April 20th, 2015

PDN Video: Photographer Brian Smith on How to Get a Striking Celebrity Portrait

Nothing is more important on a celebrity shoot than engaging your subject, says photographer Brian Smith. “The lighting, the locations, and the props all matter, but if you’re not actually making a connection with the subject, the pictures really fall flat.” Smith, the author of Secrets of Great Portrait Photography and other books, has been photographing celebrities, athletes and executives for more than 30 years. In this video, he explains one of his best strategies for connecting with a celebrity on set.

PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on How to Relate to Portrait Subjects (Even If You Are Shy and Bumbling)
PDN Video: Brian Smith on How to Take Your Career to the Next Level
How Top Photographers Shoot Great Portraits

April 17th, 2015

Steady As She Goes: Two Cool Stabilizers at NAB

ronin m

DJI made waves last week for their new Phantom 3 flying cameras, but the company brought another head-turner to NAB, a new Ronin brushless gimbal.

The Ronin M is a slimmed down, less expensive and more approachable model than the original Ronin. It weighs just five pounds but can support cameras up to eight pounds thanks to a new magnesium frame. You mount your DSLR or video camera and the gimbal balances itself, ensuring that your camera stays steady even as you move about.

The M offers three modes–briefcase, upright and underslung–for framing a variety of shots. The battery is good for up to six hours of use. When you’re done, you can twist off the top handles to shrink down the M for transport.

The Ronin ships next month and is expected to cost around $2,000. You can pre-order it now.

Freefly Mimic

Freefly Systems Mimic

Freefly’s Mimic isn’t a stabilizer, but an innovative remote for the company’s MoVI gimbal.

The Mimic controller connects to the MoVI and to a separate gimbal that acts as a master controller for the camera on the MoVI. Rather than move the camera through a joystick or knobs, the Mimic instantly translates your movement into camera movement, positioning the MoVI-mounted camera in whatever direction you desire.

Here’s a video showing how it works.

The Mimic will be released at the end of this month for $495.

April 16th, 2015

Kevin Frayer Wins Fourth Annual Getty Images & Chris Hondros Fund Award

©Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

©Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Kevin Frayer has been named winner of the 2015 Getty Images and Chris Hondros Fund (CHF) Award of $20,000, and Diana Markosian has won the $5,000 emerging photojournalist award, the photo agency announced today. Both photographers are represented by Getty. They will receive their awards April 30 at a reception in New York City.

CHF was established to support the work of photojournalists whose work reflects the legacy and vision of Hondros, who was killed in 2011 while on assignment covering the Libyan civil war. The three previous CHF Award winners were Daniel Berehulak, Andrea Bruce, and Tomás Munita.

Frayer, a Canadian photojournalist based in Beijing, has documented conflict throughout the Middle East, and currently covers stories in Asia. “I aspire to use this opportunity to create meaningful photography that would move Chris in the same way his images reached me and so many others,” Frayer said in a prepared statement.

Markosian, a Moscow-born photographer and 2014 PDN’s 30, has shot assignments for National Geographic, The New York Times and other publications. She has completed several long-term projects, including “Inventing My Father,”  a widely acclaimed work about reconnecting with her estranged father.

“Chris encouraged me to take a chance on myself, to find my own way,” she says in a prepared statement.

Jurors included Getty Images Vice President for News Pancho Bernasconi, New York Times photographer Todd Heisler, freelance photojournalist Jeff Swensen and CHF Board President Christina Piaia.

Related Articles
Daniel Berehulak to Receive Getty Images  & Chris Hondros Fund Award

Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros: Remembering Them as They Lived

April 15th, 2015

Åsa Sjöström, Amirtharaj Stephen Win 6th Annual Activist Awards

From "The Secret Camps." ©Åsa Sjöström

From “The Secret Camps.” ©Åsa Sjöström

Åsa Sjöström has won the $15,000 Activist Award for professional photographers, while Amirtharaj Stephen has won the $5,000 award for emerging photographers, Catchlight has announced.

Formerly known as PhotoPhilanthropy, Catchlight sponsors the Activist Awards to recognize photographic excellence in service of NGOs addressing a variety of social issues.

