underexposed, or any other number of possibilities. Despite expert editing attempts, you can still not make the image look the way that you would like it to.  It is really for the trash bin? Well... not always.

The image above was taken with an inexpensive camera on automatic exposure settings. There are several things that certainly could have made the image better and perhaps with a little work much could be corrected. However, the figure in the image is turned out to be VERY grainy almost to the point of no reasonable recovery.  Does this mean trash bin requirements? If we look closely at the water, it is really not that bad.

DCIM\100MEDIA A selection of the water itself has produced a usable image, particularly for those who may use textured backgrounds or even composite images.  It can be a tedious process creating a displacement map and for a water based concept. Sometimes one just wants to see the water ripples where there were not to start with. Other times this could serve as a backdrop for a creative portrait image.

While some images can not be used in there entirety for any number of reasons, think about saving a portion of an image as a stock image for any future concepts that you may have. You could save yourself some time and possibly money by avoiding going to a stock image site and using what you already may have in your very own collection!

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative images Photography stock Mon, 05 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Posing for photographers Dress fashionDress fashion Posing for Photographers

During a photographers career a variety of people will appear in front of the lens. Some will be clients, some friends, some other professionals, and even family members.  Many will say a spontaneous image is best, and in some cases this is very true. Other cases require the watchful eye of the photographer to accomplish the best image and avoid embarrassed subjects. Even professional models may not realize how they appear in a particular set, so some gentle guidance can be very helpful. 

Some tips that Lindsay mentions in many of her presentations is negative space. In other words, moving the arms and legs to create definition and interest toward your subject. Think of a typed page of words without paragraphs or spacing. Tedious to say the least.  Positioning the arms and legs are important, but also remember what is closest to the camera looks larger. Giving a person a large elbow, knee, or even a foot is not necessarily flattering. 

One of the most prolific teachers in the industry is Lindsay Adler, who is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. She has been featured many times on , providing valuable tips on a wide variety of photography related topics. She also produces independent content that she provides to fellow photographers on a regular basis.

One may think that sitting chair poses may be easy. Well, not necessarily since many people, even professionals may slouch within a chair.  Here is a quick clip to give you some tips:  Seated Poses.

As strange as it may seem, posing hands even for a professional model can be challenging. Little things such as turning the palm of the hand toward the camera can appear very bright and distracting particularly when photographing with strobes within the studio. This can even be more pronounced when shooting a head and shoulders image. Putting too much pressure with the hand on a body part can actually distort a body.  Here are some more tips: Posing Hands.

Some photographers struggle when it comes to posing full figured clients to get the most flattering images from a session. Creating negative space, moving legs and arms, shifting shadows can often make or break a image -   Full figured

When posing clients or models who may be wearing an dress with a concept on movement of the dress for a more dynamic look can also be challenging since the model may be moving requiring the need to rapidly recompose a shot to get the desired look. One way to handle this situation is here: Motion


There are endless variations to the above, but if the photographer keeps in mind certain essentials the final images may come out even better than imagined.









]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Posing Mon, 29 Mar 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Dress Creation Parachute Magic

I have recently photographed several models in a Parachute Dress in a variety of colors. I wanted to share some techniques that I used to make some of the images stand out. This is an intermediate level post when referring to photoshop, so I assume that those reading this post have some familiarity with skills in photoshop such as making selections.  Of course, there are many ways to achieve similar results, but I found these techniques below lends themselves to a reasonably good workflow. In addition, although I used a parachute dress here, the techniques will work with almost any dress.

I purchased a parachute from Ebay, without the strings or harness attached. As of this post, a parachute such as this will run about $120 plus shipping. One may be able to find a parachute for less at a military surplus store. My next step was to have an adjustable waist sewn the top of the canopy. I chose to have an adjustable drawstring waist to fit a variety of size models.  As you can see in the illustration above, the parachute was originally green. I also purchased a matching coset top.

I needed to make a selection of the dress itself to isolate it from both the model and background. Quite a number of methods are available in photoshop, including the newer 'select subject' from the select menu.  The 'Select and Mask" choice from the same menu will allow you to refine your selection. I tend to feather and smooth my selection by as least 2-5 pixels so that it looks natural as opposed to a cutout. I then output this selection to a new layer mask.

Referring to the image at the very top of this post, my client wanted a pink dress. Not necessarily an easy task making a dark green dress light pink. I opened a curves layer and pinned it to the dress cutout with a clipping mask. I next opened the green channel and dramatically pushed the curve upward.

This of course made the dress look like it was glowing neon green.

I next opened up a hue/saturation layer and once again pinned it to the dress layer using a clipping mask. By choosing "colorize" I was able to adjust the hue/saturation/lightness of my selection.

In this case, I produced a pink dress.  Had I not used the curves layer adjustment as described, I was only able to arrive at a magenta dress, however by boosting the luminosity of the dress I was able to get a much lighter color.

I wanted to finish the image by making it just a little darker, so I added a color lookup adjustment layer and choose 'moonlight' to give the image a but more contrast. To finish the image off, I added a vignette around the edges of the image.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color creative dress Photography Photoshop Mon, 22 Mar 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Should Your Models Smile Should Your Model Smile?

Smiling in a social setting is often seen as a positive and welcome behavior for many to demonstrate. However, when photographing models a smile may have some barriers. What is the purpose of the photo?

In fashion photography, one will seldom see a runway model smiling as she (or he) walks down the runway. The reason is simple in that the clothing is what is being highlighted during the show. A smiling model may have the audience and potential buyers focused on the model and personality, rather than the true point of the event. In fact, makeup is often performed so not to emphasize facial features in this setting, but will also hide blemishes which may also detract viewers.

Artistic shots which may emphasize form, lighting, or poses also seldom show models smiling, as this too can detract from what a photographer is trying to portray. A smile is often inviting to an audience and if the photographer wants to demonstrate special lighting or a model wishes to demonstrate a form, the viewer may loose focus on what he or she is intended to appreciate.

Portraits can be a mixed bag. What is the person photographed trying to portray?  If this is a salesperson is attempting to sell a product, smiles may be an invitation to see that salesperson, or at least the company that the sales person represents. A corporate executive perhaps may even smile for a headshot so that he or she is seen 'more human' to those within the company.  In other cases, a judge in a courtroom will probably not smile for a headshot, since this position is often viewed as being very serious.

Smiles may not always be viewed as inviting in some cases or even considered sarcastic, or demeaning depending upon the person and the circumstances under which the photo was taken. This could be the case when a person is photographed with a controversial product or even with another person in the same image. 

Some genres such as boudoir and glamour images often have smiling models. The smile will often draw the viewer into the image in a positive manner since in this case the photo is planned to showcase the beauty of the subject.  Those who specialize glamour images, such as some public figures, may want to attract as much publicity as possible either for personal reasons or for future employment. However, even within this genre there are exceptions to the rule depending upon where an image is to be distributed.  In some cases, the face of the subject may not even be shown depending on who may actually view the image.

In the real world, some people are shy and although they may agree to have their image taken, they may not naturally smile. If a smile is forced it will probably look unnatural and even ruin the image entirely no matter how much attention is made to other aspects of the shot such as lighting or makeup.  Some people do not have perfect teeth, and may even make professionals uncomfortable if forced to smile.  Even if the person is a smiler, once a camera is facing them they may freeze up into an uncomfortable position.  

The photographer may need to spend some time with his/or her subject to get them to 'loosen up' for the best possible image often taking 20-30 frames before a subject starts to relax. While some may never smile, others may have a glowing smile from the start.  Clearly, the emotional state of the person being photographed will play into whether one gets a genuine smile. 

Ultimately, some form of connection needs to be established between the subject and the photographer for the best possible results. Where is the image being taken? Is it too warm or cold? Is the subject being rushed or on a tight time table? Are they hungry or thirsty?  Knowing WHY the image is being taken, as well as making the subject comfortable is a sure path to making a good image.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Smiles Mon, 08 Mar 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Dehaze or Contrast?

Dehaze or Contrast?

In lightroom there are two sliders that seemingly have similar functions, the Dehaze and Contrast sliders. In some cases, yes they can produce very similar results.  The Contrast slider is intended to make the darks darker and the lighter tones lighter, thus increasing contrast.  This can be an important tool, especially outdoors when one in photographing landscapes or landscapes with people.  Bright sunlight has a habit of reducing contrast which can result in desaturated colors and even images that appear a little fuzzy.

The Dehaze slider was introduced in photoshop and lightroom to reduce the atmospheric haze of distant objects which can leave certain objects less distinct.  This slider can be helpful early in the morning, later in the afternoon or even if there is a light fog anytime during the day. The dehazer can also be helpful in some cases to reduce glare on reflective surfaces. While true, a polarizer filter can certainly accomplish a similar task, it is most effective when the light source is at right angles to the filter. 

In the first image above, I wanted to increase contrast, since the models skin was somewhat washed when I viewed it during the editing process.  Adding contrast did help a little, but it also increased some of the glare in the water as a result of making the whites whiter(second image). Dehaze works slightly different than contrast, in that it only focuses on the darker parts of an image, and leaves the whiter parts alone.  Using the dehaze function in the third image I was able to target the darker portions of the image increasing saturation of the skin and water but was also able to avoid the additional glare that I obtained with the contrast slider.

If one adds dehaze and contrast together, the result is often a very dark image, and is almost counterproductive. The next time you have an outdoor image, try the dehaze slider, even if the image does not appear to have need to this function. You may be surprised at the results!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Dehaze Lightroom Photoshop Mon, 01 Mar 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Social Media or Mag Cloud? CuriousCurious Social Media or Mag Cloud?

Many within the Photography and Modeling industry use a variety of methods to market their work. Personal websites, pay websites, various social media sites, and magazine submissions just to mention a few. While most use multiple approaches to electronic marketing when it comes down to Mag Cloud (paid magazines) or social media, what gives you the most bag for the buck so to speak.

To be 'Published' is often a goal or aspiration of many artists even outside of this industry. However to become published in a nation wide or even international magazines takes a great deal of effort, often contacting and networking with magazine editors long before any work is published. Top magazines often have staff photographers and perhaps even use agency models so to get your work seen in one of these publications is often a challenge. 

Mag Cloud (Paid) magazines range from relatively local markets to in some cases international.  Instead of publishing magazines and placing them in bookstores and other retail outlets, the publications are often printed on demand. That is to say a customer may purchase a copy of a magazine by subscribing or contacting the magazine to purchase a copy. Although like major magazines they are both in printed and electronic form, the price for printed copies is generally much higher than one would pay to purchase a publication from a major title.  Models or photographers may submit their work to a Mag Cloud publication in some cases for free and wait for approval for a future issue. Most Mag Cloud publications also allow the artist submitting images to pay for the opportunity to become published. Some fees can be modest, other fees can be rather high depending how the artists wishes to have his work presented in the magazine.  

Advantages include that smaller magazine publications may be a gateway to larger more recognized publications. It also looks good on an artists resume. Disadvantages certain include very limited exposure to your work, waiting for a publication to be appear for purchased, and maybe expensive if one pays to become published. Significant editing is often required to make images ready for print publications.

Social Media on the other hand is often completely free to almost anyone who wishes to 'publish' an image on-line. To be successful one must have a relatively consistent amount of engaging content. This often involves developing an on-line personality, producing new and equally engaging content, and even supporting to some degree of peers within the industry. A knowledge of when to produce content as well as various algorithms is often important to make this system work well. Developing a group of supporters that grow and actively engage with you may be the key to making social media work for you. 

Advantages include potential exposure to a wide audience on almost a daily basis at very little if any cost. Disadvantages include thousands of other images also being produced on a daily basis, so your work must have a very unique style to it to be noticed. Engaging with your audience can be very time consuming and much like a traditional job, one must show up almost every day. Social media certainly opens itself up to a variety of 'opinions' , some helpful, some not so much. Social media is also becoming more restrictive as to what may or may not appear on their platforms.


Is there a better choice? What will really get you noticed, sell work, or get you hired? Often a combination of the two media happens to be a good choice for many people, however the real question is time management as how much resources you wish to spend on one approach or the other depending upon personal goals.  Clearly, if smaller magazines provide you a gateway to a larger audience this may work for you. If you have hundreds or thousands of followers on social media, this may be where you may wish to spend most of your time.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) magazines magcloud Marketing social media Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Buyers remorse or something else? EmotionEmotion Buyers Remorse?

A Client or model may pose in a certain manner for various photoshoots, and while receiving the images that they contracted for also understand that the photographer may use these same images for advertising, sales, prints, or other promotional material. But, what happens if you subject decides that the image is not flattering or cast them in a bad light? This could be anything from a goofy smile, strange body position, or even embarrassing images. The client/or model may then contact the photographer asking, or even demanding that the image be removed from public view. There are many possibilities, some helpful to the subject, some protecting the photographer, and some rather neutral.

  • News worthy image - Let say that you may be a freelance photographer covering a house fire with a crowd and fire services present. A individual who you may have photographed in the crowd perhaps should not have been at that place and time. Although this individual may contact you, there is very little that can be done if the image has already been published to hundreds or even thousands of viewers. A person in a public venue, and the image TAKEN FROM A PUBLIC VENUE, does not have a right to privacy and therefore can not demand that the image be retracted. Often a photographer can not trespass on private property even if an image is considered newsworthy and if trespass has occurred, then legal action is possible.


  • Professional Model Images -  A model often has a 'brand' or style of modeling that he or she is known for in that career. If a model sees an image that may not be complimentary, the model may request or demand that the images be removed from social media or print. The issue may be range from retouching, bad lighting, or just a bad pose.  Model releases are almost a must in this type of photography regardless of state or local laws.  Although the model can not demand (assuming a proper release) that the image be removed, it certain can be at the discretion of the photographer and may even be beneficial if the photographer wishes to work with the model in the future.


  • Age of Consent - In most venues, a subject can not enter into a contractual arrangement without parental consent. If an image of an underage subject is posted, regardless of any documentation, the parents of the child could have legal grounds to have the image removed from publication.  An exception may occur as listed above relating to a news worthy event such as if a child was at the scene of a house fire.


  • Sensual or Erotic Images - Even prior to the Sesta/Fosta act, it has always been incumbent on the photographer to determine the age of a subject. Even with a proper model release, documentation of the models age is necessary. Failure to do so may have serious civil or even criminal consequences.  However, even with documentation, a model may have posed in a sensual or even erotic manner several years before, and now wishes all such images to vanish as a result of new employment. A model often has little recourse to have the image vanish except as a courtesy of the photographer.


  • Derogatory Images - Very subjective category here, but the question relates to the original intent of the photoshoot. An noteworthy example many years ago was a model who had a headshot taken for a portfolio, and then much later used in campaign for HIV treatment. The model claimed that the campaign cast her in a negative light as though she may be undergoing treatment for HIV.  Even with a carefully worded model release, the subject could claim emotional distress and loss of income relating to a derogatory image. 


While it is true that the photographer OWNS the images, he or she is clearly responsible to following processes such as obtaining a model release and at least a ethical business sense as well as being aware of any local prevailing laws. Challenges to an image may never occur, or may occur depending on what genre is being photographed. Clear communication with the subject is essential and in the case of a challenge, negotiation sometimes can sometimes make everyone happy.  

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Buyers Remorse Mon, 08 Feb 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Validation? HappyHappy Do You Measure Yourself With Someone Else's Ruler?

Do you find that those around you may be getting for recognition (or more work) that you may have recently received? Have you worked in a genre for several years and others may seemingly be passing you by? Do you feel that you work may be undervalued or not appreciated?

Regardless of whether you may be a photographer, model, MUA, or any other professional in the industry, nearly almost everyone has these concerns now and again.  One common example may be in social media where some may get dozens of 'likes' where you may struggle to get 10 people like an image you post. Social media can be difficult to navigate and there are people who specialize in understanding how Facebook and Instagram algorithms work. One such person is Jasmine Star who specializes in helping fellow creatives with techniques for improving engagement on social media platforms.

Even so, an undeniable fact is that those individuals who are very likeable in person or who provide something extra to the industry above and beyond their personal artwork tend to get more attention on social media than those who may be more 'quiet.' A simple snapshot may generate dozens of 'likes' simply because that person is who he or she may be.

A person may claim to be totally booked for week after week which in itself would be pretty amazing if true based on our current economic conditions. But what if that person is only allowing a small number of slots to be filled during the week, and perhaps working at another job? Is the person photographing trade shoots, nearly any genre possible.  Of course there is nothing wrong with taking jobs outside of what you may typically work, and make even open you up to networking possibilities.  However, being totally booked does not necessarily mean that a person is excelling in a particular genre or developing their personal brand.

Some may claim that they are published in 'x' number of magazines on a regular basis. What are these magazines? Are they paying to be published?  Even those who submit excellent work to a magazine may be turned down simply because there is not enough space in upcoming issues. 

It is very easy to get discouraged, but keep in mind that even Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout, and his first business was a failure. Thomas Edison's teachers once told him that he was 'too stupid' to learn anything. The point here is to keep moving, learning and practicing your profession, and putting forth the best effort that you are able to muster at any given point. Although we often are taught to follow the rules, sometimes breaking the rules is a way to get noticed or to stand out. Obviously, that is not to say to be destructive, but create something with a twist that might not win a contest for technical expertise but may stand on its own merits.


Moving forward, even by tip-toe, is still moving forward.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Validation Mon, 25 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Shooting for sales to the public CuriousCurious Shooting for Sales?

How you pose your subject (or not pose them) really depends on what your actual goal for the image may be.  Formal headshots are typically used for identification for a variety of legal and business purposes and your subject is typically looking strait at the camera typically with flat lighting with the subject essentially filling the frame. Certainly there is a market for this, particularly in the business and entertainment world. Glamour and Boudoir images typically have a client looking directly at the camera as well, occupying the majority of the frame with the goal of being very appealing to the viewer. A market obviously exist for these images not only for individual clients, but to fans of the style of photography. Clearly wedding photography is a genre until itself and has the most meaning to the wedded couple.   But sales to the general public, certainly to hang in their homes the approach may be slightly different..

To shoot for sales to the public usually has a slightly different twist. Unidentified subjects in many cases will sell better. Not many people will want a stranger hanging on their walls unless of course it is some iconic figure. Shooting subjects that cannot be easily personally be identified typically has a better chance of sale to the general consumer. In many cases, a spouse does not want a sensuous image of a stranger plastered on their living room wall.

Fire danceFire dance  

Some art lovers will still post certain images will post images that may inspire them, or find them appealing in some manner, such as a subject looking away from the camera. We may seek distant images of people on a mountain top or even an subject playing a mythical creature. Often the subject is a smaller part of the larger image such as with a landscape or seascape.

There are of course abstract images, that some collectors within the general public may choose to purchase, which tend to represent some sort of altered reality.

Speciality collectors will certainly seek out images of their particular interest, and people in business may be looking for a particular type of image for a very specific project. That said, photographers who are successful in selling to the general public may require a certain approach that appeals to a wide audience. References for stock photography may be found on sites such as Shutterstock.  Artists such as Brooke Shaden are very active in the education process for those wishing to hang art in galleries.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education photography sales Mon, 18 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Do you shoot with speedlights? Do You Shoot with Speedlights?

Most of my studio work is performed with studio strobes, however many photographers have become very well known using primarily speedlights. There are many advantages to Speedlights  such as:

  • Size - almost pocket sized for some models
  • Power - Many are battery powered (no need to look for electrical outlet)
  • Variable tilt head- One can leave the lightstand in the same position yet position the light head at various angles, or even backwards. 
  • WorkFlow- similar to above, it your don't need to move lightstands, you may save time.
  • Cost savings for multiple units- Manual speedlights of the same model can often be purchased economically and produce similar results to each other.
  • Many models have zoom controls to focus lighting

Of course, there are disadvantages as well:

  • Size - although many modifiers are available, in its native form is is a small harsh light
  • Power - Battery powered units may go through batteries like a hungry shark. Output will vary significantly as battery power drops. 
  • Workflow - Higher level units have built in receivers to receive signals, but not all units. This may require adding external receivers.  Most units require adapters to attach to lightstands for quick removal.
  • Cost- Some name brand TTL speedlights may be as costly as a studio strobe.


Speedlights are certainly a worthy addition to almost any photographers collection. There are numerous modifiers that modifiers that can be purchased to aid in their abilities. Pictured above are speedlight supports than can house two or even three units attached to a lightstand. Add an umbrella to one of these units, and you have a reasonably large and light source with some punch behind it.  Wescott adapter

Even if you camera does not support communication with a certain model of speedlight, triggers can often be purchased for a fraction of one may spend for a trigger for a studio strobe  such as Newer Triggers.

When working in a studio, speedlights are capable of achieving the same lighting effects as studio strobes as long as one keeps an eye on power. Battery packs are of course available for speedlights such as the JJC rapid flash.  Spare batteries are often very affordable, compared to a spare battery for a studio strobe.


In the end analysis, if one has to travel light, speedlights are a hard item to beat, especially when shooting on location!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Speedlights Mon, 11 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Contrast in portraits? Contrast in Portraits

In many cases, a photographer wants a very sharp image. In fact, some want images tack-sharp. But does that really fit into the narrative of every image? Maybe not.

In the images above, the concept was to have a series of images by candlelight with a soft feel to it. There are of course many ways to arrive at this goal. The first image (left above) is certainly sharp enough for a typical portrait. That is to say, it is technically exposed and toned correctly for the lighting. The multiple small sources of light however create a hard lighting style. Not quite meeting the overall design concept.

One could of course drop back on the clarity, which would reduce contrast in the mid-tones. The skin would appear softer, and one may be ok with that result. The second image shows a much softer effect on the skin with less defined detail. Another option would be to select one of the blur options with a small threshold. This would of course blur the entire image, unless one took the time to carefully make a selection around the subject. With the latest version of Photoshop, the neural filters has a blur/soften option for the skin, but seems to be limited as to what may be selected.

Of course there a quite a few third party programs, actions, and pre-sets that could be used. In terms of overall workflow, the more complex the operation though, the longer it may take. In the third image above, the contrast was adjusted downward. There is a notable difference in the image tone and overall sharpness. This gives the image a different feel from either of the two posted samples above. It seems that reducing clarity increased the overall warmth/saturation of the image over the original image, while reducing contrast actually made the image less saturated, and possibly cooler. Reducing the contrast also created almost a dreamy or slightly hazy feel to it.

Depending upon the look the photographer is moving toward, it would be easy enough to slightly warm the image if desired. In the end, it is all about what feel one wants to impart to an image. One could argue points on any of the images above, however in this case the client choose the image where contrast was lowered.


The next time a romantic softer image may be desired, consider that you have many possibilities only limited by the time you spend on an image, your vision, and in some cases a clients desired final results.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) blur clarity Contrast creative photography sharpness Mon, 04 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Hiring, or want to be hired? CuriousCurious Hiring.. or Do You Want to be Hired?

The world of photography and modeling is a strange one indeed, with few standard practices such as what may be found in other professions. With limited oversight in many cases, finding a clear path to be successful in the industry can be a winding and sometimes confusing path.

Entry level for a photographer may be as complex as obtaining a college degree and working for a commercial enterprise or as challenging as finding the right camera and starting out photographing what one finds interesting. Models may attend a formal education in the arts as well as modeling or may choose to "try out" the career at a local event. Others such as wardrobe specialists, set designers, graphic artists, and makeup artist may come from extremely varied backgrounds.

To be Hired...:

At some point a creative will likely need to develop a 'Resume', similar to other professions. As with almost any other profession, a little research goes a long way.

  • What do you want to be hired to do? 
    • What genre are you interested in primarily following? Although a general interest in many genres may be a decent start, developing your 'voice' for a specific field will often get you noticed. For example, a lawyer may specialize in criminal law and be sought out for that speciality.  
  • Is there a market for what you are interested in?
    • A little research goes a long way, especially for a career. If there is little or no activity in the area that you wish to specialize within, one should not give up, but it may be quite a while before one becomes well established within that genre. Are you ready to travel to somewhere a market is stronger for your interest?
  • Investing in yourself
    • ​​​​​​​Formal education, On-the-job training, purchasing the necessary supplies that you need even if you are working within the framework of a larger company. Practicing and perfecting the skills on a regular basis to become proficient is almost a must. A lawyer who only sees a courtroom a few times a year may not win very many cases.
  • Networking and promotion
    • ​​​​​​​Are you a people person or a wall flower? Getting out and meeting other professionals, working along with them, and promoting that you are interested in will get you noticed. This can often be the most difficult and time consuming task for anyone, since it not only requires person-person contact, high levels or organizational ability, and social media just to mention a few elements for success. Do you have a solid visual representation of the work that you would LIKE to do?
  • Specific goals?
    • ​​​​​​​To earn a full time self-supporting income? As a part-time interest?  Some business knowledge is almost a must. Starting out as a generalist may be ok, but specializing will often push you ahead of the pack

Putting this information and well as tracking your accomplishments into a written Resume and updating the Resume on at least an annual basis may be keeping you on track.

To Hire

Congratulations, if you are far enough within your field to consider hiring someone. Many of the same point listed above are also essential to hire someone:

  • What are you hiring them for? Do you have a visual representation of what you want or need? Do you have a clear vision of who you want, and what resources that you will need?
  • What is your market? What is your budget? What is your timeframe if someone have to travel to your location? Do you need support personnel to make the project happen? 
  • Investing in yourself includes having skills, equipment, locations ready to go? Do you have a strong example of your work to show people that you are ready to move on the project?
  • Networking and promotion again can be tricky and time consuming. Have you attended events so that potential talent knows you? How are your social media skills?  Do you get things done consistently and reliably?
  • Communication of goals of who does what, when ,and how, is absolutely critical. Often this may be spelled out in writing multiple times in multiple locations to that everyone is on the same page. Do you have a plan "B" is something does not go exactly right?


Some very good resources for these point as well as other can be found in may places, but one of the best places that is searchable and provides a variety of expert information is Creative Live. This is an online streaming education program that offers a wide degree of topics from industry professionals. Education can be viewed live or classes purchased as desired. 




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education Hired Hiring Photography Mon, 28 Dec 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Can lighting affect the perception of sharpness? Can Lighting Affect Sharpness?

In many traditional discussions of photography, sharpness is often thought of in terms of Depth of Field (controlled by the the aperture), ISO, type of lens, type of camera, image stabilization, shutter speed and hand holding, as well and other factors such as atmospheric haze. But, is there a perception of sharpness depending upon lighting?

Most cameras have difficulty focusing in low light where there is not much contrast, but suppose the photographer does not necessarily want a 'perfectly' exposed image for any number of reasons. When working in low light low contrast situations, of course it is possible to manually focus but that can be sometimes difficult to get spot on depending upon the equipment used and experience of the photographer.

In the image above which may be considered 'exposed well' the image has a perception of being sharp. The second image was taken with EXACTLY the same equipment and camera settings, but the lighting was changed. The image to the right may 'appear' to be less sharp, especially around the eyes. The image is less contrasty, therefore the perception may be that the photographer may have missed focus even though from a camera/lens standpoint, things were executed identically.

In post processing, one could always adjust the image to brighten it, and if the image was shot in raw format, it is likely that very similar results could be accomplished. This assumes that the image was not dramatically under exposed and detail was lost. Depending upon the circumstances though, there is a risk of adding noise to the image by brightening the picture. Noise can be reduced using most photography editing programs, but that in itself could actually soften the image.

When making some of my images, I don't mind if the image is SLIGHTLY bright in camera. Obviously I do not want the image overexposed to the point of loosing detail, but a slightly hot image can be adjusted in post processing with little loss of image quality. Checking the histogram in the back of the camera, or even using a light meter may be a decent was of evaluating results. Displays on the back of camera can vary greatly, so short of turning on the 'blinkies' function, the back display may not yield great information. One other option would be to shoot tethered, but this option requires more hardware.


Consider shooting slightly bright on your next images, and see if you notice positive results!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education light Photography sharpness Mon, 14 Dec 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Don't be afraid to experiment Don't be afraid to Experiment with Hi ISO's

Many photographers have historically be reluctant to photograph their subjects at high ISO's. The reason of course is that the subject would often develop a sandy or grainy appearance. While this may appeal to some who photograph in black and white with an artistic flair, it is typically not very complimentary to those who photograph glamour images.

Even so, modern cameras made within the last 5 years handle noise rather well. Full format cameras tend to do a little better than cropped sensor camera, but surprisingly enough even some camera phones do pretty well in low light conditions. The exposure triage (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) are all intimately related.  Typically, when you raise or lower one of these elements, it affects the others unless you are in full manual mode. In the image above, I was in an aquarium in a section with tropical fish. For those who have visited aquariums, lighting is often very subdued not only in the walkway, but at times even in the tanks. 

I wanted to get a few shots of the fish, but there were some obstacles that needed to be considered. Fish, typically will not stop and pose for a quick pic, and even if they are still for a second or two their fins are still moving. Obviously the fish were in a glass tank, so flash was out of the question in this case. The fish were moving toward and away from the glass at a fairly brisk pace at times so there was only a very slim window of opportunity for a good image.  

During this day I was shooting with my 50 mm 1.8 lens.  This is certainly not one of the high end sports lenses, but I thought I would give it a try.  After a few trial shots, I ended up with a shutter speed to 1/40 sec, f 5, and an ISO of 25,600! While not tack sharp, it certainly got me the image that I wanted for several of the sealife during the day.

Photographers sometimes get comfortable shooting with certain settings most of the time. Of course, when shooting for a client one wants the best possible images. Every now and again, we may be surprised by trying something new and stretching the limits of what our cameras are truly capable of producing!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Experiment ISO Mon, 30 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Bulging storage CuriousCurious Bulging Storage (Where do I put it?)

Like many photographers who are very enthusiastic about many genres when they begin their careers, I purchased A LOT of different camera supplies, props, modifiers, fabrics, etc. In my case, I shot a fairly large amount of cosplay when I first entered the industry. There comes a point however when the storage lockers are bulging and there are supplies cluttered sitting almost everywhere.  It makes one stop and wonder, " It would be really nice to have XX, but where will I put it? 

