November 2021



Starting in November 2021, a national billboard campaign will be printed and installed across the country in support of Professional Photography.

D’Ann Boal of Smitten & Swoon is one of ten elite Photographers selected to represent our industry.

Let’s move forward together.

Learn More:


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3 Tips for Beginning Photographers with André Brown


Product Spotlight with the Profoto 3' OCF Softbox Octa


Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business with Annie Marie


Product Spotlight with Intuition Backgrounds


How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot with Brian DeMint


Creative Ways To Use Feathered Light with Brandon Hunter

The Successful Headshot Studio - 3 Changes Photographers Need To Make with Gary Hughes 66


Crafting a Career in Commercial Photography with Neil Kremer

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Tips for Photographing Children with Amy Guenther and Lindsey Stock

Six Steps to Fine Art Portraits with Rachel Owen

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11 Bridal Posing Ideas for Photographers with Vanessa Joy


Inspirations from Our Readers

How To Deliver Your Images Faster with Publish Services in Lightroom Classic with Dustin Lucas 154


Final Inspiration with Irina Jomir

















MISSION STATEMENT Shutter Magazine ’s focus is on photography education. Our goal is to provide current, insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer. Shutter uses the latest technologies to deliver information in a way that is relevant to our audience. Our experienced contributors help us create a sense of community, and have established the magazine as one of the leading photography publications in the world.

Shutter Magazine : By photographers, for photographers.

PUBLISHER Sal Cincotta

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alissa Cincotta

COPY EDITOR Allison Brubaker


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS André Brown, Annie Marie, Brian DeMint, Brandon Hunter, Dustin Lucas, Gary Hughes, Neil Kremer, Newborn Nerds, Rachael Owens, Vanessa Joy


PHOTOGRAPHER: Irina Jomir | CAMERA: Canon 5D mk4 LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm EXPOSURE: f7.1 @ 1/50 ISO 500 LIGHTING: Profoto B10 Plus x2; Profoto 5’ RFi Softbox Octa x1; Profoto OCF beauty dish white x1; black V-Flat. Mixed with ambient light. ABOUT THE IMAGE: This is one of the images from my Green Room series, which is a part of a project where I build a few sets at my studio to create a feeling of a di–erent space. I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself creatively and transform the space I have into something more interesting than just a plain backdrop behind the subject. I used two models for three di–erent sets. I wanted to give them a “room” to play a role, something that is going to feel like a part of the character too. This experiment somehow unlocked new creative ways of thinking. MODEL: Maria Kaira - @maryytru


“Challenge yourself. Every day, we have an opportunity to start anew. So, the question is, are you all you can be? In life, in your craft, in the things you want to do with your life?

What are you challenging yourself to do today?”

message from sal cincotta


3 Tips for Beginning Photographers | André Brown

with Andr é Brown

3 Tips for Beginning Photographers | André Brown

When starting a business, there is a lot of pressure and urgency to be successful. From the moment we begin, many entrepreneurs, myself included, are off to the races with no clear path or direction on how to get to their desired destination. This leaves us flying by the seat of our pants, making mistake after mistake, prolonging the journey to reaching our goals. In the famous words of Zig Ziglar: “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.” Photographers starting out today have a tremendous advantage with the amount of access to education and other resources available. You no longer have to make the business mistakes many of us did when starting out and you can get a head start by learning from others. Compared to the start of my photography career, there is so much more access to mentorship and communities willing to teach and share with up and coming photographers. With that in mind, I’m sharing my three tips for photographers who are just starting out to give you a head start on your journey to a successful career as a photographer.

3 Tips for Beginning Photographers | André Brown


You may have heard me say time and time again that before I’d photographed my first wedding, I hadn’t really attended a wedding. This left me at a huge disadvantage as I had no point of reference as to how a wedding day would or should flow, nor did I know what to expect. My early clients could have certainly benefited from me shooting more before taking on their weddings and honestly, I would have appreciated it too. In photography, and particularly wedding photography, it’s important to understand all the intricacies of the business and some things only come with first-hand experience. Don’t misunderstand—I made numerous attempts to reach out to photographers in my local markets in an effort to second shoot, third shoot or even just hold a bag as an assistant. However, each and every one of them either ignored me or flat out told me no. This is largely why I mentor as many people as I can, either by allowing them to assist me or via my in-person workshops. Sometimes we just need that little bit of encouragement or confirmation that we are doing something right or be steered in the right direction if we are not. Now, some may look at how far I’ve come and think, “Well, you didn’t need them anyway,” but I strongly disagree. You can’t be your best at anything without constant training and practice. Even to this day, when I am available I second shoot for other photographers. I offer to assist photographers whom I admire to learn what I can and sharpen my skill set. I’ve even turned down paid jobs to go work with other photographers because the value of what I could learn was worth more than a paid gig. I get it, when we are starting out, our focus is on making money, but I believe there is so much more value in learning and growing. Invest in conferences and workshops. Seek out mentorship. This will help you level up and produce work that will speak for itself and when you do, clients will be knocking at your door.

