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AMA Photography for Blogging

Ric Ricard
Jan 6, 2018

Portrait photographer will show how you can use any smart phone to produce professional quality photographs using any smart phone.  We will discuss how to find the right light, how to pose your subject and how to compose your shots to make your brand shine.  

John Ricard is based in NYC and has maintained a portrait studio in the Fashion District for over 10 years.  Ricard has photographs celebrities from Love and Hip Hop, Love and Medicine and BET, among others.  Ricard is skiled in posing, lighting and composition.  A former high school English teacher, Ricard has a teaching ability that surpases that of most self proclaimed educators in the freelance teaching space.

www.instagram.com/johnricard

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Conversation (81)

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What is the purpose of taking all these photographs?

Jan 13, 2:56PM EST0

Are you also open to covering events or shows? Which particular one you can't cater to?

Jan 12, 1:16PM EST0

I have covered hundreds of album release parties, press conferences, album listening sessions, concerts, fashion shows and many other events.  I like getting out at night and being at some cool event where something interesting is happening.  However, I’m not good at dealing with aggressive photographers and jockeying for my position.  So I much prefer if I’m hired by a record label to cover some in house meeting or listening session and I’m the only shooter there.  The only other situation don’t like at events is when you get that guest who acts like you are his personal photographer and all throughout the event they are asking to be photographed.  It’s super annoying.

Jan 12, 1:41PM EST0

Are you limiting your services to portrait photography?

Jan 9, 3:34AM EST0

Absolutely!  There is a pretty wide range of photography opportamd quite a bit of work under the large “portrait photography” designation.  I’m not interested in “things” or “places” so I don’t really photograph either one.  I’m interested in people.  I dislike shooting products (shoes, purses) so much that I actually turn down those jobs when they are offered.  It’s much harder to light a shiny purse than it might seem -and if the next purse is matte, now you might need to change the lighting entirely.  It’s also a pain to get up from the camera position to move objects.  When photographing people, it’s pretty easy to tell someone to, “move your arm to your hip” or whatever ;)

Jan 12, 1:46PM EST0

How did you enjoy your very first photo? Where was it taken?

Jan 8, 4:26AM EST0

How can you determine the right amount of light that can produce excellent exposure while using the smartphones?

Jan 7, 10:41PM EST0

We were able to determine the correct exposure back in the film days when we were shooting blind.  If we were able to do that back then, when we had to wait days before seeing the final image, we can certainly do it today when we are viewing the final image, live as we shoot it.

To ensure correct exposure you first should use an app like Camera+ that will allow you to set an exposure, and lock it in so it doesn't keep changing as you make minor changes in composition.  Next, make an effort to shoot in soft, even lighting.  That means shooting in the shade, or shooting on cloudy days.  This will mean that the bright parts of the image, and the dark parts of the image are getting pretty much the same amount of light.  This will make getting the correct exposure much easier. If you were to shoot on a beach at Noon, you'd have to either get the sunny parts right, or the shadow parts right.  You can't do both.

Also, if you shoot in HDR mode on an iPhone, the camera will work to keep both the brightest parts of the image and the darkest parts, exposed correctly.  It works great.

Finally, you should have an understanding of what the image is really about.  If it is about her person, then make sure the skin is exposed correctly.  If it is about her jacket, then maybe you allow her skin to be a bit too light, or too dark, so that the jacket looks correct.  If it is about the location, then again, maybe the person is a bit too light or too dark so that the location looks correct.  Know what you are shooting and expose for that part of the image.  

Also, if you're willing to pay $10 per month, you can subscribe to Lightroom CC.  It is a professional image editing program that will give you some of the best exposure control in existence.   You can edit right on the phone and archive the original image and the changes to the "cloud".  You would be able to produce professional quality edits without ever using a computer.

Jan 7, 10:53PM EST0

Do you take photos of babies?

Jan 7, 10:24AM EST0

No.  Doesn’t interest me.

Jan 7, 12:41PM EST0

Puppies? ;)

Jan 7, 6:04PM EST0

How much will a student pay for a full training? Will the student receive certificate of accomplishment after training?

Jan 7, 8:29AM EST0

I don’t do formal training where someone gets a certificate.  I do photo coaching however.  Basically you are renting my studio at the normal rate but I am giving you as much or as little coaching, assistance or instruction as you would like.  I can also help you book a Model if you don’t have one for your coaching session.  Email for details johnricardnyc@gmail.com

Jan 7, 12:43PM EST0

When was the first time you got hold of a camera?

Jan 7, 3:14AM EST0

I orignally picked up a camera in the 80's because I wanted to photograph heavy metal bands like Twisted Sister and Anthrax.  I used to sneak the camera into the L'amour Rock club in Brooklyn, and eventually I was able to sell my photographs to underground magazines that covered these bands.

Jan 7, 2:20PM EST0

What is the best angle for a woman? What about for men?