In some cases I have sold or donated bits and pieces, but more bits and pieces seem to accumulate faster than I can keep up with on a regular basis. I really dislike clutter, and sometimes it makes it a little difficult to find things that I really need.

So, as a step forward I am posting a link to some props that I have seldom used or in some cases, have never used.  Cosplay props that I will be listing here are for the most part some form of prop weapon. Some props are straight from the manufacturer, other props I have painted or slightly modified (such as 'Nerf' guns) to meet an expected concept. I will place links to four different groups below that I plan to sell. Prices are 50% or more less than what I had originally purchased the prop. 

Old World


Classic Guns

Metal Props


Except the link that species Metal props, all props are photo-realistic plastic or resin composites. There are NO ACTUAL firearms in any the collections. Some guns such as the soft foam dart gun will shoot the nerf soft darts. Prices are posted at the very top of each gallery, so if you are interested in a purchase, please let me know. Props are only sold in sets (nothing sold separately).  Delivery is possible within 10 miles of York, PA.  Sets may also be shipped, and shipping cost will be quoted based on location.  Purchase is either PayPal or Cash to be made prior to actual shipping. Cash will be expected at time of purchase if delivered.

You may contact me at:  for any additional questions or to purchase a set.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Props Mon, 23 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Wrap Around Wrap Around Lighting (Rim light)

There are many forms of classic lighting to generate a specific results, and of course variations in each style. Wrap around lighting (a slight variation in rim light) is more of a style rather than a formal style of lighting, but it can generate some very nice results. By Wrap around, I mean that the light tend to extend from back to front of your subject rather than just highlight the outline of a subject as classic rim lighting might accomplish.

There are of course many ways to achieve this with numerous lighting modifiers. In this case, I will cover a method that I have recently used based loosely off of tutorials by Lindsay Adler. The first step in this method is to place a large softbox behind your subject. 

The softbox will give you a clean pure white background. Some softboxes will have a hot spot near the center, however your subject will often obscure the hot spot (but more on this later). Of course, our subject is now has a rim light, but is also in shadow. Adding another light as shown in the diagram below will help.

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. The strobe in front of the subject is typically set at least 1 stop LESS than that strobe within the strobe in the softbox.

We now have our subject lit as well as the background. But we are not quite finished here. but it is a little hard to see just where the front strobe starts and the light from the softbox ends.

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. One thing we can do is add a gobo or opaque shield over the center of the softbox. By positing the black gobo you can control exactly how much of your subject has the wrap around effect. For example, you may only want the wrap around effect over the head and shoulders, and not lower arms or waist area. We can still add creative effects to this process.

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. We can add a gel (red in this case) over the softbox strobe, will will give a much more defined area of color wrap around your subject (See top image). By adding a gel, you may loose up to 1 stop of light, so you may need to re-adjust the power to the strobe in the softbox. Remember this should be set at least 1 stop higher than the strobe to the front of your subject. If you wish, you may add an umbrella to the strobe to the front of your subject to soften the light striking your subject. If you are still having difficulty getting just a highlight on your subject, try adding a grid to your forward strobe. Your forward light should remain at approximately 45 degrees from the camera axis.

By experimenting with power of the softbox and front strobe you may be able to get some very creative results!





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative light photography Wrap around Mon, 16 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
White Balance in the Studio- Creative Effects

White Balance in the Studio- Creative

Photographers will often white balance their images either through the camera or in post production to get the best possible results. The skin colors need to appear natural, clothing and background colors should ideally appear as close as possible to real life- well in most cases.

But, suppose you wanted to be a little creative in your images. The images above were all made with the same camera, with the studio strobe in the same position and same power, and with camera setting the same. Clearly, the results vary between one image to another sometimes dramatically.

So have you thought about using white balance creatively. One example which is fairly common may be that a studio strobe may bleach the skin rendering it a lighter color than natural. One could play with power and distance settings, but why not try a 'cloudy' or even a 'shade' white balance? 

Perhaps you may be shooting a winter scene complete with snow, ice, and other props. You may want to have the scene look a little cooler by shifting the white balance from flash or AWB to Tungsten to deliver that blush appearance.

It is often true that as studio strobes age, the color temperature will often shift sometimes more to a blue tint. Many cameras have the ability to set a color temperature in Kelvin to bring back that fresh out-of-the-box  performance.

Colored Gel photography can be rewarding but also can be very tedious. Finding just the right gel color, the lowest setting on a strobe to avoid blowing out the color and yet avoiding noise, distance to subject, as well as other factors.  Adjusting the color temperature can sometimes get just the right look for an image.

Is automatic white balance the best choice when using strobes, or should you change it to 'flash'. Do you need to create a 'custom white balance' to get just the look that you want?


Obviously, every camera even among the same brand will look just a little different at different white balance settings. Post production color adjustments are relatively easy to do but can also affect your overall workflow. The next time you are looking for a specific look in images (even outdoors), try adjusting the white balance and you may be pleased at the results.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) balance colors creative photography White Mon, 09 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
I understand, or do I? (Get it in writing) LeatherLeather I Understand.. or Do I?

Photography is basically an interactive process in most cases, unless you are taking images on your own property for your own enjoyment.  Photographers may deal with models, companies, property owners, other professionals, the public and often a varied combination of any or all other above.

A nationally known photographer once related a story when she was just starting her business. She was taking images of a model to perfect her skill. It was an informal friendly relationship, certainly nothing formal.  At some point later, the photographer submitted one of the images to a contest, won a prize, and subsequently published the image and was rewarded financially. The model eventually discovered the image, claimed that the photographer did not have permission to publish, and sued for compensation. In this case, the photographer settled out of court because she did not have a release. It was an innocent omission, but it did not matter.

Another example, possibly even more common today is that a photographer hires a model for a  fashion shoot.  The photographer pay a fee at the venue and on the day the model arrives in her outfit at the studio, and he tells the model we are going to drive out to this scenic overlook overlooking the valley. The model promptly tells the photographer that she is afraid of heights, and can not do the project. The conversation was amounted to a 'simple fashion shoot, meet me at...". A day of shooting was lost as well as  the deposit to the venue, not to mention having to hire a a different model.

If a company hires you, are they in direct competition with another company for a similar product?  Do you understand that they may have something in a contract or work agreement stating that you can not work for the competition now or in the future?

As innocent or formal as an arrangement may be, the lack of some form of written communication can lead to a loss of time, money, and even legal issues. Photography shoot-outs are fairly common at some locations. An organizer may tell a group of photographers (who pay for the event) that an event starts at 11 am. The event organizer states that 20 models will attend. Unfortunately, the organizer allows the models to show up when they are available, with only 2 models present for the first hour or so for 10 photographers.  Many photographers are upset having to sit around, without the promise of a model for an unknown period of time. Obviously some ill will has been generated

When ever possible, all professionals (not just photographers) should gain as much information in WRITING as possible such as:

  • What am I expected to produce? (in as much detail as possible)
  • What do I know about my client, company, or anyone else that I may be working with? (Timeline, what do I need to provide, what is provided for me)
  • Where and when will I be working? 
  • How will I be compensated? What do I need to pay for? When can I expect payment and in what form?
  • What will be final product be used for? Does it need to be licensed? Are usage rights necessary? Can a model financially gain from the image(s) on a paid fan site?
  • Are model and property releases necessary? If so, who handles that?
  • If someone gets hurt, who is responsible? (Liability) Important point here is to never ask talent to perform as task or execute a skill that he/she is not ready and or willing to execute. That is one reason why big movie producers hire stunt people! This is not limited to physical injury, recent history has shown lawsuits have been based on emotional injury. 
  • Somewhat related to above, is property insurance necessary and who provides it? Are you on the hook if a $5,000 wedding dress is ruined during a shoot?
  • What happens if the makeup artist does not show, camera malfunctions, illness, or a even a major rain storm comes out of no where?  Is the event rescheduled? Compensation for time? Is there an 'Act or Government or god" (as we have seen recently) that cancels the event entirely?
  • Who owns final project? Can you use images for your personal portfolio (sometimes the answer is no). You may 'own' the pictures, but what is done with the images should be spelled out. In the case of a single photographer and model, language is often included in the model release. Do you need to keep certain elements of the project private (non-disclosure)?
  • Are there laws governing what you may or may not do in a certain jurisdiction? A common example is that drones may not be flown in certain areas.


Keeping emails, voicemails, or any other tangible documentation in as much detail as possible can help one avoid some sleepless nights!






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Communication legal Photography understand Mon, 02 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Surreal or Real? DCIM\100MEDIA Surreal or Real?

This year has certainly offered some real challenges to just about everyone. It almost seams like something out of another world, unreal, almost like a dream! Do you get a feeling that it is Surreal?

Especially within the photography industry, artist strive to set themselves apart not only from other artists, but also from the rapidly improving images that are taken with cell phones.  Strangely enough filters in cell phones can make a fair image into something that may be fairly good.

So when an artist goes back and looks at an image that was through to be good at the time, but maybe it did not get the recognition that it may have been due. Perhaps it was very similar to other images that may have been released just prior or at the same time. While it is clearly important for most to stay within their 'brand' as it relates to their business, many photographers will experiment every now and again and release, perhaps a special limited edition piece that may reflect a certain period in time, a feeling, or even and event. This images can be edited to give almost a dreamy appearance in order to record an event or even a particular feeling. One such artist who has make quite an international name for herself is Brooke Shaden ( Much of her art is fantasy that in some cases relates to how she is feeling at a moment.

While producing this type of work with every image certainly may not be appropriate for everyone, it certainly bears a little examination to say the least. How can a work be made surreal? Good Question!

Sometimes all it takes is a little color toning to change the palate apart from what one may expect to see in the real world. For photoshop users, one of the quickest and easiest ways to dramatically change the color palate is to use the "Color Lookup table" under the adjustments panel.  Photoshop comes with quite a few which can even make a daylight image appear as though it was taken must later in the evening.  By creating a hue and saturation layer the colors, saturation, and exposure of an image can be changed dramatically.  Artistic filters can be added to create almost endless results. Lets not forget any number of actions that are available commercially or free in some cases.

Lightroom of course has hundreds of presets available that can turn an image to B&W, change the exposure, colors, white balance with just a simple click of the mouse (or tablet). Tone curves are also available in Lightroom for a variety of results.

Not to be left out of the mix, some artists have moved on to programs such as Capture One. This program of course has various options for color grading. I am not a Capture one expert, but Youtube certainly has many examples of how an image be be slightly or dramatically changed using this program.

Most image editing programs have some degree of color grading, which is certainly worth a look.  Consider creating a surreal image, if not for publication, at least to express how you may feel about the world around you.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative editing Photography Surreal Mon, 26 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
How do you support fellow creatives? CuriousCurious Supporting Our Fellow Creatives

In traditional jobs, fellow co-workers may see each other several times per week in the course of their jobs, or at least within regular industry meetings. Certainly this is a little different within the photography and modeling industry. This of course includes MUA, set designers, and other professionals within the industry. While some may work within a business structure, many have a much looser arrangement in that most of the communication may be electronic through social media or email.

How do like minded creatives support each other?  Of course one answer may be financially by hiring services or purchasing products. Then again, few have the resources or time to financially contribute to dozens or even hundreds of contacts.

Word of mouth is certainly an essential marketing tool that many photographers and models depend upon on a regular basis. By recommending and answering questions about someone in person can greatly support that person, sometimes even more than all of the paper and electronic advertising put together. Once a professional relationship develops, mutual recommendations not only strengthens each other but deepens trust in each other. 

One element of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to have one website reference another website.  Providing a link on a website that a photographer may own to a models website can enhance the chances that the models website will be ranked a little higher and therefore additional bookings may happen. If the model links back to a photographers website, this will also increase the chances of additional photoshoots or other opportunities.

Social media, is by far, the most common method of support that we provide each other. But this goes a little further than just 'friending' someone. The amount of traffic on a fellow creatives social media site(s) can actually help that persons standing according to certain Algorithms on the site. Although 'likes' are nice, comments are even better and shows higher levels of engagement.  Some people may 'like' any and every post that a fellow creative may make on his or her account. Depending on the social media site, this may even hurt someone causing some administrators to think that a 'bot' is liking each post. 

If you like a post, WHY do you like it? This not only helps in terms of avoiding a site administrator suspecting some sort of 'bot' automation, but it directly helps the person whose account you may be liking. Be specific; do you like how makeup was done, composition, colors, or just how overall new the concept may appeal to you. Then again, one wants to avoid criticism unless it is asked for by the account owner. How something is said is at least as important as what is actually said to the account owner. In some cases, criticism may be someone removed from a group.

In the same sense, in todays society we have to be mindful of even what we consider positive comments. Some models may brand themselves within a sensuous genre. Some comments may go overboard such as the following example ""My Goddess , you're so breathtakingly beautiful and amazing as always and forever and you're so SUPER SEXY...".   Comments such as this as well as more explicit terms about body parts may tag you as a 'stalker' rather than just a fan, especially if made on a regular basis on a general post within social media. Compliments are always nice, but no one wants to be blocked or even reported to a site administrator. Of course, some people may develop personal relationships outside of a professional relationship, but overly personal messages may be best left to direct messaging.

In general, we all need support within this industry and it can come from many different places,  and sometimes just at the right time when we seem to need it the most!





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative media social Support Mon, 12 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Let it Snow (or Not)?! Let it Snow and Ice (Or Just Pretend it is)

It's the time in the Northeast (Where I am located) that snow and ice is probably not far off. Not many people with the exception of skiers and snowboarders look forward to the snow, but there is sort of a pristine beauty to fresh snow. Some photographers simply like the snow covered landscapes and yet others have created some great portrait shots in the snow.  Obviously though there are some obstacles such as just the perfect timing just after a new snow, cold weather, and icy driving conditions just to name a few.

Landscape photographers brave these wild conditions, but what about portrait photographers? Can you get close? Well maybe with a little planning one can create a snow/ice scene inside without having to worry about a 10 car pileup on the interstate.

When looking for backdrops, there seems to be an abundance of options to order from. One such Snow backdrop can be found here on Amazon or some other sites.  Try to avoid the thin vinyl backdrops since they typically can be difficult to remove folds and creases.  Some printed backdrops are sensitive to water, so be careful about ironing the them on a heavy steam setting. Sometimes it can help to hang a backdrop for several days with a small weight near the bottom to lessen the appearance of folds. Also avoid front lighting unless using a very large (6 ft) soft light source since glare can be a problem. Careful side lighting backdrops often yields good results.

So what about ice? Well, you certainly have several options here. One choice to have an object seemingly covered or wrapped in ice is to use Encapso K. This is a clear silicone rubber that looks very much like water and ice.  It is durable and long lasting, but is somewhat expensive as you purchase larger quantities.  

This video (audio is not great) Home made blocks of ice does get the point across in a relatively easy method. Of course, like all real ice, it does have a relatively short shelf life and does get a little messy but certainly is one of the most realistic ways to portray an ice scene.  Another realistic method, although not home made, to get realistic ice is to purchase dry ice. Believe it or not, some Walmart's actually sell dry ice. Depending on the environment, you may have 18-24 hours before the block of ice evaporates.  Dry ice is typically not very expensive per pound but care must be taken not to touch the block of ice since it may burn the skin.

Blankets of snow can be created in several ways. One method is to go to your local fabric store and pick out a textured roll of snowy fabric. This of course could cover quite a large area, but is rather flat and snow often occurs in mounds here and there. Instant snow such as Ainolway or a similar product can produce as much as 10 gallons of snow for a reasonable price. Placing the instant snow on top of a snow blanket can give a realistic appearance.

Spray snow In a can can produce a textured look to props and other portions of a scene that may not necessarily be laying on the ground. If you want the sparkly Icy snow , products often are finely cut portions of plastic that can give that extra sparkle to your set. Add a few Styrofoam snow balls and you may be on your way to creating a perfect snow scene.

As a quick reminder for those who really want the real thing, be sure to use your exposure compensation dial when outside since most cameras will try to turn the snow grey. A (+1) or (+2) may actually help get a true white snow. If you are coming from a warm room, you may need to give the camera a few minutes in the outside to avoid lens fogging. If you are in REALLY cold weather remember that batteries will deplete much faster than normal, so be sure to keep an extra with you!








]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative ice snow studio winter Mon, 05 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Do you captivate your audience? Do you Captivate with your images?

In a recent post I spoke about 'Dwell Time' (How long a viewer looks at your image(s), which is related to engagement with your posts.  An element that can contribute to Dwell time may be story time and anticipation. Many posts that I see on social media may have the models name or event the photographers name and then the image. Crediting yourself as well as your team is important, but how you credit them is equally important. The image above is certainly ok and I could have left it with just the models name, but I added a "simple pleasures" line to he image. Many people can identify with the simpler things in life such as relaxing out doors. The line captivated at least some viewer to 'dwell onthe image for a bit before scrolling.

What about this image? Where is the girl going? She looks as though she is looking back at you either to see if you are watching, or for you to join her. Why is she in a nightgown in the middle of a field? There are many questions that the viewer many want to stick around to see if he/she can find the answers.

By creating mini stories or potential stories in the mind of he viewer through a single image or even with a series of images, the viewer may be inclined to come back to your site or social media feed. Sometimes it may be just to linger a second more on a life experience, a future trip, or even to explore a fantasy/mystery.


Think about creating a new dimension in some of your work the next time you choose image(s) for your audience with either an thoughtful caption or even a post that suggests a storyline!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) captions Captivate creative education photography story Mon, 28 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Backgrounds - Clean Removal?

      ORIGINAL                                  PS                     

Removing a Background Outside of an Editing Program

For those who have worked in an image processing program for many years, removing a background has not always been easy. Most editing programs have tools such as the magic wand, but tools like this are limited to simple backgrounds, and even then are not completely reliable. 

Photoshop has long had tools such as the Pen tool, or even the polygonal lasso tool. Making selections with these tools can certainly be tedious and often require a layer masks and the refine edge tool in order to clean up a selection. The results were often good, but certainly took time and patience to make a clean selection and place it into a new image.

Almost any editing program can make a reasonable selection of an object assuming that the background is plain and contrast sufficiently with the subject. Take a look at the first image above, and the background is anything but plain. Reds, greens, shadows, dark colors surround the chair, although probably the most challenging part of a selection would be near the base of the chair.

I put the latest release of photoshops auto selection to the test by first opening the image, choosing the magic wand tool, and then select image.  

Photoshop made a reasonably good selection as seen in the second image automatically. However, if you look closely the selection included part of the ground where the chair was sitting. Overall, not too much of a problem which can be cleaned up fairly quickly.

The third image was made through a website called  The site operates fairly simply by uploading an image that you choose, and after a few seconds a image appears as what your selection may look like.  You may actually download a low resolution JPEG of the results. The third image above is a sample of the same chair on a cluttered background. As you can see, the results are pretty decent. It did not get the support stand for the chair, but overall a clean selection. If you want a higher resolution image the site offers a per image charge of $1.99 per image (1 credit), Pay as you go option (up to 500 images for 40 cents per image), or even a subscription plan. The JPEG has a transparent background so that you could even import the image into a presentation program such as Powerpoint without ever opening your image editing program, or of course you could import it into your favorite program and add a new background.

This website is certainly a viable option that could speed workflow, especially for those working on desktop publishing projects.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) apps backgrounds DTP education Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Behind the scenes -increase your dwell time Behind the Scenes

Sometimes as photographers we are very much into the moment of creating the perfect image either for ourselves or a client. The correct lighting, composition, camera settings, ect.. Of course all of that is important, but consider taking a few frames of less than perfect shots.. why?

If you are a landscape, food, or any other style of photography that does not deal directly with people having their images recorded, your clients may be interested in what also happens on the set.  This is not necessarily a how-it-was-done, but certainly could be part of the process. Lets say you are a food photographer and you accidentally drop some of the food on the floor! Whoops! If you have a website or post on social media this image might be a show stopper for the scrolling viewer. This image could actually increase your DWELL time and generate interest into someone looking at more of your images.

Suppose you are a portrait photographer who regularly photographs people. Obviously you will want to get the best image that you can for a client, but thinking about that extra image can certainly be worth it. What type of personality does your client have? Is your client willing to move forward with that image that could be really fun. Your client may never use the image professionally but giving them the chance to do something out of the ordinary could generate a return customer.  In the case above, the original concept was a fine art image, but the girl had a playful personality and decided to give the tree a big hug during the shoot. Ok, maybe that may (or may not) make it into her portfolio, but she had a little fun during the shoot and was able to loosen up from the expectation of the perfect pose. Of course, for the photographer, before placing a shot like this on his/her website, it is prudent to ask permission. Obviously the aim is not to embarrass anyone.

Whether you motivation is to increasing interest in your posts or just making a session a little more fun, consider including some behind the scenes images when you shoot.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Behind the scenes BTS dwell engagement fun social websites Mon, 14 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Human Tapestry? Human Tapestry- Painting with light on People

There are certainly many ways to display images or paint textures with light with dozens or videos on youtube as well as formal presentations and workshops. But what if you wanted to try to light paint directly on the human figure? It is certainly possible to use some of the same techniques that one may use in open air or even against another structure. But, here is one more technique that can potentially get you noticed.

Suppose that you wanted to project ready made and easily recognizable images onto a human?  Well, that is what we are talking about today! First thing to think about is supplies which are listed below:

- High definition projector (and cable to connect Projector to camera)

- Black backdrop (Most effective)

- Laptop (or portable) computer

- A willing model

- Images (Ideally fractals, which demonstrate the same pattern or shape as the size varies). Many examples can be found in Pinterest.

- A fixed aperture lens ideally 2.0 or 2.5 


It can be a little tricky as first. Set your lens with the widest angle possible. Most modern projectors come with a HDMI cable which may be directly connected to your computer. Other connections are also possible, however you may not get the best image quality. Now, bring up one of your images on your laptop. and open the channel to your computer so that the same image appears on the computer as appears on your projected image.

The image above a tiger was projected. You really want a black background for the best possible results. Next, ask a model to stand in the projector beam. Ideally the model will be topless and have little or no tatoos to detract from the shot. In addition to the wide aperture, you will likely want a shutter speed not much less than 1/60 of a second. The ISO can be fairly high for some of these images, in fact start with an ISO of at least 1000 and move upward as necessary to get a sharp well exposed images. The model should essentially stand in the same spot, although may turn forward and backward, In my opinion, the back is one of the best places to capture a good image. Make sure the projector is focused and that the stays relatively still as you take your image. You may also have to move the projector now and again to get the correct size of the image that you wish.

Once you have captured the images that you wish now is the time to move them into your favorite editing program. Lightroom or Adobe Raw work fairly well for me. Some of the controls that you will need to work with include Clarity, Contrast, Dehaze, Vibrance and saturation, and of course noise control. You may have to adjust exposure as well. Make small adjustments with one control at a time and adjust to fit your needs.

Give this a try, and who knows, You may like it!







]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography projection Tapestry Tue, 01 Sep 2020 13:36:57 GMT
Romance in Photography? PosingPosing Romance in the Photography & Modeling Industry?

Often I will discuss in my blog some of the more technical or aesthetic qualities of photography, but this week I have more of a thought provoking post. Romantic relationships within the industry.

The industry provides some unique challenges to romance not found in many other industries. There are challenges between those within the industry as well as challenges to partners who may be outside of the field. On the job romances is often frowned upon, much like many other industries.  Marketing and connections are critical if either a model or photographer hopes to do well within the industry, yet the expectation is that it is a job much like many other jobs in the workplace. Unlike most other occupations however there is very little structure or oversight from external sources.  A friendly photographer or model, especially freelance professionals can often spend hours together and communication can get very blurred.  

Dating a 'model' has seem very desirable to some people, yet the life can be difficult to say the least. Except for very few, modeling assignments can be sporadic even if a model has an agent. It can be tricky and very time consuming to maintain a steady level of income. The same may be said for many photographers; even wedding photographers have a slow season. When not actually on a photoshoot the model or photographer may be working diligently with contacts to fill up their schedule. Some professionals may actually be juggling a second job, going to school, or developing materials to improve their market position. Long hours of travel plague many within the field, especially some freelance models who may find themselves touring throughout the United States during much of the year.

Trust in critical within any relationship. Partners who may not be in the modeling and photography industry may not truly understand what the job involves.  In addition to travel, some models who may specialize in glamour or artistic nude may experience frustration on the part of their partner.  Certainly be separated from a loved one many times during the year can place a stress on a relationship. Communication is of course a key point, which leads to devotion to one another within the relationship.  Tools such as 'Facetime' can  certainly make the separation a little easier.

Although romance can certainly be challenging in the modeling and photography profession , many make it work very well. A strong bond between two people, looking beneath the surface and understanding who the person actually is, and what drives their passion within the art can lead to a lasting bond which can overcome any obstacles!






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) relationships Mon, 24 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Smoke photography - a new approach? (Pinterest image)

Smoke Photography Challenges


Smoke photography can be very dramatic and artistic, but can also be very difficult to control to get the effect that one may want. Especially outdoors, the slightest change in the direction of the wind can cause the smoke to head off in a totally different direction that expected. The wind may wildly diffuse the smoke, or in some cases, can actually appear to drown your subject.

Traditional methods of handing smoke grenades include laying the device on the ground near your subject or having the subject hold the grenade. Almost any smoke generating device, even smoke emitters, will generate a significant amount of heat and can easily be uncomfortable or even cause burns. In addition, clouds of smoke can easily irritate the eyes of your model when held too close.

So, are there options? Commercially there are of course various options to contain various sized smoke bombs, but are often product specific and can be pricy. How about a visit to your local home depot or Lowes?

PVC Tee pieces as well as an assortment of elbow and screw attachment are available at most home improvement stores.  An example is the Tee piece pictured here.  By selecting the proper sized tube, you could easily insert the smoke bomb within one (or both- different colors) of the horizontal openings to the tube.  Another possibility would be to attach elbow attachments to the horizonal openings so that the smoke would be directed backwards.

A straight piece of CAPPED PVC pipe could be fitted into the vertical aspect of the Tee piece and potentially wrapped with tape to serve as a handle.  Yet another option for a straight piece of PVC pipe would be to partially bury it within the ground behind, your subject, then drop the smoke bomb within the pipe. Depending upon the length of the pipe, the smoke could potentially released at different heights to give a variety of artistic effects.

WARNING: All smoke bombs get VERY hot. The PVC pipe WILL get HOT (Smoke bombs within an enclosed space may actually start to melt pvc piping). Please be careful!

The options are only limited by your imagination and connections that you are able to find in your local store!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) bombs colors pvc safety Smoke Mon, 17 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
An experiment in editing An Experiment

With COVID and other circumstances affecting the photography world, I have been experimenting with some editing and even surprised myself at what I came up with recently.

At first look, the image to the left may appear as though it may be a dark creepy forest taken late in the evening. Maybe just a little bit of ambient light peeking through from either the moon or perhaps even distant city lighting. The truth is, that as you look at the second image, it is simply a reflection in a puddle of rain water.  I happened to have my camera with me after a heavy rainstorm one day and I took the image and initially did not think too much about it. It was a cool reflection and who knows what if anything I may do with it in the future.

As weeks past, I went back to the puddles, and started working the some images in Lightroom.  Some things I did  included:

  • Flipped the image 180 degrees
  • Cropped at the top and bottom
  • Increased contrast and sharpened the image
  • Reduced exposure
  • Adjusted the black and white points
  • Adjusted shadows

So as you can see, the final image looks radically different from the rainwater puddle I originally shot.  I do make a habit of shooting stock images after a main project, since I never know what I may need as a composite in the future. In this case, nothing was composited onto the image, and I stayed entirely in Lightroom during this edit. 

Typically, I photograph people, however I feel that it is important to take advantage of potential subject matter for future images. The reality here is that I really had no plans for a specific concept, but the results turned out interesting to say the least. Do you take stock images? Challenge yourself the next time you go out to see beyond what you may typically photograph, and you may be pleasantly surprised!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative education experimenting Photography stock Mon, 03 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
An original Location White Cliffs

It can be difficult to find location shoots these days that offer a variety of opportunities for both your subjects and the photographer. Studio shoots can be problematic these days, with many studio's shutting their doors at least temporarily. For those who are near the Pennsylvania area, one location include White Cliffs of Conoy, located in Marietta Pennsylvania. These cliffs are located along the Susquehanna River, adjacent to Koser  Park.

Visitors are greeted by a wonderful view of the Susquehanna River and park directly adjacent to a paved trail leading to the cliff area. The trail is wooded offers an opportunity for a peaceful walk while enjoying a little bit of nature along the way for about 1.5 miles. 

Along the path you have an opportunity to relax for a moment along a pathway bridge. The area is adjacent to railroad tracks, but the brush is very thick is most areas can be tricky to access. Although a train did not pass on the day I visited, there was an active signal device, which lends one to believe that the tracks are still in use. 

The Cliffs themselves were created via Limestone, which actually gives them a dull white appearance. Once you reach the cliffs, you are given a view of the forested area, the Susquehanna, and a rough beach area. The view is impressive just from this point, however you could venture down to the beach area with some effort. In all honesty, The descent down is short, but not necessarily an easy one since some of the cliff area itself is brittle and in some areas very steep.

The beach area itself is a little rocky in places, but certainly has ample room for small groups and a picnic lunch. The water clear and it is easy to wade out  for several yards to cool off on a hot day. You may experience a dragonfly party within some of the plant area along the beach. 


White cliffs has many photo possibilities ranging from fashion shoots along the cliffs, grunge shoots, forest nature shoots, as well as swimsuit images. More information on this location can be found at here.  









]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography White cliffs" location Mon, 27 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Customer Presentations HappyHappy Presentation Choices?

If you photograph people, it is quite easy to come up with hundreds or even up to a thousand images depending upon the type of shoot. You painstakingly cull your images down to what you may feel may be a reasonable number. When presenting images to a client, whether it be a model, a bride, portraits, or even another company executive there are some important decisions to make:

  • How many images?
  • Should they be fully edited?
  • How should they be displayed?
  • What next?

In a more formal relationship such as a wedding or working with another business, everything may be spelled out in a contract. Even so, the number of images you show a client does not necessarily mean that you show them everything (even if they say they want all of the images). Problems such as out of focus images, limbs chopped off, exposure issues are relatively easy to eliminate. When considering the number of images that you show, consider your last eye appointment when the optometrist asked you "Does the first lens look better or worse than the second? How about this one..."  In general, 25 images per hour of shooting tends to work out for many photographers.

