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July 24th, 2015

6 Photography Tips for Your Next Trip

Sponsored by NYIP

Ah, summer! When life is sweet and vacations are (hopefully) a plenty. Whether you’re going for a short jaunt to a nearby locale or traveling for an extended stay abroad, you want to make pictures that show the region in the richest, most interesting way.

Art Wolfe2

Photo © Art Wolfe

But how do you do that? New York Institute of Photography’s (NYIP) online travel photography course can teach you how to take better photos of the people and places you encounter on any trip. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Travel lightly and stay organized. Bring only the gear you need: a camera, lenses and portable lighting. Make sure you have more than enough memory cards (you may also want to consider a portable SSD to transfer your files to at the end of each day) or rolls of film so you can shoot freely. And use a bag that is lightweight and has plenty of compartments for you to use so you can stay organized as you photograph.

2) Know how to use your equipment. If you’ve got some new gear, test it ahead of time so you’re not fumbling with settings on location.

3) Research the place you’re visiting. Before you touch down, map out the points of interest you’d like to visit. But don’t feel pressured to stick to a schedule—serendipity is your friend. Strike up conversations when you can to learn about places you might not have found in your initial research.

4) Assess how much exposure locals have to cameras. Look around. Be curious. But approach people slowly if you’re unsure. Photograph objects and travel mates while at times also turning the camera on strangers. Move around a lot, so no one feels particularly singled out by your camera.

5) Treat your subjects with respect. Be upfront about your intentions, and don’t photograph people who don’t want to be photographed. Also, make good on your word: if you said you would send your subjects photos, do so. Being forthcoming and honest is a mark of professionalism.

Peter Guttman2

Photo © Peter Guttman

6) Make formal portraits first and candid pictures after. If you want to make fly-on-the-wall images, it can be helpful first to ask someone if you can take his or her picture (doing so nonverbally, with body language, when there is a language barrier) and at some point, after taking those pictures, make candid images of them. Chances are people who give their okay once don’t mind when you photograph them again.

For photographers interested in learning more about travel photography and taking their skills to the next level, the New York Institute of Photography is a perfect next step. Their online photography classes teach students the skills needed to advance a hobby or start a new career. Learn online, anywhere in the world, and at your own pace with their fully accredited training programs.

July 22nd, 2015

Alec Soth Offering Free “Winnebago Workshop” To Teen Artists


Photographer Alec Soth and his Little Brown Mushroom (LBM) publishing imprint recently announced a hiatus from bookmaking to pursue a new initiative: The Winnebago Workshop, “a mobile classroom that puts artists with teens to create multimedia stories.”

The first free, weeklong workshop is coming up during the week of August 17–22, and Soth and LBM are currently seeking applications from artists age 16–18 who’d like to “drive wherever the wind blows us” and work on storytelling projects.

According to LBM’s Galen Fletcher, Soth’s own teen experiences with art were part of the inspiration to launch the workshops, which are supported by a Knight Foundation grant. “[He] wants to offer an experience that could make that significant of an impact on other teen artists,” Fletcher said in an email to PDN.

Another factor was the success of LBM’s “Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers,” which invited photographers, writers and designers to exchange ideas about storytelling in a setting described as ‘more summer camp than classroom.'”

The Winnebago Workshop application asks applicants to submit artwork, a self-portrait, a story that gives a sense of their personality and a description of their “dream field trip.”

Applications are due by August 3.

Related: Collaborative Duos: Alec Soth and Brad Zellar Explore What Community Means Today
Alec Soth on Wandering, Storytelling and Robert Adams vs. Weegee
The Great American Songbook

June 11th, 2015

Photographer Lectures Expand “Emerging” Exhibit (And They’re Free)

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles will host a series of informative and inspiring photographer lectures over the next three months during the run of “Emerging,” the exhibition co-produced by PDN’s editors and featuring photographers selected for the annual PDN‘s 30 issue since 2008. The “Iris Nights” talks, to be held at the Skylight Studios across the park from the Annenberg, feature exhibited photographers discussing recent work, their career paths, and their approaches to a range of subject matter.

The series begins June 11 with a talk by Lauren Dukoff, the celebrity and music photographer, and it continues through September:

June 18 – Dina Litovsky
June 25 – Ilvy Njiokiktjien
July 9 – Olivia Bee
July 16 – Katie Orlinsky
July 23 – JUCO (Julia Galdo & Cody Cloud)
July 30 – Nicole Tung
August 6 – Peter DiCampo
August 13 – Marcus Smith
August 20 – Pari Dukovic
August 27 – Toni Greaves
September 3 – Bryan Derballa
September 10 – Corey Arnold
September 24 – Diana Markosian

The schedule is subject to change, of course, but we’re delighted to see some of the most thoughtful, articulate participants in past PDN’s 30 panels are scheduled to share their stories with the public.

More information is available on the events page of the Annenberg Space for Photography website:

Related Articles:
New Perspectives: “Emerging” at the Annenberg Space

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want

PDN Video: Olivia Bee on Instagram, iPhones, Expectations and Envy

April 29th, 2015

What Photographers Need to Know Before They Go Pro

Sponsored by NYIP


Photo by Hossam ElDin Mostafa

What do you need to know before you go pro? Robyn Selman, general manager of The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) aims to answer this question through curriculum for photographers.