Sjöström’s winning essay, called The Secret Camps, explores the issue of domestic violence through her images of women and children taking temporary refuge in summer camps operated by the Women’s Rights Association of Malmö, Sweden. “I want to create awareness and also to induce a genuine situation between me and the people in my photographs,” the photographer told Catchlight.

In a prepared statement about this year’s award winners, jurors praised Sjöström’s project for a “visually distinctive approach” that captures a transformational time for victims of domestic violence and that “brings attention to an issue that affects women and children all over the world.”

Finalists for the professional prize were Annalisa Natali Murri and Sergi Camara. Read the rest of this entry »

April 15th, 2015

The Drones of NAB 2015

Flying cameras were big at NAB 2015.

The show’s dedicated aerial pavilian played host to a frequently packed audience of onlookers straining their necks skyward as drone vendors flew their wares in an enclosed cage.

Some are calling it “the drone rush.” Whatever you choose to call it, there will be plenty of air craft to choose from this year. Here are some highlights from the show.


3D Robotics Solo

The Solo is the first drone to support full remote control of GoPro cameras while also delivering live-streaming HD video to mobile devices. The drone can deliver a video stream to iOS and Android devices up to half a mile away. You can record the stream directly to your device’s camera role or use the HDMI output in the camera controller to output it to broadcast devices for live-streaming.

Thanks to a pair of Linux computers (one in the drone, the other in the controller), the Solo boasts a number of “intelligent” features that give the drone greater autonomy–enabling it to fly predesignated routes automatically or handle camera controls without user intervention. A Smart Shot, that lets you set up a shot in real-time which the Solo will execute on its own.

A Cable cam and Orbit setting allow you to create a flight path along a “virtual track” in space which the Solo will then fly while you focus strictly on the camera. You can also tell the Solo to fly the route and work the camera. A “Follow” mode programs the Solo to track the camera operator’s movements by locking into your mobile device. Solo also features a one-touch aerial selfie, because of course it does.

Its flight time is 20 minutes with GoPro and the included 3-axis gimbal attached.

Solo ships in May and is available for pre-order now for $999.


Freefly Systems

The company’s latest professional drone, the Alta, can mount professional cinema cameras up to 15 pounds in weight to either the top or bottom of the quadcopter. It boasts a flight time of 15 minutes and Freefly says it can be assembled and ready to fly in 15 minutes.

The Alta is a mostly Freefly-engineered affair. The company is now using its own flight controller instead of a third party system. The drone ships in June and is available for pre-order now for $8,495.

Dangling overhead in the Freefly booth, still in prototype form, was a Movi gimbal capable of holding a payload of 50 lbs. It was attached to an unannounced prototype drone that, presumably, will be able to carry a such hefty payload.


Yuneec Typhone

Yuneec showed off new Typhoon and Tornado drones.

The Typhoon series is aimed at hobbyists as well as pros. The new Typhoon Q-500+ ships with the ST-10+ Personal Ground Station that can maintain a control link with the drone from up to 800m away and a video stream from up to 600m. The ST-10+ has been updated to offer a larger 5.5 touch screen running an Android-based interface.

The Typhoon’s onboard camera sports a microphone and16-megapixel image sensor capable of 1080/60p video capture. The  fixed lens has a 130 degree field of view. It is mounted to a 3-axis gimbal. The drone’s camera can be detached and mounted to the company’s ProAction Steady Grip.

 Flight time is 25 minutes on a fully charged battery.

The Q500+ is available for pre-order now for $1,295.

Yuneec also unveiled the Tornado H920 hex-copter system designed for mounting a Panasonic GH4. The H920 has a flight time of 24 minutes and ships with a 24-channel transmitter with video link.



As the name implies, the Fotokite is a drone that stays tethered (kite-like) to the operator. The physical tether is meant to offer a safer, more reliable solution to prevent fly-aways, where a drone loses contact with a ground controller. The tether also has other virtues–it sends 1080p HD video down to the user and power back up.

There’s shoulder-worn battery back with interchangeable batteries so you could theoretically fly the Fotokite for hours, unlike conventional drones that tap out after 20 minutes.

Pricing and availability weren’t announced.

April 14th, 2015

Tips for a Thriving Photo Business in the Insta-Era

Sponsored by Zenfolio


In the year 2000, a large framed print of a traditional family portrait was a photographer’s best seller. Fast forward to 2015, and things are a little different. Facebook and Instagram feeds have created an entirely new market because people enjoy the instant gratification of sharing photos online with family and friends.