Should you edit everything? Basic editing is almost a must including composition, lighting, retouching etc. A client may certainly say I don't like that image because of (insert reason), which could easily be fixed with a few more minutes behind the keyboard. How much time you spend editing before your client depends on the nature of the shoot. Glamour images for publication may take a little more prep than casual lifestyle images.  You will probably want to show details in a wedding gown, whereas another shoot may well be focused on some other aspect of the image. If you have a hectic schedule you may not wish to keep your client waiting too long for the edits or you may loose a potential sale.  There are many companies that offer Retouching services; choose one that works well with your brand and produces quality results with a reasonable turn around time.

Displaying the images can certainly take many forms such as moving through images in a Lightoom catalog so as to compare one image to many others. Sending a client several hundred images through a website with the expectation that he/she will get right back to you the next day is probably not going to happen to often. In fact, without guidance from you, the client may not be able to make up their mind at all. If you are selling prints, once you have narrowed down client choices to 10 images or less, service such as Nu-Vu Room View can actually have a client see the image(s) as through they were hanging above their very own couch in their house. The same company offers proofing galleries to make a client session flow even smoother without having to move from application to another.

Delivery usually follows and it goes without saying that if you are providing digital images to a client, make your deadline. Number of revisions should be carefully discussed and adhered to by both parties. If you are selling prints or other products be sure to have samples WITH YOU at your client meeting. Let them see, touch, and experience the products to the extent possible. While you may not have every possible size or color combination at your meeting, the client should have a reasonable idea of the actual physical product, rather than looking at it within a catalog. 

Food chefs will sometimes say, "Its all in the presentation" , which is why at some upscale restaurants the food on a plate may look like a piece of artwork.  An artful presentation may easily make the difference in working with the client (or not) in the future.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative galleries Photography presentation Mon, 20 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Authentic Couples photography Shooting Authentically for Couples

In this world where almost everyone has a camera in their pocket, it can be difficult to get noticed with some of your images. An image can be captured with a cell phone camera very quickly and selfies are common. So if you wanted to promote that you photograph couples (for example), are there ways you could possibly stand out from the thousands of selfie portraits taken almost every day? Is there a way to add images with impact to your growing portfolio?

One of the first things to consider is seeking out an actual couple. Models are fine for most images, but two people who have never met except for your photoshoot may be a difficult time pulling off a BELIEVABLE couples shoot. When the viewer looks at an images, it should be pretty apparent that the couple enjoy being around each other and have a mutual attraction. When images look stiff or overly posed, a viewer could easy scroll directly past them. Almost everyone knows an actual couple, and often they may enjoy some new images. 

Are you selling artwork, or are you trying to get into couple photography. Your approach may be radically different. If you were selling artwork, you may create a perfectly staged silhouetted couple embracing which may very well sell to a potential buyer. On the other hand, this may look very artificial to many couples. What about the image above with the girl riding on her boyfriends back.  We could have photographed a more intimate image, but in this case the girl almost lost her grip walking though the woods. Both she and her boyfriend are having a spontaneous moment. Although this could be staged, the expressions on their faces would clearly not be the same.

Obvious points of course as with any image would be to consider lighting, composition, as well as what are you trying to portray at the moment. In most cases, you will want both faces reasonably lit unless you are moving for a very dramatic image. Are you trying to a romantic moment or a fun moment. With this said, the images are not always glamour images. If you over edit the image you could easy take away the moment the couple may be experiencing.  When composing, consider with some of your images to leave room for copy.  A couple may want a message on their image, or you may want to add a message of your own if you are advertising a new service.

Do you have a special location? Sometimes where you shoot is as important as what you are shooting. While your main focus should be on the couple themselves, giving the couple a chance to interact with their environment can result in some very interesting results.

Are model releases necessary? During your promotional shoot for a new service of course you will get a model release from those working for you. During an actual client shoot, if the images are ONLY for the couple, and you DO NOT plan on placing images in your portfolio for advertising, you probably will not need a release. In general however, some form of release is always a good idea. Years after a shoot, if you decide you really like a client's images, you already have the release. Publishing an image for advertising purposes without a release may get you sued.  Although not as common, if the couple appear at a recognizable private property, you may also need a property release if you use that image in your advertising.

After the shoot, your clients may well have trouble choosing which images they want to purchase. Sending the couple an online gallery may result in weeks that go by without a word from them even if you send a reminder email. Invite the couple (both of them) to your studio or office, or even their home where you can walk them through the image selection process.

Couples shooting can be fun and rewarding for everyone involved and can lead to repeat customers such as engagement or even wedding images!















]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 13 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Rethinking Shooting in todays world   Rethinking Shooting Environment

Without doubt COVID-19 has great impact on our society.  It has touched almost everyone in some manner and not necessarily through illness, but certainly financially and socially.  Many photography events have been cancelled this year, and depending upon where one may live, more are yet to be cancelled. Some portrait photographers have moved to other genres such as landscape, animals, still live, while others may have shelved their cameras for the time being.  But what if you really enjoy shooting people?

With all forms of photography, we need to be respectful of one another.  Current guidelines require a mask in many areas with good reason. One can disagree, however if your subject want to protect themselves, we need to respect their wishes. Attempting to argue will only make any photography concept go down the tubes with sub-par images.  This can make shooting indoor particularly problematic especially in small studios. One may be very comfortable shooting in studio's, being able to control almost every aspect of your environment is great. But, does that limit you as a photographer? Does that limit what clients you may be able to attract? As importantly in today's world, many clients may not wish to risk their health.

Shooting outdoors can be a challenge, light, shadows, rain, wind, as well as many other factors can certainly affect the overall outcome of an image. But then again, it can provide an opportunity to develop a skill set and planning ability that can be well worth it in year to come.  One resource that can be valuable is a book written by Lindsay Adler Shooting in Sh**ty Light  is a guide to shooting in circumstances that may be some cringe.

Of course if you are more into Youtube video's there is certainly no lack on subject matter on shooting outdoors. This particular video using Fills, flashes, and diffusers  outdoors which can be very helpful.  Another resource includes videos both on Youtube as well as CreativeLive from Roberto Valenzuela in which he provides tips for ideal locations and concept execution.

Of course there is more than light to worry about, and mother nature does not always cooperate with us when we get that great idea for a photoshoot.  Videos such as this one Grim Weather focuses on landscape, but of course one could always place a brave model into one of these images.

Photography is generally about planning and being flexible. If you are a portrait photographer, working with clients to obtain comfort is only going to get you better images. 







]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education outddors Photography Mon, 06 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Discard bad images???   Do you discard bad images?

Most photographers take many more images that the public or clients will ever see. In some cases it becomes choosing between some ok images, good images, a brand, or just bad images. No photographer regardless of professional or casual will create the perfect image each time the shutter is depressed. But.. what do you do with the not so perfect images? Are you flexible?

Some photographers will outright delete images that he/she feels are bad images. This may be due to focus, exposure, angles, or many other reasons including an artistic dislike of the image. Other people may store the image on a hard drive, never to see the light of an editing program again. Still others may store the images, with plans of 'maybe' coming back to them someday. After all, hopefully we continue to get better at our post production skills, or at least there may be a new action, preset, or program that will help us along at some point in the future.

The image to the left above was a 'scanned image' of a 35 mm print, and not a very good scan at that. The sky is an almost unnatural blue without couds and is very noisy. The rockface as is soft, and the exposure appears way off on the ground.  In most respects, this image would be a discard. I had some time available to me so I thought I would experiment a little on this image with some automatic and manual post processing techniques.

My original idea was a puffy cloud bright image. But efforts to make the sky reasonable with a program such as Luminar were not successful (In computer language, garbage in-- garbage out, and the sky was too badly recorded in the scan). There are of course several ways to replace a sky in photoshop, but one of the quickest Sky Replacement technique can be done almost as quickly as with many plug-in programs. Even so, the bright puffy clouds did not seem to work here so I went with a more dramatic sky, and darkened down the image considerably. In this case I used the levels control, but curves would have have worked just as well. 

The image still appeared soft despite the typical tool like unsharp, contrast, etc.. in Photoshop. The image was certainly much more dramatic but I also wanted a bit of a crisp look to the photo.  I took a chance and first converted it to an 8 bit image with the mode command in photoshop.  Next I choose the filters menu and applied a DRY BRUSH effect to the rock face. This gave the image a crisper and almost painterly look. 

So I started out with one idea, but I kept an open mind into different possibilities that the image could take. The final image of course looked much different then even the original print image. There are seemingly hundred of plug-ins and presets/actions out there today, many of which are even free or for very little cost. A variety of stand alone programs are also available. Adobe has recently undated several features in Lightroom. Of course there seems to be a never ending supply of Youtube or even commercial tutorials on the web.

The next time you have a 'discard' image, try something that you maybe have not worked with on a regular basis. The results may surprise you!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative discard editing education photography Photoshop Mon, 22 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Trade.. Is it dead? CuriousCurious Trade for... Is it Dead?

The photography industry is one of the very few remaining industries that has worked on a barter system instead of cash flow. A model may ask for images in exchange for his/her time modeling. A makeup artist may wish images of their work for marketing purposes and will do a session in trade for a simple makeup job. Although it may occasionally occur in other industries, but often as a one time situation under special circumstances. Harry (who is a plummer) may help Joe (who is a carpenter) with home repairs and not charge labor fees as long as each pays for and provides the repair materials.

It goes without saying that the economy is struggling given recent events in 2020. Some people have yet to receive any unemployment benefits or aid in any manner from the government. Many businesses have closed their doors permanently after being successful for many years. Although trade for files (prints) has been slowly disappearing over the last several years, one can expect the practice to become very rare with the exception of very good friends. Modeling and other professional fees can be expensive. Depending upon the area of the country, some modeling fees can start at $75.00 hr for a minimum of 2 hrs and may be higher.

BUT.. Can you perhaps increase the chance of a trade deal? Maybe, by providing something special and extra!

  • Provide food. No, not just dry bagels in the morning or fast food for lunch. Let them know that you will provide food and ask them what they like to eat. Are they on a diet, A vegan, Kosher?  Have condiments such as jam if you decide to include bagels for breakfast as well as coffee. 
  • Will you submit to a magazine? One can never guarantee a submission will be accepted for a certain issue, but let your talent know that you plan to submit to several magazines.
  • What is special about this shoot? Has it been done many times in the past? What props, lighting, or even post processing are you offering to make this a special event? 
  • Can you rent wardrobe for the day? Your talent may have a once in a lifetime chance to wear this special outfit. 
  • Transportation issues? Can you help?
  • Deliverables.. Yes, you may have paying clients who require quite a bit of your time.  If you expect someone to provide a free service to you, make certain that you have the time to fulfill your part of any agreement. If trading for prints or files, how does your talent want the images delivered. It should be VERY rare that your talent needs to wait for than 30 days for you to meet your obligation. If something happens, communicate PROactively and let your talent know. Don't make them call or email you.
  • Don't take advantage of a personal relationship. This person may be your friend, treat them as such or you may find yourself with one less friend.

In General, treat anyone who still wishes to work in trade like GOLD, since these people are valuable! If a modeling fee is $150 for a concept, and you may only spend $50.00, it only make good business sense to make this person feel special.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) business modeling Photography Trade Mon, 08 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Are your Dynamic props ready? Dynamic and Passive Props- Ready?

Most photographers perform at least a quick check of their equipment prior to a Photoshoot.  Are the batteries charged, do I have enough memory cards, what about the synch cables... etc. But sometimes one may not consider the ready state of props.  

A passive prop is something that someone may hold, let say a coffee cup. The subject may hold the cup or it may just be sitting on a desk in front of a person. In any case, the cup is a cup in most cases and it really does not have any action on its own (in this case, it may need to hold a liquid or just be empty). Simply be sure to bring the cup with you for the Photoshoot.

A dynamic prop may have a active function due to the characteristics of the prop. For example, in the image above, a basketball would normally bounce if dropped or deliberately bounced due to the material the ball is made from and the air within the ball. In this case however, lets say you want an image with your subject bouncing or throwing the ball.  The ball needs to have a reasonable amount of air within it in order to bounce (the dynamic action). If the basketball has been setting on a shelf for months, air could have leaked and you have a soggy basketball without much chance of a bounce.

Even a little more tricky is a candle. Why is a candle tricky? Well, you probably want it to be lit and have a flame as part of a scene. How much wick is actually showing at the top of the candle? If just a few millimeters, you will likely only have a tiny flame that will go out fairly quickly. Most candles need a little trough around the wick to get that strong frame most look for.  Wax often melts around a candle wick almost forming a flat surface that you may need to carve out before your event.

MilkMilk A flower by any other name? Depending upon the nature of your Photoshoot, a flower itself can be active (sort of). Suppose you were doing a water or milk bath shoot and decided to incorporate flowers with that shoot. One thought may be to pick of some artificial flowers well ahead of time so not to have to worry the day before about shopping for your favorite daisy.  In this case, you will need to flowers to FLOAT. Almost all artificial flowers which have a natural look will sink quickly in the bath. Most fresh flowers will float at least long enough to get though your concept.

Thinking about how you want your prop to work within your shoot and preparing well can save time as well as some embarrassment with your project.

Candle and basketball images courtesy of

Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern Pennsylvania 


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) dynamic passive Photography Props Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Tidbits you may not know about L4 Things You May Not Know About Luminar 4

There seems to be no lack if articles and praises about Luminar 4 by Skylum Software. Without doubt the software has made great steps forward when it comes to editing landscape images, especially with the Sky Replace feature. There a numerous tutorials on line on the program including this one from the SLR lounge , so I will not repeat what probably has been said numerous times. There are things however that I have discovered while trialing the program that bear mentioning here.

If you have worked or trialed the program, you may be aware that you can either replace the entire sky, or just a single element within the sky such as a cloud. Essentially you are making a composite image with and included program element or one of your own. One of the basics of composites is: Make sure that lighting and colors match as close as possible. I found that importing certain sky's, the blue was too intense for the rest of the image. The program offers a LUMINOSITY MASK directly within the sky replace dialog box that will tend to match overall tone of the image just a little better shown above. I typically work from Lightroom, and I also found that the water which was a highlight needed some color toning once I returned to Lightroom.

As mentioned above, you can also add elements into your landscapes that may not have been there before. In the image to the left, birds were added to the sky to add just a little more interest to the boat anchored by the beach. The key when adding these elements is to ask yourself do they look realistic, or are they out of place for the when the photograph was taken. In order words, would I really see an Aurora in the gulf of Mexico (not likely).

Sunsets may be cool, but the program does not always work well with each image. As you may be able to see if the lower left hand side of the image, the program converted a bank of clouds into a grey 'blob'. Although the program does quite well in many cases, it certainly has limitations.  In this case, the original sky was quite grey with little contrast between any clouds and the sky itself.

Since I work in Lightroom, I make sure that any image that I export into another program (including Photoshop) that I am working on a copy and not the original image. In the case of Luminar, it seems to strip out all of the metadata from the copied  image including keywords and any copyright information. If your workflow is similar, be alert to this little quirk within the program.

My impression of the program is that it is impressive with the landscape images that I have worked with so far.  One can certainly import sky's and other elements an image using Photoshop, but Luminar does the work much faster and in most cases creates a realistic final product. Trial versions of Luminar are available for those who may wish to give it a shot Skylum .




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) edit landscape Luminar4 review sky Mon, 25 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Set.a.light Set.A.Light 3D

I wanted to share information on a new program that I have trialed and like called Set. a. light 3D by Ellixier. This is a 3D studio environment on your desktop. While there are certainly other programs out there such as The Online lighting diagram, this product has some interesting features that seem to work well such as:

  • Realistically rendered male and female models
  • Variety of colored backgrounds, floor styles, and studio sizes and colors
  • Ability to change hairstyle, makeup, eye color, clothing, shoes with each model
  • Ability to add multiple models male, female, child
  • Posing with either pre-sets or by creating your own poses in fine detail including opening or closing eyes
  • Variety of lighting equipment including modifiers, strobes, and speedlights
  • Ability to change the power, position, and height of each modifier and see in REAL time what effect that lighting has effected.
  • Ability to change camera settings and lenses in real time 
  • Ability to add props such as sunglasses on model, chairs and couches
  • Quick controls that allows the model to look directly at camera or light

Once you have your lighting, camera, and model set the way you wish, you can export various lighting diagrams such as:

Which shows all of your equipment in relation to your model, as well as the various camera settings and lighting settings. Ellixier allows you to download a free fully operational copy of the software to try for 30 days. Two versions are available, a basic version that will be useful for most people at about $80.00 as of this post, or a studio version that adds features such as the ability to add patterned gobo's on your model.

Like any software, it does have some limitations. The number of sets are limited in either version and I have not be able to locate additional sets on the website listed above. As with any 3D environment, care must be taken when placing props, lighting, or models so that they vanish within other parts of the set. Overall, I think the software is worth taking a look at, especially when planning shoots.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education lighting photography software Mon, 18 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Cancelled Events CuriousCurious  Cancelled Events- A Problem?

With COVID-19 still striking in many parts of the world, there are a multitude of agreements, contracts, and events that could not reasonably take place. While some organizers or businesses are proactively refunding money or making alternate arrangements to satisfy clients. For others, it can be a little more difficult, especially if monies have already been spent by a business and can not easily be recovered.

Especially in the United States, anyone can issue a lawsuit for just about anything. Will it be successful, or even heard within a court depends on many factors, not the least of which is what part of the country you may live in.  Written contracts such as for wedding can be especially tricky. Some organizers post in written communication or within contracts that no refunds will be given. Although this is a good start it is often not enough to avoid a lawsuit being filed when the party offering a service fails to provide that service.

Force Majeure is often employed written contracts, but may also apply in certain cases for events being cancelled, and may leave the client with a lost deposit. Force Majeure may be employed in a number of circumstances such as acts of God such as severe weather, epidemics, war, and some others that can not reasonably have been foreseen by the provider of the service. The pandemic certainly seems to meet these circumstances. But what if a client persists? Another element of Force Majeure is the act of governments making it illegal for people to congregate as well as orders to stay home.  In addition, photography or related fields was certainly not determined to be a essential service.  These factors suggest that the cause of the cancellation could not be overcome and therefore the provider can not be considered negligent or in breach of any agreement.

This MAY or MAY NOT apply depending upon the area of the country where the event was to be held. In that case, a Impracticability/Impossibility or Frustration of Purpose defense may still apply. The Governors of many states issued a lockdown  forcing many non essential businesses to close. A Frustration of purpose makes the provider of the service worthless to a client , frustrating the purpose of the contract or agreement.  A photographers services are worthless to a potential client if the government has shut the business down. Both parties would not benefit if the police would potentially halt or arrest anyone attempting to complete an activity.

Given our current circumstances, it would seem likely that if a lawsuit were filed, that the defendant would prevail using one or both of the defenses above.  Economic hardship WOULD NOT enter into the situation above.  Simply because it would be a economic hardship to provide a service would not be a viable defense and the such a defense would loose. In theory, if the virus only affected one or two states, a client may claim that the provider complete the agreement by moving the event to another part of the country not affected by the virus. Simply because the photographer experienced additional expenses would not be grounds for a successful defense.

With all of this said, providers should make reasonable efforts to keep their clients happy, regardless of legal issues. Discounts, rescheduling, or when possible even refunds should be considered since word of mouth from an unhappy customer can have a significant impact on the future of any business


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) cancel contracts event force frustration impossible law majeure Mon, 11 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
The Model Release..Facts and Fiction CuriousCurious Facts and Some Fiction about Model Releases

If one stays in the photography field even for a short time, he/she will likely hear about model releases.  Laws can vary significantly from state to state with some spelling out the absolute need to have a release for a published image, some states barely mention the topic at all within the United States.  Laws in other countries may also vary significantly even with neighboring countries.  At the very least, a model release is signed by the model and gives the photographer permission to publish the image. The following should be considered general principles held true within the USA.

  1. I have copyright to the image, I can do anything I want with the image... right?!
    • FALSE. Copyright states that the photography owns the image unless it is specifically assigned to someone else. It does not give the photographer any rights to publish the image. 
  2. The model said that I could use the image, that should be enough..right?
    • FALSE. In most cases, unless it is in writing, it did not happen.  In some cases a group photography event (shootout) may have a blanket release signed by the participating models. Photographers should make an concerted effort to receive a copy of this statement.  A verbal statement made by a model to the entire group MAY be held binding, but only if photographers in attendance would be willing to legally witness to that statement.
  3. If the photographer plans to promote, service, or organization, including his/her own, a model release is necessary.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​TRUE. A model may not be attending the local opening of a restaurant in your area, but if you use an image of her sitting at a table eating a meal, you better have a release signed if you plan on using her image to advertise the grand opening.
  4. A payment, or at least a print of the image is necessary for a model release to be valid
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MAYBE NOT. It depends upon the wording of the release and the overall environment. Keep in mind if there is an understood expectation of some form of consideration, that must be delivered to the model. A common example of a non monetary compensation may be TFP (Trade for Print) or TFF (Trade for files). Failure to deliver may or may not invalidate the model release.
  5. ​​​​​​​We are not professionals and are just playing around with the camera. A model release is not necessary.
    • TRUE. IF two people are just photographing each other to place in an album, on a computer, with no intention of promoting or selling anything then a model release is generally not necessary. Publishing the images on social media may or may not get a little tricky but images of family or friends MAY not cause a problem. Of course, it is always a good idea to let anyone know, even a family member, that you are posting on social media. It may not get you into legal trouble, but your person life may get a little rough.
  6. ​​​​​​​A model release is a contract.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MAYBE NOT. A contract typically is a signed document that typically offers some form of compensation, promises or duties that must be met by all parties.  Depending upon where you live, a release may or may not be considered a contract. Most informed people recommend that a release be written according to the laws in your particular jurisdiction.
  7. ​​​​​​​If an image is taken in Vermont, and later shown in New York promoting a product , the model release from Vermont will suffice.
    • MAYBE NOT. It depend on how the model release in Vermont was worded. If photographer Pete whipped up a quick release from his home computer based on what he thought should be in the release, he may be looking a some problems if the model decides to sue from the image published in New York. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  8. ​​​​​​​Editoral, fine art, and newsworthy images may be exempt from needing a model release.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​YES, Generally speaking.  If a news crew photographer takes an image of you standing outside of a burning building, a release is not needed since the photographer is not advertising or promoting the fire (we hope!).  Now, if the editor of his agency used the image as an advertisement as to how great his news crew is and looking for contributions from others, there could be a requirement for releases.
  9. ​​​​​​​I can use my images for anything I want once I have the release.
  • ​​​​​​​NO. If any image is used to falsely portray an individual without their consent, a lawsuit is possible. IF someone is photographing the subject of drug abuse and the model during the shoot is modeling with drug paraphernalia then the model is aware of the intent of the shoot to portray drug abuse. On the other hand, if the model was shot as part of a fashion shoot and sometime in the future syringes and drugs made it appear that she was associated with drugs, a serious lawsuit could exist.

10. A Release is forever

  • YES. Unless the terms of the release specify otherwise, a release is forever.


If it is not obvious from above, it is a good idea to have an attorney look at your model release. It may only take 30 minutes of the attorneys time, so any fee should be considered well worth it. One can not go wrong getting a model release in any case. Sample model releases are plentiful on the internet and also available from the Professional Photographers of America.  If an issue goes to litigation, something is better than having nothing at all. 

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) contract education Model Photography release Mon, 27 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Orphan Works CuriousCurious Orphan Works- What Are They?

'Orphan Works' are artistic properties that do not have a specific author and/or it has been impossible to locate the photographer who made the image.  The practical implication for this situation is that under normal conditions if one wishes to use an image, the photographer would be contacted and one would get written permission. Well, what if the photographer has passed away, or simply the studio has gone out of business?

With the exception of use for educational purposes in a classroom (fair use), the person who wishes to use the image is out of luck. Legally, one can not copy the image or use it for their own purposes. Simply because a logo, watermark or other information that can not be readily found does not give one the right to assume that it is public domain.

If the photographer, his family members, estate, or any legal representative would see an image in use that would belong to the original photographer, a major lawsuit could and probably would happen against the individuals who stole (yes 'stole')the image.  A diligent search is necessary before any image can be used by someone who did not make the original image.  

One such problem can be seen when a picture from a swimsuit model is taken from the Sports Illustrated annual issue. While the infringer may think it may be funny to delete the SI logo from the image and post the image on Facebook as his new girlfriend, not contacting the magazine will almost certainly land him in hot water.  Simply because the photographers name was not directly next to an image does not mean that he has the right to use the image in any manner whatsoever (this is NOT fair use).

Until congress settles on a law that deals specifically with the issue of Orphan works, the best plan of action would be to search for another similar image where one could get permission, or even purchase a similar image from a stock site.


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


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 20 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Hi Rez Virtual Photoshoots? LeatherLeather Hi Rez Virtual Photoshoots- A New Niche?

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, many forms of people photography are at a standstill, and justifiably so. Some have trialed streaming over the internet, but in many cases this only results in screen shots with a low resolution images. While this may be ok for social media and some on-line promotion, it certainly has its limitations. What would it take to fine tune this process without investing in quite a bit of high end electronics?

The camera:

  • First one would need a camera that is capable of high resolution (generally 240 ppi or above).
  • The camera should have the ability to either have an memory card or directly upload images to the web. 
  • The camera should either have the ability to to time lapse photography or at last have a built in self timer
  • The camera should perform reasonably well taking images with room lighting or natural light

OK, so these features are not really high end, in fact, some cell phone cameras have these features.


  • If indoors, the room should have plenty of natural light
  • Should be free of distracting elements. One way of achieving this is to hang a bed over a wall for a plain background. Tacky.. no.. you would be surprised how many professionals have used this technique.
  • Should be spacious enough that you can move around as necessary and yet position your camera to capture the concept.


You will want some method of communicating (both visual and voice) with the person to whom you are sending the images. This could be your cell phone (if not used as a camera), or a Skype session over a laptop.


This can be the trickiest part for someone who may allow others to adjust lighting. As above, ideally a room well lit with natural light would work well. If a model does not have professional lighting, experimentation is the key here. Try a mini session and look at the images and evaluate whether they are too dark or overexposed. Where are the shadows? Are any props light appropriately?

The Session

The client or photographer should agree on what type of session and how images may appear. Pinterest is a great resource for almost any kind of inspiration. Once the session has begun, the photographer or client may continue to communicate over Skype of whatever other method that has been set up.

After the Session

Images should be uploaded to a source where the client or photographer can access them. It may be a dropbox account, or it may even be a google drive account.


While this certainly is not a perfect arrangement, it is practical for almost everyone. Of course there are cameras that can may be able to accept web controls to to exposure, but this may be getting into expensive options.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) business communication creative Photography photoshoots virtual Mon, 13 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Studio withdrawl? Studio gridStudio grid Are you Itching to get Back Out in the Field?

It is hard now with stay at home orders in many states for photographers. Not only for business owners, but also for those who crave the creative challenge. With the COVID virus still at or near its peak in many areas, it would be irresponsible to potentially expose ourselves, our families, or even our clients to illness. But there is hope from both a business perspective as well as a creative perspective.

The Small Business Association (SBA) is working for small businesses to provide grants and loans which can be forgiven to businesses that are suffering under the current order for business closures. Although photographers and videographers  are important, they are not considered essential life supporting businesses. There is also a plan which has yet to be released for business owners who employee others to keep those employees on as long as possible through a government grant. Some of those business financial aids are listed Govt COVID help.

What about the creative side of things. Most photographers try to specialize in a particular style or genre of photography to set themselves apart from all others. BUT... while you are at home, why not practice some styles of photography that may not be in your particular genre? For example, product photography can really fine tune your lighting skills by dealing with highly reflective objects, very textured objects, totally flat objects, or many other objects that you may find around your home. If you have gels that you typically use in the studio for portraits, why not try them on a vase or a bottle? One such guide for product photography can be found on Creative Live.

Most of us have features on our cameras that we don't use often.  Have you ever tried time lapse photography? Pointing your camera out of your window might just produce some interesting images throughout the day.

For those who may have animals, how about some action shots? Catching your dog run through your back yard, possibly jumping for a ball that you have thrown. How about your cat? Catching a cat jumping through the air may just make it look like a flying squirrel. 

Of course there are hundreds or actions and presets that you may want to add to your collection for those who use Photoshop or Lightroom.  Some of these sets of instructions for your programs can save you much time in your overall editing process and help your workflow once everyone is able to make it back into a daily lifestyle again. Some presets such as those offered through PhotoWhoa are actually free, so it does not hurt to experiment with them.


Yes, this is a difficult time for many people, but as creatives we can work though this and probably come out stronger than ever.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) business camera creative education help Photography Photoshop Mon, 06 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Is there another Way? Is There Another Way?

With the COVID-19 virus spreading world wide, is there another way to keep photography and modeling business practices moving in the right direction?  Clearly, it is a major challenge when one looks at cash flow, availability of people and locations, and even proper handling of props.

Some artists have turned to on-line sales, where in the past it may not have been through of as a main revenue stream.  Personal websites, commercial sites such as Only fans, or even becoming a stock image provider to such sites as Adobe may be options. Each of these option has advantages and drawbacks and may work for some and not others. For example, personal websites do require that you purchase a domain name and in some cases pay the hosting provider. Hosts such as Wix will even help you built your own website at no cost however the Wix brand will be featured even within your web address. The advantage of personal websites is however you often will not have to pay a commission fee for anything that your sell to a particular customer.

Some commercial sites that host images may actually charge a fee for every image that you sell to a customer. If you have developed a significant social media following, fees charge may not add up to much if you are able to garner a significant amount of sales per month. This usually means that you may need to place a significant amount of 'teaser' images to your regular social media accounts and direct potential customers to your pay site. One thing to keep in mind, for models is that the model must own the images such as self portraits, or must obtain permission to sell images from the photographer. Significant lawsuits have been filed relating to people selling images that they do now own.  On the photographer part, make certain that you have a model release. Again, lawsuits have been filed and awards made without these documents.