3 Tips for Beginning Photographers | André Brown


I can hear Sal as he reads this with a smile on his face: “Fucking right.” Yes! Start your business with in-person sales. Start with the end in mind. Most of us started as shoot and burn photographers. In fact, I know many photographers making great money with shoot and burn because it fits their business model. However, starting your business with an IPS culture will save you lots of headaches in the future. Transitioning your clients and even yourself over to an IPS model from shoot and burn can be an absolute nightmare. Not only will your old clients not understand why they can’t get a downloadable gallery of all their engagement images for $200-$300, but you may get hit with major anxiety from imposter syndrome when you have to tell clients that those same images come in a package that costs $2,500 or more. While you don’t have to start out with a $2,500 package, embedding the IPS strategy into your business sets the tone for your clients from the beginning. It’s not just a means of delivering products, it’s a part of your process and overall client experience. Clients like consistency and when they refer friends and family, they will also know what to expect. Start with pricing that is comfortable and most importantly profitable for you, and then feel free to raise your prices as you gain experience and become more of an expert in your craft. When you are starting out in your business, it’s inevitable that you will make many changes to your processes and pricing. Most people will admit they started out with no idea what they were doing and any early success was simply trial and error, and possibly a good bit of luck. But don’t overthink it. You will perfect your sales process as your business grows. Make those mistakes early on so by the time you are attracting your ideal clients, you already have most of the kinks worked out and you are confident in your process. This should be especially easy for those of you who have full-time jobs aside from photography. Your full-time jobs should already be sustaining your lifestyle so there isn’t a need or desperation to take on clients just to make ends meet. Hold the line! Charge what you are worth and make them pay what you want them to pay.


To simply say “master lighting” can be a bit illusive. As you grow in your photography career, you will quickly learn that there is no definity in perfecting your lighting technique. Lighting is probably the most important factor in what we do and photographers spend a lifetime exploring new and unique ways to manipulate it. From off- camera flash to natural light, constant and available light included, you should have a clear understanding of how to use these sources of light. As a new photographer, your first instinct is to take a light and point it directly at your subject, but lighting is so much more than that. You need to learn how to control it and make it do exactly what you want it to do. A great place to start is learning your lighting patterns. Have a clear understanding of these lighting patterns and know that different situations will call for different lighting techniques, then use them accordingly to deliver stellar photos— this is what the job is all about. It may also help in the development of your photography style. Right now, in many groups across the internet, there is often the debate about which is better, natural light versus off-camera flash photography. I personally don’t believe in identifying yourself as a natural light photographer or a strobist. We are simply photographers. I probably shoot natural light 85-90% of a wedding day, but I am probably most known for the portraits I create with off-camera flash. It’s important to remember that our job is to use every tool in our toolkit to create the imagery that our clients expect of us.

3 Tips for Beginning Photographers | André Brown

Looking back, knowing what I know now, these three tips would have made a world of difference in starting my career, which is why I felt it important to share with you. As time goes by, the level of access we have to various opportunities to learn and grow is leaps and bounds from where I started out. Take advantage of each and every opportunity to learn not just about the technicalities of photography, but also the business processes that have catapulted others to the level of success you aspire to reach.

André Brown is an award-winning wedding photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been featured in several notable publications and has won awards from prestigious organizations including WPPI. André is also a speaker, educator and brand ambassador for MagMod, Light and Motion and Visual Flow Presets. website: instagram: @andrebrownphoto



Product Spotlight | Profoto 3' OCF Softbox Octa


product spotlight

Why the Profoto 3' OCF SoftboxOcta?

The OCF Softbox 3” Octa is a big light source in a small, portable package. The compact case makes traveling with your light source easier than ever. We’re always on the go, so being able to pack it up and bring it with us on location is a game changer. With color coded rods, assembly is quick and easy, once again great for when you’re moving fast and on the go. Working with quick changing light sources (like the sun) can be tricky, but Profoto’s OCF Softbox 3” Octa saved the day. It creates a soft, yet powerful light that’s perfect for a sunset shoot like this. Totally optional, but we added a softgrid to soften the light even more and give it even more precise light shaping. While this soft light does work in controlled environments like your studio, we were in the desert and the sun was disappearing fast! Being able to create our own light with the OCF Softbox 3” Octa was absolutely a necessity. Check out some of my results using the OCF Softbox 3” Octa. What would you create?