Jan 7, 2:00AM EST0

There are no rules -especially when you are created art.  That said...here are some rules ;)  For women shoot from slightly above to make her head bigger and her body smaller.  Never shoot a woman with her shoulders completed square to the camera.  Instead, have the woman turn her body a bit sideways.  It is ok if her head is square to the camera.  For both men and women, it is ok if they push their forehead towards the camera -sort of the way a turtle extends its neck.  This helps to create a jawline for both men and women.  You don't want their face pushed back into their own neck.

Jan 7, 2:22PM EST0

Thank you for these! Would definitely apply these tips. :) Do you personally think that women are better subjects than men or vice versa?

Last edited @ Jan 7, 2:35PM EST.
Jan 7, 2:35PM EST0

How many students have you taught about the right photograph?

Jan 7, 1:09AM EST0

I've done quite a bit of tutoring/teaching -both in my studio and on You Tube.  I actually offer a Photo Coaching session where you do a rental of my studio at the standard rental rate, but I provide as much or as little instruction as you'd like in lighting, posing, composition, etc.  Email me for details johnricardnyc@gmail.com

Jan 7, 2:26PM EST0

How did you get started with photography?

Jan 7, 12:03AM EST0

Started in the 80's when I bought a camera to photograph bands like Twisted Sister who didn't appear in magazines.  Eventually I was able to sell these photographs to underground magazines that didn't have any other access to photographs of these small bands.  As the years passed, I moved on to photographing rock bands and rap groups in the (photo) studio using lights rather than just photographing them onstage.

Jan 7, 2:28PM EST0

Have you tried taking pictures of sceneries?

Jan 6, 10:22PM EST0

I don't shoot anything that doesn't have people in it.  It just doesn't interest me.  So I don't do any type of products, or landscapes or scenes.  I photography people only.

Jan 7, 2:28PM EST0

Where do you train/teach students about photography? Do you have your own school?

Jan 6, 9:39PM EST0

I have quite a few instructional videos on You Tube (although I've deleted dozens over the years).  I also do photo instruciton at my studio in Times Square, NYC.  People are able to rent my studio at the standard rental rate, but they have access to my assistance in lighting, posing, composition or whatever.  It's up to them how involved I am in their shoot.  I can just set them up and then leave them alone, or I can stay for the full rental and coach them throughout the session.  I even help them book a model if it is just a simple test/learning shoot.  Email me for specific details: johnricardnyc@gmail.com.

Jan 7, 2:31PM EST0

What kind of weird/creepy stories do yo hear from models and their experiences with other photographers?

Jan 6, 8:59PM EST0

I've never specifically asked about that.  I'm sure they have a ton of stories and they'd be happy to share, but it has never actually come up.  I will say though, that I often find it odd when I see a really strong model (in terms of her look) and I check her IG and she has worked with a lot of unskilled photographers.  I always wonder why she didn't realize that this person isn't someone on her level.  I've had times where that same model doesn't respond to my DMs on IG but she has worked with photographers who haven't done her justice.  Makes no sense to me.

Jan 7, 2:39PM EST0

That's probably just human nature of making bad decisions sometimes ..

Jan 7, 2:41PM EST0

Love your instagram! How do you get the modesl to feel so comfortable in front of the camera?

Jan 6, 8:56PM EST0

The transformation helps a lot.  If you are able to have a hairstylist and makeup artist, the model will feel special, and that will show in the photographs.  If you are fortunate to have a big fancy studio that also helps with the mental aspect.  But let's say you don't have those things.

It helps if you don't say anyting negative at all.  Ever.  Even if she's posing wrong, you still say to her, "You're doing great," so she won't have any negative thoughts in her head.  If her outfit is wrong, you'll suggest how to improve it..but you won't say it looks bad.  Every word you say should be designed to build her confidence rather than break it.

It also helps if you actually know how to pose her.  www.suebryceeducation.com has some great content on how to pose females.  If you learn 20 poses, you will create strong images of her, and if you let her see the images as you are shooting, you'll build her confidence and that will help you continue to produce good images throughout the session.  One thing that really hurts the process though, is when she has her friend or parent with her.  That person often says the wrong thing to her and it breaks her confidence.

Jan 7, 2:36PM EST0

I'm a shoe designer. I would love to work with you. I'm in NJ. Instagram @zevallos_shoes

Jan 6, 6:31PM EST0

Are you limiting your subjects to only women?

Jan 6, 6:26PM EST0

I shoot as many men as I do women, but IG seems to work best when you post a narrow range of content rather than a wide range.  Check out @jadorelexiecouture.  It is one subject photographed in the same room using the same poses and the same color palette all the time.  It is a very successful account.  So I limit my IG to 90% images of beauty shots of models and 10% Family photos.  If you were to scroll back a couple of years on my account you’d see that I used to post a wide variety of content on my feed.  But oddly, audiences tend to prefer repetitive content on IG.  Makes no sense to me.  I maintain 3 IG accounts though @johnricard for Model Images.  @cameraworknyc for street photography.  @RicinAction for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Images.  I may actually start a 4th for more personal images.