While digital photography and social media platforms are nothing new, you may not be taking full advantage of this market with up-to-date technology that provides a seamless experience for your clients. And it’s not something you can afford to miss out on—according to Zenfolio reports, the demand for digital files is still growing:

  • Revenue from digital downloads in the past two years have doubled.
  • In 2014, digital products accounted for almost 50 percent of the revenue photographers made in post-session sales, compared to only 31 percent in 2012.
  • In 2014, 35 percent of all orders placed were digital downloads.


Here are three things to build or improve upon to give your potential and established clients the best digital experience: Read the rest of this entry »

April 14th, 2015

Panasonic Will Give GH4 New Tricks, Adds 4K Video Camera, New Action Cam at NAB


AG-DVX200Panasonic hit NAB with an update to its GH4 mirrorless camera plus a new point-of-view camera and preview of a new video camera we can expect to see in the fall.

With a Version 2.2 firmware update at the end of this month, the GH4 will be able to record anamorphic video content to mimic the widescreen, cinemascope aspect ratios used by cinematographers. With the new firmware, GH4 owners will have be able to shoot in 4:3 Anamorphic Mode to capture video at  3328×2496 at a frame rate of either 23.98, 24, 25 or 29.97 fps.

The GH4 will also get a faster electronic shutter speed with the new firmware, maxing out at 1/16,000 sec. after it’s installed.

Panasonic will also launch a new 4K camera in the fall. The AG-DVX200 (pictured above) is a fixed lens camcorder with a new Four Thirds CMOS image sensor capable of 12 stops of dynamic range.

The DV200 will record 4K (4096×2160) at 24 fps as well as UHD (3840×2160) at up to 60 fps and HD up to 120 fps in either MP4 / MOV file formats to a pair of SD cards.

According to Panasonic, the DVX200 will feature the same tonality and colorimetry as the company’s VariCam lineup.

On the optics front, you’ll find a 13X Leica Dicomar f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens with three manual rings for focus, iris and zoom. The lens uses a five-axis hybrid image stabilizer to keep footage blur-free. Additional features include time-code in/out, 3G HD-SDI and HDMI 2.0 (4K) video outputs.

Panasonic plans to ship the DVX200 in the fall for under $5,000.

A1_Slant1_DPanasonic also launched a new point-of-view action camera. The New HX-A1 is an HD camera weighing in at a svelte 1.6 ounces. It’s waterproof to a depth of 5 feet without a housing, shockproof up to 5 feet and freezeproof.

It features built-in Wi-Fi for remote control and image sharing via a mobile device. It can also send a video stream to Panasonic’s W970 and W870 camcorders to merge its video in a sub-window with footage captured by either of the two conventional camcorders.

A loop recording function enables continuous recording by erasing earlier clips after you’ve recorded for more than an hour. You can shoot up to 120 fps at 848×480 or up to 60 fps at 1280×720. Full HD is captured at 30 fps.

When connected to a computer via USB, the A1 can double as a webcam. Pricing and availability were not announced.


April 14th, 2015

Blackmagic Design Intros Ursa Mini, Micro Cinema Cam and 4.6K Sensor at NAB 2015


Blackmagic has put its cinema cameras on a diet, rolling out a Mini version of its Ursa 4K camera and a Micro edition of its Cinema Camera at the NAB show.

The new Mini will weigh approximately 7 pounds, less than half the weight of the original Ursa. It will shed the Ursa’s three monitors, including the 10-inch flip-out display, in favor of a single, 5-inch touch screen HD monitor.

The Mini will record 4K footage to a pair of CFast 2.0 cards in Apple ProRes (up to 444 XQ) or Cinema DNG 12-bit RAW. It will have dual XLR inputs with phantom power, a built-in stereo mic, and a 12G-SDI connection.

The Ursa Mini will be sold with either Blackmagic’s new 4.6K Super 35mm-sized image sensor or a 4K sensor.

The 4.6K (4608 x 2592) sensor versions boasts 15 stops of dynamic range and delivers 60 fps 4K frame rates with rolling shutter or 30 fps with global shutter. It will be sold in EF and PL mounts for $4,995 and $5,495, respectively.