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Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie

with Annie Marie

Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie

What exactly is luxe portraiture? I define it as a portrait that is a step or two above a standard portrait. It is more artful. More soulful. More creative. It is more than just a capture of someone looking at the camera smiling. It carries more impact through storytelling, expression, posing, styling and post production. Who are luxe portraits for? Anyone who appreciates art. I created my luxe portrait experience because I wanted to offer something more customized and artful. It is a more personal and handcrafted service for the clients who want the best. Why a luxe portrait experience? I believe that the way this industry has been changing, it is more important than ever to stand above the “crowd” if we want to truly be a successful artist. If we want to attract clients that appreciate our art, then we need to offer them something extraordinary. Luxe portrait sessions are more about quality and not quantity. Not everyone with a camera can duplicate the look of a truly artful image. It takes an artful eye, technical excellence and a solid business structure to execute. I have always said that a successful portrait will satisfy both the brain (technical elements) and the heart (impact and storytelling), and luxe or fine art portraits are both.

Another, and probably bigger reason that I love to offer this style of portraits is because it fills my soul to create them, whether for myself or my clients. I am like a giddy child when I get to photograph a styled session. When you create images that are more artful, you have no creative limits. And that brings me so much joy just knowing that I can create from the heart. And knowing clients will hang these timeless images in their homes for many years is so very rewarding. How do I create these portraits? Well, let me take you into my world and walk you through my process. First of all, this is so much more than just the portrait you create. This is an entire experience that you are offering to your client from the moment you greet them on the phone. I start creating that relationship with them from the beginning which lasts far beyond the delivery of their art.

Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie


The first important step after you book the session is to get to know your clients. Ideally, you will want to sit down with them either in their home (where you can see their decor and suggest places to hang their portraits) or in your studio (where you can show them many of your samples and work). If you are working remotely where meeting is not possible, an online meeting is just fine. It is best to meet face to face so you can begin to create that bond and trust. They are coming to you to create something unique and special for them, so you need to give them that personal attention. In this meeting, we discuss their ideas: what the mood of the portrait(s) will be, who the subject(s) are, where the portrait(s) will be displayed, what the color tones will be. Also clothing, props, location, etc. It is important to know how much input the client wants to have and how much creative freedom they will allow you to have (the more the better, right?). Once we have an outline of the concept(s)... it’s time for me to get to work! I will start by putting together a mood board based on the ideas we discussed. I like to use Pinterest for this as it is an endless source of eye candy. I pin anything that gives me the mood and style I am looking for. It’s important to use this as inspiration and not to copy. You want to bring your own unique ideas to the portrait. This helps me to fine-tune the concept so I can decide on where (studio or location), lighting (strobe, constant, natural light) and start sourcing wardrobe and props. Styling the portrait is one of the most important parts of this artistic process. I am obsessed with styling sessions. It supports the story, the mood and the overall impact. Clothing needs to have a timeless look to it, props need to complement the story and not detract from it. Backgrounds should be clean and not busy. Every detail in the image needs to have a reason or a place. I personally have an extensive studio style closet that I have collected over the years. I will pull outfits from there. Sometimes the clients will have the proper clothing or props that are handed down and meaningful to the story. If additional or special items are needed, I shop vintage and thrift stores, online shops and costume rentals. If you are crafty, you can hand- make outfits and props. I love making my floral and gold headpieces as I can customize them to my vision and know they will be unique to my clients. Props such as flowers, butterflies, birds, etc. are always better real vs. fake. However, it is not always possible. I sometimes photograph them separately and composite them in. Once wardrobe and props have been collected and location and lighting have been chosen, we are ready for our session!

Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie


This is the second step in the creation of your luxe portrait. I love each step, but this is where you get to interact with your client(s) and watch your vision come to reality. Long before the session, I communicate with my clients and send them information on what to expect and how to come prepared for the session. This is so important in helping the session run smoothly and avoid many issues. If you are working with a hair and makeup artist, they will take care of that detail beautifully, but if you are not, the clients need to know exactly how you want their hair and makeup, making sure there is no bright chipped nail polish, etc. I keep an essentials bag on hand with all sorts of things that we may need during the session, such as clips, pins, hair spray, nail polish remover, double-stick tape, duct tape, frizz control, small makeup bag, scissors, combs, etc.) At one point or another, I have had to use all of it! The day of the session, I get to my studio or location well before my clients. I want to be fully set up by the time they arrive. I want to be fully present for them when they get there and not fiddling with light stands. If they are having hair and makeup done, that is a great time for them to relax and you to go over the mood boards. If not, we chat for a bit, go over the plan and I talk about my expectations for them and their expressions. I assure them that I will help guide them to whatever posing and expression I will be needing, which helps them to relax. I always start my session with the image that we envisioned. Then I just let the session flow. Often the best images are the ones that are unplanned. The more you are prepared, the more you can relax and let your creativity flow. My favorite style of fine art portraits is the timeless Rembrandt style. Most of my lighting setups are based on this, whether it be strobe, constant or natural light. I find that it gives the mood and depth that I desire in a portrait. Here is a behind the scenes image of my adorable little model, Ellyyana. My main light is a strobe and a 72” parabolic to camera left feathered in front of her for a soft light transition. I have a white V-flat on camera right for some soft fill light. Since her hair and background are dark, I added a 48” parabolic above and behind for some separation.

Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie


This is where the magic happens and where your image transforms into a polished portrait. I love this step and watching an image transform in front of my eyes. As much as it is important to get your images as good as possible straight out of camera, there are just some things that will need to be fine-tuned through editing. This is the SOOC image of Ellyyana and I will walk you through the steps I took to get to the final image. I have set up a specific retouch workflow that I follow which helps me to become more efficient and productive with my edits. For many steps which I use a lot, I have created actions so I can work more quickly as well. Here is my retouch workflow. Step 1: CROPPING & COMPOSITING. I do my initial cropping in the beginning and composite any elements so that everything will get the same editing treatments. Step 2: THE BASICS. I will work with adjustments that affect the overall image such as levels, curves, color balance, etc. Then I will work on the details such as skin clean-up, eyes, hair, detail clean-up, first dodge and burn, liquify, etc. Step 3: THE BACKGROUND. Here is where I will clean up any distractions in the background, adjust tone or lighting. I also add textures here if appropriate. Step 4: FINE-TUNING. This is where the final tweaks are done to really make the difference. I give it a final dodge and burn, color toning, sharpening and any final cropping.

For this image of Ellyyana, this is what I did in each step:

Step 1: Cropped image to center her. I straightened out her arms so they were more even and I composited in the bird.

Step 2: I did an initial levels adjustment for brightness, cleaned up fine hairs, brightened eyes, added color to lips and cheeks, adjusted bird color and tone, made eggs smaller and darker, liquified dress and hair and then adjusted the color of her dress. Then I did an initial dodge and burn to brighten her features and darken highlights on the dress.

Step 3: I lightened the background a bit behind her to separate her more and added some color to the background.

Step 4: I did a color toning, a final dodge and burn and sharpening. Here you can see the final image after all of the adjustments. You can see that it has more impact and drama.

Adding Luxe Portraiture to Your Photography Business | Annie Marie


It is important to set up your luxe or fine art portraits in a way that your clients will end up with a large wall print. Your art deserves to be displayed in their homes. I have a minimum purchase of a framed canvas wall art piece with my sessions. They go in with an expectation that they will be purchasing wall art and the sale will flow from there. As the artist, I will choose the best images to edit based on what the client has expressed they wanted and do a full retouch. Then I will sit down with them and show them on a large screen the final images, letting them fall in love with each one. Then we go over the “supporting” images so we can customize the final pieces or add more to their order. My goal is that every client ends up with at least one (hopefully more) large framed wall art to display and a folio box displaying matted prints of the other favorites from their session.


Since I have started offering luxe portraits to my clients and creating these more artful and meaningful images, I have also become a better photographer. I have re-fallen in love with my craft because these have given me a reason to let my creativity flow and create something from the heart. Plus, I am able to give a more personalized service to my clients that makes them feel special and gives them the opportunity to commission a very unique and customized luxe portrait that they can enjoy and show off for many years.And that is a win-win in my book! MY EQUIPMENT: Canon R-6 Lenses: Canon RF 24-70 F2.8, Canon RF 85 F2, Sigma 135 F1.8 Art Strobes: Profoto B10 & Profoto B10 Plus Contant: Stella 8000 and 2000 V-flats Favorite modifiers: 72” Parabolic, 5’ Octabox, 24” beauty dish, 12x36” strip lights Other favorites: iMac, Photoshop, ACR, Fine Art Backdrops (canvas), Background Town (fabric), a great playlist and chocolate.

Annie Marie began her love for photography as a child following her photographer dad around with a camera. She got a Graphic Design degree in college but eventually, after a couple detours, settled into photography 28 years ago. She is an award winning Minneapolis based photographer specializing in modern and fine art portraits of women, seniors and children. She currently holds the MN Photographer of the Year for the second year as well as 2020 SYNC Photographer of the Year. In 2021 she earned her Fellow Accreditation through The Portrait Masters. Annie Marie also creates logos and design templates for photographers on her design site as well as mentors photographers as a way to give back to her peers. website: instagram:

Product Spotlight | Intuition Backgrounds


product spotlight

Why Intuition Backgrounds?