Stock sites sales can work if you are providing images that are currently in need. Simply posting images without careful research into what is 'hot' and what is not can lead one to much disappointment.  Those who do well at this often provide a significant amount of work each month and the payout may vary depending upon which stock site that you choose.

Video events, can help through sites such as Youtube. But in order to make this work, you will need a significant amount of your social media traffic to your channel in order to monetize your work. This can take time, and in most cases you will need something unique about your channel to draw a significant audience.  Streaming videos can also be helpful, and in some cases webcams or even some cell phones can produce reasonable quality. This avenue some require some advance work on the producers part such as having a consistent place to film, good audio and lighting, and well as engaging subjects.

Obviously, in person events and be tricky. There is not only a risk of person to person transmission of disease but all props and surroundings must be disinfected before and after each use. Many local governments are placing restrictions on what may happen in public places which makes in person events even more difficult to manage well.


I wish everyone well in these stressful times and hope that you maintain your passion for the arts!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) media Paysites social stock video Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:54:25 GMT
Do you really need insurance? CuriousCurious Insurance: Yes or No for the Freelancer?

I recently had some events happen during photoshoots that made me wonder about insurance. Clearly some freelancers carry it and some do not.  So my high end camera strap attached to my expensive camera and lens decided it was time to part ways both from the bottom of my camera and along the safety strap. Fortunately, I was holding the camera at that time!  As I was raising my supposedly heavy duty lightstand the stand startled to wobble even though I was indoors on a flat surface. What if the stand had hit the model, or tore an expensive piece of furniture?  As my mind continued to wonder I remember part of a ceiling collapsing a few years ago, and landed on part of my computer with a cloud of insulation following it.

If you operate leased studio or commercial building, your lease will probably require you to have insurance. But what if you operate out of a home studio and home office as a freelancer? Home insurance, without a rider (a schedule of specific professional equipment to be covered), probably will not cover professional equipment (strobes, pro cameras etc). While a rider would certain cover equipment, it would likely cover that equipment under a depreciation schedule. That is to say a $2,000 camera purchased 2 years ago may only worth $ 750.00 in replacement costs!  In the case of my ceiling incident which could have ruined all data on my computer, homeowners insurance would not cover images destroyed from a once in a lifetime wedding event and a very dissatisfied client.

As if that is not enough, lets say you have a awesome outdoor location you want to do a photoshooot.  You arrange a trade shoot with a local model and on the day of the shoot all seems to be going well. As your model moves into throughout the shoot, she stands in what you realize too late is a patch of poison Ivy. She starts to freak out a little telling you that she is sensitive to Poison Ivy.  Later the next day she informs you that both legs are covered with welts and she is unable to work at her regular job.

There are several options for professional insurance, one of which is through the Professional Photographers of America Benefits. These benefits can cover your equipment, lost data, and even liability. There are of course other companies such as Full frame insurance that will allow you to purchase annual insurance of insurance for a specific one time event that you may have planned. 

Some venues, especially those owned by federal, state, and sometimes local governments may require you to have a Certificate of Insurance (COI) before you can shoot on their property. Some major private venues may also wish to see a COI or they may not let you shoot at that location. Obviously, if you provide this insurance to potential venues it lessens the possibility that they will be held responsible if something goes wrong. If you are a location photographer , you may not be allowed to shoot at a location if you can not provide a COI.

Health and Disability insurance for yourself can without doubt be expensive. What if during the outdoor shoot as mentioned above, you are rushing to move the model out of the patch of poison ivy and YOU fall and break your ankle? Now you can not work (as least not easily) AND potentially have a claim coming in from the model.  If you happen to be a AAA member, the service provides much more than than just roadside assistance and may be other benefits at a discounted price.

As if the above were not not enough, there are companies that offer an Umbrella policy. This is a policy that covers issues that may not be covered explicitly in other policies. It also provides additional financial coverage above and beyond what may be offered with other policies.

Insurance for business owners who are offering coverage to employees, and one should investigate what local, state, and federal laws may be in your particular area to set up such a program.

The final point that I wanted to mention, is consider forming an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). In the event that a disaster happens, your personal finances would not be wiped out.  I may go into this structure in more detail at a later time.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Insurance Mon, 09 Mar 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Written communication CuriousCurious Written Communication Can be a Challenge

Written communication to co-workers, clients, and even friends can be a challenge. Words can mean many things to many people depending upon background, area in which people live, their experiences as well as many other things. Communication within the modeling and photography industry can include quite a bit of jargon not always found in other industries. Here are some thoughts when sending out a email or physical letter to either a new client or even a long term business colleague.

  • Who is your audience? 
    • This will often determine how structured and detailed your letter or email may be written. For example, reaching out to a new client may require an introductory letter, avoiding overwhelming the contact with jargon. The introductory letter may well invite them to view your work or visit your website for additional information if they are interesting in contacting you. Even a long term colleague may have different levels or understanding such as a photographer may not understand details that a makeup artist may think is second nature.
  • Structure
    • It almost goes without saying that planned communication should use proper punctuation and grammar. Spell and grammar checkers can be worth gold for someone who sends out daily written communication. It's amazing sometimes in social media communication how I may need to read a sentence over again begin to understand what the author may be attempting to say. This tends to cast a unprofessional light on the person sending a poorly constructed message.
  • ​​​​​​​Templates
    • ​​​​​​​There are volumes of templates on the internet covering practically every known business use. Are these for you? They could be especially if you are sending out similar information to a relatively large number of people. They can improve your workflow. An important aspect to consider with templates is to personalize them based on your audience. A Salutation that begins with "Dear Mr or Mrs ..." is likely to be deleted from email or thrown away in paper form. People often receive volumes of sales emails or letters and may be quick to dismiss them. A letter that begin with 'Dear Bob..." ( a personal greeting) may at least stand a chance of being read.
  • ​​​​​​​Purpose
    • ​​​​​​​Why are you sending the information? To inform someone of your service? To follow-up on a service already rendered? People tend to have busy lives these days and failing to make your point early in a message can be frustrating to the receiver. Some people may have seen on-line advertising that seems to drag on for pages without providing critical information to the viewer. When sending an email providing critical information in the subject line can get the message read quickly such as:
      • " Photo estimate for Monday March 2nd"
      • "Invoice for photography services on March 2nd"
      • " Message from Bob Barford Photography"
    • If your communication is of a legal matter, have the communication reviewed ideally by an attorney.  A misplaced comma, a imprecise word or even omitted details can create problems. Laws can vary from state to state and certainly if dealing with international business. 
    • Regardless of the purpose, have a friend or colleague read your newly drafted letter to see if it makes sense. If it does not make sense to them, chances are you will need some revisions.
  • Your Signature
    • ​​​​​​​This is especially important with emails.  Many email programs will allow you to develop a standard signature block that may include details such as:
      • ​​​​​​​Your name (Bob Barford)
      • Position (Photographer)
      • Business name (Bob Barford Photography)
      • Location (Street address as necessary, but at least city and state)
      • Telephone (Business and Cell)
      • Email (select ONLY one for clarity, you don't want to miss a response) 
      • Website or social media reference (your on-line portfolio)
  • ​​​​​​​Copies
    • ​​​​​​​Who else needs to know about the communication that you have send? Do you need to send an extra copy to yourself to remind you that you have mailed out correspondence? Do you have associates such as MUA that need to know the details of a project?
    • Be careful about using the "Reply All" function found in many email services. It can be useful, but can also be very annoying or even embarrassing if a message is forwarded to the wrong people. In some cases, can have adverse legal consequences.
  • ​​​​​​​Thank you notes
    • ​​​​​​​People like to be thanked for their participation, regardless of whether or not it is deemed part of their job. Even a friend likes to be acknowledged for participation within a project!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) documents email Notes Mon, 02 Mar 2020 20:10:20 GMT
Thinking about Court? CuriousCurious Thinking About Taking Someone to Court?

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you are not able to get the result that you want with an individual or company. The event may be a egregious event such as an after discussion and paying for an individual to work at an event and once there that individual refuses or demands more money than agreed upon leading to the event coming to a grinding halt. It could also be less serious but just as annoying as an individual chronically late on payments due you. Yet another example may be that you hire and pay someone for a specific concept and once they arrive they decide that they do not like that concept, but want to work on one of their own.  Did someone infringe on your copyright?

Some things to think about:

  • How clearly did you communicate, in writing, to your contact person?
    • If you are working with a model, did you send concept images?
    • How clear were you on payment, hours, location?
    • What was your backup plan in case of inclement weather? 
    • Have you read and understand any communication that they sent you?
  • Who are you Communicating with?
    • A business.. are you speaking, writing to the correct decision maker?
    • An individual.. what references or background do you have on this person?
  • Copyright?
    • Did you register your images with the copyright office?
    • If you claiming copyright infringement, this will likely end up in Federal Court (expensive). 


When deciding which path to take, a civil or small claims court could be your best bet. Depending upon the state that you live claims could be limited to as little as $2,500 or in some cases up to $10,000. There are advantages to small claims court such as not having to hire an attorney unless you happen to be suing a corporation, in which case an attorney is almost always necessary. Suing a company may draw a trial out for months or even years before a settlement is made. On the other hand, if you are suing an individual, just the process of going to court may induce the person to settle with you quickly.

The Small Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) is pending approval before congress as an alternative to the very expensive and lengthy process of moving through the federal court system in cases of copyright infringement. This is actually a board (vs court) to review copyright cases. This act was approved as of October 2019. Time will tell if this is an effective process to resolving disputes effectively CASE.  Small claims courts will sometimes accept arguments such as 'theft of property or services' in matters of lawsuits regarding photographic images but results vary dramatically depending upon the laws in individual states.

Some states have mandatory arbitration boards before anyone can even appear before a judge. If this is the case, you and those whom you may be suing will sit down before an impartial arbitrator and he or she will try to get all parties to come to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the courts will enforce any settlement.

Most of us want to avoid the potentially complex legal court system but if all else fails remember to keep GOOD records of ANY and ALL communications with clients regardless of how well you may think that you know them. This includes any social media screen shots that you may have made with a client. Remember that you can always get advice from an attorney without necessarily hiring that person to represent you. If the case is complicated, suing a company, or certainly if you are headed to the federal court system you will need representation.  





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) court Law lawsuits Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:00:00 GMT
PhotoBooks Saal Design PhotoBooks

Recently I had the opportunity to take a look at professional photobooks from Saal Digital. I selected the Elegant Acrylic Cover for my project which I planned to place a variety of my travel images. The website itself is easy to navigate and a variety of products are available in addition to photobooks including photo prints, cards, calendars, and gifts. 

Photobooks themselves are available in a variety of sizes in both landscape and portrait orientation. My choice of the Elegant acrylic cover comes with a leatherette blinding and back page.  The company provides its software to load your images into through a free download and I found it relatively easy to use after a short video tutorial. Users have the option of loading all of their images with the book and letting the software automatically create a layout for your book or you have have almost total manual control over your images. Images can be set to a collage, or even a two page spread. There is an option to create a layout external to this program, however I found the supplied software useful in itself.

Once I created my photobook, I uploaded it to the Saal Design site, and about two weeks later I received by finished product. The acrylic cover is about 3/16" thick with the title page embedded within the acrylic. The pages themselves are glossy heavy weight paper that I found displayed colors vividly and accurately.

Saal Design is currently offering a $45.00 voucher for their professional line of photobooks. I would recommend taking a look at their Professional Photobooks  selections  as well as other products that they offer.







]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photobooks Mon, 03 Feb 2020 22:11:13 GMT
IRS- Are you ready? SuspiciousSuspicious Are You Ready For an IRS Audit?

Self employed business people tend to be squarely in the cross-hairs when it comes to tax audits.  Even the NY Times recently wrote an article in which they stated that "People who are self employed often fail to report all of their income properly. The reality is, with almost 9,000 pages of tax code in the United States, it can be difficult to keep up with everything, particularly when things tend to change from year to year.  Unfortunately, IRS auditors will often not accept "Well, I did not know..." rather they expect people to comply and remain current with reporting expectations. Fortunately, most of us are only responsible for a very small portion of the tax code.

Needless to say, whether it be with personal finances or business finances it is important to keep accurate records and well as to review them on a regular basis. Most banks and credit card companies maintain an online record of your transactions which you can download to your computer or even paper records if you wish.  Financial management software packages such as Quickbooks can help you stay organized and keep track of even daily receipts.

Proactively, you can reduce your odds of an audit by:

  • Being honest on your return and report your income
  • Avoid high number of deductions compared to your income. If you deduct more than 1/2 of your income, this will raise flags.
  • The more precise you can be, the better. Be careful with rounding numbers. Rounding $2000.01 (one penny) is certainly ok; rounding $2,100  to $2000 may be caught with an audit.
  • Consider forming a LLC rather than a sole proprietor or even a partnership. This will also lessen your liability in other areas of business.
  • Be careful if you have a high income and claim EITC. This can be a red flag for auditors.
  • Seriously consider a tax professional or at least the VITA (Volunteer income tax assistance) program as your income increases. 
  • Keep your receipts in a organized file! Remember that many companies keep a detailed list of your purchases for several years and you may need to contact them in some cases.  Even small amount may add up over a period of a year. 

If you are audited, don't panic and carefully read the information that the IRS wants from you. Many audits are done by correspondence and you may not even have to go sit in front of an auditor. HOWEVER.. now is the time to get professional advice. If not, you may do or say something in person or in writing that may cause an auditor to look deeper than what they original audit has intended.

  • If you are requested to appear in person, you can bring your tax professional with you. Upon filing a legal power of attorney, you may even get a tax professional to appear in place of you.
  • Be nice. If you are sitting in front of an auditor and throw a pile of receipts at him/her, things are likely to get worse. Auditors love very organized people and the process will go much smoother.
  • The IRS allows you to re-construct your tax records if you do not have a receipt for a particular deduction.  In the age of the internet, it may only take a few minutes, even during an audit, to retrieve something that you do not have in front of you. 
  • Deliver what is asked for, and nothing more. If you provide additional information, it may slow down the audit or may be cause the auditor to head off in another direction by raising a red flag.
  • If you are claiming part of your home as a business, the auditor may want to home. Although you do not have to let him/her within your property (without a warrant) he/she may dis-allow your home business. Try to have an audit at your tax professionals office if at all possible.
  • Be careful with charitable donations. The rules can change from year to year. Often you can only donate raw materials, and not your time. Donations to organizations such as Goodwill (get a receipt) may add up over a period of a year.
  • State and federal laws may vary. It is even possible to be audited by your state for things such as sales tax.


In summary, being prepared with your records and being somewhat conservative in what you claim as deductions will often work in your favor during any tax form review. As your annual income increases, the need for a tax professional to review your records will also likely increase.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) audit IRS Tax Mon, 03 Feb 2020 13:00:00 GMT
PLUS- Interested? CuriousCurious Do you know PLUS?

I wonder how many people are members of PLUS or have even heard about it? (Hint: No, it is not a warehouse for clothing). The Picture Licensing Universal System—a cooperative, multi-industry initiative — provides a system that clearly defines and categorizes image usage around the world, from granting and acquiring licenses to tracking and managing them well into the future.The first component of PLUS is the picture licensing Glossary. Obviously, in order to reach common agreement on license parameters, we must have a common understanding of the language that forms a license. The PLUS website  is quite exhaustive as to how this system works to benefit the photography industry in general. Best of all, it is free.

The PLUS Registry at is an online resource developed and operated cooperatively by a global Coalition of all communities engaged in creating, using, distributing and preserving images. Search the Registry to find rights and descriptive information (“metadata”) for any image, and to find current contact information for related creators, rights holders and institutions. 

I was at an event recently, and was told that some photographers simply provide images and really don't care what may happen to them. So, does that mean that they will be distributed to the general consumer public market with the photographers name attached? Will they be limited to just the photography and modeling industry? Will they potentially appear in magazines and editorials or advertising? Will they rest only on a home computer?

When one licenses an image (gives permission for use), there are some basic questions to think about such as:

  • Duration: How long are you going to give (or sell) permission (License) the image for? One month? Years? Without limit?
  • Exclusivity: Who can use the image? The photographer? model? Magazine? In what forms (printed, electronic)? Languages? Third parties?
  • Geography: With the US? Anywhere in the world?
  • Rights managed (specific rights controlled by the image owner) -OR- Royality Free (once licensed, essentially a almost unlimited use of the image or group of images although resale may be limited)

The PLUS system has a generator that is able to guide almost anyone through a basic licensing practice. Keep in mind that this system DOES NOT suggest a price point for images. That is left solely up to the content producer and any negotiations that he/she may have with a particular client. In fact, the license may actually be embedded within the photograph's metadata itself by using this system.


  • Media: Promotional-marketing materials
  • Size: Any size image
  • Quantity: up to 1000 copies
  • Duration: Unlimited
  • Region: Unlimited
  • Language: Unlimited
  • Industry: All industries
  • Exclusivity: Non- Exclusive


Too much to think about? Perhaps for some, but for others in could have a significant impact if an image is of great value. Of course this is a formal system which can add extra time to work flow even for the seasoned professional. Is it really necessary to license you images? Well, is it important what a client or someone you provide images does with those images? Of course, there are alternatives, though granted not as comprehensive.

Programs such as Lightroom allows you to add design a preset for your metadata for any image that you may import. You can also view or change the metadata Lightroom Classic Help.  This will not provide the central registry such as the PLUS system, but may it just a little easier when it comes to processing bulk images from a recent shoot. Outstanding images however may still gain value from placing them into this system.  

Of particular note, this is NOT the same as registering a copyright. While this may indeed help with the process should an image be infringed, registering the image with the copyright office will give the photographer (owner) the help needed to recover from any damages as a result from an image being stolen or misused.

Please refer to the website listed above if you would like to know more about the PLUS system.










]]> (Bob Barford Photography) license PLUS rights Mon, 27 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Stylized Portraits dramaticdramatic Stylized Portraits

This week I thought I would like to talk a little about what I try to achieve in a portrait. I have been photographing people for about 7 years, much less than some who have spent most of their lives perfecting their portrait images. I started out primarily photographing landscapes and animals...

and even today I still enjoy capturing animal images, especially of the big cats.

But when I photograph people, I try to capture more than just a snapshot of the person. I do my best to create an image designed with either special lighting, poses, wardrobe, location, makeup, or even post processing to bring out somethings unique related to that image.  I often will discuss the overall concept with my subject and see if she (or he) has ideas that I had not considered. This brings a level of anticipation to my subjects, so that rather than just Bob took an photo of me, the feeling of my subject may be that we created the image together.

In a recent shoot, my subject actually logged onto Pinterest and expanded the concept that we had already spoke about briefly. This can get people heavily engaged into the image so that they put more of themselves into poses, expressions, and overall spirit during the photoshoot itself. Does it pay off? Of course the images are going to look better when someone actively is anticipating a special experience during their photoshoot.

Of course, as a photographer I need to be realistic with a client as to what my skill level may be. If I promise something I should be pretty sure that I can deliver on that promise. I certainly don't mind trying something new, but I am very clear with the client that I can not guarantee how something that I have never worked with will turn out. Most clients are ok with this, and even if one aspect of a project does not work out i make sure that the client still has images from another portion of a photoshoot. Which is of course, an important point to mention -- always have a plan B that you and your client are comfortable with executing.

In some cases, such as composite shoots where someone may be posing in front of greenscreen or seamless paper, I provide a concept image on set. My subject may not actually be in a misty forest, but if I have a large image that they can refer to it really helps get the imagination moving.

This approach is quite different from the " I have a 10 am head shot appointment"  in which one might do one or two lighting changes along with a few variations in poses for anyone who walks through the door. This approach may work well for a corporate headshot assignment in which you only have 10 minutes to work with a client that you have never met. I do like to be a little more creative with my images.

Think about your next photoshoot. What do you know about your subject? What have you shared with your subject? How engaged are they in the entire process?  The more engaged they are, the better the images will be and a pretty good chance that they will return for more images!





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography portraits preparation style Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Avertorial? Your Work has Been Seen and You are Contacted for a Advertorial

So you were successful in getting your work seen and a magazine contacts you for one of your images to use in advertising. An Advertorial may appear in the magazine as an advertisement, but is formatted to look like an editorial in terms of the magazines overall style. 

The content of the Advertorial is typically not written or submitted by the advertising client, but rather the magazine iteself in order to make the advertising client look good. The material, and in this case your image, is then submitted to the advertising client for their approval at which time they may suggest (or require) changes. 

Most photographers have a higher rate for advertising usage as opposed to editorial usage. After all, the advertising client may well have significant exposure relating to their product(s) depending upon the circulation of the magazine and the appeal of the article itself. The advertising client may also sell quite a few of their featured product if the magazine reaches their target audience.

An editorial on the other hand, is basically an opinion expressed by the magazine, which may or may not be favorable to a particular product or service. The magazine may in fact have a regular piece where it reviews products or services during each issue and may not simply feature a single service or product with each article rather compare several and issue an opinion on what may be a choice for its readers.

So, the magazine is looking to get a lower quote from you for the image that it is interested in purchasing. Another possibility is the magazine may want favorable usage rights ('unlimited') so that that it may potentially use your image in future publications for as long as the magazine remains in publication.

As you are contacted for the use of your work, it is important that you take the time to understand how you image will be used. If you are not sure, there are resources out their such as the Professional Photographers of America who may be able to shed some light on any questions that you may have.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Ads Advertorial editorial images Mon, 13 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Are Your images being seen? CuriousCurious Are Your Images Being Seen?

While some people take photo's for their own personal enjoyment and safely store them on their computer, many of us wish our images to be seen by others. Keeping up with social media rules algorithms can be difficult since they can seem to be in a constant state of flux. So, have you considered printing your images?  

Printing can be a complex process, so here I will try to highlight work flow providing specific links to certain processes when necessary. One of the first questions in you would like to go this path is deciding the basics of Who, what, when, how etc. from the literary world.

Perhaps you have already answered the WHO, if you are sharing your work on-line. People who enjoy the type of art you produce will likely result in you producing more of the same type of art for similar groups. If you see some of these people in real life, your cell phone images may not do justice to your work. Depending upon the type of art you create, the general public may enjoy your images as well. You may ask yourself, how to move forward if I want to print, which is a good question.

The HOW part really depends upon you. There are some excellent national labs such as Mpix ,White WallBay photo , Nations as well as many more some which may be more local to you than others. Most professional labs offer a wider selection of print options that what may be available at your corner drug store, which in turn will really make your photo's shine to others. Printing at home may be an option if you have a high quality photo printer but keep in mind that you may not be saving money when you add up the cost of paper, ink and other consumables that you may be using with your home printer. If you are a CreativeLive fan, there are several great classes to help you completely understand the printing process even if you choose to do it yourself.

How will you display your work? One way to start out is with a Print Portfolio. You may have a nearby art store that sells these books or you can certainly purchase them on-line.  But this leads to another question, WHAT size should I print images? Once again this is up to you from relatively small 3" x 3" images up to gallery size 30" x 40" images. The WHAT size is really going to a large part determine how you display your images. Smaller images can certainly be held in a print portfolio as shown above, whereas larger prints will likely need to hang on a wall. Keep in mind that small images may not show the detail that you would like people to see; larger images may be difficult to store and handle. Also keep in mind that the larger you print, the more obvious any edits or problem areas in the image will appear to your viewer.  A good place to start may be 8 x 10" prints in a print portfolio. This size will typically highlight your work, but is also easy to handle.

WHERE would you like your images to be seen? Well, if you have a print portfolio, the possibilities are almost endless from groups that you already may attend to new groups of people or individuals. Are your ambitious and would like to see your work hanging on a wall? Perhaps visits some restaurants in your neighborhood and ask them if they will hang one of your pieces. Of course, this means that you will likely need to have it mounted or framed. If you stick with standard size photo images ( 8 x 10, 11 x 14 ") you will likely be able to find an appropriate frame in a nearby art store. Of course you may also wish to have your image mounted on material such as foamcore when you have your image printed from a professional lab. A rule of thumb is to look at images already displayed where you wish to hang your image to determine how best to proceed. You may even choose to have your images printed on metal for a very unique look.

Other possibilities include local art shows, special events at photo clubs that display art, or even professional galleries in you are really experienced. If you would like a really good tutorial on gallery work, I would recommend that you look up 'Brooke Shaden' on She provides a comprehensive on-line class on how to prepare your work and how to approach gallery owners to display work that you have created.

Is your work polished enough for everyone to see. This is a question that plagues EVERY artist with almost every piece of art that she or he creates. Sometimes it can be helpful to get an honest portfolio reviews from several professional reviewers (Notice that I have commented several, since one opinion may vary from the other). Take it as a learning experience and move forward to display your work!


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) display Photography Portfolio prints Mon, 06 Jan 2020 13:30:00 GMT
Copyright Confusion CuriousCurious Copyright Confusion

Despite hours of Youtube and countless articles and on Copyright, I have noticed on social media there still is quite a bit of confusion regarding this issue. It can be confusing in some cases, since local jurisdictions may deal with the issue in an inconsistent manner. I will re-state what I mentioned in my previous post that I am not an attorney, so the information that I provide here should be considered general in nature and one should contact a licensed attorney local to your area for specific questions.


The photographer snaps the shutter, the image belongs to the photographer. This principle in most cases is true even outside of the United States. Keep in mind though, that even though you own the image your legal rights may be limited unless you register your images with the  Copyright Office  . Specifically, your right to seek monetary damages if your image is stolen will be significantly limited.

So, I can do anything I want with the images that I own.. right?

Actually, no. You can not produce defamatory purposes. There was a run several years ago relating to people posting revenge-porn on various social media sites. There can be civil and even criminal penalties for those posting derogatory images nude or otherwise on social media.

With a couple exceptions, if the person is recognizable in the image, you may need their permission, at least within the United States. This is particularly true if you are promoting yourself or your business. It is also true if you are selling prints of that person in order to make a profit for yourself.

Now you 'may not' need permission if you are photographing a public figure (politician), if you are providing newsworthy images to a media source, providing images for teaching purposes, or for research. 

Most professional photographers are familiar with model releases Download one here.  The wording on releases can vary greatly, but essentially is an agreement between the photographer and subject that allows the photographer to use the subjects image.

So, I can own the images that I take in my friends house ...right?

Yes, you own them, but unless you have a release you may not be able to do much with them. Your friend has a realistic expectation of privacy in his or her own home or within their property (Fourth Amendment- US constitution). Your friend may tell you that you may NOT post any of the images on social media or your website or for that matter print any images and distribute them. Your friend can tell you to STOP taking pictures and you are legally obligated to stop taking pictures. By extension, certain privately owned businesses can restrict you from taking pictures on their property.

NOW..once someone steps onto public land, all bets are off. A person does not have a right to control his or her likeness once on public land (including a public street). You can photograph anyone on public grounds, although it is always wise to ask first. Some people can get quite angry about being photographed! There are street photographers who generally ask first and can submit images to media sources or even publish images in books for educational purposes about people or places.  Once again, if you are profiting personally from images, a model release in most cases will be necessary.

Social Media use...

Most people are aware that social media can use images that are posted on their sites. When you post on social media, you are licensing the platform to use your images. You are NOT licensing other users to copy your images. Technically, if you post an image and other user re-posts your image it could be considered a violation of copyright. If that user crops that image and removes any watermark, the user could suffer a fine of up to $25,000 dollars!

Remember, that if you post on social media, you are publishing an image just the same as if you were to publish it in a book. Think about whether you need a release as mentioned above.

Selling an image on a paid site...

Everything above applies, that is to say you will almost always need a release. Well, what if the image is a selfie? You own the image, and you certainly have willingly published it so all should be good. On the other hand, a model or other subject who does not own the image may not legally profit by posting on a paid site (One can not sell a car if they do not own it).  The subject of course can contact the photographer to gain a license for sale. The photographer may want to split any profits made from the sale.


I hope this overview helps a little to enhance understanding. Keep in mind that these are general principles and certain areas of the country and most certainly outside of the United States things could vary dramatically. Any comments, let me know!






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) copyright media Misconceptions ownership privacy social Mon, 23 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Promissory Estoppel? CuriousCurious What is Promissory Estoppel and can you use it?

Let me start off by stating the I am NOT an attorney, and although this post relates to a legal matter you should refer to an attorney in your jurisdiction.  Laws and their interpretation may also certainly vary between one legal professional and another.

Promissory estoppel serves to enable an injured party to recover on a promise. There are common legally-required elements for a person to make a claim for promissory estoppel: a promisor, a promisee, and a detriment that the promisee has suffered. An additional requirement is that the person making the claim — the promisee — must have reasonably relied on the promise. In other words, the promise was one that a reasonable person would ordinarily rely on.

Another requirement further qualifies the required detriment component; the promisee must have suffered an actual substantial detriment in the form of an  that results from the promisor failing to deliver on his or her promise. Finally, promissory estoppel is usually only granted if a court determines that enforcing the promise is essentially the only means by which injustice to the promisee can be rectified.

So, what does this all mean in terms of practical terms? Lets say that a photographer was asked to do a photoshoot on a certain concept. The specifics of who is involved, when will it happen, where will it happen, what exactly is involved have all been spelled out. The photographer then goes ahead and rents a studio for several hours, hires a makeup artist, and arranges to have several expensive props on site.  The Promisor is the person who has made arrangements with the photographer to conduct the photoshoot. This could be a client, model, or anyone else that has promised the photographer that the photoshoot was going to happen.  The Promisee is the photographer who has been promised (contracted) with the photographer that a photoshoot is desired. 

On the morning of the shoot, the only people at the rental studio are the photographer and makeup artist. The client never appeared and despite cell phone calls the client can not be reached. The detrimental component (injustice) can be established by the fact that the photographer reasonably believed that the client was going to appear at said date and time and place. The photographer has suffered a financial loss by the fact of a studio rental, makeup artist fee, props, not to mention time!

Another example may be of a trade for print relationship with a model (TFP). A model (Promisee) travels to a photographers studio and in exchange for her time has been told by the photographer (Promisor) that she will get xx number of prints of files by the end of the week in exchange for her efforts. A week goes by, then several weeks, then a month and no files are given to the model. She attempts to contact the photographer without results. The model in this case has suffered a (detrimental component) in that she has spent travel money, her time, and has not received anything in exchange.

