Mar 2014 25

There is so much to learn when starting photography. Not only do you need to become one with your camera, you’ll need to know how to handle the digital post processing. While there is a plethora of tutorials and blog articles to help you with post, we thought we would share with you the mistakes that are often made. Here are 5 items to avoid.

This is one of my favorite families of all time. They are fun and full of life.  I saw the ivy wall and knew I wanted it to play an integral part of their family portrait.

Here is the image straight out of camera – the original. I grew up with film and so I’m comfortable with getting the image pretty darn bang on in camera. However, like most digital files, it could use a little more sharpening and punch to make it shine. original

1. Over Sharpening

One important step is sharpening your images. However, with anything in the digital world, less is often more. If you use an action or a preset  make sure you tweak it. Every image is different and applying the same sharpening method to every image will yield unsatisfactory results. Notice how the ivy almost seems to take over the image? This action would have been fine, if toned down to about 60%.


2. Filter Fail

There’s no doubt about it, the birth of instagram has given its followers a new passion for the filter. However, this is not always the best idea for your images if you want to keep them classic. While this look is trendy now, you have just outdated your client’s photos. Keep it clean and you’ll keep it timeless.


3. Color Saturation

Spring is the perfect time to punch up those colors. Careful though, you want to retain natural looking color  not color that looks like it came from a cartoon. Plus, the more you saturate the more you lose detail in your blacks and blow out your whites. originalsaturation

4. Spot Color

This was a very popular process to do in the early 2000′s. It was when digital was booming and photographers were just starting to have fun with color. However, as mentioned before, stay away from fads you are outdating your images before you  even hand them to your clients.  It also tends to take away focus from the main part of the image – your client.  This is not to say I haven’t seen some very clever uses of spot color, but for the most part I would stay away from it.originalspotcolor

5.  Vignette

You want to bring attention to the main subject in your photo by using vignetting. However, with most post processing, you can over do it. Instead of using an action or preset to do this, you can subtly bring attention to the subject by lightly burning in certain areas to draw in the viewer’s eye. originalvignette

The great thing about photography and post processing, is it’s constantly evolving. I have been a professional photographer for over 13 years and I can tell you I have made every one of these mistakes. However, I hope my mistakes will be your learning  tips.

- Written by Libby for Adoramapix



Mar 2014 20

Each week we focus on photo book design ideas that can help you with your wedding photo books, baby photo books, engagement photo books, etc. This week, we turn the spotlight to creating your own custom stickers and applying them through our online software PixPublisher. This is perfect for scrapbookers and photographers who want to add their logo to their books. Here is a simple tutorial and perfecting the customized sticker.


Mar 2014 18

Black and White Portraiture is and always will be timeless.  I recently came upon an article on Fstoppers about Black and White portraiture from John Schell, a lifestyle photographer based in San Diego, California. His images were breathtaking and his advice insightful. I asked John if he could share his knowledge with our members.

Here is John’s 5 tips.

There is an old quote which states, “if you want to shoot fashion, shoot in color, but if you want to shoot emotion, shoot in black and white.” I don’t know who first said it, but I tend to agree. I do love myself a good black and white portrait. There is something special about black and white imagery which has the ability to cut through all the baggage and display both the inner beauty and turmoil which can be so easily hidden away by color photography.

That’s not to say emotion and/or mood cannot be captured with a color photograph. Given the chance, however, when looking at two portraits side by side, nine times out of ten, the black and white portrait will hit me in a place where the color photograph just cannot reach.

When I first started shooting fashion, I was all about color and pop. The work I followed was very representative of the outdoor strobed look; vibrant, bright colors, deep skin tones, and an unlimited depth of field all set against deep blue skies. It’s an almost timeless, classic style and one that I believe, when done properly, is more a work of art than a simple photograph. My attempts to emulate (copy) it fell short and, despite my best efforts, I eventually decided to put my strobes away and piece by piece, sold all of my Stobist equipment.

In shooting natural light, I discovered, somewhat by accident, a love of black and white portraiture. These are my basics.

Step One: My Optimal Setup

What is needed almost more than anything is to find a location where your subject’s face is brightly lit, and the falloff of light starting about the ears or back of the head is pretty abrupt. What works best for me when shooting natural light portraits is to place the subject in an area of open shade, trying to find a place where they are surrounded on at least three sides. Place your subject in the shade and as close to the line of light as possible. (see diagram)  Bonus point are given if you can find a place where your subject is in the shade, you are standing in the sunlight, and there is something large and reflective immediately behind you like a building or a light colored fence.



Step Two: Shoot the Eyes

The key to a successful portrait is, in my opinion, the subject’s eyes. Deep and meaningful, fun and playful, dark and mysterious, no matter what the mood,in the eyes is where you will find it. This why, I feel that regardless of what you’re trying to capture in your portrait session, even if the intent is to keep them closed, I always aim for my subject’s eyes.

unnamed (1)

Step Three: Camera Settings

My camera settings are simple. Using a fast lens, I try to shoot as close to wide open as possible – usually an aperture of somewhere between f/1.4 and f/2.2, maybe f/3.2 if the situation calls for it. Shutter speed is set to the situation and ISO is usually locked in on 400 or so.

unnamed (2)

Step Four: Model Posing

This part is really simple. Like I said earlier, if want to capture outstanding images of anyone, a great place to start is with the eyes. Focus on the eyes, make sure they are sharp. Make sure that if you’re using a shallow depth of field, that at least the rest of the subjects face be in focus. Posing should be natural, moody. Ask your subject questions. Ask them to move. Ask them to think about a time when they were happiest or when they were saddest. Ask them to think about their favorite person, or someone whom they cannot stand. The connection between you and your subject is key. In addition, there really shouldn’t be any distractions within the frame. If you are taking a portrait, take a portrait – nothing else.

