How to tell if you are a candid portrait style photographer.

Amber, Waikiki Beach, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, F/7.1, 1/500, ISO 200

Amber, Waikiki Beach, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, F/7.1, 1/500, ISO 200

     Candid style portraits are a unique way to take a picture of a subject. Candid is simply capturing the subject when they are not expecting it. I have several methods I use when I do photo shoots to try and achieve this goal. All of the pictures I will be using in this will be of the style am talking about. When you are taking pictures of someone you are always trying to get them to look a certain way, and once you achieve it you capture the moment forever for them right? Well candid is kind of like that, except you HAVE to feel comfortable and more importantly so does your client. This a little more advanced way of getting a very unique yet rewarding shot that they may not be expecting. Once you get used to it though, this is a very powerful tool to have in your box of tricks. The reason that I love candid style so much and try to do it as much as possible is because there is a RAW (no pun intended) emotion there that is very hard to replicate on purpose. Try this; ask someone next to you to smile for you real quick, maybe explain to them why so it is not as creepy, and look at their face. Now have a normal conversation with them and make them really laugh. you will see a big difference. The normal smile may be great, but that unadulterated smile that people let out when they aren't holding back...that...that is amazing.

Three Generations, Barbers Point, Hawaii, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, f.71, ISO 100

Three Generations, Barbers Point, Hawaii, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, f.71, ISO 100

      The above shot was set up by me standing to the side while the wife and grandmother of the child were getting ready and I saw the grandfather walk on the far side of the father. As the father looked down at his beautiful daughter, his father too looked down for some reason. I was lucky to grab the shot before anything changed. This is another example of why candid is so fun and so powerful. Can you replicate this easily? Sure, but remember that I said that the story is just as important as the actual picture. So when they tell the family this was a complete accident, it makes this special moment even more intense! Don't forget that you have to be quick when taking candid shots for the most part, and that you CAN pose a candid shot, but it is very hard to REALLY get that hidden emotion. Having a longer lens also helps with this as well. The presence of you and the camera will sometimes make people act differently and I will explain later. I use my 70-200 telephoto lens when I want to catch a shot like this from a distance. I can stand a pretty far distance away and snap the shot and crop some if needed. Now, the set up is just as important as the execution for a candid shot. You may be asking yourself what kind of set up you need to do for a candid shot, but the set up can take places weeks before the shot is even taken.

A capture of a capture, Kawela Bay, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, f.7.1, 1/200, ISO 400

A capture of a capture, Kawela Bay, Canon 6D, 70-200 L, f.7.1, 1/200, ISO 400

     The set up. Very important. You have to b as comfortable with your client as you can be ahead of time. After the initial meet up, contract signing and so on, I invite them to lunch or dinner. I have normal small talk with them and then I dive into a little deeper conversations. They think that I am doing this just to talk to them, and they are partially correct, but the real reason is because I am probing into what makes them laugh. I am testing things that will receive different emotions. In my last job I learned how to read people pretty well, and I use that to my advantage in these situations. I memorize the different emotional triggers and then exploit them during the shoot to try and replicate the same facial expressions as before. I will always believe that you have to be a people person to be a portrait photographer. You can't make them feel uncomfortable, you have to be able to adapt and change to the clients that you have to bring the best out of them. You have to bring the best out of someone so you can capture it in a picture and give it back to them forever. Like I said this will take practice, but once you get it, it is awesome fun! I hope this was helpful to you, until next time my fellow photogs, take care, and always have your shutter finger ready!

Your self worth as a photographer. The most important tool in your box of tricks.

     I can safely say that one of the most asked questions I get from my guests is if I had one tip to share with them, what would it be. I tell them to always have their camera on them and practice ALL of the time. I want to add something to that though. Your confidence is so important in your work. It doesn't matter what kind of pictures you are taking. You HAVE to believe in yourself! You are your hardest critic, and it is OKAY to tell yourself you messed up, but you HAVE to learn how to fix it every time.

10/28/16 "Blue My Mind" Canon 6D, Canon USM L 70-200

10/28/16 "Blue My Mind" Canon 6D, Canon USM L 70-200

     I tell my clients of all types that if they are not confidant in their performance during the shoot that it shows up in the pictures. Well guess what photogs, YOUR performance matters too!
You have to be comfortable around your equipment, around people, with the situation, where the pictures are being taken and so on. The models feed off of the photographers, and it is up to us to make them smile, or portray the emotion we need them to. Any of my clients will tell you that I bust out some crazy ideas to make them smile. EVERY PICTURE YOU TAKE IS IMPORTANT! How? Well if you take a "bad" picture you can learn from that picture and make it better next time. The old theory of 1,000 pictures putting out one good one is still true, but after practice you can narrow your focus a little bit to know what you are looking for more often. After a lot of practice, I look at EVERYTHING differently. I wonder which angle would look best for each subject. NEVER DOUBT YOUR SELF WORTH. You are the only person who will take the picture YOU want. YOU are the person who will do the work to achieve your goal. You will be the one to do it. If you doubt your skill or worth, then you may end up giving up all together.