Potentially, the photographer in the first case, and the model in the second case could file in court based on Promissory Estoppel (contract law) in that a promise was made, the promise was reasonable, and may potentially recover damages due to the fact that there was detriment as a result of the promise not being completed (injustice).

Does there need to be a formal contract? No, emails or other non formal communication may be the basis for a successful outcome on the injured persons part. If the judge agrees with the injured party, damages could be awarded based the fact that the injured party relied on the promise being completed.

Obviously, if there are extreme circumstances that prevented the 'promisor' from completing the promise, this could be taken into account. For example, a car accident in the studio rental case may have prevented the client/ model from appearing. In the second case, an extended illness may have prevented the photographer from delivering files or prints. 

Keeping a promise is always a good thing...and if you can't make it right with the person to whom the promise was made!!

Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Contract education Law Photography Promises Mon, 16 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Backgrounds BackdropBackdrop Background Choices

When I first started photographing people, I thought that I needed to purchase high quality commercial backdrops from well known companies. I really did not know the difference in materials or types of backgrounds were available, or even that I could create certain materials myself and still get great results. As time past, I learned a few things.

Things that I began to realize when purchasing backdrops included price, availability, colors, size, portability, durability and preparation for a photoshoot. Here is a quick summary of what I have learned after almost 7 years photographing people.

Local Fabric Stores

  • Availability & color -If you have a local fabric store, there are often a wide variety of materials and prints that you can choose from ranging from floor covers to elaborate backdrops. Sometimes undyed muslin fabrics are available. Don't overlook bedsheets since they can often make great floor covers or even simple backdrops themselves.  Often you can pick up a needed material at the last minute!
  • Portability & Size - Most of the materials will be very portable. The downside to some fabrics is that they are limited in the width that you can purchase from the bolt. Some fabrics are limited to 3 - 5 feet in width.
  • Durability and Project Prep -  Depending upon the material, some are quite fragile while other materials can stand up to outdoor use many times. Some materials are more prone to wrinkles, so a portable steamer is always a good idea. Some materials can be reflective when using studio lighting.
  • Price: Depending upon the material it can be very cost effective when compared to other sources ($ to $$)

Commerical Muslins

  • Availability & Color: Often colors and prints are only limited by your imagination. If you are creative and wish to purchase undyed muslin, you can even color it yourself. There are numerous on line locations to purchase muslins such as from Savage Universal.
  • Portability and Size: Very portable and sizes vary to over 20 feet high!
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some muslins come with a sewn in pocket which makes them very easy to hang from a stand. While certain muslins can be very thin and almost translucent, others can be heavier and very durable. Typically they are relatively easy to clean. The downside is that they wrinkle easily, and one must either steam wrinkles out or hang them overnight and roll the fabric prior to use. Most 
  • Price: Varies depending upon size and style from relatively inexpensive ($) to $$$.

Polyblends and Microfibers

  • Availability and Colors - Often a blend of several fabrics and can be found in solid colors or with printed scenes on them such as holiday, outdoor, scifi ect.. 
  • Portability and Size - Very portable again since these are fabrics and are typically available in a variety of sizes ranging from 3 feet to over 10 feet wide.
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some products arrive from commercial sources sources and it can be difficult to get folds clear  of the material especially with print products. Some printed products require careful handling to avoid fading of an image. The exception seems to be microfiber materials which often have few wrinkles, are lightproof and very durable.
  • Price-  Varies from $ to $$


  • Availability and Colors - Available from a wide variety of photo supplies as well as from party shops in both solid colors as well as various prints. 
  • Portability and Size - Typically folded or rolled depending upon the size and may be available in small 3 foot lengths to over 10- 20 foot lengths of material.
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some vinyl backdrops can be very thin and especially if shipped folded can be nearly impossible to remove wrinkles and folds. Other vinyl products are of better quality but still may suffer from folds. Vinyl is typically more reflective than cloth or paper counter parts, so lighting must be done much more carefully to avoid reflections. Care must be taken with certain products to avoid print images from fading.
  • Prices - Varies $ to $$


  • Availability and Color - Available from a wide range of photo in rolls of 5 ft lengths and 9 ft length. Almost all products are solid colors.
  • Portability and Size - As mentioned above, the paper is typically supplied in rolls. This can be slightly problematic transporting 9 foot rolls for the location photographer, but typically works well in a fixed studio location.
  • Durability and Project Prep: The good part about paper is that (if stored correctly) is wrinkle free and once hung on a stand or rack requires little other preparation. The paper does tear and paper on the floor can become dirty from staff walking on the skirt. It is relatively non reflective and can provide a nice even color for subjects.
  • Prices: Typically $ to $$


I have used each of the above, and for traveling purposes and rapid setup the microfiber tends to work well, and of course with a little more prep muslins can produce a polished look. Don't overlook things like dark colored bedsheets for scarred flooring. When working in the studio, if a paper rack is available paper can often be changed easily and rapidly for a variety of seemless looks.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) backgrounds fabrics muslin paper Mon, 02 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Artist Statements Do You Have an Artist Statement?

Regardless of whether you are a photographer, a MUA, model, or any other creative professional for that matter it can be very difficult to talk about yourself in a meaningful way without sounding egotistical or as though you are trying to sell something.  An artist statement tells others not only how and why you create your art, but also some specifics behind what you do. Often this is a written statement that is limited to a short paragraph on promotional material, website, or in some cases on a gallery wall.

This does not have to be a fancy literary jewel, but should be as clear and simple so that regardless of whomever is reading it, has a reasonable idea of what you do and why you do it. Some details should be included, but not so much as to detract from the statement as a whole. For example, a photographer may say that he/she uses 'Photoshop in the creation of artistic landscapes' but the statement does not necessarily need to say what tools within Photoshop may be used to create those images.  Your artist statement should include something personal and interesting so that others may be drawn closer to your body of work. Now.. this is not your resume (which is much more detailed), but rather a short introduction of yourself as an artist.

When you are creating your artist statement, look at some of your favorite images. What actually inspired you to create these images? Are most of the images in your portfolio similar? That certainly is not to say that you can not have more than one portfolio with significantly different work. A photographer may have landscape images and people images and have two different artist statements. Of course it is also possible to have a comprehensive artist statement to cover most of your work.  A makeup artist may do beauty work, and she may also do horror effects. She would probably not place them side by side in a portfolio, but she certainly could be inspired to create an artist statement covering all of her work.

This is often related to your 'about me' page so often found on many websites. What do you do, how do you do it, any why do you do it. Your about me often has a photo of yourself or something related directly to yourself as an artist. Your about me could be written in the same first person format, or it could also be written in third person format, much in the same manner you may find on the inside of book covers about the author of the book. The primary difference between the artist statement and the about me is that you are talking specifically about you as a person when you are writing about me and of course writing about your art when you are making the artist statement. The two are related, but the about me tends to be more about your journey as an artist. 

Should you choose to accept this as homework, make your artist statement (or review it). It can change from time to time and just like your portfolio, may be updated at different points in your career!


Some examples are here Artist Statements and may get you started to see what others have written themselves. 



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) about me Artist Statement creative education learning writing Mon, 11 Nov 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Shooting for fit Hiring for Fit


As a Photographer, I network with a wide variety of people, and recently have seen quite a bit of negative information relating to pushing boundaries during photo shoots. As one who has started with wildlife, I know to respect boundaries.

When shooting wild animals, respect is important. Big cats in particular have a personality that can range from playful to deadly. Some great images can be made by being in the right place, patience, and understanding. Trying to convince a 300- 500 pound wild tiger to do something that is not natural to it, will often not end well. The tiger, the person attempting to do to convincing, or more likely both will get hurt.

Yes, one can throw a steak in the direction of the tiger with the hopes that it will move in the direction that you want it to for a good image. Sometimes this may work, but then you get a image of a tiger eating steak. Is this the final image that you really wanted? Probably not if you are looking for natural behavior from the animal.

This translates very well to shooting with 'human' subjects. Who are they really? If you understand and respect the person that you are working with, the results will almost always turn out well. Forcing a concept, or choosing the wrong person for a concept will often end up in sub-par images with a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Sometimes things will not work out in the way that you planned, despite everyone making their best effort. Go home, re-think the process, and try again.

In the end it comes down to careful planning, choosing the right person at the right time to work on a concept that you have in mind.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) boundries concepts Photography shoot for fit Mon, 28 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
What are you trying to say, what do they feel? What are you Saying? How do they Feel?

When you make an image, what are you saying to your audience? How does it make them feel? Every image does not have to be a Steven Spielberg masterpiece but what message are you trying to convey. Are you:

  • Shooting a family gathering?
  • Shooting to promote your business?
  • Trying to get someone to laugh? feel sad?

In the shot above, the girl in the stream is reacting. In this case to some REALLY COLD water. I added a caption on the original image to let my viewers know that she had just stepped into a COLD stream. Most people have felt cold water and can relate to this poor girls experience. Her expression almost jumps out at you and you may even laugh.

If you are at an amusement park, are you shooting to capture your friends or families experiences. If so, focusing on them will bring back really fond memories when they look at the images. Even if you post these images to social media, you may add a caption such as 'We had a great day at xyz amusement park".  Your friends who look at the images are expecting to see pics of you and your family having fun, and may feel good that you got away from the daily grind.  On the other hand, suppose you were shooting to promote the park. You will likely want carefully crafted shots with great lighting, angles, and composition to draw potential customers into the park for the day.  Pictures of the giant Ferris Wheel may not have as much meaning to a day with the family if at least some images don't include your family.

If you post on social media to promote your business, you are likely making the statement that "This is what I can do for you, hire me" and thus the images should be some of the best you are capable of making. You want people to say "WOW", and want to hire you. Of course this would only be part of your overall marketing campaign and your in-person session would ideally draw them further into your studio.

Suppose though you are posting about a event or situation within your community?  Posting about a traffic accident will likely capture peoples attention and will likely encourage them to stay away from the scene.  A post about a county fair may encourage people to visit and get away from their daily routines for the day. These types of posts are informative posts that people tend to appreciate, even though the focus is not on you directly.

Are you photographing a wedding as a guest? You will likely get some ok candid shots or maybe be lucky enough to grab a special moment by being in the right place at the right time. You are certainly freezing a very special moment in time, not only for yourself but for everyone else at the wedding event. Of course, a professional 'should' capture the entire day from start to finish ranging from the candid shots to the most staged shots possible. Here the photographer is telling the 'story' of the wedding day with polished images that the bridge and groom will cherish throughout their marriage.

When you pick up your camera, ask yourself "Why am I taking these images"? Once you answer that question, it will guide the rest of your day and bring your images to the next level.

-Bob B.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) audience community drama family Feel professional sale Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Green screen (ChromaKey) Compositing Green Screen Compositing

Many photographers and movie makers are familiar with green screen images. The foreground is typically the actor, whereas the background can be practically anything that anyone can imagine. In some cases, the background can be placed in order to save time and money while other times the background can be pure fantasy such as when Superman flies through the air.

Green screen need not be limited only to background images. As seen above, the model is sitting on a stool covered by green fabric, and in the final image not only has the background color been changed, but the model is sitting on a giant mug. Could the mug have been fabricated, almost certainly but the materials, time, and possible expense of such as project may have been prohibitive. 

In our world at least, dragons do not exist.  Puppet forms can be created out of green fabric, filled with stuffing, and the actor can then physically interact with the puppet during the project. In a fantasy project the actor may be working with puppets in different positions throughout the project.  Puppets (or props) need not be from a fantasy world for that matter. They could just as easily be an animal such as a wolf that may be difficult to bring on set, or it could be a very large machine that the actor may need to operate.

Green fabric suits, headpieces, gloves are readily available from costume stores. When photographed against a green background, everything disappears that happens to be green. Think of the possibilities such as levitation of props or even actors during a production.

Of course, some if not all of this is possible though the use of methods other that green screen processing. With dedicated software or specifically selecting out green as in Photoshop, the process flows a little smoother and can be less time consuming. This blog post is really not to teach green screen, although I have shot quite a few projects using this process. There are volumes of information in books and videos that go though each step of the process in great detail.  Some important points that one will find with most knowledgeable sources include:

  • Avoid folds, creases, and shadows on your background
  • Even light across your background
  • Keep your subject at least 6-8 feet from the background to avoid a green cast
  • Light your subject separately from the background
  • Use a longer lens (at least 100mm) for compression

Photoshop is great for so many things, and of course you can use this software to remove the green props or background. Dedicated Chromakey software can make you life a little easier if you choose to work with green screen photography on a regular basis. As a side note here, "Blue Screen" photography is just another version of the same process.

If you would like to try Chromakey (Green/blue screen) photography, the following link Green Screen  will get you started for a relatively low entry price. They kit provides the fabric as well as software so that you may give it a try.  For slightly more this kit Savage Green Screen  will also include a variety of backgrounds.

** Images shown above were taken from Pinterest for illustration purposes only**

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

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) background Blue Chromakey Editing Green Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Business Cards Business Cards- Who Am I??

Despite living in an age when many things are electronic from emails to bulletin boards the paper business card still circulates in many businesses. You may ask why, and perhaps the easiest answer to the question is that it can be produced quickly in seconds. One does not have to wait for Apps to load on a cell phone or tablet, or even a computer.  Most are about 2 x 3" and are easily placed in a pocket or purse. Certainly electronic business cards do exist and perhaps in the future they will completely replace the paper, but for now many people still carry paper versions. Especially in networking events where there could be dozens of people a business card can make you memorable... or not.  

A well thought out business card contains the following:

  • Your Name 
  • Your position
  • Your business
  • Contact information (email, phone, address etc.)

In addition to this information, there are various shapes of cards, finishes (dull to metallic), colors, orientations (portrait, landscape), as well as the material used to produce the card. Fortunately for most of us, there are many companies out there with options that let us design our own cards or use many of their templates.  Some such  dedicated companies include, and Overnight Prints specialize in business cards as well as office supply stores such as Staples or Office Depot  will also print business cards.  A well printed and designed card can be very valuable in certain settings.

Some creatives prefer to create their own business cards on their own home computers or may even opt out of the pre-designed templates offered by some of the professional companies. The desire to stand out and have a unique business card telling the world who you are can be very compelling. This road sometimes may not bring you to where you want to be in the eyes of others if your card is not very well thought out. 

  • Who are you giving your card to?
  • Can they read it in low light as well as outside?
  • Is it durable or will it crush easily?
  • Is it EASY for the person to know who you are and how to contact you at a GLANCE?

Recently I reviewed about 100 business cards that I have received recently and some were great; some not so much:

Be careful with the colors on the card. If the background color is too close to the font color, the card will be likely be difficult to read. Be sure to choose colors that reasonable contrast with one another.

Small fonts, especially when crowded into a relatively small space can also be hard to read. A block of the same font, same color, may not be appealing to the reader. Remember, some negative space is a good thing. Fonts should typically should not be smaller than 10 pt.

Resist the temptation to go with artistic fonts. They can be difficult to read, especially in low light. Some businesses will also use scanning software to add business cards to a database. The software may not recognize letters, and the info on your card may be lost.

Does the text of your business card run close to graphics or pictures on your card. If it is difficult to find your contact information in a sea of graphic images, the business may move on to the next person.


For a few extra dollars, many of the companies listed above will help you design a very distinctive card that is unique as you and your business. It can be worth when it comes down to being chosen for a highly coveted position or assignment. Remember this card is your lasting introduction and you want it to be memorable!


Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) business cards Mon, 30 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Social Media Reporting CuriousCurious Social Media Reporting 

A commentary this week:

My social media channels (Facebook, twitter, Instagram) have been blowing up recently relating to individuals reporting undesirable behavior of others within the industry.   The modeling and photography industry has very little regulation surrounding it, and what it does have it seemingly some people choose not to adhere to with their daily practice. The overwhelming majority of models, photographers, MUA, as well as other professionals work diligently to maintain a high degree of personal integrity. As with any industry, some people don't quite get the old saying of "Treat others like you want to be treated".

Some situations are so blatant, such as physical violence, theft, or property damage need to be reported to law enforcement. Remember that although it is important to let friends know to stay away from 'x', reporting the situation to law enforcement quickly lets officials jump on the situation hopefully to avoid 'x' from harming anyone else. The longer you delay, the muddier the water gets and evidence relating to the situation may be lost.  While 'x' may have some power over you professionally our recent culture has trended toward supporting the victim.

Some cases not quite so blatant such as Fraud (Wrongful or criminal deception for personal gain) where facts may not be as clear or a misunderstanding may have occurred. In almost every job, try to assure that there is some level of written documentation as what is going to happen. Most wedding photographers have this down to a science with contracts. Be sure to spell things out (or ask to have things spelled out) prior to any job. Remember the literary Who, what, where,when and how questions that we all need to ask.  If things change, a confirmation email or message should confirm that change.  While it may be necessary to be flexible (eg. moving indoors in the event of rain during an outdoor shoot), radical changes can lead to problems.  If there is a willful deception, records can work to your favor especially if you need to go to court.

We all want to protect others within the industry, but it is important that we be clear with facts. If we post something on social media, and it turns out to be false or malicious, this can turn around and be very damaging to the person who made the claim especially if it affects a business. If we have first hand information of a situation, of course we should let others know (as well as law enforcement as appropriate). Friends should listen and read information carefully. If a malicious rumor gets started without facts, people spreading the rumor or adding to the rumor can run into difficulty themselves, especially in the case of a wrongful accusation. Yes, it may be your page on social media, but you are still subject to libel or slander laws. People making physical threats can be criminally charged.

In an industry with very little regulation, it can be difficult to know where to go for help. These agencies may be able to do more than just get a discussion started. Some suggestions include:

  • Law enforcement (if appropriate)
  • Better business bureau, consumer protection division ect..
  • Lawyers 
  • Group organizers (if the situation occurred under the authority of an other person)
  • Professional organizations that the offender may be registered.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) legal problems Reporting social media Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Social Media challenge- are you blocked? Social Media Challenges?

Social media hosts to one extent or another has maintained control and to some degree over content uploaded to sites such as Facebook as well as many others.  Terms of service are provided to those who subscribe to the services although the language can be vague to say the least. Algorithms seem to be ever changing with images being flagged for some members. The law that was passed last year in an attempt to limit sex trafficking over the internet (Sesta-Fosta) has certainly increased the frequency and of images deemed 'inappropriate' by the service providers. Some members access to their social media has been suspended for posting certain images. Is the images, or is it something else?

Sometimes it is pretty obvious if someone is spamming, or posting copyrighted content that really does not belong to them.  Even so, people who post multiple images many times per day may actually be flagged as a spammer. Sites such as Facebook tend to set their algorithms in some cases such as traffic lights to control how much information flows through servers to reduce the possibility that the servers will get bogged down and slow things down for everyone. 

Sending messages out to many people such as "Vote for Me" to people you know and even they don't know can get unwanted attention from sites such as Facebook. In fact, some sites actually prohibit sending out "Vote" or "Like" messages. These may be deleted, or ignored by those who do not want to see them, or in some cases may actually be reported as SPAM to administrators. This can also draw unwanted attention to groups on a particular service and in some cases, the group or group administrators access may be blocked.

Some people "like' every post that their friends send out. This can actually make you seem like a Like-bot, and sites such as Facebook may incorrectly identify you as a automated service designed to 'like' everything that certain people send out. While most want to support our friends and family, posting or commenting on everything is likely to get unwanted attention.

We all have opinions, however when we get too negative or even make threats against people (whether we mean it or not), this also can attract unwanted attention from social media administrators or even the police. No one certainly wants a knock on their door at 3 a.m. with an invitation to meet with detectives at the local police station. Remember, in the real world there are libel laws as well as laws against threatening or promoting harm to another person. Even if you are a legal firearm owner, if the police discover a firearm in you presence a credible case can be brought to the courtroom.

So, what about images? As stated above, many sites have cracked down on what they consider explicit or sexually suggestive images, especially images that appear to portray a young female. Images that display a female (or male) sexual organs or images that portray a woman's nipples will certainly gain attention from sites such as Facebook. This can be difficult for those working in the fine art field who may work with nudity. There are sites such as Twitter that seem to have very relaxed standards relating to nudity. Posting nude images on Facebook or Instagram can easily get one placed into "Jail" (Blocked from using the site) for up to a month or in some cases loss of access to the service all together.

So, it is not always a simple as the image that was posted, but behavior while we are using the service. Most social media services are free to the user so at least now it looks like everyone needs to play by their rules.

- Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) blocked challenge images jail Social Media Mon, 09 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Editing Black and White Images-more than you think?

Editing Black and White images in Lightroom

Editing black and white images in lightroom is not always as simple as adjusting contrast on images. Sometimes it can be a little more involved. Three common types of black and white images are high contrast as shown above where there is a very distinct separation of tones in the image. Low contrast, in which tones are a less distinct, and selenium which almost gives off a slightly silvery look to the image. In the high contrast image above, we can see that the white point (+30) is moved opposite and in equal magnitude to the black point (-30). The absolute values of course, are subject to individual taste however the principle of separating tones remains the same. We also see a type of serpentine adjustment to the B&W color mix (Normally set to zero). The reds,oranges, yellows, and sometimes greens are moved to the negative whereas the blues, purples, and magentas are moved to the positive side.

In low contrast images we see a very similar B&W mixture to what we have in the high contrast image, but very notable in that black is zero'd out and the whites are now at (+30).  Another significant difference is that we can see that the clarity slider has moved up to (+10), a control that affects contrast primarily in the midtones of an image.

Interesting, in the selenium black and white image, the Black and White sliders are at zero in this case, the black and white mix is similar to to our other examples, but the highlights are pushed up to (+20), with the contrast control being pushed to a (+15).


The look of each of these b&w images are distinct, not only due to their black and white points, but to some other  important adjustments in tonal adjustments. Of course, we could continue to fine tune any of these images by moving the B&W mix or even  the dehaze slider.  Experiment with your next images, even if you don't normally produce black and white results you may be surprised at where your exploration leads you. As always, nothing is permanent in lightroom, the reset button is always right there!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) black color contrast editing lightroom sliders white Mon, 02 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Kelby PhotoWalk PhotoWalk Opportunity

I will be leading a Photo Walk this year as part of the Scott Kelby World Wide Walk. If you have not heard of this event, each year Scott Kelby promotes a world wide photography oriented walk internationally during the first week in October. The walk is, of course, free to participants and leaders. Walks are held to not only support and promote photography, but also to support a charitable cause. This year the charitable cause is the Springs of Hope in Kenya, Africa.

The walk is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are a once a year vacation photographer, or a seasoned pro wanting to participate in a worthwhile cause. Those participating are eligible for prizes offered through the walk sponsor this year Canon, Skylum, and Platypod. You take a look at the prizes here Walk Prizes.

If you so wish, you may also donate to support the Springs of Hope Orphanage may learn more here Springs of Hope. Donations are voluntary and are tax deductible (deductions are becoming scarce these days). Springs of Hope Kenya is a home for children who have been orphaned, abandoned and abused. The goal is to give children who have experienced this trauma and tragedy at an early age faith, hope and love and holistic care.

For those living in the Northern Baltimore county or Southern York County, Pennsylvania, I will be leading a walk along the NCR trail in Freeland, Maryland. The walk is about 1.1 miles along a nature path featuring trees, creeks, and many opportunities for some great images. The walk will be an interactive adventure which looks at natural lighting, composition, and creativity. The walk starts at Parking lot at Freeland road and Railroad and will last approximately 1 hour. As an added incentive, if you comment and mention this blog, I will be adding an additional prize to a special participant.

Additional information regarding the walk can be found here: Photowalk.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photowalk Mon, 19 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Rock and Roll Creating the Stage Rock & Roll Lighting

Recently I found myself in an assignment where I needed to create a rock-roll stage lighting effect in the studio. The image was supposed to look like the model (performer) was on stage lit by colored spots. Well, spot lights are fairly intense as are the colors that sometimes occur when gels are slid into place. 

I set up two bare bulb strobes camera right and camera left at 45 degrees to the model. One strobe was covered with a blue gel, while the other with a red gel and the model was placed against a black background. The next step was to get the camera down low, as if I were looking up to a person performing on a large stage.  I exposed the model at F8 at 160sec initially without the gels, and then with the blue/red gels.  This sounds easier that it actually was to accomplish.  Adjusting the power on my strobes, it seemed like one color or the other was completely muted or washed out all together.

Despite adjusting the distance of the strobes to the model and adjusting their position, it seemed as though I just did not get the color intensity or saturation that I was looking for to do this theme justice.

There are a few possibilities in post production, however once I imported the images into lightroom I took a look at the split toning panel within the develop module. This panel allows you to 'colorize' highlights and shadows within your image. I had placed a red and blue gel on my strobe, so I chose red for highlights by clicking in the small square and choosing a red hue followed by clicking in the shadows section and choosing a blue hue. Of course I could have used the sliders, however by clicking within the square allows a finely tuned effect. The saturation allows you to select how saturated or muted the final colors will appear.  Finally,the balance slider will adjust effect between highlights and shadows.

Using this method I was able to maintain the intense 'spotlight' lighting and still accomplish a nicely balanced stage like colors on the model. While every image may not need this specialized effect, it certainly came in handy for this particular assignment!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in So. Pennsylvania 


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) and gels Photography Rock Roll split toning Mon, 12 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Misty Are You All Misty?

There are certainly many ways to create fog or smoke but the question is how do you control it?  There are a number of products to create smoke ranging from home made devices, commercial devices, and even expensive theater grade electronics. The common element in most of these methods is how do you control the effect? Factors such as controlling density, direction, odor, duration, as well as the all important factor of not setting off smoke detectors or fire alarms!

Smoke grenades experience some common issues:

  • They can get very HOT
  • The slightest wind when working outdoors can cause radial changes in directions of the smoke
  • Fireworks based smoke grenades often smell horrible
  • An assistant (or model) is often necessary to move a grenade unless you want a thick puff of opaque smoke
  • Short duration of effective smoke (some less than 60 seconds)
  • Most are not recommended to be used indoors
  • The powder in the grenades can stain skin and clothing

Smoke machines come in a variety of sizes and outputs. They too, can suffer from some of the same issues as grenades such as not being able to control the direction or density of the smoke.  A fan is often necessary when used in doors to clear out excessive smoke. These devices can get rather pricey depending upon what model is chosen.

Example of misty light rays

So what if you only want a fine mist, not necessarily a fog bank rolling in to take over your entire scene. Some people have used baby powder, but this gets VERY messy.  A water sprayer is also an option, but water settles pretty quickly in many cases and may not give you the effect that you want.

One option that I have found to be effective is the "Atmosphere Aerosol".  It is odorless, relatively easy to control, does not stain, may be used indoors, and the mist remains suspended for several minutes (except in strong winds), Atmosphere aerosol can be purchased from vendors such as Amazon, Adorama, as well as some other vendors. In the image above, I wanted to display rays of sun coming through the window. I sprayed about 20 seconds of the product near the window and the effects are what can be seen above. The photographer can certainly spray, and still have time to get the shot. This product could also be used to highlight gelled lights coming from studio strobes. This product cost less than 2 smoke grenades, and is very portable. I would recommend giving this product a try.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Atmosphere Mist Photography smoke Mon, 05 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Photographing Aquariums and Learning Aquarium Adventures

Aquariums can be found today in many larger cities and can be a great day adventure. The photographer can learn new techniques, fine tune some current methods and get some wonderful images.

Commercial aquariums will certainly test almost any photographer will a series of challenges such as moving objects, lighting, crowds, color, depth of field and focus to name some just a few. In my last post I covered photographing insects, but this subject can be even more challenging.

Challenge 1: Reflections

Needless to say, leave your strobes or speedlights at home. You will be photographing through thick glass or plexiglass to start with, not to mention reflective surfaces within the tank itself. Aquariums typically have colored lights at various positions which will also reflect off of the tanks. Windows will also let in ambient light which will of course also reflect off of the tanks. So, how do you handle this?

Move in as close to the tank as you possibly can. This may take some time if you travel during mid-day or evening when crowds can get heavy (Tip: plan an early or mid week trip).  Ideally you will want a rubber lens hood that you can place against the tank to block ambient reflections. Alternatively, angle your lens away from the reflections toward your subject.

Challenge 2: Light

In the image of the large catfish (above), the tank was pretty well lit, whereas in the image of the Jellyfish (above) there was only a very dim light within the tank. Be prepared to adjust your ISO anywhere from 800 to 3200 (or even above). Most cameras manufactured within the last several years control noise well. Your subject will almost always be better exposed when it is closest to you in the tank, rather than further towards the back of the tank. You will want a reasonable Depth of field so f-stops of less than 2.0 can leave your subject partially out of focus.  Start with a aperture of F4, look at your image and adjust from there. If you go above 5.6, you will have to radically increase your ISO. Remember to check the back of your camera frequently!

Challenge 3: Moving Objects

Larger fish will typically swim slower than smaller counterparts. Also, fish tend to swim in front, back, and at times into each other. Lots of movement here. Ideally, you will want to select a small group (or even one) focus points. Motion tracking may (or may not) work well in these cases. Focus tracking on some cameras can be elaborate, so it may be worth trying but I found the most reliable method is to manually track a single subject with a small selection of points. 

Shutter speed will also be a factor here. You may be able to get away with shutter speeds of 1/60 second for slow moving fish such as the catfish pictured above. Faster fish may require 1/200 second to capture sharp images. Remember as you increase your shutter speed, you will likely also have to increase your ISO!  Start with a shutter speed of 1/100 and take a look at your images.

Again, try to be as close to the tank as possible and photograph your subject as it moves very close to the glass. Subjects moving toward you are more likely to be in focus than objects moving across your path unless you track them carefully.

Challenge 4: Color and DOF

Some aquariums will add colored lights to the tanks, in some cases multiple colors. This can add an artistic side to your images and I found it is usually best not to stress over it and leave your color balance to auto. The thic

As mentioned above, large apertures (less than 2) may leave part of your subject out of focus or even completely out of focus if your subject is not close to the glass. Start with an aperture of F4, and adjust based on your needed shutter speed and ISO. 