If you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for boudoir shoots, you need to be using Intuition Backgrounds. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and that means it’s boudoir season! For this boudoir shoot, we used the Harold backdrop from Intuition. It’s one of our favorite backdrops we use in the studio because it feels so elegant and clean. The moody, charcoal coloring and smooth texture mimic the walls of a hotel room which really plays for a boudoir style session. There are countless other options, so one Intuition backdrop is sure to match the vibe you’re looking for. Intuition Backgrounds are hand-painted works of art. Their high quality backdrops are offered in all different styles, materials, and budgets! Most importantly, Intuition Backgrounds compliment your subject beautifully. Backdrops are an important aspect of your work as a photographer, so investing in creative and quality backdrops will make your work stand out! Check out the video to see some of the final images from our shoot! How would you use Intuition Backgrounds to elevate your work?

For 35% off any order during the month of November use code SM35NOV.

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How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint

with Brian DeMint

How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint

This article will walk you through my process of styling for a photoshoot. When possible, don’t settle for shooting with whatever the client shows up with. In my region, that means they might show up dressed like a cast member of Hee Haw (Google it) or if I say “be creative” they tend to over style, showing up in a feather boa, fairy wings and antlers like some deranged mythical creature. Styling should be done with intention. What’s the goal of the image? Are there single or multiple subjects? Are there existing parameters that I need to coordinate with? What is the budget? These are just a few questions you might need answered so you can style accordingly. • All photographs tell a story. Let’s not have that story be, “We have no idea what we’re doing.” • If there are multiple subjects, you want to coordinate, not match! • Weather is an example of a parameter, like not shooting the model in a parka and snow boots in the desert (unless that model is my forever cold father-in-law). • Backward or forward styling (my terminology). Styling backward is working within parameters to coordinate with existing aesthetics, be it the location, props, color scheme, theme, etc. Forward styling means working with little or no existing parameters. Get out the asbestos jumper and flamethrower. Let me first supply you with a condensed typical walkthrough for stylists shooting fashion. Before the shoot, ask basic questions like those above to get a solid mindset of the shoot. Then research. Possibly organize a mood board or sketches. Next, source the garments and accessories. Moving on, do a fitting, decide on the look(s), coordinate with hair and makeup. Be ready on shoot day with the proper kit for adjusting the final look.

OK, this is where we leave the realm of sanity.

My version: For models I haven’t worked with previously, I don’t want to cram them into a pre-existing idea that they may not be suited for. Thus, for these folk, I don’t pre-plan jack shit. However, I have hundreds of garments, a surplus of jewelry, hats, gloves, stockings and more. Thus, I style on the fly. I meet the model in person and go with that first impression: “Hi, you look like… [an Indian princess, a drug addict, Snow White, a serial killer, or once, the Virgin Mary].” While shooting, “Mary” relayed some stories that would make the most promiscuous sailors have to steady themselves on the furniture. 100% she was not the Virgin Mary. For models that I work with repeatedly, I often create something beforehand that I think will work with their look and posing style. Now, since a lot of models change their hair color daily, this can be either super fun or infuriating as hell. Green hair seems to be my kryptonite as high fashion leprechauns are not my jam.

How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint


My evolution in styling has been from starting with whatever the model brought, to encouraging the model to “bring the most bizarre crap you own,” to building a wardrobe of pieces, to now embellishing or making most everything I shoot. I research 20th-century fashion design and art movements on nearly a daily basis. Fashion designers like Christian Lacroix, because of his elegance, layering and femininity; the late Alexander McQueen’s daring, inventive designs; John Galiano for his Dior work referencing eras, cultural and majestic design; and Vivienne Westwood because she’s batshit crazy. For art movements, I find inspiration in the Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites for their romantic, timeless beauty and Abstract Expressionism (the gestural painters) for its freedom, bold use of color and frenzied work. Plus, throw in a couple of heart attacks and some happy pill prescriptions and now I occasionally identify as the male version of Lisa Frank: unicorns, large-eyed kittens and anything fluffy. I am also heavily motivated by the work of Robert Rauschenberg and his method of using “found objects.” He once said, “There is no poor subject. A pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric.” Thus, at the hardware store, my wife is thinking “home projects” and I’m thinking, “What can I put on a kid’s head that will look awesome (and not kill them)?” I can verify that asking “Where are the dressing rooms?” at Lowes will get you some curious looks. I apply the same method everywhere we shop. By using “reapplication” (using an object for what it was not originally intended) I can walk into these places and come out with numerous outfits. Fruit bowls become headpieces, chimes become jewelry, tablecloths or wallpaper become dresses. Train the eye to look for inspiration everywhere. Bill Brandt said, “It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do.” Can I afford to purchase haute couture designs? No. But can I make the same silhouette from trash bags and duct tape? Sure, that I can do. Nothing is too outrageous in the world of fashion design! I’ve seen everything from glamorous gowns to alien creatures to a 6-foot-2 stack of shit walk down the runway.