10/28/16 "Blurry Glow" Canon 6D, Canon USM L 70-200

10/28/16 "Blurry Glow" Canon 6D, Canon USM L 70-200

      If you have doubts, don't feel alone. We all do. Just take a step back and assess everything about the image. If you are on location and you are having doubts about the shoot. Move to a different angle and look at it again. Look at where you were standing, the angles, the height of the camera, the available light, take it all in. Maybe there is a better vantage point only a few feet away, maybe it is shooting from the opposite direction. I always ask my friends and fellow photographers to critique my work. It is how I get better, it helps me find things that I never noticed. I hope that you all have confidence in what you are doing, no matter what you are shooting. I hope that you find the passion and drive to keep trying for that perfect shot, no matter how many it takes, the feeling of capturing an idea on camera. Best feeling ever. Till next time, keep your shutter finger ready, have a good night!

-De-Jay

What is your work worth?

     The answer is simple. Your work is as valuable as you feel it is. If you feel that your picture is crap and worthless then that will be how it is viewed, provided you actually put it up to be seen. On the other side if you feel that your picture is great, then it is! When people start judging the value of their work off of what others think, then they begin to second guess themselves, and even worse, stop enjoying what it is they do in the first place, in this example being photography.

     I am sure that a lot of you have heard me tell you that the value of your pictures is judged by how much a viewer is willing to invest their personal time into it. If your picture drops jaws and opens eyes, then chances are it will be more valuable to a possible client. There are many little tips and tricks I will offer on how to improve your images in that area so you can have confidence in your work. First, however, I want everyone to do me a favor.

     Find your 100% favorite picture you have taken, no matter what it is. Pull it up and REALLY look at it. Take it in. Don't think about things you would change, or what somebody else said about it, because the reason you are looking at THAT image is because it is YOUR favorite. Keep looking, let your eyes flow freely around the image, maybe land on something you have never noticed before.

     Chances are that you have probably spent around 30 seconds or more looking at the image, and if you like to look at it that long, then you can imagine how long a person could look at it for the first time. You invested the time to take the picture, invested the time to edit the picture, if needed, and you took the time to save it, upload it to social media, or even had it printed out. You did all of that so stop weighing the image's value on what others think of it. Yes, another person may see this image as worthless, but if you really put your heart and soul into the image and TRULY believe this to be your best image, then it is. You really think that somewhere out there on a planet full of over 7 billion people, there is not a single person who would love to have that picture in their living room on the wall?

     Never underestimate your own self worth. Never let others tell you that you can't do something that you know you can, or at least even want to try. What is your work worth? To someone out there, even if it is just you, it is priceless. Don't lose site of the single more important thing about that image, you. You may not even be in the picture, but you were the reason it was created. Without you it would never be. Now, I am not saying that every picture that everyone takes is gold, because, in all honesty it isn't. I go through hundreds of images just to find ONE that I like, and sometimes I don't even like the selected one too much.

     I would like to finish by telling you something. No matter who you are. No matter what you are doing. You have an ability to influence somebody out there, even if it is just one person. In this crazy world we are living in, one is better then none. It all starts there. It all starts with one person you can try to help. Pay it forward. Make sure that you let the people that influence you know that they do, be honest with them. Share the love. Share the support, and remember, no matter what, your work, is priceless. Period.

My first print (August 17th, 2016)

     Hello all! Today I will be talking to you about motivating yourself to get out there and take pictures as much as you can! I started taking pictures without really knowing what I was doing, just snapping things that looked good to me. Looking back I can see those shots and there is A LOT I would change about them, but really, I wouldn't. Photography is this ever changing, ever evolving lifestyle and passion that once grabs hold of you, has you forever, and can take you on the best ride of your life!

     When you have some down time, think about the most beautiful place near where you live. Sometimes it will be the first place that pops into your head as the spot you can relax and be alone. Sometimes it will be a place that is just truly unique. Whatever the reason is latch on to it, and really think about why it is so special to you. Got it? Great! Now try to envision a way to convey that emotion you created into a picture to show somebody in the hopes that they would want to go there. You want to transport them. You want to make them yearn to see what you did. 

     See it is all about value. The images that we take are PRICELESS to us, because we worked to get them. It is only natural to want others to appreciate our work. A person will judge the "value" of your picture by how much personal time they are willing to invest into at it. If your image is very drawing to the viewer, then they will want to look at it longer and longer. To some people the picture may actually be so good that they want to hang it up somewhere to look at day after day. I fit into the last category, I want to take pictures that make people smile, and feel warm inside, whether it is a landscape or a portrait. There is no limit to what you can capture, and you never know what somebody may think of your image, so why not take a shot!!! Okay, bad pun, sorry.

     My very first picture that I sold was a complete accident. I took a shot of a section of road here in Hawai'i as a homework assignment for college. After receiving a good grade on it, I wanted to put it on the fridge, so to speak. Problem was I didn't have any colorful letter magnets, so I just posted in on my Facebook. Two days later, I got a message from a man who wanted to buy a full size print of the picture to hang on his wall. I was beside myself, and of course agreed to sell him a copy. I did not know how much to charge, but I threw him a number and he agreed without hesitation. A week later he sent me a picture of my picture, framed, and hanging in the entry hallway of his house. I have never been so proud of any picture I took up to that point. I am smiling now even thinking about it. The picture is below.

     The point I am trying to make, is that everything has the potential to be beautiful. Something is beautiful to someone in some way. So why not take a chance. Grab your camera. Go to your favorite spot. Take a few shots and most importantly enjoy your time alone with yourself and your thoughts. I would love to see some of your work and shots that you have taken! I hope to hear from all of you! Thank you so much for reading my very first blog!