Selman works with experts in the field, such as Patrick Donehue, to ensure NYIP’s curriculum is “forward-looking and serves students well,” she says. Donehue, who has worked as a photographer, educator and director of photography at Getty and Corbis and is now a consultant working with Apple, offers these tips for budding pro photographers:

1) Study what has already been done. Successful photographers know how to stand out from the crowd. They create images that haven’t been seen before.

2) Thrive on the process of improving. Focus and development aren’t just photographic techniques, they’re attitudes. Continually scan the horizon for what you’d like to do, focus your inspiration, make choices, and persist so you are always enhancing your vision and craft.

3) Edit, then edit again. Start by selecting dozens of favorite images from a shoot, then cut them down. Then do it again (and again). This is how to build a portfolio. Be a ruthless editor of your own work.

4) Handle adversity and be optimistic. Learn how to rebound from difficulties, whether personal or professional. Being able to dust yourself off and get back up is the mark of a determined and inspired professional.

5) Listen. Then ask your client, editor, curator, colleague, etc. questions, and don’t leave a topic or a meeting until you know what’s being asked of you.

6) Speak a global visual language by looking at things from a global perspective. Do research; find out what things look like in Singapore, Shanghai, Rio, Dubai and elsewhere around the globe, so you get a more rounded impression of the world.

7) Get funding. In order to grow, learn and put the necessary time and energy into refining your craft, you need to be properly funded. Choose gear you can afford—or find a way to afford the gear you need—and take a financial risk when it seems appropriate.

8) Be an early adopter of technology. Use new tools to help set you apart and gain an edge on other photographers. Monitor and be aware of what’s coming and choose what you need to embrace to enhance your image-making.


Photo by Aspenashfotons

NYIP offers a Professional Photography Course that covers technical know-how, business acumen, personal vision, professional practices and techniques, and specialty areas of focus, providing a solid, smart and comprehensive foundation for your growing professional business. And while NYIP’s courses are online and self-paced, the program pairs every student with a professional photographer as a mentor for personalized support throughout your studies.

Additionally, NYIP has partnered with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International, WPPI, to launch the first ever industry certification for wedding and portrait photographers. Like NYIP’s courses, the certification program is offered asynchronously, fully online, giving you tremendous scheduling flexibility. The program covers technical details relevant to photography, exposure, lighting, and composition, as well as business knowledge. Those photographers who successfully complete the program will be WPPI Certified photographers.

Visit to learn more about its courses and WPPIC.

March 23rd, 2015

Unique College Program Helps Environmental Orgs See Value of Photography

© Joshua See

Mammalogist Tom Horsley prepares to remove a captured bat from a high-elevation mist-net in Borneo. Joshua See made this photograph while working with the Royal Ontario Museum as a student in the Environmental Visual Communication program. © Joshua See

Conservation photographer Neil Osborne understands how important visual communication can be to environmental and conservation organizations. Photographs, videos and other forms of visual storytelling can help non-profits share their messages and the work they do with wide audiences. Visual storytelling can also serve as an effective fundraising tool. But many nonprofits spend little on photography and other communications efforts, Osborne notes.

He and his colleagues at the Environmental Visual Communication (EVC) program at Toronto’s Fleming College saw an opportunity to match students with nonprofit organizations that need photography, video and other visual communications assets. Over the past three years they’ve developed a “placement partner” system for the EVC, which gives students real-world experience (and, in some cases, payment) while putting their talents to use for good causes. Many students “publish individual and collaborative works before they even graduate,” Osborne notes. In the process of providing “communication strategy and tactics to these groups to enhance and advance their messaging,” students demonstrate to nonprofits how valuable visual storytelling and the expertise of photographers can be in helping them meet their goals. (more…)

January 20th, 2015

5 Fundamental Photo Tips for Aspiring Wedding and Portrait Photographers

Sponsored by NYIP

Photos courtesy of NYIP

For wedding and portrait photographers who want to sharpen their skills, but already have a full schedule, The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) offers an online course for each specialty that covers both technical skills and business smarts. Each course is 150 hours, divided into four units, and can be completed at the student’s own pace over 18 months, with an additional six-month extension easily available as well. Instructional materials span a variety of levels of experience and creative talent, and every student is paired with a professional photographer as a mentor for personalized technical support and artistic development throughout their studies.

Lead photo mentor Chris Corradino says working with NYIP students has been “one of the most rewarding experiences of [his] professional career.” We asked him for some fundamental image-making and photography business tips:

1) To enjoy long-term business success, a strong foundation is crucial. This starts with a solid knowledge of manual exposure, the important camera features, and the language of photography. Buying more expensive gear won’t result in leap frogging the competition. No matter what piano an untrained musician sits at, they still can’t play it.

2) Don’t get bogged down in equipment. What distinguishes your photographs can’t be purchased in a store. It’s your own unique vision and perspective on the world that makes all the difference.