How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint


• What does the client already own? • Thrift stores! I’ve seen clothing that everyone from Joan ofArc to Fred Flintstone would wear. • Work with designers. Please remember they don’t like to work for “exposure” either. • Refashion items. • Have a local seamstress make them. • Contact brands. • Work with local boutiques. • Check rental stores. • Lateral thinking. Most everyone wears an outfit as it was intended, but you can create new looks by wearing a dress upside down, inside out, wrapped around. Conformity is the death of creativity.


I have used all the above methods successfully, although my current favorite is creating outfits and headpieces myself.

Sewing is not for the faint of heart. I would prefer two Chinese Olympians to play ping-pong with ma nuts. Therefore, I use heat bonding sheets. I can easily refashion an existing outfit with a cloth that I prefer. I also use draping and pinning a lot, and deconstruct outfits and piece them back together with other objects or clothing. My wife Dena is also instrumental if anything does require sewing, patience, or someone who is not a maniac. I have two dress dummies in the studio that I create on. One is covered with plastic in case I feel like painting an outfit. I must have these to create with vs. on the actual model for two reasons. One, they don’t have the mouths to tell me “This looks stupid as hell.” And two, they don’t complain when hot glue or a staple hits their skin. For designing headpieces, I use Styrofoam heads on homemade pipe stands to make them sturdy enough to put the kitchen sink on if I feel the inspiration to do so. I accessorize by the elements of design: color, shape, form, texture. Accessories don’t have to match but there should be some cohesion or unity, be it style, color scheme, shape or contrasting textures.

How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint


I steam clothing as I hate wrinkles; however, I don’t hide all glue, threads or other small issues. Miroslav Tichý once said, “…the errors are part of it, they give it poetry…” We have our kit ready: safety pins, various size clamps, double- stick tape, scissors, duct tape, and more to make the outfit work. The backside might look like a construction zone but who cares? Some advice for complimenting the model: Don’t say, “That dress looks gorgeous.” Instead say, “That dress looks gorgeous on you!” The first implies that the dress itself looks awesome, be it on a hanger or being worn by a lizard. The second will build the model’s confidence which will always carry over to better images.

How To Create a Successful Stylized Photo Shoot | Brian DeMint


For my work, styling continues to play a growing role. It tells stories, evokes moods, takes you to distant places, and sometimes it is completely about color, shape and form. I will continue to study and push my technical construction and hopefully, before my death I will have the ability to thread this infuriating sewing machine!

Brian DeMint is a fashion/beauty and fine art photographer based in Joplin, Missouri. Formally trained as an oil painter, Brian made the switch to photography in 2004. He lectures on a national level and his images have appeared in fashion editorials, jewelry and beauty ad campaigns, and fine art galleries. website: instagram: @briandemint

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Creative Ways To Use Feathered Light | Brandon Hunter

with Brandon Hunter

Creative Ways To Use Feathered Light | Brandon Hunter

Photography is a creative space that is always changing. From new ideas to old, from old techniques to new. It is always changing, and the rules are being broken all the time. The old school advice has given way to the new cool techniques. Many photographers today have begun to embrace camera flash. It has become the in thing with a larger percentage of photographers year in and year out. With this explosion of interest in off-camera flash came new lights, modifiers and all sorts of interesting techniques to help create some of the most beautiful works of art we see today. Companies that never produced lights are now joining in on the craze.

With all these additions we are seeing photographers work more often with hard light, gels and deep shadows with patterns. Although not new, one technique I use the majority of the time is feathered light. Some consider feathering light as a means to soften their light on the subject. I look for several things when feathering my light. First, I look to create drama. From From women in beautiful gowns to men, when on location I try to place my light parallel and pointing across the front of my subject. This creates a nice shadow, providing definition and adding shape to my subjects. For full length portraits to half body or less, I am looking for those dimensions created by the angle of light. Using any modifier from reflector to an umbrella, the key direction I give my subjects is to start by positioning them on the back edge of the modifier. Yes, no matter the modifier, I feather the source. My go to is the OFC Magnum reflector from Profoto for the majority of my environmental portraits. When not using the Magnum I am using the MagBox from MagMod and its focus diffuser. One light, shooting with the sun or against it.

The Magnum or MagBox will be placed eye level to the subject and aiming out in front and past them most of the time. To some it looks like a mistake and not purposeful. It is done with the idea of keeping the light dramatic and carving out the dimensions in the face and clothing, especially enhancing the texture in the clothes. Second, I look for highlights. The highlights help enhance the dimension by working with the shadows, creating contrast and giving the image a more three-dimensional feel prior to the edit. What helps with the highlights is the angle the light is placed to the subject. The more parallel to the subject I place my light, the more highlights I get to my taste. Between the Magnum reflector and the MagBox, it really doesn’t matter. I always say it is a matter of inches when feathering. Just moving your light slightly in either direction can give you a totally different feel.

