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Should you be doing Free photo shoots? Here is my Opinion...

To shoot for free or not to shoot for free, that is the question.

There is a longstanding debate among photographers about whether or not it’s ever appropriate to do photoshoots for free.  

Many photographers argue that doing any sort of free photo session devalues your work and the profession. Others say that shooting for free is necessary for building up a portfolio and getting pictures for your website. 

In my opinion, you should shoot for free, but the reason why it may not be what you think.

Sure, I will agree that at the beginning of your photography career it’s beneficial to build up a portfolio by offering a few free photo sessions to friends and family. I often used my kids as models, and I still do to this day. I’ve also asked my neighbors for permission to photograph their children for composites and provided free photos in exchange. However, this is not the only reason you should offer gratis photography services.

Often, as we grow as a...

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The Forgotten Puppet Tutorial

Hey guys, today we’re going to make a bit of a creepy puppet composite image! We’re going to develop our puppet composite with both pictures I took myself, and some downloaded stock images. I’ll show you where I grab all my stock in my full tutorial offered through my premium membership.

We’re going to cut out our subject and place her onto our background before we resize her. Then we’re going to place our chains and play around with them to make them look as realistic as possible. When we're done doing that, we're going to group them into their own layer.


Then we’re going to bring in the bottom of her bottom skirt and resize/ distort it to match our body. We’re going to tweak it a tad bit in RAW, bringing up our shadows and warming up the image slightly. To make the top of our subject match the bottom just a little more, we’re going to make a copy of it, adjust it in Camera RAW, mask it, and brush it where needed (we want it...

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The Headless Doll Tutorial

composite tutorial Oct 23, 2019

Headless doll tutorial 


Hey guys,


Today we’ll be going through a pretty creepy tutorial in the honor of Halloween being right around the corner. In this tutorial, we’ll be creating our very own headless doll! Since this tutorial is more advanced, I will be moving a bit faster. If you’re a beginner, you might want to warm up with some of our easier tutorials before diving into this one.

We’re going to be using stock images for the neckpiece and wig. Next, we use the quick selection tool to select the head and hands for a new layer. Then we blend the head and hair from the image to make it disappear before we repeat with the upper body and hands of our subject.


Now things are really starting to become spooky, we can bring out our upper mannequin half and blend it up, it should look nice and smooth. Our doll is dead, so we need to color her skin grayish and pale. I go into more detail about how to give our mannequin a more lifeless in...

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03: Legally launching your photography business: Interview with Sean Tshikororo of DIYtheLAW

contracts podcast Oct 16, 2019

Starting your own photography business from a legal standpoint can be tricky. 

Case in point: 

Do you know what stock images you're allowed to use in your work? 

Is a watermark enough when it comes to protecting your images? 

Are model releases and client contracts necessary to running a photography business? 

The good news is, you don't have to find the answers alone.

Here to help you is Sean Tshikororo, the experienced attorney behind DIYtheLAW. In the free mini class above, we discuss the answers to these questions and others to help guide you as you work on launching your photography business. 

During the interview, we'll cover everything you need to know about legally launching your photography business and protecting your precious content. Other topics covered include: 

-Things you should keep in mind as you're getting your photography business off the ground. 

-How to determine whether you can use images you find online and how to...

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Best Halloween Photography Tips and Tricks for 2019

compositing photography Oct 09, 2019

Pumpkins, leaves, cool breezes, and cozy fires...autumn is my absolute favorite time of year! So it goes without saying that Halloween is my most-loved holiday. I am that crazy chick that starts digging out the decorations mid-September (or earlier ), and the one you see stalking all of the local stores after Halloween for the awesome sales on costumes and decorations to add to my already insane collection for next year’s photo ideas and home décor.

Fall is also my preferred time of year for outdoor photoshoots. You just can’t beat the beautiful colors, all of the leaves covering the ground lending more depth to your images, and not to mention the weather where you and your clients are neither sweating nor freezing your booties off (at least, that's how it is in the little area of the world where I live).