Challenge 5: Crowds

Children, people with camera phones, as well as many other visitors will be competing for your spot close to the tank. Patience is key here as well as avoiding visits on weekends, holidays, and late afternoons. 


To get the best possibly images start out with a small group of focus points, ISO 800, 1/100 sec, and F4. Check your histogram frequently as you move from tank to tank. Get close to the tank and wait for your subject to get close to you. Angle your camera away from reflections whenever possible and/or use a lens hood. Remember, that you are shooting through (possibly murky) water, glass or plexiglass that is not optical quality and may have hundreds of handprints on it. You may not get tack sharp images!

This type of photography directly translates into most other genres so give it a try and you may find that you learn some valuable skills!







]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Aquarium creative education fish Photography practice Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Lessons from insects  Lessons from shooting Insects

Although I typically photograph people, I will occasionally shoot other subjects such as landscapes or animals or even insects. Working in another genre of photography may at times sharpen your skills within the work that you may do more often. In this case case, I happened to be walking in a park and various insects were flying around the flowers. I do not own a dedicated macro lens, at least at this point.  Macro photography is a science of itself involving the right depth of field, focus, and lighting when working with subjects of extreme detail. In some cases the depth of field is SO shallow, a few millimeters in one direction or the other may cause you to miss the focus entirely. It is not uncommon to see macro photographers use tripods, cable releases (or timers), and even 'stack their focus' when shooting certain subjects.

Insects, particularly flying insects, often move very quickly from one point to another. Typically they are not too fond of humans approaching them at just the right moment. In fact, stinging insects such as bees can get rather irritated and let you know in no uncertain terms to leave them alone!  However... If you have a telephoto lens, as I did in the image above things can get a little easier.

In the image above, I first started by taking an exposure reading from flowers in the same general area. I was standing at least three feet away from the Bee and focused in at 200 mm @ f 5.6 .  The lighting allowed a reasonable ISO of 200 to 400.  I wanted to blur the background and focus on the Bee perched on the flower. It only spent a few seconds on each flower so I set my camera on burst mode so that I capture a few frames before my subject flew off. It would flap its wings even when crawling along the flower, so I set my shutter speed anywhere from 1/250 sec to 1/400 sec. 

I set my focus point on the Bees back, which in this case was the easiest to focus on at the time. Fortunately, there were other insects also around like butterflies so I had a few subjects to pick from. Here too I chose the back of the butterfly since the wings were almost in constant motion. 

Obviously a tripod would have been an exercise in futility with the insects moving so quickly. I was careful not to move quickly in one direction or the other, since this would have triggered a rapid flight away. To add to the mix, the flowers would also move slightly when the insects were crawling along them.  Everything was shot in natural light.

SO... could this exercise help me with my work with people photography? I have shot dancers whose images require much of the same planning and concentration as with these insects.  Candid shots of people also require the ability to catch the moment whether it be an expression or an action. As photographers, we don't always have the luxury to spend 30 minutes setting up lights, testing with a light meter, adjusting props, as well as other time consuming efforts during a shoot. Being able to adjust to changing situations quickly can sometimes make the difference between an OK shot and a stellar image.


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) education Insects Learn macro Photography Mon, 22 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Do you have a shoot-out strategy? Do you have a shoot out strategy?

Photography shoot-outs are events where models, photographers, make-arts, performers, and many others may gather in a combined social and photography event. Organization can range from very organized in which various groups work for a certain amount of time and then move on to another set, or somewhat loose in which all participants organize themselves.

Shoot-outs can be a very good way to network and potentially find others within the community that you may like to work with. Generally there is an overall theme for the event for which models can prepare by choosing wardrobe and make-up artists can bring along certain types of supplies to fit the theme. Photographers as well as others may bring a variety of props to work with as they move throughout the day.

If you attend as a photographer, plan to balance your time between shooting models and having BRIEF conversations with new people that you meet. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards or other contact information as well as model releases if they are not provided by the host. If you are not familiar with the location, it can be helpful to arrive as close to the start time as possible and take a brief self guided tour of the location. This can give you ideas for potential sets, lighting, and general logistics of the location. If the host provides lighting, bringing your own trigger can be a plus since the host may only have a limited supply and may need to be shared.  A good suggestion would be not to try to lug in a mini studio of your own through the door. Space may be limited and depending upon the event it could be crowded. 

When provided the opportunity to shoot with a model, please take the time to introduce yourself before shooting whenever possible. This may help the model connect and work with you a little more smoothly rather than robotically posing. Watch your time with each model, since you may want to shoot with more than one person and be aware when a model may be available. In looser organized events, try not to jump in front of another photographer while he/she is shooting. This could get you booted from the event in some cases.

Models should ideally come prepared to network as well as be photographed.  Do you have contact information? Business cards, even home computer printed can be a plus.  At casual events a model may not be paid whereas at more formal events a standard fee may be available so asking prior to the event is a good idea.  There may well be a wide range of photographers present from very skilled to beginner participants. If the event has an overall theme, are you prepared to shoot that theme?  Do you have wardrobe? Is it a swimsuit event? Remember that images are likely to appear almost anywhere from a hard drive, to social media, to print formats.  Chances are, as a model, you may be pulled in a great deal of directions during an event event if it is well organized. 

Make-up artists and wardrobe designers can also network well at these events. In most cases, these professionals will be working directly with the event organizer or models but can also develop important contact with photographers. As with others, be sure to bring business cards and other promotional material. Be sure to let me organizer know that you will need a specific space to set up supplies and should be a low traffic area. Depending upon the event, you will have to organize your time possibly even more than others. If the host allows you to set up appointments prior to the event start, this may help with time management. 

Shoot outs can be a positive networking experience for all involved with a little thought and planning!


Spot light image above courtesy of

Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) MUA networking Photography ShootOuts Wardrobe Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
What do you bring to the table? CuriousCurious What do you Bring to the Table as a Professional? (A self inventory)

In most professions, one will place his or her most valuable assets on a resume and put it forth to potential clients, employers, as well as others. This may include scholastic work, experience in the workforce, special projects with may be related to the profession.   There are certainly no shortage of photographers, models, and even makeup artists in most communities. So the question to ask is.. what makes you stand out from the crowd?

  • I have been in the field for 20 + years. While experience is certainly a plus, what have you done, esepecially in the last few years that brings your work to the forefront?
  • I have great equipment!  Great equipment is certainly a plus, but how do you use it? Do you explore and practice to learn new ways of using the equipment or do you use the basic features?
  • I offer a great experience for everyone I work with! Good Interpersonal skills are certainly an essential part of your job. What is it that you do that makes the experience so good?
  • I am super creative with awesome concepts! Creativity is a golden tool to have in your arsenal. Are you good with crafts or fabrication? Good finding locations, concepts just appear to you almost everyday or are you a planner?
  • I have been published or have appeared in art galleries!  Certainly a statement that others value your work. Where have you been published or where was your gallery showing?
  • I am a good networker and know important people!  Networking and marketing is certainly an very important part of the profession.  Can you at least semi-quantify how your networking and or marketing is helping your business or better yet, how it may help a new client?


This is a partial list, but I'am sure that you can think of many more things that you have as professional or personal assets. Dig deep and really explore them!



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creativity inventory marketing resume self Mon, 08 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Cold shower Have you Taken a Cold Shower Recently?

When is the last time that you have turned on your shower, cold water only, and walked into the shower and stood there for a minute. Not too many like the idea, but everyone should try it once.  This exercise is like stepping outside of your comfort zone as a creative person any trying something new.

Now, there are certainly those who will say to be true to your brand, maintaining brand identity is important etc... and of course for a business owner this is important.  This does not mean that one cannot work on person projects, or nudge their brand just a little for a specific client. This comes down to 'experimenting on your own or with a trusted partner. Some ideas may not be the best and other ideas may be a WOW moment and you may need to wonder why the idea did not occur to you earlier.

One example for a photographer may be to purchase a set of editing templates, overlays, presets, or whatever may work with your editing platform. Take  some images around your house, and outside and try the new editing tools to see how they may differ from how you may have normally edited that image. The results may be subtle or dramatic but certainly worth looking at what may move you into a slightly different direction.  These presets or templates may make your life a little easier by reducing your editing time in some cases. 

Models may select a different accessory or even a slightly different style of wardrobe for a particular project. What about a different manufacturer of make-up?  Maybe modify make-up slightly to give a different look for a project. This of course can move into different hairstyles based on ideas. Take a look at Pinterest and this may give you a broad idea of looks for a project. While a model may primarily focus on a genre such as fashion, try a casual life style shoot. This can sometimes even help your brand since it may help your fans identify with you a little easier.

This idea can even apply to Make-up artists, gaffers, or set designers. Where do you get your supplies? Are there other suppliers? You may not want to abandon a vendor who serves you well, but looking for similar materials in a variety of locations can sometimes surprise you. Purchasing a small quantity of material at first or even asking for samples to new vendors while sharing links to your work can open new doors for you that you may not have considered in the past.

Stepping out your comfort zone can be scary. This does not mean that you have to spend 30 minutes in an ice cold shower, but little steps may lead to larger rewards!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) comfort creative Photography zone Mon, 01 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Have you tried Composites? Composites (Using Blend Modes)

Sometimes you may want to add a little digital artistry to some of your images. One can do this effectively by composite (blending two images together) work. Before I go any further, this post requires at last a intermediate understanding of Photoshop. There are many educational programs, such as through Creative Live that can get you up so speed very quickly with nationally recognized speakers. Blend modes is similar to taking your background layer, and placing another layer on top of the background. There are many choices, and the link I have provided below can help.

The image above was made on a black background, and certainly is ok as a stand alone image. But what if we wanted to make the background a little more interesting (not distracting).  We could use a textured background so that it may not look so much like a studio shot made 100's of times before.  Textures are readily available in the internet, but one source of high quality textures can be found here: Brooke shaden free textures.  So I have started out by loaded the image as well as a chosen texture into photoshop. As a rule, black and white textures are typically better than colored textures, since they will not cause a color cast on your subject.

We want to:

  • Select the texture layer
  • Select it (Control/Cmd A)
  • Copy it (Control/Cmd C)
  • Select our model layer (background in this case)
  • Paste the texture on top of the background (Control/cmd V)

Now of course we have what looks like a stone wall. Fear not.....

Switch your blend mode to 'Soft light' and your model will once again appear. You may try other blend modes such as overlay, lighten, etc to see which mode is most appealing to you.  If you have never used blend modes, Blend modes explained may help. In truth, cycling through each mode can be very effective. We now also have the texture on the skin, which is not very attractive unless we are going for a horror type effect. We can fix that.

  • Add a layer mask to your texture layer
  • Choose your brush tool and make sure that color is set to BLACK (since the layer mask is white)
  • Brush over your model to remove the texture on her skin and wardrobe

This can be tricky though, how do you know that you have completely removed the texture from undesired areas? While the layer mask is highlighted, hit the backspace (\) key.

This will mask in red the areas that you have brush over. Areas that you missed will still remain the same color. If you make a mistake and brush over some of the background, select the (X) key, and this will change the brush color to white allowing you to paint back in what you may need to, such as the background on your image.  The square brackets [] will increase and decrease the size of your brush for detail work.

Composites can bring a different life into your images.  If you are interested in a more comprehensive set of lessons on composites, send me a message through my website and I will send you a code for a free CreativeLive class.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) blend Composites education modes Photography photoshop Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Dancers Photographing Dancers

One of the most rewarding yet challenging subjects to photograph can be a dancer. A skilled dancer often is a skilled artist/athlete who practices many hours to perfect the dance. Muscles, balance, endurance, and coordination are elements of a professional dancer that are certainly to be admired. Other athletes, such as in football, may actually send their team members to dance class to improve their performance within a sport.

But, how does the photographer capture the intricate moments of each movement which often happen in the blink of an eye! A starting point may be to understand what type of dancer one is trying to photograph. Ballet, Modern dance, Ballroom etc all have movements which can be tricky to capture at the right moment. The right moment is often at the peak of a certain move, which can be dramatic and illustrates the skill of the dancer. If you are unfamiliar with the style of dance and are photographing a live performance, this can the very challenging. 

A little understanding and homework can be very helpful. There are hours of videos on Youtube covering almost every style of dance one can think of.  If you are lucky enough to be photographing a model/dancer in a studio, there are several things that you can do to increase your chances of good images.

  • Allow for plenty of space. Most dance moves have sweeping movements and if you happen to be photographing ballet the dancer may be performing leaps.
  • Your background should allow you to focus on the dancer. Seamless paper set to at least 6 feet (ideally taller) or wrinkle free cloth backgrounds are a good bet.
  • If you are using studio strobes, choose a strobe with a fast recycle time. Speedlights can also work, but a battery pack attached to a speedlight will increase the chances of not missing a shot. Flat lighting is certainly ok here in most cases. Try to avoid distracting shadows unless of course you are planning deliberate shadows.
  • Natural light should be sufficient for you to set a shutter speed of 1/200 sec in order to capture dynamic movement. 
  • Discuss with the dancer what movements that you would like to see, or she is able to perform. Be prepared and even perform a count down for difficult movements. Having the dancer repeat difficult moves because you have missed the shot on several attempts will often lead to a dancer tiring quickly and loosing confidence in your abilities.
  • When setting your camera, assure that you set a aperture of 8 or better for an adequate depth of field. 
  • An obvious point, but make sure that there are not any slip points or obstacles where the dancer may become injured.

An indoor performance can be a little more tricky. You may be dealing with more than one dancer, mixed lighting, and performance props just to name a few challenges.  In addition to learning as much about the performance as possible:

  • Rent a sports lens if you do not own one. These lens are typically high quality fast telephoto lenses. These lenses allow you to focus on a particular dance with tack sharp precision.
  • A combination of a fast shutter speed (1/200 sec or even better), F8 aperture or better, and and ISO of 800 or less will typically get professional images. Once secret here is to practice with your camera on moving objects before the performance (animals, other people). Setting your camera to multi-shot is helpful. Some professional cameras have intricate subject tracking with may help.
  • Get as close to the stage as possible. Other audience members standing or other movements may interfere with your attempts to get great images.

Some of your best images may come from dancers, so a little preparation will increase your chances of great images!


Bob Barford is an award winning So. PA based photographer.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative Dancers education performance Photography studio Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Education SecretSecret Educational Resources

One of the most important things that we can do in our personal or professional lives is never stop learning. Certainly in most professions, there is almost never just one way to perform a function and in our personal lives we have things bombarding us from many directions almost every day. 

Within the world of photography, sources of education vary from the casual quick tip to full fledged collegiate courses. There are hundreds of videos on Youtube relating to photography which are certainly well intentioned, they can sometimes suffer from misinformation or poor production quality. There are dedicated sites such as Kelby One  or Creative Live  which bring generally reliable and useful information directly into our homes. These resources are accurate (generally) and have a high production value but may also come at an subscription fee if we want to look back at the information in the future. College classes are well...Expensive.. and while may or may not allow for hands on experience they are often time consuming and may have limited value unless one requires them for professional credentials within an organization.  With this said, programs such as Creative Live and college may allow many of us to gain background as how something works which can be very valuable when it comes to applying principles of what was taught to new projects.

We also can sometime gain valuable information from the vendor itself. Adobe Help puts out very short and to the point tutorials on various programs such as photoshop and lightroom.  Tutorials from the link provided are typically very short (5 minutes or less) and are straight to the point. Interestingly enough at this point Adobe offers this service at no charge.

Hands on seminars with experienced photographers can be some of the best ways to learn. There are many of these opportunities often held throughout the year in different parts of the country. During the seminars one can get real time feedback on many topics. Some such workshops or seminars that include people from around the USA and other countries include:

Obviously there are many others such as those included in this link Adventure Workshops that not lead the photographer on adventures as well as learning about photography.

Never stop learning!





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative education Photography Photoshop Sun, 09 Jun 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Featured studio-HM Photography, Baltimore Maryland. Featured Studio - HM Photography , Baltimore Maryland

HM photography is hosted by David Moser and is a residential type studio located in Baltimore, Maryland. The studio offers a variety of shooting locations including a bay window, wooden floor studio, fire place setting as well as others.  Professional lighting is provided by the owner and he provides and initial set up for participating photographers, although those attending settings are welcome to make their own custom changes.  The owner also provides a freshly prepared meal during each session.

Professional and published models attend sessions from around the country and the style is typically lingerie and/or nude images. Occasionally fitness or erotic models will also be featured during various sessions, which are typically held several times during each month. The format is a photographer rotation, during which a photographer is provided a time frame to work with each model after which the next photographer will take his/her turn. After each photographer has rotated through, the model will move to a new set and the rotation begins once again.

Cost for these events vary depending upon the theme, the model, and the number of models involved but typically is very reasonable. Private shoots with the models are available after the group shoots and often at a rate less than if one were to hire the model outside of the event. Parking is free and readily available outside of the studio. Events may be held during the week, weekends, or in some cases even during evening hours. The owner also promotes several larger outdoor events during which a variety of models attend and are available for private booking sessions.

Sample Images:

impliedimplied AbdominalsAbdominals


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) baltimore creative education Photography studio Sun, 02 Jun 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Featured Studio- Undecided Studio, Harrisburg Pennsylvania Featured Studio - Undecided Studios, Harrisburg, PA

Undecided Studios is a large, two story warehouse type studio located in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. It features a large warehouse two story setting not including potential rooftop shooting. Undecided Studio features a rich variety of backdrops and props ranging from decorative panels to boudoir settings. 

Monthly meetings are held with varying themes for both photographers, models and makeup artists with occasional special events.  The studio is set within an urban environment directly adjacent to a community marketplace with plenty of free parking.


The fee for attending is within the moderate range ($125) for photographers and models are receive a limited compensation for attending events. Events are typically very well attended for both photographers and models with more than ample space for a variety of concepts. Events are typically in a shoot-out format, however due to the turn out during most events one on one concepts are common.  Photographers are responsible for bringing their own lighting and specific props although backdrops such as seamless paper, bedroom sets, various studio furniture, and decorative backgrounds are available. Monthly events are typically about 5 hours and include a light lunch. Make-up artists are commonly available as well as an additional selection of wardrobe for the models. Ample changing rooms as well as restrooms are available on site.

The organizers promote a collaborative environment and even support artists within the industry who attend events outside of Studio events. A 'group' photo often happens near the end of an event featuring all photographers and models. Undecided studios is worth checking out if you are living or passing through the Harrisburg Area. Models and photographers range from experienced to professional. Photographers are encouraged to send images to models directly or upload to the Undecided studio website.

Instagram gallery

Some images from the studio:





Bob Barford is a published photographer in Southern PA



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) art creative harrisburg modeling pennsylvania Photography Studios Undecided Mon, 27 May 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Featured Studio- Graffiti Warehouse (Baltimore, Maryland) Featured Studio- Graffiti Warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland

Throughout the years, I have been fortunate enough to visit many photography studio's, so I felt it was only fair to share some insights on what I have experienced. To start out, Lets visit The Graffiti Warehouse which is located in Baltimore City, Maryland


Graffiti Warehouse is part of the Rosenfeld organization, which maintains a Graffiti alley and warehouse which is dedicated to artists in Baltimore. The alley and warehouse is completely covered in Graffiti of varying styles. Artists are permitted to paint within the alley without fear of criminal prosecution which in tend allows the artists to express themselves and also saves the city money in clean up costs.

Adjacent to the alley is a 14,000 foot three level warehouse that features wide open spaces, natural lighting, as well as private studios. It is located near the Maryland College Institute for Art on North Avenue.  Monthly meetings are held at the warehouse for photographers and models to shoot with varying themes. Occasionally other music or other events will also be sponsored at the warehouse.

The cost to attend a monthly event is very reasonable for the photographer ($25.00) and models who contact the organizer in advance are admitted free. Photographers will need to provide their own lighting, props and other desired equipment but are allowed access to any of the three levels during events which typically last 6 hours. The format is basically a shoot out, in which the photographer will approach one of the attending models and request that she (or he) model.  Graffiti also adorns the inside of the warehouse which provides a backdrop for some interesting images. As one may expect, high warehouse ceilings and well as 12 foot + windows on the second and third floors.  Small bathroom facilities are available for changing on each floor (although admittedly a little grungy).    

Although a basic theme is presented each month, models are also free to model in the style that they wish. As mentioned, the style is shoot-out so several photographers may be shooting the same model at any given time.  Photographers that shoot in common areas and bring elaborate backgrounds are encouraged to share their space with other photographers. Of course, private studio's are available for anyone wishing to shoot with more privacy. Models and photographers who attend these event range from amateur to professional. Images made by photographers are on a trade basis for the models time, and photographers are encouraged to send images directly to the models or upload images to the GW website.

Although an older facility, I have shot at this location during events and can recommend this locations. The coordinators are friendly and helpful to all who attend the events a link to this location should you wish to visit can be found below:

Graffiti Warehouse

(some images from GW)





Bob Barford is located in southern Pennsylvania and is a featured glamour and portrait photographer.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Art Baltimore Graffiti GW Photography Warehouse Mon, 20 May 2019 12:00:00 GMT
So you are ready to travel! Are you Ready for a Trip?


I have been away for a bit, so it is only fitting that my new post concerns traveling. So you are planning your trip for pleasure or business and have everything worked out, or do you?



You have booked your air tickets for a good price, Hotel reservations are solid, you have an itinerary  and your luggage is packed and ready to go.  So here is your first question relating to your luggage: Do you really need everything you are taking? This is not just about the amount, but the quality of what you are bringing. If you are on a commercial business trip you may need your high end gear and backups but what about a conference or a trip for fun? Does a model need designer dresses? There is more to think about than just luggage charges which can certainly add up depending upon your airline.  What if the airline 'looses' or damages something. Airline liability is usually very limited to about $1,500 and then pays depreciation value on what property you have said is lost or damaged. That may not even cover one lost item!  Well, I'll just carry my expensive jewelry or other equipment in my carry on baggage! Good plan, unless you are flying on an overbooked or commuter flight in which case it will probably go in the cargo hold. Below are some links that you may find useful, especially if you REALLY need to take the expensive stuff.

Congratulations, you made it (and so did your baggage)!

We would hope that everyone is honest, but in the real world, that is not always true. In certain vacation destinations or photography conferences there are some bad guys (and women).

Sadly, professional thieves are well connected and plan very well at times to relieve you of your precious property. Electronics, elaborate costuming, wallets, and other portable possessions can be easy targets. Sometimes thieves will act in teams with a spotter, disguises, and high tech communications. Leaving something valuable even within a 'locked' conference room is almost never a good idea.  Leaving a camera bag open for a few quick shots can lead to someone grabbing one of your lenses and moving quietly and quickly away, possibly while a confederate blocks your way.  Cosplayers often have bulky accessories or outfits that are hot to keep on for long periods of time.  Props that one may have worked on for months can vanish in seconds.

On way way home- and in good spirits!

Needless to say, the same baggage concerns apply here. But an an additional concern may pop up in you are traveling internationally. As you leave the country that you are visiting and go through customers you may run into a problem if your equipment looks new, have a brand new dress, or anything else that looks expensive. In some cases you may have to pay tax or duties to bring your own property back home!

Helpful Hints

  • Consider carefully what you really need on a trip. If you are a photographer, practice with a wide range of equipment including speedlights and consider the value of natural light. Some excellent vacation images have been made only with a phone camera.  Models should keep valuable jewelry (real or not) out of plain sight in unfamiliar areas. Remember, if going to a conference much of the material that you need to provide epic shots may already be provided for you. The more expensive something looks, the more likely someone else may want it!
  • Consider registering your equipment with services such as Lenstag. This is a free service that will record serial numbers and other identifying characteristics of photographic equipment at not charge. If stolen, you may report it to the web service and it will even let you know if it has been found. This is also a good method of determining that you own equipment when moving through customs.
  • Never sit a camera bag down, even at a seminar, and walk away from it. 
  • The Professional Photographers Association of America PPA  provides insurance as part of an annual membership
  • Travelers insurance Review provides recommendations on travelers insurance from several different companies. To get the coverage that you need you will need to select at least a midrange package
  • When booking airline flights, you may be able to determine what type of aircraft you will be traveling upon on a leg of your trip. If your trip involves a commuter aircraft, chances are high that space is very limited and you will be forced to check your baggage.
  • Don't leave your electronics in a 'locked' conference room during a lunch break. Someone has a key.
  • If you are storing props or customer accessories in a room, be sure to get the name of a person who is responsible to keep an eye on things.
  • Take pictures of anything and everything of value with identifying characteristics so that you may present this information to security or police officials.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) airlines camera computers conferences costumes electronics equipment lens safety travel Sat, 11 May 2019 19:27:43 GMT











Bob Barford Photography will be undergoing a redesign process over the next 2- 3 weeks with help of some valuable talent. Hope to see you back with new content and exciting images!

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) collaboration look new redesign Sun, 02 Sep 2018 20:58:24 GMT
Simulating Sunset through a window curtain Simulating a Sunset

There are countless tutorials on sunsets through the internet including Youtube. Here is one technique that is relatively quick and easy when using photoshop.  The image to the left was the original image. If you take a close look at the window, there is already a hot spot in the lower right hand corner. I decided to take advantage of that and enhance it just a little.  

I opened Photoshop and selected FILTER...RENDER...Lighting effects.



Once the render window opens, Choose flashlight, and positioned the light at the corner of the window, where the highlight was slightly more intense. The actual size may vary if you try this on your image, but in this case, I left the size at about the 3pm point on the circle.









Notice how this dramatically affects the overall tone of the image. Light is gently streaming across her leg, neck, and upper chest. 


Pressing OK will save the render as displayed. Of course, many more things 'could' be done such as selecting a slightly different color for the setting sun. However, since it is streaming in through a white curtain, I chose to leave the color an off white.


This is a quick as easy method to create a setting sun effect along with a little planning on the position of your subject.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative curtain light Photoshop Setting Sun Mon, 27 Aug 2018 12:00:00 GMT
How fast do you return images?


How fast do you process your images?

Many of us live in a world where we want almost instant gratification. Indeed, the cell phone manufacturers realized this early on when they installed cameras within cell phones so that we can capture the moment. When working professionally, how fast do you get your images back to clients? Less than a week, several weeks, several months? 

Well, the graph to the left pretty much explores client satisfaction the longer they have to wait for an image.  Right after the event, they are excited to see the results of the photoshoot. As time moves on, the excitement tends to die down, almost exponentially regardless of how good the images may be. If the images are of a special life moment, year later the client may look back and be as happy, or maybe even more, than if you had given them the images the next day. Then again, images may be discarded as a lack of enduring interest even after a few months. 

In business, this concept is particularly important. If a photographer wants to sell images in various sizes he/she should be aiming to capture the emotion of the original photoshoot. If it takes months to have images, the client's engagement in the process will almost always be less and the prospect of a large sale dwindles the longer the client is made to wait. The photographer is not really selling the paper that the images are printed on, but rather is contributing to the moment in time with his/her talent. As the moment fades in a clients memory, so does the emotional high of the moment, and regardless of how good the end product may be, it will probably not be as profound as it the final images were delivered closer to the point where the event took place.

This is also obviously true for return clients. If a photographer takes 2 months to deliver and image and a competitor may take 3 weeks, the client will likely go with the faster turn around time, even if images are slightly better from the first photographer.

So, what to do in a world where everyone is busy? Sneak Peaks can be a great way to keep the emotions up, particularly if the photographer knows that he/she can not accomplish a fast turn around rate. A small number of proof images emailed or placed on a online gallery can keep anticipation brewing.  

The other extreme is placing many images on line and hoping that clients will be energized and pick images that they like. This could easily backfire on the photographer. The client may not know what he/she really wants and certainly does not know what a large print may look like in their home. Too many images can confuse clients and lead to weeks of indecision and even lower satisfaction. If the photographer is looking to make sales of prints, this process may even reduce the total sale.

Super busy.. understandable. One option is to get help editing images with a service. Here is a link with relative ratings for different services  Photo Editing Services. In general, the service will look at your style of editing and will edit images that you submit to them in a very reasonable time frame. This can be valuable for wedding photographers who may have hundreds of images that need to be edited. Prices will vary as will specifics of how each company operates but it is worth exploring this as an option.

In person Sales (IPS) is big these days, but to get the entire process organized and for the photographer to practice does require a little time and role playing, but it can be worth it in the final analysis. 

In the end, Photography does remain a competitive field, and regardless of if the photographer is just starting out, or has a thriving business, efficiency will make his or life much easier.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) clients emotion photography sales workflow Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Studio Lighting Choices.. Confused? Studio Lighting choices ???

Shooting indoors can be a challenge, particularly when you do not have a ready source of natural light such as a large window. Speedlights certainly are a viable option with units being very portable, but can be limiting with power and modifiers.

Studio strobes can (arguably) be more versatile than speedlights depending upon how and when they are used. The question may be though where do I start? There seems to be an ever growing number of companies that produce photography equipment, and quite honestly some equipment can be VERY expensive. Studio strobes themselves can vary in price from $75 to well over $2000.

Is the $2000+ dollar strobe always better than the $75 strobe? The answer is no, not always. But there are some important points to consider:

  • How often do you shoot indoors (every day, once a month)?
  • What do you shoot (People, food, automobiles)? 
  • What is your budget?
  • Who are you shooting for (pleasure such as a hobby,  professional commercial art?)
  • What if any modifiers (Softboxes) do you have or are planning to purchase?
  • Do you shoot outdoors and need light to fill in shadows?
  • Most of the time do you shoot one subject or multiple subjects?

Building the case for the economy strobe

You are a photographer that shoots indoors perhaps a couple times of month as a hobby or as a small business. Most of the time you are shooting one or two subjects at a time, and if you want to shoot something large such as a automobile it is probably outdoors anyway. If you photograph people, you enjoy getting the light in close for that soft wrap around glam look when working indoors. If outdoors, you are pretty good about finding just the right light.  Most of your modifiers are umbrellas or small to medium softboxes. You are not making grand amount of money with your photography, at least at this point.