The third thing I look for in feathering my light source is falloff. Using the feathered light, you are essentially using the falloff to light your subject. This decreases the amount of light spill around a subject, whether on the ground or against a wall or structure near the subject. I use this style to light all types of my photography subjects. Especially with men, I like to create a split light look by feathering the light at nose level and directly across the face to shape the shadow and give them a more angular look. With beauty and with women on location—particularly brides and women who are looking for that dramatic look in the fashionable ball gown—I will basically feather from directly above at an angle flat to the floor with the subject lined up at the back edge of the small softbox. This is demonstrated at ShutterFest in my Bitchin’ Beauty class.

Creative Ways To Use Feathered Light | Brandon Hunter

When it comes to studio lighting, where I would use umbrellas or large octos to produce the light, I would feather the key light and the fill mostly, using the edge or rim light at a normal angle. In a three-light setup, the key light in most of these images is inside a large Profoto umbrella placed just off the right or left shoulder of the subject so that their body is lined up just on the back edge of the umbrella. With the size of the umbrella, the light will actually provide a nice wrap-around look the closer it is to the subject, giving me more highlights than shadow to produce the dimensions I am looking for. Next, the fill light is placed above the subject in a feathered position. The best output is from another umbrella on a boom placed with the back edge of the umbrella over the subject. This helps light the subject in a feathered pattern adding a rim light to complete a three-point light pattern.

Whether in studio or outside of the studio, you can use a large light source or a small one. No matter the situation or subject matter, you can always feather your light to create the look you want. When feathering your light in such a manner, the posing of the subject becomes pretty critical to creating the light patterns you want and to shape the face the way you want. It’s important for me to have the subject face me or follow the light with their nose. The larger the light source being feathered, the less important it is to line up the subject’s nose to the light source. The smaller the light source is, the more critical it is to follow the nose with the light source. For example, when out on location in the strong afternoon sun, I would use the Magnum reflector. Whether I am feathering the light source or not, it is a small source and it’s critical to line it up just above nose level but in line to the nose, pointing to the source or parallel to it. This carves out the subject’s angles and texture giving the three-dimensional look without causing ugly shadows. It is different in a studio where you control every aspect of light and do not have to deal with the elements, allowing you to use larger modifiers to soften the light while still creating dramatic and directional light patterns.

Creative Ways To Use Feathered Light | Brandon Hunter

As I stated earlier, from weddings to beauty, I use the same concept as my lighting style throughout all my client sessions and personal projects. A new venture currently has me involved with a non-profit company called MGAction. They are a growing organization working with manufactured communities battling predatory developers. After recently receiving a sponsor in the Ford Foundation to help fund some projects for this company, they reached out to create a photo essay of several communities across five different states. They wanted these photos to be eye-catching to tell the story of the environment these families and individuals are in dealing with big corporation land owners. It was a challenge because I am not creating something pretty and fun, but telling stories through my imagery of a hidden America most of us are not aware of. Will my style change? Absolutely not. I am going to use what I know and how I do it to help a cause and tell a story. It is my style, it is a challenge, but we do not grow from a place of comfort. If you have not done it yet, get out there and just try it no matter the conditions. Feather your light source and see what small adjustments you can make to get to an image you like.

Brandon Hunter is a creative portrait and wedding photographer located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Brandon first picked up a camera in October 2011. He absolutely loved photographing the dramatic environmental portrait and wedding imagery that you see in his portfolio. He also loved adding a fashion flair, whether for weddings, portraits or even a creative beauty image. For the last few years, Brandon has found that this passion has placed him in a position to help other photographers. website: instagram: @hunterscottimagery

The Successful Headshot Studio - 3 Changes Photographers Need To Make | Gary Hughes

with Gary Hughes

The Successful Headshot Studio - 3 Changes Photographers Need To Make | Gary Hughes

The luxury condo we rented was a far cry from any conference room. It had become our standard practice once a year to rent one of Orlando’s many vacation homes so we could sit down for a few days to crunch numbers, cry a little bit, and make plans for the coming year in business. The lake view, plush furnishings, and evenings by the pool always softened the blow a little as we pored over where the money was coming from and where it was going. This particular trip in 2015 was the one that changed everything. After looking at our books, we were shocked to discover that headshots were taking over our studio. So much so that the portrait and wedding side of our business was starting to look like a bad investment, even a waste of time. That’s when we cut the cord. No more portraits, no more weddings. We were going to transition from a full-service photography business to a commercial portrait studio. In the years since then, that butt-puckering decision has really paid off. We are more focused, happier, and our business has doubled. A lot of things in our studio had to change to make that transition work, and I spend a good amount of time talking to photographers about those changes. Almost all the educational material I create pretty much comes down to explaining how different the business of headshots really is. Truthfully, not every tender-hearted portrait artist is cut out for it. But if you aren’t afraid of a hard pivot and good profit margins, then you might want to read on.