There is also no other time of year that I get more inspired to create composite images than Halloween with all of the costumes and props floating around and...

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Sally Composite Tutorial

compositing tutorial Oct 04, 2019

Hey Guys! For this spooky tutorial we will be making a fun Nightmare Before Christmas themed composite. I will provide you with the background, and we can build from there.

The image we’re going to use for our subject was already edited. Most times I use a RAW image, but in this situation I wanted to show you how we can still use an already edited image in a composite piece.

We’re going to cut out our subject and paste her onto our background and resize her. You’ll notice just how out of place she looks right away! Not to worry, we’ll blend her in by using several background layers and filters! To see exactly how I do it, you can check out my full tutorial, available through my premium membership.


After we finish blending her, we’re going to use “Match Color” on our subject using our background as the source to make her luminosity a little more like our background.

Since we want her to look like she’s sitting in the grass,...

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A Complete Guide to Compositing Basics

compositing Sep 25, 2019


The very first step in your composite photoshoot will be conceptualizing what you would like to accomplish. I always recommend talking with your clients before the shoot to get an idea of what they are looking for. Ask them questions, find out what their interest is. What activities do they enjoy as a family, what are their children into…anything of significance to the particular family that you are working with? From here, you can collaborate and really make the family a part of the shoot from the beginning.

Once you have decided on ideas and themes for your shoot, start planning an outfit and prop choices. If you do not provide a wardrobe for clients, send them links to outfits that will best fit the ideas that you have planned. Be sure to give your clients plenty of time in planning and ordering before the shoot takes place.


Next, you'll want to start thinking about locations. If you already know that you would like to use existing scenery and add...

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4 Lighting Principles I wish I knew when I started Photography

When I first started photography, I struggled a lot with lighting. In the beginning, we are often told to shoot our subjects in open shade. If you don't know how to do this properly, then the results can be disastrous: faces with dark shadows, eyes with no depth, overexposed backgrounds, etc. 

To be able to create composites using your photos, you must first know how to take a properly-lit image. If the lighting in your foundation photo is off, your composite will not look right, even with heavy editing. The following are four basic lighting principles I wish I knew at the beginning of my photography career and that I've personally had a lot of success with:

Lighting Principle #1: The subject is the brightest object in the photo. Unless you are shooting a silhouette, the subject of your photo should always be either the brightest object or equal in brightness to the other objects in the photo.  

Lighting Principle #2: The photo should be free of overexposed highlights....

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Artist Inspiration: Norman Rockwell Series

compositing Sep 11, 2019

Every now and then, as artists and creative people, we run into someone or something that truly inspires us down to our core.  If you’ve been lucky enough to experience this feeling, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll sort of stop in your tracks and sense that butterfly in your stomach feeling—that excitement where everything stops for a moment and you just think to yourself “wow.” Or, if you’re anything like me, you may even say out loud to no one in particular, “That is freakin’ awesome.” 

As a child, my grandma would take me to these large flea markets that were set up inside of old barns. It would take us hours to drive there, but I loved every second of it. Most children would find this flea market to be extremely boring, and to be honest, I could have cared less about the actual items being sold there—I simply relished in the “feeling” I got in that place. Grandma liked...

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Which comes first, the Concept or the Shoot?

compositing Sep 02, 2019

Compositing…which comes first, the Concept or the Shoot?

This is something that I get asked every single day from photographers all around the world. “Where do I even start?!  Should I come up with the idea for my composite and choose my stock first, or shoot my subject and come up with ideas on how to use my model and choose what stock I want later. For me personally, the answer is both.

It is always a good idea to have some inspiration in mind when you go into the shoot on what you would like to create from your session. Especially when working with clients, it’s always ideal to ask them if they have any ideas or input as to what they would like for their children, what they would like to see hanging in their home. After all, these art pieces will be displayed in their home and should ideally have a special meaning for them. Consulting with your clients before the shoots also allow for you both to plan on outfit and prop selections.

Just the thought of...

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