Economy lights such as the Neewer Studio Flash could be a good way to start. Features on economy strobes may be limited so it is important to compare units within a similar price range. How does it fire (what type of trigger)? How fast does it recharge after a full power burst of light (recycle time). What is its flash duration (important if you are photographing moving objects).

A case for a mid-range strobe

Lets say you shoot at least once per week and maybe even have a business. You may shoot close for glamour or several feet away from your model for artistic purposes or even shoot small groups of people. You have or are planning to purchase modifiers such as beauty dishes, large softboxes or large umbrellas. If outdoors, you may shoot in a variety of lighting conditions. You may even shoot subjects such as dancers.

A common midrange studio strobes are  Alien Bee units. They come in a variety of configurations and are durable and reliable. Many studio's rely on these units on a daily basis. 

A case for a high end strobe

Ok, you have a business with a steady stream of clients who want your services. You are shooting most of the week, and your clients expect consistent color and exposure from shot to shot. You may be shooting commercially occasionally for a magazine. You have a variety of modifers including large umbrellas, octaboxes, beauty dishes etc.. You also shoot outdoors where you must have critical control to the extent possible in a variety of lighting conditions. Your subjects may vary from fashion to dancers.

High range studio strobes such as Prophoto may be the answer for you. The product is well supported and a wide range of accessories are available. The lights are durable and consistent in output and are likely to last many years.

Wrapping up

So there is really not a once size fits all studio strobe. Companies mentioned above have competition, so compare vendors when you are ready to buy. You can even RENT lighting from such vendors such as Borrowlens  if you want to try out a particular brand of mid to high level studio strobes (sorry, no economy strobes here). Some things to look for apart from recycle time and flash duration may be what type of power supply does the light need. It is becoming more common for strobes to have built in power to avoid electrical cords everywhere. An important point is accessories; certain lights need certain adapters such as 'speedrings' in order to attach them to modifiers. Purchasing the right adapters for your lights may be critical. Accessories for economy lights may be very limited depending upon brand.

-Bob Barford is a published photogapher in So. PA



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) lights Photography Strobes Studio Mon, 06 Aug 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Dramatic RainFall Have you ever want to shoot a dramatic rainfall scene? Scenes such as pictured to the left (courtesy of Pinterest through Mina Jafari), can have some technical challenges. There are many ways to create rainfall, probably one of the most common methods would be to simulate rain in Photoshop. There are at least a dozen tutorials on Youtube surrounding this technique. In summary, the core of the process involves creating noise and adding motion blur at an angle. Of course their are extras such as color toning and other edits depending upon the scene. This technique has limitations though as can be seen in the above image, the rain is actually bouncing off the umbrella and trickling down. You will need additional editing time if you want to create highlights and reflections as seen above. The 'add noise' techniques fall short if your subjects are framed tightly, though may be acceptable if your subjects are only part of a larger landscape.

To CREATE rain there are several techniques ranging from drilling holes in a hose to more sophisticated methods as shown in the following video Rain Machine.  Although without doubt you will get much better results in your final image, these methods have some challenges as well.

  • Sprinkler Hose- Can be found on Amazon but probably not in your local hardware store. The hose itself is fragile and is easily damaged, particularly if you opt to use wire clips to mount the hose onto the frame.
  • Frame- You will want at least a 8-10 foot wide frame unless your subject is completely static. Weather treated wood can be heavy and transporting 10 foot length of wood can present problems in certain passenger vehicles. Can you clamp two or more pieces together? Yes, at the cost of stability and running the hose can be more difficult.  PVC piping pieced together? Yes, it can be done but again you are looking at potential vehicle transport issues as well as leaks if not sealed properly. At 10 feet or more, 1" PVC piping is almost the minimum to avoid structural issues with the horizontal bar.

S0... Are there alternatives (without buying an expensive professionally built device)?

Yes! You will STILL maintain the basic pattern of a horizontal bar with at last two vertical supports as shown in the video. For your horizontal support, go to your local hardware store and purchase the following:

This is an aluminum angle post that may be purchased in either 4 foot or 8 foot lengths. These are lightweight and reasonably strong. Most hardware stores will have a choice relating to the thickness of the metal. I would recommend purchasing at least a 8 foot length and a 4 foot length of angle rod. This material is relatively easy to drill through and if necessary cut. Why two?

These rods will fit inside of each other very nicely, surface to surface. This is important because NOW you have a horizontal support no longer than 8 feet that can fit into most passenger cars. Of course this can be cut smaller if necessary. By placing two (or more) within each other, they will slide out to a much longer length. 

Drill holes in both lengths of angle rods at desired connection points. For example, in the 8ft and 4 foot lengths of rod when collapsed (both rods together) the total length of the rod would be 8 feet. To extend the rod, extend the 4 foot length of rod (to almost 12 feet) and secure both rods through pre-drilled holes with a small bolt.  Though considerably more expensive, angle rods are available with holes pre-drilled along the entire length of the rod.

Referring back to the video, sprinkler heads are attached to the top of the Angle rod with hose attached. If you wish to avoid buying sprinkler heads, small sprinklers with adjustable spray patterns are often available in many garden shops. Honestly, this option saves time and frustration and is well worth the few extra dollars you may spend. Some garden shops have multiple sprinklers that may be attached in tandem which makes this job even easier. Once you have the sprinklers attached to the horizontal, attach to hose to the sprinklers.

Rain is best photographed BACKLIT, so two strobes (Covered with plastic bags) are recommended. Again, rain is best photographed in the dark, so unless you are shooting at night, a black background will help improve your image. Support the horizontal rod (and background if necessary) though heavy lightstands WITH sandbags. If you do not use sandbags, the force of the water may de-stabilize the frame.

The overall dimensions of your frame will depend on what you plan to include in your final image.  Two 8 foot lengths of angle rod will often be enough even with a vehicle in the shot. If you plan for a wider frame, consider getting a heavier gauge angle rod. Although this construct may be slightly more expensive than shown in the video, it is much lighter and travels much better than the wood counterpart. It will certainly be sturdier than the PVC counterpart.


Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.







]]> (Bob Barford Photography) drama Photography Rain Rain machine Mon, 30 Jul 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Shooting from above? Do you shoot from above?


Shooting from above your subject has definite advantages. Poses that you can achieve with the model laying can be quite different from standing and can be rather dramatic.

There are some things that you need for this to be effective. First, an interesting background laid on the floor can add interest to your image. The background can certain range from a patterned backdrop as shown above, or it can just as easily be a kiddie pool of water. Generally, the more exotic the background, the more interest your image may receive.

You will of very likely need a ladder tall enough to get your subject framed correctly. The wider the angle the lens, typically needs shorter ladders. The ladder should also have a footprint small enough so that you can get as close to your subject as possible. Of course another option is for you to be shooting from an elevated porch or balcony. You will want to position yourself as close as possible over your subject so that you are shooting ideally no more than 10-15 degrees off axis from your subject. 

Lens choice is typically important in that you will need a reasonably wide angle lens, 24 mm or wider. A zoom lens is particularly helpful if you are on a ladder so that you don't have to step up/step down to get just the right composition. This is one case where your 80-200 mm is not going to be much help, especially if you have a crop sensor. Although shooting from a balcony gives you a little more latitude, the communication with your subject can be a little more tricky.

When shooting indoors, a beauty dish with a grid facing your subject can give some pretty dramatic results. Of course, anytime that you have a light close to your model, assure that it is on a sturdy stand and even weighed with sandbags. Nothing can ruin a shoot quicker than have a light topple over on your model.


Your camera position as mentioned above should be as close as perpendicular to your subject as possible. While this may not always be possible with a ladder, the closer you can get to this position the better. Tilt out screens on certain cameras as well as a timer can certainly help in some cases.  Outdoors, drone shots are certainly a possibility with certain higher end stabilized flight drones. 



Your model is typically going to start out laying on her back, but depending upon the concept, multiple poses are possible. As above, the hair can be positioned much easier than if your subject were standing upright and leg positions can be maintained sometimes as though the model were jumping. This can be useful if you flip the image clockwise or counterclockwise in post production.

Overhead shots can be dramatic and produce some original images...just don't fall!!!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) creative overhead photography Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Ropes Ropes

I was fortunate enough today to get a 1:1 tutorial on rope works. Rope work can be very artistic and there is definitely a niche that some photographers can focus on. Rope work (Shibari) can date all of the way back to ancient Japan (1700) where the Samurai would use rope to restrain prisoners. When done well it can contrast very well using knots and geometric patterns with the bodies own curves.

The instructor was very clear that the most important thing about rope works not lighting, knot perfection, but rather COMMUNICATION with the subject. The subject depends upon the person (rigger) knowing how to tie the knots, but the rigger depends on the subject to continuously communicate with the rigger about numbness, pain, weakness, or other signs that something may not be just right. There needs to be a mutual trust between the rigger and the subject or serious injury may occur as a result of the tying process or weight bearing once the rope has been tied.

Types of rope may vary, but hemp is very common. When it is tied properly it will not move or knots will not shift position once stress is placed on the tied body part. It typically is very strong and will not stretch or break when used properly. Similar to hemp is a rope called Jute. It photographs well and generally handles knots as well as hemp. 

Cotton rope is a natural fiber and can be died many colors. Unfortunately knots can compact very tightly and can be very difficult to untie which can be a problem in case of an emergency.

There are synthetic ropes (Polypropylene)  that come in a variety of colors and the webbing may spread pressure over a larger area of a limb. The problem lies in the fact that this rope may slip or knots may change position due to coating on the rope. This MAY make it unsuitable for hitches, and potentially problematic for your subject. A variation of this is Zenith all purpose rope, which can be very smooth and comfortable for the subject.  This type of rope may be more suitable for couples bondage but not recommended to anything weight bearing.

Whichever rope it used, there are proper methods of tying to avoid injuries to nerves, joints and muscles. A basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology is a must. Basic knot tying can be learned from a variety of sources including the following book

Knotty Boys from Amazon. However, it is best learned by actually attending a workshop with an experienced rigger so that you can ask questions and receive feedback relating to your knot techniques. 

-Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) knots rope ropework shibari Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Maternity in Nature Maternity Fashion in Nature

Recently I was found myself lucky enough to shoot a very active model and fellow photographer who was pregnant and still very active in modeling.  Maternity shoots can bring new dimensions to a portfolio as well as be very important to the woman as an important point in her life.

There are things to consider, like any concept, when planning this type of photoshoot, not the least of which is the model.  In most cases, the woman will be noticeably pregnant somewhere around 25-30 weeks along. At this point most, but not all, women are past the period where they are incredibly nauseated during the early stages of their maternity and yet it is not so strenuous to move as in the later stages. Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules with pregnancy and activity. Some women may need to be bed ridden through much of their pregnancy while others are fairly active right up to the point that they deliver. 

If you choose to shoot outside, ideally you will want a day that is not sub-zero if shooting during winter months, nor when shooting during the summer do you want a very hot and humid day. Like any model, the more comfortable the temperature the more comfortable the model will be and the better the final images will impress everyone.

Wardrobe can vary, but in these shots we chose a long white form fitting dress. Avoid anything too baggy since you want to easily be able to show the baby bump, and long free flowing dresses act just a little bit of grace to this concept. The off- the- shoulder look to this outfit was perfect in that the highlights (white) were focused where we wanted the viewer to look.  If the fabric has a little texture to it, so much the better. The model (or client for that matter) should be wearing comfortable shoes while walking and may choose to be barefoot for the posed shots. 

The model wanted shot of her walking though this wooded area. As with most maternity shots you subject can either be looking at her baby bump or supporting her abdomen with her hands. This was not necessarily a glamour shoot in which I was looking for just head and shoulder shots but full length shots added interest to the image when paired with the gown. This mixed with gentle shadows added a very natural and almost serene look to the images.

Of course, additional elements could be added to these images such as her husband if desired. His clothing would be rather casual and more subdued as compared to hers so as to keep the focus on maternity rather than a typical couples photoshoot. Even so, a gentle connections between husband and wife could be shown such as hand holding, the husband gently touching the baby bump, sitting together both looking at her expected child etc..  

A nature based fashion maternity shoot may be just what certain women may be looking for as they prepare for their newborn child.


-Bob Barford is a PA based portrait and glamour photographer.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) fashion Maternity nature Photography Mon, 02 Jul 2018 12:37:14 GMT
Anatomy of Parachute Fashion Dress Anatomy of a Parachute Dress

A parachute fashion dress shoot can be a little complex to put together, however once you have all of the pieces, it can be very dramatic. What one needs to make it happen is the skirt (which is the parachute itself), the top of the dress, some helpers, a wide open space, as well as a little photoshop helps as well.


The skirt

The skirt (parachute) could be obtained from an army surplus store, or more readily Ebay. Searching for parachute will give you reliable results, whereas 'parachute dress' will often give you a variety of other styles of pre-made dresses. I choose green, which will be readily apparent is just a little bit, but white and even black parachutes are available. If you can obtain one without the strings attached, you will save time creating the final product. The parachute size will  vary from 35 feet in diameter to over 100 feet in diameter.

The parachute will come with a hole in the very center.  You will need to create a waistline for your model. Depending upon your preference, you may opt to create an elastic waistband, or a drawstring waistband. Be sure to reinforce which ever style that you choose so that the "dress" waist can be worn easily.


The Top

I opted for a full size corset. Corsets are not available as easily as I thought even through outlets such as Victoria Secrets. I turned to Amazon, and of course there was quite a variety. A corset gives a certain elegance to the creation and the waistline can be stuffed under the corset to made the dress appear as though it were one piece. Another option is a tank top camisole which could be worn alone on in conjunction with a corset. I chose to match the color (olive green) to the skirt for a more unified look to the outfit.

Location, light, & help

There are quite a few projects that a photographer can get by where it would be nice to have help, but it can be done with a just a model and a resourceful photographer. Depending upon the size of the parachute (mine with 118 ft in diameter), I really needed help. The extra set of hands is useful for lifting the ends of the dress so that air can get underneath of the dress to create the billowing look. While a model may be able to work a smaller parachute, it can be tricky to pose and fluff the dress at the same time. 

You will also want a wide open space, particularly as air gets under the parachute and lifts. Be careful of uneven surfaces as the model can easily trip or get wound up in the parachute and fall. If you can shoot later in the day as well, as the sun starts to set, you can get some interesting light behind the dress. It can be tricky to get enough light on the models torso, so another helper with a reflector may be a good idea. The dress will often move unpredictably, so be ready for anything.

Camera Settings

You will likely be shooting with a wide focal length (35 mm). Once the wind catches the dress, movement can often become unpredictable, so be ready for anything. You will probably want a shutter speed somewhere in the range of 1/125 to 1/250 sec depending upon lighting conditions and the aperture you choose. In most cases, you will want most of the dress in focus, so an  F-stop of F8 or better is a good idea. Larger apertures may work to blur the background, but you will also risk part of the dress being out of focus.

Your Model

Ideally, you model will want to make large movements with her arm and upper body. Once again, if the wind gets up underneath the dress, it may 'bury' your model in fabric, so be sure that there are not obstacles that she may fall over.

Post production

The nice thing about choosing a green dress, is that the color is VERY easy to change in photoshop. A few steps can lead to quite a variety of color creations.  

  • Make a selection around your subject with a tool of your preference (pen, polygonal lasso, ect..). You will notice with the model below, she has shoulder straps. To select everything would be VERY tedious, so I selected the dress and the model together. You may have refine your selection as I did since she was posing on grass.
  • Add a Hue/Saturation layer with the 'colorize' checkbox checked. Adjust the Hue and saturation sliders to your preference. In this case, I wanted a slightly purple dress. 
  • Using the mask that is added at the same time that you added the Hue/Saturation layer, paint BLACK over the body of the model as well as any areas that may have 'spilled' color where you did not want them.

Although there are certainly other ways to change the dress color, I find this technique the easiest with the best results.







Have fun with some very dramatic results!

Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern Pennsylvania.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) colors dress fashion parachute Photography Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Landscapes with a little twist  





Although typically I photograph people, I started my photographic career my photographing landscapes. The image to the left is a Cityscape of New York. The image itself is not bad, but certainly is similar to many others taken of the city. I thought, how could I make it just a little different? 

I stared by darkening down the sky just a little by using the gradient tool in lightroom. I took the sky down about 1.5 stops so that ideally it would not overpower the buildings in the lower portion of the image. This was a start, but what next?



I came down to the 'split-toning' portion of the lightroom panel and wanted to deepen the shadows. By clicking on the Shadows swatch block I was able to open up a color picker and chose a fairly dark blue.







I moved the saturation slider over quite a bit, and then finally settled on a saturation of 79%. Of course every image will be different and sliders can be moved to ones own artistic taste.  If I wanted to, I could always move the hue slider if I did not like to overall color in the the shadows. In this case, I did reduce the hue slightly since the images was a little too purple.




So, once again comparing the two images at the top of the post, they look very different from each other and very different from many of the images that were probably taken that day.  Think about color toning your Cityscapes next time you go out to get just a little more boost from the shots.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color creative landscape photography toning Mon, 11 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Try something new..Neon? Something New?

Regardless of what genre of photographer (or model) you may be, sometimes it can be fun or inspirational just to try something new for a change. The project may not necessarily go into a portfolio if it is radically different from your 'brand', but it can lead you in creative directions that you may not have thought about in the past. 

In this example, think about Neon (blacklight) photography. Like any genre of photography, you will need a few things to make this work. For starters, the makeup can be found at many local costume stores in your local area. If not, one website that is a great resource is Silly Farm. This site not only has blacklight makeup, but also a variety of other makeup and props that you may find useful.

What about the lights? One thing you want to avoid is the very low power "poster lights" sometimes sold in novelty or party shops. These lights will not put out anywhere the amount of light that you will need to make this project successful. LED lights are typically much brighter and can be much less expensive that you may think. One portable model can be found here Twin blacklights , and will light up a fairly large area. You will need to place the lights fairly close to your model (12-18 inches) for the best effect.

The background is typically seamless paper, but could really be anything. You can be as creative and putting paint in a squeeze bottle and spraying different colors over the background, or you may want to actually draw figures. One possibility is this set of paints from Amazon Black light paints which come in a set and offer a wide variety of choices. A quick tip here is that you probably want to paint your background first so that the paint has a chance to try. Small spatters may not show up under normal light, but you could have paint tracked everywhere if your model is walking through wet paint

Camera setting can be a little extreme. In most cases you will be working with an ISO of around 2000 or even higher depending where the lights are located relative to your model.  A starting aperture may be 5.6, but again this will depend upon lighting. Try to keep your shutter speed at 1/60 sec. if you are hand holding your image to avoid blurry images. A tripod may be a good idea when shooting under these conditions. Needless to say, it will be better shooting in RAW during this type of photography. In post production, you may want to change the luminance or saturation in parts of your image. If you have difficulty focusing, try using the liveview function of your camera. In some cases, you may need to manually focus for the image to be sharp.

The model is a little limited in what he/she can wear. It is certainly possible to model is a tight form fitting body suit. Some models will work in bikini's, and others will model only with g-strings. This of course depends upon the models comfort level and expectations should be made very clear PRIOR to the shoot so no surprises or misunderstandings occur by anyone. Depending on lighting and camera settings, the model will need to hold very still for each exposure, unless of course plans include motion within the image. The paint can sometimes appear very dull and indistinct under normal room lighting, so sometimes it can be helpful to paint the model with the blacklight active. 

Genres tend to overlap in many areas, and by exploring an area that you may not have worked with in the past can lead you into directions that you may surprised that you find that you like!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) black light neon photography Mon, 04 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
LR retouching Retouching in Lightroom?

Everyone knows there are many ways to accomplish similar things in Photoshop or Lightroom. In addition, there seems to an abundance of 3rd party plug-ins for both programs. Some of the plug-ins directly take advantage of features already built into Lightroom or Photoshop, others add a little twist to what is already there.

Although many people do not do extensive retouching in Lightroom, there are options that are available that not everyone takes advantage of to same valuable time as well as computer resources. Lets say, in the image to the left, you wanted to soften the moms skin, or you wanted to boost her eye color.  You probably would not want to apply a general clarity slider or saturation slider since this would affect the entire image. For example, in the case of the daughter, a decrease in clarity would be unnecessary and you may possibly loos detail that you want to preserve. 

The targeted adjustment brush would certainly be a good option, but can we automate the brush just a little to help our workflow? The answer is of course Yes we can.

If we open the develop module in Lightroom and select the targeted adjustment brush, we see an EFFECT choice just below (see white check). This opens up a whole new set of 'brush-presets' that can be helpful for your overall workflow.





There are quite a few presets for the brush, which include things like smoothing skin, whitening eyes, warming skin, and many more. Each of these presets adjusts sliders according to what it is intended to do for the image. For example, the smooth skin preset will decrease the clarity slider and you may now brush in a little smoother skin. Suppose the lips look a little pale..well just click on the lip booster and slide the adjustment brush across the lips.

Like any preset, you can of course adjust the slider to your personal preference. Nothing is ever carved in stone in Lightroom. If you do not like an effect, you can always move the slider, take a step back on the history panel, or even reset the entire image.


Take a look at this feature just prior to moving into Photoshop or opening a plug-in and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish quickly and easily.


Bob Barford is an award winning photographer in New Freedom , PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) adjustment brush lightroom presets retouch Mon, 28 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Portraits vs memorable images Portraits and Memorable Images

Recently I was fortunate enough to be involved in a themed mother/daughter photography event during which each mother and daughter wanted portrait shots. Well, there of course is the technical side of getting a well exposed image, good composition, posing, retouching etc... which certainly generates in most case a good image. It may even be an image that hangs in the wall of someones house. But the question is, is it really something taking up wall space, or is it really a memorable image? To get a really memorable image, in this case, of family members, ideally you want to show some connection and a little of their personality.



 These to images showcase a special relationship between the mom and her daughter. They had a close relationship and had fun with each other. Although the portrait above may certainly hang on the wall in a den or living room, the two are more likely to enjoy the lower two images with some interaction.  If the images were to be sold to this family, is is likely that the lower two would be included in the purchase. As it turns out, both mom and daughter were very pleased with the images and showcased them on social media. 



When taking a 'portrait shot' even if it is of a single subject, ask what the person's hobbies may be, special interests, where do they work etc.. Apart from the 'formal' shot, you subjects may be interested in some images that bring out their inner self into their photo and be much more 'excited' about the images. In turn, this could generate more return business and positive word of mouth marketing for the business photographer!


Bob Barford is a portrait photographer based in Southern PA





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) connections family fun portraits Mon, 21 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Balancing act with Equipment Balancing act with your Equipment

There seems to be no shortage of vendors trying to sell you different ways of carrying equipment. In photography there are shoulder bags that range in size from messenger bags to full sized bags able to carry several bodies and sports lens. Black packs and sling packs are also available that will support a compact mirrorless camera to packs that allow you to include extras including clothing and water bottles for a day hike.

Sometimes though, these are simply not enough. Suppose you want to transport your light stands or other other long equipment that may not fit into any shoulder bag or backpack. Even if a lightstand comes with a bag, what if you want to put TWO stands in the same bag. You could easily find yourself carrying support poles, large umbrellas, and lightstands loose which could be as tricky as hiking on loose rocks.

There are of course some solutions provided by photography vendors such as The bag pictured below from Newer. This is a 30" bag that has a convenient should strap as well as a side pocket to hold extras that you may need.





Some equipment though is much longer than 30" and some bags can get quite pricey. SO... how about looking within another industry for something. The bags pictured below are heavy duty bags from the music industry. This bags can be purchased padded, and often come with multiple compartments. Shoulder straps with these bags allow you to sling the bag over your shoulder and even carry it similar to a very long backpack. Bags such as these can range from 50-58", are heavy duty and comfortable to carry and even come at very reasonable prices.






What IF... you need something even longer? There is yet another solution that comes from the Skiing world. Bags such as that pictured below can be bought, even padded, and are typically very weather resistant in the event that you would run into a rainstorm while on location. Most of these bags are very well made and come in lengths as long as 78 inches with room to store multiple stands, umbrellas, or other very long equipment!





Each of the bags pictured above can be ordered from Amazon or of course directly from the dealer themselves. If you are not concerned about not having a 'photography' name on your bags these can be a very viable way to keep very long equipment together and make it much easier to transport. Need something longer than a ski bag...Think about a truck  :)

-Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern PA.










]]> (Bob Barford Photography) bags outdoors photography Mon, 14 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Makeup Artist... yes or no? Should you hire a Makeup Artist (MUA)?

Most, if not all women are able to do basic makeup. Certainly if you are working with a professional model she should be versed in basic beauty makeup.  The real question is what are you shooting? Are you shooting a senior portrait? Are you shooting glamour or boudoir? Are you shooting for a magazine or professional portfolio for both you or your client?  If the answer the any of these questions is yes, then you should consider a professional make-up artist. Note here that I mentioned a professional make-up artist. There are quite a few people that will 'do' makeup for a client, but are not skilled enough to produce a polished final product. If you are looking for artistic makeup, a MUA is a must.

From a photographers standpoint, the MUA can serve as a second set of eyes on set. They can look for shiny skin, smudges, fly away hair. She can be a valuable member of your production team particularly if concept images go out to everyone at the same time. If you let the MUA know, for instance you are shooting with a particular type of lighting, or shooting with Gels, She can be certain the bring the appropriate makeup. Are you planning closeup glamour shots or are you planning casual lifestyle images with few if any close-up images. Are you shooting indoors? Outdoors? Is your subject going to very active during your shoot? 

A dedicated make-up artist can also serve as a second set of hands on the set. Moving props, holding reflectors, adjusting lights can be an incredible time saver for a MUA who is familiar with studio shooting.  She may even be able to help move equipment if shooting on location.

Let also be honest for a moment.  There is no shortage of models or clients concerned about their safety during the photoshoot. Social media is often flooded with comments related to "Guys with Camera's". Many photographers are reluctant to allow a 'escort' on set, but if the client or model is aware that a MUA will be on set, she will likely feel more comfortable. This is particularly true is the photographer is male and he is shooting lingerie or artistic nude images. A MUA on set can often serve as a safety net for the photographer as to what did (did not) happen and well as make physical adjustments to hair or wardrobe during the shoot.

Another point to consider is word of mouth relating to clients or models. If word gets around that you regularly work with a MUA, this is a great marketing tool since those shooting with you will know that they will look their very best.

OK, this does add production costs that either you or your client will have to pay. This may not be true ALL of the time. A makeup artist may like a particular concept of shoot, may be looking to break into a particular market like senior photography, or simply may be looking for someone to collaborate locally. Any or any of these factors may allow you to negotiate a rate with the MUA particularly if you shoot on a regular basis.  Keep in mind though that Makeup kits can be expensive, so don't expect too many trade shoots as she needs to cover her expenses like all others on the team.

Not sure where to find a makeup artist? Forums such as model mayhem have dedicated forum for makeup artists. If you are part of meetups or other social media groups, put out the word that you are looking to collaborate with a makeup artist and chances are good that you will get in touch with someone who will only elevate your art!


Makeup kit photo by Kinkate (Pexels)

Bob Barford is a portrait/glamour photographer is PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) collaboration creative makeup mua photography Mon, 07 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
The Journey The Journey - Airport Tips

Staying with the organization theme from the last few posts, I thought I would share a few points about travel through airports for photographers, models, or really anyone in the industry.



  1. Does your airline allow for on-line check in?
    • ​​​​​​​If so this can be a great time saver, especially during peak travel times or popular destinations. If you are not checking much baggage, you can bypass the long line at the ticket counter if you have checked in at home prior to your trip to the airport.
  2. ​​​​​​​Keep control of your baggage
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This is almost a common sense tip, but no one wants their baggage stolen, or possibly worse yet, to be stopped at airport security with something illegal planted in your luggage!  It's easy to sit down for a minute once you arrive at the airport to gather things up prior to going through security, but be aware not everyone who flies the friendly skies is really that friendly!
  3. ​​​​​​​Travel light when possible but travel smart
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This is a common tip, but it REALLY matters. No matter what type of luggage you may have or how well you may have packed, walking around with 'extras' get very heavy. Even worse, dragging it through the rain can really put a damper on your day. Do you really need that large studio strobe? Is that large makeup case really that important?  By the same token, don't forget things like chargers for your electronic devices or even medications that you may need. 
    • I recently was able to go on a two day trip and placed a small backpack within a piece of carry on luggage allowed on an aircraft. This was a business trip so I really did not need many clothes, and the backpack really helped when I was not in meetings.
  4. ​​​​​​​Time zones
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Are you traveling between time zones when making flight connections? Be sure to update your watch of check your phone as you land at the airport.  You don't want to think you have just over an hour between flights only to find out that your connecting flight is leaving within the next 10 minutes!
  5. ​​​​​​​Logistics
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you are making connecting flights, one of the first things (after going to the restroom) I would advise is to find out immediately when your next departure gate is located. It may be a five minute walk or a 15 minute walk in larger airports. You certainly don't want to be running at the last minute to catch your connection while waiting in line at the airport Starbucks! 
    • Double check your departure time while at the gate. A good practice is to try to remember to check your departure time before you leave home the night before.  Airlines have been known to change things (or even cancel) with very little notice.
  6. ​​​​​​​All aircraft are not created equal
    • ​​​​​​​Just because you started your trip on a full sized commercial airliner does not mean that you will not end your trip on a smaller commuter aircraft.  Storage area is much smaller on commuter aircraft and what may be allowed on larger planes may mean that you have to check your carry on luggage on a connecting flight. If you have something very valuable, be sure that either you are carrying it in a smaller shoulder bag, or at least your carry on is well padded.
  7. Ground transportation
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​How are you getting to your final destination when your plane lands? Rental car, Taxi, Uber, public transport, or a friend? Think about this carefully and have a backup plan in case something unexpected happens. Recently I was fortunate enough to land at a airport that had a metro train leaving directly from the airport to just outside my hotel! The cost of the metro was about 10% what I would have paid for a taxi or even Uber. 
  8.  BE SAFE
  • ​​​​​​​It's nice to be able to travel with your nice new expensive camera with a long telephoto or it, or dress like a movie star when going out at night. But be aware that the world is not always a nice place. Large expensive cameras can be a target for thieves. Elaborate clothing can draw unwanted attention from others. Be very aware if traveling on public transportation, and consider traveling with companions if exploring the local area.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) planning travel Mon, 30 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
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
Selfies HappyHappy Selfies (Self-portraits) are very common within the last several years, especially with the cameras in cell phones improving so much.  Obviously some who take selfies often do so quite well, others... not so much.  Here is some thoughts and some quick tips that you might think about during your next selfie.