If you opt for the less expensive Ursa Mini with a 4K sensor ($2,995 EF mount), you’ll enjoy frame rates at 120 fps with rolling shutter and up to 60 fps with a global shutter.

Both 4K and 4.6K Ursa Mini editions will ship in July.

As announced late last week, owners of the original Ursa will be able to upgrade their cameras with the new 4.6K sensor for $2,000. Blackmagic will begin shipping the new sensor mount in the summer. The price of the Ursa with the original 4K sensor drops to $4,995 for an EF mount version.


The Micro Cinema Camera is a downsized variant of the Pocket Cinema Camera that Blackmagic is targeting for aerial use and in places where an action camera like a GoPro might otherwise be placed. The Micro has front facing controls, an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount, global shutter for up to 30 fps capture and an HD sensor that captures 13 stops of dynamic range. You can get faster 60 fps frame rates if you switch to a rolling shutter. It records 12-bit log CinemaDNG files and ProRes.

While the camera isn’t weather-resistant, it’s built from a durable magnesium alloy. It features a 3.5mm stereo input, plus an HDMI output for video monitoring. Video is saved internally to SD cards.

The side of the camera will feature an expansion port that will enable 3rd party accessory makers to create camera remote controls via a standardized interface typically used for model airplane remote controls. A composite video output in the expansion port will allow 3rd party accessories access to a live view from the camera as well as information on current settings.

The Micro Cinema Camera ships in July for $995. It will join the Pocket Cinema Camera, which is staying on the market.


Finally, the company launched a touch screen  field monitor/recorder, dubbed the Video Assist, that can be used with any HDMI or SDI camera. It features a 5-inch HD display with a viewing angle of 135 degrees. It records to SD card and supports up to 10-bit 422 ProRes footage. The Video Assist accepts two LP-E6 batteries with an intelligent power management system that draws one battery down completely first before pulling power from the second (it will pull power from the lowest capacity battery if both batteries are below 100 percent). Batteries can be hot-swapped.

The Video Assist will ship in July and retail for $495.

With the advent of the Video Assist, the HDMI Mount option for the Ursa, which the company had mentioned as a future option, is no longer on the roadmap, the company said.

April 10th, 2015

Arne Svenson Exonerated on Appeal in Privacy Invasion Case

From Arne Svenson's series "The Neighbors" ©Arne Svenson

From Arne Svenson’s series “The Neighbors” ©Arne Svenson

A New York State appeals court court has upheld a lower court ruling that rejected privacy invasion claims against fine-art photographer Arne Svenson. But the court has also challenged the New York state legislature to consider legislation to prohibit what Svenson did: photograph his neighbors inside their apartments through their un-curtained windows.

Svenson was sued by Martha and Matthew Foster in 2013 for using a telephoto lens to photograph them and other neighbors through the windows of their apartments, then displaying the images in art galleries for sale as fine-art prints.

The invasion of privacy committed by Svenson was not actionable, state appeals court judge Dianne T. Renwick wrote in a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, “because [Svenson’s] use of the images in question constituted art work and thus is not deemed ‘use for advertising or trade purposes,’ within the meaning of the statute.” Read the rest of this entry »

April 10th, 2015

11 Photographers Win 2015 Guggenheim Fellowships

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced the recipients of their 2015 fellowship grants. Among the 175 scholars, scientists, mathematicians, and artists chosen from over 3,100 applications this year are 11 photographers. As Guggenheim Fellows, they receive grants of varying but undisclosed amounts to pursue a proposed project.

The 2015 Guggenheim Fellows in photography are:
Gary Briechle
Miles Coolidge
Susan Lipper
Susan Meiselas
Arno Rafael Minkkinen
Richard Renaldi
Stuart Rome
Richard Rothman
Moises Saman
William S. Sutton
Terri Weifenbach

Also, Maria Gough, professor of modern art at Harvard, received a fellowship to pursue a project in photography studies.

The John Simon Guggenheim Foundations awards its annual Fellowship to artists, scholars and scientists on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.
Past recipients have included Robert Frank, Brian Ulrich, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Jason Fulford, Alex Soth and Penelope Umbrico.

11 Photographers Win 2014 Guggenheim Fellowships

Joseph Sywenkyj Wins $30,000 2015 W. Eugene Smith Grant (Moises Saman, Fellowship Winner)