The Successful Headshot Studio - 3 Changes Photographers Need To Make | Gary Hughes


There is a spectrum of business models in the photography world. On one end you have the fine art business model with very high prices, loads of personalized white-glove service, and frames handmade by blind Peruvian monks on top of a mountain. The artist, their story, and the experience of working with them IS the product, not the photos themselves. The price for this type of service has nothing to do with what anyone else is charging or the physical cost of the goods themselves. It’s worth whatever the artist says it’s worth and, as long as they can get people to pay for it, they’re right. The other end of the spectrum is the commodity business model. No white gloves, no monks, just goods priced within the range of a common market with efficient and friendly service. That’s where you will find the lion’s share of headshots. Over on this end of the photography business, especially when it comes to team headshots, purchasing decisions aren’t made emotionally, but rather are budget-driven. Our studio produces 3,000 to 5,000 headshots a year and the most common use for them is an email signature. Hard to get emotional about that. So what’s the point? As portrait and wedding photographers, we come up learning that we are artists, that we are special, and that we need to be charging very high prices for very large prints. All that might be true if that’s your business model, but if you bring that touchy, tender-hearted, squishy stuff over to the headshot business, you are going to have a real hard time. Literally no one in the business world cares if your grandma gave you her Kodak Brownie on her deathbed and made you promise to create art forever. They want a LinkedIn profile photo, and they couldn’t care less who does it for them. The good news is that if you can competently photograph someone’s head and shoulders, you can make a lot of money doing it. To work in the commodity world, you need to remember that your client is almost always price shopping, so you need to be in the range of the market price for the same services. You can be at the top of that range, but you still need to be aware of what the going rate is where you live.

The Successful Headshot Studio - 3 Changes Photographers Need To Make | Gary Hughes


I could write a novel on this topic alone, but for the sake of this article, let’s break it down easy. Most corporate headshot clients are going to find you through your website, so it needs to work for you. Really, really work. Here’s what you need to make that happen. Concentrate on information over portfolio. Let’s be honest, you don’t have to show all that many headshots on your website to get the idea across that you know what you’re doing. Professionals aren’t looking to browse your gallery, they are looking for answers. How much? Where are you located? When are you available? Make sure to limit the portfolio to just enough images to show a good sampling of work with an emphasis on diversity of age, race, style and background options. Other than that, empower the client to make a purchasing decision by giving them all the information they need to do just that. Show your prices. All of them. Portrait and wedding experience often tells us to put “contact us for pricing” or something similar on our websites instead of a full price list. The idea is to create a point of contact with a client that allows you to introduce yourself and qualify them. That’s great if you are dealing with weddings, babies and families, but in most cases, your professional clients and businesses are crossing a to-do item off a list by hiring a photographer and they want to get it done ASAP. It’s very often that they have a predetermined budget for photography. Hiding your prices and making them call you is a waste of time. They are on your website because they went looking for headshots to spend money. Your prices are either what they are looking for or they aren’t. You are slowing down the process by making them reach out to ask about pricing and that can cost you the job.

Call to action and ability to act. A high-converting headshot website will always have a good call to action peppered throughout the site. Whether that’s a well-placed contact form, chatbox, or a booking link, you need to follow up having all that great information on your site by including instructions for visitors on what to do next. Incorporating an online booking system into our website changed the game for us. We went from being booked out about a week at a time to being booked out a month or more in advance. That giant “Book Now” results in more than a few bookings when your website empowers visitors with the information they need to make a purchasing decision. If you are concerned about online booking, have a look at 17Hats, Calendly or Acuity. They all have robust online booking platforms that you have complete control over. Only want to shoot on Tuesdays? No problem, you make the rules. Just get that booking link on your site. Client list and reviews. Nothing gives a user greater confidence in a purchasing decision than reading great reviews. Heck, most of us wouldn’t even buy an extension cord online without reading the reviews on it, right? The amount of my clients who tell me they chose us because of our reviews is staggering. Don’t make your potential clients have to go to Google or Yelp to find out what people think of you. Incorporate a few of your better reviews into your website and include the awesome photos you took of that client. WordPress, Squarespace and more all have the ability to create features like that easily. Also, if you have any great local and nationally recognizable brands you have worked for, put that front and center on your home page. Don’t waste valuable space on your website telling people why they need a headshot, they are already on your headshot website. Instead, use that valuable space to tell them why they should hire your company for their headshots.

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