As mentioned above, cell phone cameras have improved greatly within the last several years and some models even rival their more dedicated counterparts in the camera market. Some things to keep in mind when taking pictures indoors concerns light. Cell phones have a sensor in them, similar to any digital camera. The sensor is typically much smaller that even a point and shoot camera and therefore it 'probably' is not going to take great pictures in doors without a flash especially away from windows. As most photographers know, our eyes are much more sensitive to light than even the most expensive cameras on the market and we often think that we have more light than we actually have in a room. Combine this with a little movement, and you have a blurry noisy picture which may be ok to capture a memory but probably is not going to be your most flattering image.  If you use the flash at arms distance, you may look a little pale to say the least!  Try to get to the best lit location that you possibly can when shooting indoors.

Holding a camera too close can yield some really funny and distorted looks. Remember, the camera lens is slightly curved and you may end up with REALLY buggy eyes or a giant nose. Selfie sticks can help, and some cell phones most point and shoot cameras will come with a self timer. Resting the phone against a support and taking a step back may drastically improve your images. This will also keep the images in focus.

Some people such as Brooke Shaden, Brooke Shaden Photography often use themselves as models for a variety of concepts. Ms. Shaden certainly is an excellent fine art photographer and many of the images that she shoots features herself as the subject. An adjustable DSLR camera comes in handy for this type of photography along with a self timer and remote control. She is also a very adept educator and has multiple tutorials on her website as well as being featured in workshops around the world.

Mark Wallace has also produced a short Youtube video shown here Self portraits that goes through common steps that will make your planned selfies come out a little better. These tips are helpful for those who wish to place promotional shots on social media, websites, or in print.  Of course, your best bet if you want the most flattering shots that are in focus, have a friend or a professional make the images!

Bob Barford is a published photographer based outside of southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) camera cell phone selfie Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:00:00 GMT
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
Swimsuits and more Swimsuit fashionSwimsuit fashion As the summer approaches, swimsuit glamour is often a favorite of many photographers and models. There are some things that help to make images fantastic and memorable. A little planning goes a long way. Some things to think about for both you AND your model prior to the shoot include:

  • Bottled water
  • Foot protection
  • Sun screen & Hats
  • Bugspray
  • Robe/coverup or towels
  • Speedlights or strobes along with your camera
  • 5 in 1 reflectors

When shooting around pools, particularly on a sunny day, EVERYTHING is reflective. This means the water, the concrete, metal chairs by the pool, even nearby buildings. What can be worse is intermittent clouds changing lighting conditions every few minutes. It is very easy to completely overexpose the skin, have the model with raccoon eyes, or a myriad of other issues. A 5 in 1 reflector is great in these cases. These accessories not only have white/gold reflectors that can fill in shadows, but also a translucent sheet in a frame that can filter nasty over head light. 

Instead of leaving your camera in "evaluatative" meeting mode, consider spot metering or partial metering. This will limit chances for overexposure. Placing your camera in Aperture Priority mode and framing your subject close also will increase the chances of a good exposure. Shutter speeds in this setting can be very fast up to 1/2000 sec on sunny days. Keep an eye on your histogram in the even of clouds or shade.

If you happen to be shooting by a waterfall, things listed above such as foot protection and bug spray become even that more important. Scout the area for other things like poison ivy so that you and your model don't come home with a nasty surprise. Especially in early spring/early summer a waterfall can still be cool to cold.  Plan your shots and if the water is cold, give your model a robe to warm up in after a set. Foot protection for both you and your model when walking even in the water can prevent falls and damage to equipment (Yes, more than one photographer has damaged a camera or lens by falling). 

Cold waterCold water In waterfalls, obviously you will shooting with rapidly moving water around your model. Consider do you want to freeze the movement of the water (Fast shutter speed, higher ISO), or do you want the water to look smooth (Slower shutter speeds, as much as a 1/4 second). Keep in mind, that if may be difficult for the model to hold perfectly still for long exposures especially in larger falls.  You may want to also consider a neutral density filter for smooth silky falls (with or without the model). This filter can help you achieve longer exposures or wider apertures on sunny days.

The other thing to consider is larger falls can be very noisy and it can be difficult for your model to hear. Large hand signals can be very helpful. 

If you are planning topless or nude photography, keep in mind that hikers can show up with little notice. It is often helpful to scout out your area carefully and shoot quickly, having your model with a cover-up that she can slip on as necessary. Depending upon the jurisdiction, fines can be imposed by law enforcement. 

Summertime shots can be fun and rewarding with a little planning!


Bob Barford is a publishing award winning photographer based in Pennsylvania.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography pool summer swimsuits waterfall Mon, 19 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Some thoughts about Portfolio's CuriousCurious Whether we are talking about a photographer, Model, Makeup Artist, or any other professional in the industry, one of the most perplexing yet important task is arranging a portfolio. What should be within the portfolio? What order? How many images? There are many 'experts' that will charge $500 + to look at your portfolio and give you advice as how they think it may be improved. Personally, I am always looking how to adjust or improve on-line galleries or my portfolio. The following is some food for thought and does not necessarily mean that this is the only way to arrange a portfolio.

Most people will agree that your best images should go in your portfolio. This is what will get your hired, published, win awards, or whatever your goal may be to put together a portfolio. but the question is the best of what?

  • If you want to be known as a portrait photographer, then of course portrait images should be in your portfolio. You want to keep your viewer focused on your ability to shoot great portraits.
  • If you shoot landscapes, pets, products, or anything else that portraits those images should rest within a second or even third portfolio. If you mix subjects the viewer is likely to loose focus quickly.
  • If you shoot portraits of men and women, or different genres, in may be a good idea to create galleries within your Portfolio. Once again if you have portraits of men mixed with portraits of women it may break the flow of your viewer

Is the order of images important?

  • Try to start out with your strongest image, and end with a similar strong image. You want to stamp the images within the viewers mind. It you are a portrait photographer, you may want to start out with a strong headshot, and end with a equally strong headshot.
  • Images do not always have to be from the same shoot, but they should have a similar style within a gallery or general portfolio. If you shoot cars for example, you probably don't want to mix showroom shots with outdoor track images.
  • If you are shooting the same person (or car) try to keep those images grouped together. It helps the viewer keep focus on what he/she is looking at.

Who is your audience?

  • If  you are showing your portfolio to HIRE someone, such as a model, then your portfolio should represent your ability to shoot what you are hiring the the model to do for you.  If you shoot primarily boudoir, a high fashion model who wishes to maintain her brand may question what type of shoot you are planning. Are your building and expanding your portfolio? Be clear with your communication in this case.
  • If you are being HIRED to shoot weddings, and you do not have any wedding images in your portfolio, the client may have doubts that you are the right person for the job.

How many Images?

  • Most would agree that no more than 15 images of the same genre would be desirable. That does not mean of course that a separate gallery may have another 10 images. 
  • The more images the viewer need to go through, the more likely he/she will loose focus.

Print or On-line?

  • Having an on-line portfolio is a great way to send images to someone quickly and efficiently. Be sure that you have them optimized for screen viewing. Also, keep in mind that the larger the files, the more slowly they will load. Files that are 1GB per image will almost certainly loose a viewers interest quickly if he/she has to wait for each image to load.
  • Some still prefer to look at print images, so it is probably not a bad idea to have select images ready in hard copy form. Be certain to have these images sharpened for print, and have them printed by a professional lab. You certainly don't want a murky images produced at the corner store representing your work.

Here is a link to an earlier post that may help with print or web images:

Print or the Web

These are some quick tips, and of course there are many resources available on the web or through personal reviews that help develop a portfolio that shines.


Bob Barford is an award winning published photographer based out of Pennsylvania.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography Portfolio education Mon, 12 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Posing with Larger Animals and Creating the Connection Petting horsePetting horse It can be common to see owners of dogs, cats, and other lap sized animals with their pets. These images often depict a close connection between the owner and the animal. It can be tricky though to get the same connection between the owner of a larger animal, lets say a horse, and its owner. 

If you can show interaction between the animal and its owner (or model) you are going to get a much more compelling image rather than just having a person standing next to the animal. You will want a well exposed image of both the face of the animal and of its owner, which can be tricky with significant tonal differences. In the image above, the horse was dark brown with of course, dark brown eyes. The model has fairly light skin and features. Careful attention to light and shadow on both, and in many cases, a fill flash can work wonders in bringing out details. 

Shoulder horseShoulder horse Kissing horseKissing horse The first image may look ok, but could easily be anyone standing near a horse and with a telephoto lens, the distance could be easily compressed. The model could have been photographed riding the hose, but again that may only show a rider and a horse. The second image shows the model actually in contact with her horse, and in fact the horse brushing against her face. The second image is a little more compelling showing the connection between the two in the image.

Funny HorseFunny Horse You often have to be ready for almost anything. So keeping your camera and subject framed tightly can be a key to some good images. A relatively shallow depth of field also helps keep the viewers eye from distracting background images. For sharp images you will want to keep your shutter speed relatively high around 1/200 of a second to avoid out of focus images. Obviously for the sake of the animal and those around it you will not want to force anything, but if the animal is not in the mood to 'model' a small container of food can work wonders.  If the animal has not worked with the 'model' in the past, it may take a little time for the two to get to 'know' each other, so allowing for the extra time is often a great idea. Some 'horse-play' may end up with some great images.

It's  worth mentioning that this post is intended for domestic animals, and posing around 'Wild' animals can be particularly dangerous and unpredictable. Some commercial facilities that feature posing with wild animals may actually drug the animal to make it more docile which clearly is cruel to the animal.

Try 'making the connection' on your next animal/human photoshoot and  you may be amazed at the results. 



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography animals connection horse posing Mon, 05 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Do you use a mood board? Mood boardMood board Have you ever set up a shoot with a model or even a friend, send the person an email generally describing what you wanted, then only to find out on the day of the shoot that something is missing? Either you forgot something, or your model misunderstood what you really wanted. Are you working with a MUA and she 'thinks' that she knows what you want? Well.. no surprise that it can happen more than one may think that it should.

Most people are very VISUALLY oriented, and related best to images. This is especially true of artistically inclined people. A mood board is simply a visual representation of the planned shoot. Above is a simple board that outlines hairstyle, makeup, wardrobe and accessories, as well as what type of background(s) that may be used. Other elements can easily be added such as poses that the model may want to try. 

A mood board should reflect the overall theme of the shoot. For example, in the board above the theme may be a fashion shoot for "The lady in Red".  The theme or concept tends to unify everything and helps others who also may be working on your team such as a Makeup artist (MUA). The MUA may suggest makeup to compliment the wardrobe. If you are lucky enough to have an assistant, he/she can have backdrops hung and wrinkle free before you even walk in the door.

Mood board are not difficult to create and can be put together with almost any image processing program. Thousands of images are available on sites such as Pinterest or even google images. You may even want to create a 'board' on Pinterest and then send a link to your model and other team members so that they can view it on line. This often works well as a collaborative tool for instant feedback.

Another tip for the model is to create a "Wish List" on a site such as Amazon. This can serve as a visual catalog of outfits and accessories that the model wants (or owns). This can be very valuable when setting up the mood board, especially when it comes to clothing or shoes. If a photographer wants a well fitting piece of clothing, this can be a good platform to work from to get just what the concept needs to be successful. 

The mood board serves as a visual 'job description' and in the example above, you may want to post a key pose that you want the model to focus upon during the shoot. On the day of the shoot, bring a printed copy of the mood board with you so that everyone involved can stay on point to achieve the best images possible!


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


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) MUA Mood board Photography communication concepts education model team Mon, 29 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Do background colors matter? PalatePalate Many studio portrait photographers stick with a staple of grey, white, or black backgrounds for many subjects. Many experienced photographers have a working knowledge of color theory, but what if the model is dressed in basic black? As long as the subject is properly lit does it really matter if there is a departure from the basic grey?

Color can certainly influence how a image is perceived, as we can notice from the collage above. 

  • Black backdrops can be mysterious and elegant at the same time and work well for many subjects. They can be a challenge when shooting subjects with dark hair or darker pigmented skin.
  • Grey backgrounds will work well for almost any subject. It typically does not produce a distraction to the viewer and depending upon the distance of the light source, it can appear very light or almost black.
  • Red can portray a nervous, energetic, or dramatic mood. It can raise the viewers blood pressure and may be used to convey love or passion. It can also represent anger. Certainly not for every subject, and can be difficult to look at a bright red solid color for long periods. It can be used effectively in product shots to promote sales
  • Purple can represent royalty, nobility, luxury. In addition, young children are often drawn to purple so this may be a desired color with some children. Be careful though as deep purples can express depression.
  • Pinks are often feminine and can also bring feelings of love or passion. Some children also prefer the color of pink. In some cases pink can also be perceived as passive.
  • Green can represent nature, freshness, growth, healing, rest, harmony and can be considered the easiest to view. Darker greens can represent money.
  • White can often represent innocence, safety, purity, cleanliness. White backdrops are very easy to work with and even color with the aid of Gels. White backgrounds are often easy to create composite images during artistic works.
  • Yellow is almost as vibrant as red and can represent sunshine, cheerfulness, intellect, happiness. It draws immediate attention and may be effective for product shots. Darker colors often compliment yellow backdrops.
  • Blue is often associated with stability and depth and calmness. Feelings such as trust, loyalty, wisdom and confidence are often thought of when once views blue. Blue does limit appetite, so this is not the best color to use for food photography.
  • Orange can often represent energy, sun, joy. Orange to the eye can give the impression of heat such as in the tropics. It increases mental activity and often increases appetite.

Obviously, there are many variations to the base colors. When thinking of a color such as orange, a golden orange can be thought of as prestige, while a deep orange may have negative connotations. There are many tutorials on the net relating to color theory as well as how to use the color wheel when making decisions when editing images.

Color wheelColor wheel

One interesting site that one can experience an interactive color wheel is: 

Interactive color wheel

This site will allow you to experiment with a variety of colors along the color wheel and for those who are proficient with Photoshop, the site will give you the exact RBG or Hex code to enter into Photoshop to generate that color. This site can help not only photographers but also makeup artists, designers, wardrobe staff as well as a variety other members on your team.


Bob Barford is a published award winning portrait and glamour photographer based out of Pennsylvania. 



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography backdrops color education Mon, 22 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Photographing Curvy Clients or Models GirlsGirls As photographers, we want to flatter any subject that happens to be in in front of our camera. This is true regardless of whether we are shooting a woman who happens to be size 4 or size 20. Most people who are not professional models tend to be a little nervous even under the best of conditions when being photographed and look to the photographer to coach them into a great image. If we happen to be shooting a curvy professional model, she may be expecting to use those images professionally.


When choosing clothing, the goal should be to focus the viewers eye up and down the form, rather than side to side. A long or decorative neckline can help in this manner. High neck lines may draw attention may make the subject look wider than she actually may be.

Choose clothing that is form fitting or flowing toward her bottom half is typically best. Loose or bagging clothing will almost always make your subject look larger and will be more difficult to achieve a good pose. Undergarments that support the figure are always a plus and dark colors tend to make the subject  slender. A belt or sash placed correctly may accent curves that you may wish to focus upon


As with any subject, well done makeup is almost a must. Curly hair or full hair styles can certainly be a plus.

  FigureFigure Poses and camera position:

Anything close to the camera will look larger, so anything that you want to look smaller or draw less notice should be pushed away from the camera. 

  • Have your subject push their hips away from the camera
  • Have them slightly lean into the camera to accent the face and bust
  • A 3/4 pose with their torso toward you may be helpful
  • Your position with the camera should be at eye level or even slightly higher. Shooting below eye level may make your subject look larger than she may actually be. Be careful though, if you place yourself too high, the subject will look shorter and less flattering.
  • Have the client pose with her arms slightly bent and away from the body. Arms flat against the sides of the body will only increase the size of her waist. However, it there is a problem area of the body, a carefully positioned arm across the problem area may improve the image. A slight bulge just about the waistline is not uncommon.
  • Positioning the legs close together rather than a wide stance may allow the eyes to continue to follow the subject contour vertically to a narrow portion of the body, thus enhancing the pose.
  • Ask the model to press her tongue against the roof of her mouth, and place her chin out and down. This will greatly accent the jawline, which is attractive in any photo.
  • During a pose with hands on the waist, try moving the hands slightly lower on the pelvis and in toward the belly button.


As with any female subject, train your eye to look for curves and don't be afraid to move around your subject. By mastering a few coaching skills you will be amazed at what you can accomplish without having to rely on hours within post production.


Bob Barford is a published award winning portrait and glamour photographer based out of Pennsylvania. 

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Photography clients curvy posing Mon, 15 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Finding models in your community Dress fashionDress fashion A photographer who needs to build a portfolio for a particular style of people photography often needs models. It may be a photographer who is just starting out, or it may be a seasoned pro who is looking to work on a special project. There are of course quite a few avenues that one can go through to find a professional model (eg. Model Mayhem, social media sites) but what if the photographer was interested in hiring someone very local. This has some distinct advantages for both the photographer and the model. One of the most important advantages is building a rapport with each other. The model trusts the photographer, the photographer trusts the model and both ultimately benefit and ideally the skills of each grow with time working together.

For the photographer, he/she needs to be legitimate. Unfortunately, there are predators in our society and women in particular need to be very careful.  Any photographer should be able to show some body of work. For the photographer just starting out, he/she may need to attend workshops/meetups where hands on experience is offered.  Adding these images to social media, to on-line galleries, and of course to electronic devices such as tablets.  Ideally, the more established photographer will have a website with his/her name featured for the perspective model to look at and decide if she wants to work with that photographer. This can be step one to establishing trust. Providing names of meetup or workshop hosts can also be a plus.

Once done, and you believe that you see someone that you may like to work with, try to strike up a casual conversation without appearing that you are flirting. If she thinks that you are hitting on her, your chances may drop significantly. Casually mention that you are a photographer during the conversation and occasionally hire models. Ask if she would like to learn more and if they say 'yes' ask for contact information and you will get in touch with them. Provide them with a business card at the end of the conversation or at least a place they can look at your work.

At this point you are essentially 'hiring' someone, and you should conduct yourself as such. You should have a very clear idea of what you wish to shoot. Inform her how much you are willing to pay (yes..'pay') and ask any other qualifying questions specific to the concept. A general question such as 'would you like to model may be too broad - be specific. Let her know a date and time that you have available. If she is not available, let her know that you will keep her contact info for another concept. Some people will agree, some may not be interested. Follow up once with everyone, but don't waste time with someone who seems not to be interested.

Once someone agrees, be sure to contact her at least a day before the shoot. Remain professional  and discuss hair, makeup, props, dress, and of course specific directions to where the shoot is to be held. Be specific with a start time and end time,adding a little buffer in case something 'happens'. 

On the day of the shoot, follow your concept plan as closely as possible. This builds trust and may make your 'model' want to work with you on a future date. Remember that clear respect and open professional attitudes often go a lot further than fancy cameras or lighting equipment.  The more you work with a new model, the easier it will be to develop new concepts and create some great art! 




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) New Models community hire photography Mon, 08 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Split toning for great skies Color toningColor toning

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the images that come out of the camera do not match what we really saw in real life. Especially when it comes to the sky within almost any image, exposure can be tricky. Some camera's have a better dynamic range than others, there are filters, bracketing and so forth to try to get in right in camera. 

In many cases a little post production work is needed. Literally there are dozens of plugins and filters within various software packages. Within Photoshop, there are quite a few techniques to improve how a sky may look including replacing the sky itself! But what if you want to make an edit fairly quick and easy in lets say... Lightroom?!

Once again you have many options here including exposure, white balance, vibrance, saturation, but one of the overlooked features by some is split toning.

Split toning involves selectively enhancing the shadows and highlights within an image. This is done on top of any other adjustments that you may have done to your image (vibrance etc..). 

In the image above, the sky was rather understated compared to what I saw in real life. To access the split toning feature of lightroom, open the develop module within lightroom and about half way down on you right you will see the "Split tone" edit fields (see yellow arrows). You will notice an area to adjust the color balance of your highlights and shadows. 



You will notice by default a little grey box next to both the highlights and shadows labels. This will change as you make adjustments. 

  • Move the saturation slider all the way to the right under highlights.
  • You may now move the "Hue" slider to the right or left OR click on the grey box and choose a color
  • I choose a golden yellow for my highlights (which happen to be light within the clouds).
  • I gradually moved my slider to the left until I got what appeared to be a nice effect.

There is a balance slider, and by default, Lightroom will balance light and shadow. You may of course change that if you wish.

I could have changed the hue of the shadows using the same steps as highlights, however in this case I left the shadows alone.

If you look at the top image, the picture in the left frame was the original, and after split toning I arrived at the image within the right frame. I think the right image is a little more dynamic.

Split toning has other applications other than skies, but I find that this process can work very well on landscapes in general and even very select B&W portraits. Try next time and see what you think!

For those who like Videos, I have included one in which Mark Wallace discusses Split Toning:

Split Toning




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Lightroom Split-tone color skies Mon, 01 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Your Valuable time Most of us consider our time valuable throughout the day. Regardless of whether you run a full time business or are juggling family and hobby interest, time during the day can be precious.  Not everyone has the luxury to have an assistant or chose to spend hours behind a computer to keep track of appointments and send continuous emails.

One application that can be helpful is an application called 

Booking MenuBooking Menu This is an online application that links up to your google or icloud calendar and can manage bookings for yourself, your team, and allow perspective clients to see when you are available. You can publish to your website or even interface with social media. You control the times that you are available (or not available) and once a potential client has access to this information and books you, emails are sent out confirming appointments. The service will even send out reminder emails relating to a specific booking.  It is even flexible enough to allow you to confirm or reject a specific time slot, modify an appointment, along with sending reminders of the change(s).

A basic account is free with some limitations, however the full service is available for $10/month. If you live a busy life and don't wish to spend all of your free time in front of a computer or checking your phone every few minutes, start with a free membership and see where it takes you!

You can Book me


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) appointments calendar free time Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Your choice of colors Do you have a burning need to know what "Xanadu", "Raw Umber" or "Inchworm" may be? Yes, they are really color names that Photoshop can recognize via a special code.  These are colors that correspond to obscure codes that you may have heard about during a Photoshop tutorial or may have actually entered into Photoshop itself.

There are of course many ways to do almost anything in Photoshop, but to access colors, for backgrounds for instance, one of the easiest ways to pull up choices is through the color picker tool. A quick way to access the color picker tool is to chose the "ying/yang"symbol at the bottom of the Photoshop adjustments panel. This is usually located in the lower left hand side of the Photoshop workspace by default.

ArrowsArrows  Clicking on this symbol will bring up several choices, the first of which is the color picker solid color. 

You have several choices here, but for example if you enter R: 93, G: 138, B:168  You will get a "Airforce Blue".  

  Choosing colorChoosing color You will also notice that other fields are also populated with their respective values. For example the field just below the RGB contains a hashmark (Hex field) with the corresponding value of 5d8aa8. The lab, HSB, as well as the CMYK fields are also completed with their respective numbers. Obviously this has many implications such as of you are working in a program that only accepts values for CMYK, you have a ready reference (Caveat- all programs may not use exactly the same numbers).

So how do you know these magic numbers?  The following link provides you with a rich resource of sample colors and codes that you can enter directly into photoshop for a vast variety of colors.

Color codes

If this is not enough for you, this same menu offers access to color libraries such as Pantone and Trumatch. The possibilities are endless!

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) colorpicker colors creative photography Mon, 17 Apr 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Noticed on Social Media?? MazeMaze Getting noticed in social media is similar to finding your way around a maze that keeps changing depending upon which service that you are using and who the audience you want to attract. It can be very time consuming and at times frustrating to know what to post to which service and when to post it. A couple of things that can help are:

Posting at about the same time every week. If your audience knows that you post on a certain day or time, they are more likely to look for you. There are certainly apps that allow you to do this a little easier such as Hootsuite and Crowdbooster that may allow you to be a little more efficient.

Hashtags are VERY popular on Instagram. Generally, the more hashtags that you use, the greater the chance that you will be discovered and develop a greater number of fans. Some of the most popular #Hashtags are:

#love, #instagood, #me, #tbt, #cute, #follow, #followme, #photooftheday, #happy, #tagforlikes, #beautiful, #self, #girl, #picoftheday, #like4like, #smile, #friends, #fun, #like, #fashion, #summer, #instadaily, #igers, #instalike, #food, #swag, #amazing, #tflers, #follow4follow, #bestoftheday, #likeforlike, #instamood, #style, #wcw, #family, #f4f, #nofilter,  #lol, #life, #pretty, #repost, #hair, #my, #sun, #webstagram, #iphoneonly, #art, #tweegram, #cool, #followback, #instafollow, #instasize, #bored, #instacool, #funny, #mcm, #instago, #instasize, #vscocam, #girls, #all_shots, #party, #music, #eyes, #nature, #beauty, #night, #fitness, #beach, #look, #nice, #sky, #christmas, #baby

 Try to develop a consistent style of brand. This can be difficult, but asking yourself questions such as what type of things do I do really well            may help. A Portrait photographer should most often post images of people; a fashion model may want to post images of herself in up to               date or elaborate clothing. If people know what to expect, they are more likely to look for you. That does not mean that one can not post               other interesting topics, but the majority of the posts should be of a similar style.

Try to avoid noise. If the topic has been discussed 100 times and you do not have an amazingly new spin, people may brush directly past your post. Have you have PERSONAL knowledge that is unique that no one else has shared?  This of course does not mean that you can not Re-Post a topic from an EXPERT and add your unique insight to it. In fact, this may work very well. If a well known photographer describes a technique, and you use it with great results- by all means tag the expert and share your results.

Adding personal stories may or may not help, depending how long that you have been posting and how large your group of followers may be. Someone just starting out, may not want to share what they ate for breakfast in the morning :)   In any case, everyone should be careful about sharing too much. Unfortunately, not everyone on the internet always has your best interest in their heart.

Here are links that may help with social media sites such as facebook or twitter. Instagram supposedly has an internal management mechanism for things like scheduling posts, however it does not seem to work consistently for everyone who has tried to use it.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Media Social Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Are you at Risk? CuriousCurious Are you at risk?

Many industry professionals, and even those who regularly engage in the photography and modeling industry have significant assets tied up into their work. Threats can come from a variety of sources including theft, fire, water damage, and even from a group or individual who may have become 'offended' over a situation. 

Photographers may carry several thousands of dollars of equipment within a single camera bag. Models may have extensive wardrobes and props whereas a makeup artist often has a considerable investment within his/her supplies. In addition, it is becoming more common that hybrid professionals are emerging such as models who are also photographers. So the question is what happens when a camera or lightstand is damaged, an expensive dress is damaged (e.g. Wedding gown worth thousand of dollars), or someone claims that makeup has caused skin irritation resulting in a loss of work? Is it possible that an otherwise innocent post in social media can result in a lawsuit for slander?

General liability insurance can offer protection for issues such as bodily injury (lightstand falls on a model causing her to trip and sprain a ankle), Property damage (studio owner is unhappy about that damaged lightstand), Libel or slander (Using the studio name when talking about cheap lightstands).

Does homeowners insurance cover everything if a studio is operating in the home? Maybe not if the agent is not aware that you are running a business within your home. You may need to specify certain things such as laptops, smartphones, and in the case of models even exercise equipment through a commercial property rider to your regular home owners account.  Even if you home owners insurance is excellent, it is unlikely that it will cover anything when you are away from your home. What happens when a new $4,000 camera is 'accidentally' knocked into the water during a beach shoot?  Certain policies may actually offer a Inland Marine clause in which coverage floats with you everywhere you go.  

The question that may come to some minds may be that I am not a business but just do this for fun. It may not be that much fun if you ruin a $30,000 wedding gown by an accidental wine spill.

A business...

Those who chose to operate as a business can often obtain Business Owners policy that can bundle quite a few of the above such as general liability and property into once lower cost policy.  Another question though comes to bear if you brand yourself a business. Generally, unless you specify otherwise your 'business' will be considered a  sole proprietorship. Essentially this is a business with no distinction between the owner and the business. You are entitled to all profits and debts of the business. It seems easy and many people select this route but.. If something does happen that puts you at risk BOTH your personal and business assets are at risk! 

Another possibility is considered a Limited Liability company. This effectively separates person assets from company related assets which can give you a little more protection should you end up in a complicated law suit.

There are of course other business structures such as Incorporating . Each structure has its own benefits and limitations, however there are many resources on the web or through personal business advisers that may help one with this decision.

So, do you need insurance? Do you need to consider operating as a business?

  • What type of photography do you do?
  • How much do you have invested?
  • Who do you work with?
  • How often do you work in the industry?

Something to think about!

Model Insurance

Photographer Insurance




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) MUA Photography Risk business insurance modeling Mon, 03 Apr 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Calavera SugerskullSugerskull There are many forms of body painting, but one of the most colorful is represented by the Suger Skull. Calavera is Spanish for Skull and the Suger Skull is often a decorative, and sometimes edible, representation of a skull and is used in the Mexican celebration for the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Traditionally, these skulls were made of cane suger and decorated with frosting, beads or feathers. "Day of the Dead" is usually a rememberance of those who have passed away and good thoughts  help them with their spiritual journey. Some other cultures have developed a similar practice.

In photography and modeling, a skilled makeup artist can create some fantastically colored and elaborate makeup for Suger Skulls. Although the base color is often white, bright reds, oranges, vibrant blues often are added to the makeup along with a flowered headdress. The area around the eyes are often painted black or deep blue to represent eye sockets followed by elaborate outlines. Thin lines are also drawn vertically across the lips.

Although the makeup can be very elaborate at times, models may enjoy these images as something fun or different for their portfolio. For those who may like to try this project, I have included a link that takes you step by step through the entire makeup process. 

Creating the Suger Skull


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) Skull Suger make