3) Learn the rules of composition, and then break them. Good art doesn’t necessarily come from a textbook, but rather a blend of technique and creative vision.


4) Avoid categorizing yourself as “professional” and “amateur” or engaging in debates that seek to define these terms. A good photographer focuses on craft, not labels. The actual definition of the word amateur is “to do something for the love of.” This is the spirit that all professionals should strive to retain throughout their career.

5) Simplify your composition by eliminating distractions from the frame—unless showing more of the environment actually strengthens the overall impact of an image. For example, instead of eliminating the wedding party as the couple exits the ceremony, include them in the image.

NYIP’s wedding and portrait photography courses delve further into these key topics, as well as: setting up a business; defining your brand and visual signature; developing packages, building an online presence and marketing techniques; working with vendors, planners, videographers, and clients; the history of photographic portraiture and current photography trends; posing individuals, groups, children and pets and putting them at ease; setting up a studio; using backgrounds and a variety of lighting and lenses; working on location, and more.

Visit for more information on the wedding and portrait photography courses.

January 20th, 2015

Behind Cosmo UK’s Honor Killings Protest “Cover” Photograph


This mock-up of a Cosmopolitan UK cover features an image from a series of photographs created by artist Erin Mulvehill.

Last week a mock Cosmopolitan UK cover that sought to protest honor killings drew attention and praise online. Honor killing is a horrific practice in which family members kill one of their own, often a daughter, who is perceived to have brought shame on a family.

The Cosmo UK mock cover depicts what appears to be a woman suffocating. In images of the cover circulated by the magazine and Leo Burnett Change, the agency that designed the cover, the issue is sealed in plastic bags, completing the impression that the woman on the cover is being asphyxiated. The cover was inspired by the 2004 murder of 17-year-old British Pakistani teen Shafilea Ahmed; Ahmed’s parents suffocated her in front of her siblings for perceived offenses that included refusing an arranged marriage. Ahmed’s parents were later convicted of murder.

After several outlets reported that the design would appear on the February issue, Cosmopolitan UK clarified that the cover was just a mock-up, created as part of a campaign the magazine is working on with UK women’s rights organization Karma Nirvana. (The actual February cover featured Khloe Kardashian.)

The provenance of the photograph depicting the suffocating woman is also interesting. The black-and-white photograph used in the mock-up is part of “Underwater,” a fine-art series created by Brooklyn-based photographer Erin Mulvehill in 2009. The images in Mulvehill’s series depict women who appear to be floating underwater, many with their hands pressing out towards the viewer. (more…)

October 7th, 2014

FREE Travel Photography Video Tutorial

If you missed Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Brian Smith’s live presentation on travel photography at B&H Photo in New York City last month, you can now see it online for free. Brought to you by Sony, this inspiring and educational one-hour video is filled with stunning images, practical tips and technical advice to help you capture better travel photos. Take it from Brian, he’s traveled six continents, taken thousands of photos as a Sony Artisan of Imagery and built a stunning collection of travel photos that will motivate you to get brave and creative with your camera, especially when you travel.

Brian Smith with the Sony a7R

Sponsored by Sony, creator of Sony Alpha-series mirrorless and DSLR cameras

September 3rd, 2014

Photojournalists Launch “Selfie Against the Death Penalty” Campaign

Documentary photographer Marc Asnin and VII Association, a non-profit organization founded by VII Photo Agency, have launched a social media campaign that advocates for the abolition of the death penalty.

The “Photographers Selfie Against the Death Penalty” campaign is part of a collaboration between Asnin’s Neverland Publications and VII Association on Final Words, a book and traveling exhibition that presents the final statements of 515 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. The aim of the project is to focus on “the humanity at the center of the death penalty in America,” the organizers said in a statement.

To participate, photographers are being asked to upload an image to the Final Words site, and to finish the statement “I stand against the death penalty because….” Among the photographers who have participated so far are Larry Fink, Rudy Archuleta, Anthony Barboza, Sim Chi Yin, and several members of the VII Photo Agency.

For full instructions for how to participate in the campaign, visit the Final Words site here.

August 22nd, 2014

Yale Research Group Launches Fascinating Search Platform for 170k FSA-OWI Images

Image caption: Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 6.32.37 PM

An image of the Photogrammar’s map tool, which visualizes the quantities of images FSA-OWI photographers made in regions around the country.

A group of researchers at Yale created “a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”

The platform, which they’re calling Photogrammar, allows people to use visual tools to search through the digitized photographs from the FSA-OWI archive, which is housed at the Library of Congress. The map tool, for instance, allows users to see the quantity of images made in regions across the United States. One can also use the map to trace the work of individual photographers such as Dorothea Lange, John Collier and Marion Post Wolcott, and see where they worked and produced the most images.

The Treemap, another visualization, uses colored blocks of different sizes to show the number of images of different types FSA-OWI photographers produced in different category topics. Users can drill down into subtopics of the category topics.

The Photogrammar also features a more traditional keyword-driven search function.

Explore the Photogrammar site here. But fair warning: it will suck you in.

Related: 14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA-OWI