unnamed (3)


Step Five: Post Processing

As I said earlier about the technical aspects of the camera, the same can be said for the post processing aspects. I am constantly learning new things and discovering my own way of doing things. As such, I am certain there are retouchers who will tell me that what I am doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. And they’re probably (definitely) right. I’m not going to get into any of that. My post processing is fairly simple; adjust exposure, convert to black and white, deepen the blacks and/or shadows via a tone curve (or sliders in Lightroom), perhaps add a bit of a fade, and then sharpen. After that (or before, whichever) you can retouch away any blemishes, even out any skin discolorations, and you’re good to go. If you want take it a few steps further, you could dodge and burn the image to make it really pop. The key here is to get most of it right in camera.

unnamed (4)


The overall goal here is not to make something so technically perfect that it becomes a workshop in itself or a tribute to your technical ability. You want to capture mood, the drama, and the emotion. The eyes of your subject will tell a story; your job as a portrait photographer is to remove any obstacles which may prevent them from doing so.



John Schell is a Southern California based lifestyle and commercial photographer and staff writer for In addition to his photography work, he is also a social media consultant, an educator, and an avid (and unashamed) Instagrammer.

You can follow his artwork through these channels:


Mar 2014 11

The snow is melting, the birds are chirping and the crocuses are starting to push up through the ground. It’s the first signs of spring and for those who are nature enthusiasts now is the time to gear up for flower photography. However, before you snap the shutter there are a few things you should keep in mind.  We asked Adoramapix member, Kathleen Clemons for some advice. Her flower photographer will inspire you.

1. Use Soft Lighting

Harsh, direct sunlight is the worst light you can use for flower photography. It creates washed out colors, a loss of texture, and strong shadows which chop up the petal lines of your flowers. Soft, even lighting is the best type for flowers, overcast days are wonderful for flower photography.


Tip 1 KathleenClemons Canna Curves
Tip 1 KathleenClemons Irises

2. Pay Attention To the Background
When you are photographing flowers, pay close attention to your background. You want a background that adds to the image, not one that distracts or pulls attention away from your subject(s). Remember, if it doesnʼt add to the image, it needs to go! Sometimes, I actually choose the background first if that is what catches my eye, and then I choose a subject that contrasts or compliments it.
Tip 2 kathleen clemons Charleston Iris web
Tip 2 Kathleen Clemons One among many site  copy
3.Get Closer

Move in closer! This eliminates anything in the background that could detract from your flower. Try filling the frame with your subject. Start shooting wide and move in closer and closer. You’ll be amazed at what you will see. Shoot many variations of your subjects, gradually moving in closer and closer, with more and more of the flower filling the frame.

Tip 3 kathleen clemons Anemone shine site copy

Tip 3 Kathleen clemonsWhisper in Pink site copy

4. Simplify Your Composition

Learn to see the distractions that pull your eye away from your subject, and eliminate or minimize them. Change your angle of view, move in closer, or use a larger aperture to blur elements that distract. Most of my flower photos are shot with large apertures to reduce depth of field and simplify the subject.  Using a selective focus lens like a Lensbaby is a great way to draw attention to one area of your composition.

Tip 4 kathleen clemonsPink Whisper web

Tip 4 Kathleen Clemons Tulip curls tex site

5.Work it!

As with all photography, beautiful and successful flower images begin with learning to see. This means really looking at your subject, from all possible angles. Examine the flower from the side. Notice the lines of the stem, stamen, the curve and texture of the petals. Now look from the top.  Notice any grains of pollen clinging to the center or spilling onto the petals. Lay down on your stomach and look up to see the underside of the flower. Sometimes this is the most beautiful part of a flower, and often overlooked. Really study your subject and shoot it from different angles, choose the best point of view. When you think you are finished with a subject, ask yourself, “Did I work it?” If not, you aren’t finished!


Tip 5 kathleen clemons Dancing Daisy web

Tip 5 kathleen Clemons White Dahlia site


Thank you Kathleen for sharing your advice with us. If you would like to see more of Kathleen’s work you can check her sites out here:

Twitter: @kathleenclemons
My photography classes:


Feb 2014 27

This week we want to turn the spotlight on our mini photo books.  We offer 6 x 4.5 and our most popular size is 6×6.  Recently, I talked to Paul and Sylvia of Paul and Sylvia Photgoraphy and Design about the mini books.  Paul and Sylvia are amazing wedding photographers out of Toronto, Canada.

Sylvia dropped us a note saying, “I just wanted to let you know that we just delivered some albums to our clients and created a perfect 6×6 parent book through you. We absolutely loved it and so did they. ”

wedding photo book



The 6×6 wedding photo books are the perfect keepsake for parents after the wedding day is over. The parents’ wedding photo books are typically smaller versions of the original wedding photo book. They can be exact replicas of the bride and groom’s album or they can be customized to include any collection of favorite wedding photos and memories. Also, when you log into your account on your photo books landing page you can click the links to copy the book to different sizes.

The books may be small but they feature the same quality elements of our big photo books including lay flat pages and rich vibrant colors printed on archival photo paper.

These mini wedding photo books make the perfect thank you gift after the wedding and can easily be stowed and carried along when your parents want to show off their amazing kids on their wedding day.



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