Last edited @ Jan 6, 11:50PM EST.
Jan 6, 11:48PM EST0

That is curious but I guess makes sense, people follow an account because they prefer a certain style so it must be confusing to them if that changes constantly. Can you make money with street photography? Generally, if you were to shoot for money (as I am sure a lot of it is for passion, so what you like too), how would you prioritize? Or is it more like you can make any style viable if you focus on it?

Jan 7, 2:23PM EST0

How do you enlist your models?

Jan 6, 4:34PM EST0

Today, it's pretty easy.  You can reach out on IG.  It's good to explain exactly what you are offering the models.  I let them know that we will shoot 2-3 looks and I let them know if I will have a full or partial glam squad (hair, makeup, styling).  I let them know what they will receive from the shoot -how many retouched or unretouched images.  I also send them a copy of the model release before time and I let them know if I intend to submit the images to a stock photo site.  It is also good to send a link to a moodboard that shows images similar to what you want to create.  

Beginning models can be really unprofessional in terms of responding.  So don't take it personally if your inital contact is ignored.  Sometimes its a numbes game.

Also, in terms of approaching potential models in person, if you can get yourself into any situation where you can have higher status than her, your odds will increase greatly that she will respond.  Meaning, if you are behind the desk at a model casting, or if you are the hired photographer at an event where she is modeling in, or you see her on the street while you are in the middle of a locaiton shoot.  Any situation where you can be perceived as being equal to, or above her socially at that moment, is to your benefit.  

Jan 6, 4:54PM EST1
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Also, can I use my iPhone to shoot pictures? I don't want to shoot anything serious, but I woud like a blog to capture some cool pictures I've taken on my phone. Is it worth it to start a blog if I'm just posting phone pictures?  Should I just save the pictures I take in a folder on my phone?

Jan 6, 3:36PM EST0

You can absolutely use only a phone.  My iPhone does several things better than my main camera.  The iPhone shoots more images in rapid succession.  It shoots closer.  It allows me to use various high and low angles with ease.  It can also archive and geotag the photos without my doing anything.   It also allows me to shoot video.  

Photography is more about the story than the technical quality of images.  If you have something you want to say, you can be a good blogger.   The main thing you need to do with a phone, is use an app that will let you adjust the exposre and then lock in that exposure so it doesn't change.  An app like Camera+ on the iPhone will do this.

On the iPhone platform,  if you pay for iCloud storage, you can shoot pictures endlessly and never worry about storing them or organizing them.  The cloud will automatically organize them by events, dates, places, etc.

Jan 6, 3:40PM EST0

Do you have a photography blog? How did you get it started? 

Jan 6, 3:22PM EST0

Personally, I strugle with blogging.  I actually started blogging well over 10 years ago, but my problem is, I'm never really sure what I wan to accomplish with the blog.  So if you were to visit www.johnricardblog.com, you'll see a blog that goes back many years, but the voice is inconsistent.  Sometimes I'm writing to other photographers.  Sometimes I'm writing to myself.  Other times I'm writing to potential clients.  It's a bit of a mess.  Another of my blogs appears on www.treasuremymemory.com. This one profiles female clients and the audience would be potential female clients.  But I often feel the posts there are "boring" and not that interesting. I'm not sure why anyone would want to read the profiles I post there...so I end up not posting there for months at a time.  So I think if you are going to blog, the real key is to future out who you are bloging to.  A photography blog done right is, http://blog.blairbunting.com.  He has a clear voice and he is obviously blogging to potential clients by showing them how he can solve their photography needs through is various skills.

Jan 6, 3:28PM EST0
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I"ve seen several hobbyists purchase the Nikon D810 for family or casual photographs.  The camera sensor was recently rated at 100 by a very respected testing organization.  It was the first camera to score that number.  But ask yourself, do you really NEED a camera that scores 100 to capture your images?

Jan 6, 3:15PM EST0

With each new additonal featured added to the iPhone, I feel Apple actually takes a step backward.   The beauty of the orignal iPhone camera was that there were no options.  Now, a user must often navigatge past options like HDR, Life Photos, Pano, Square, Video and others, just to capture an image.  Simplicity is often better than Complexity in photography.

Jan 6, 3:07PM EST0

Are you operating your own studio?

Jan 6, 3:03PM EST0

Yes, I've been blessed to have a studio in Times Square for the past 10 years.  Rent keeps rising, but its a blessing to have a place to create ;)

Jan 6, 3:04PM EST1
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People often wonder if their Smartphone is "good enough" for blogging.  In my view, phones have been suitable ever since the iPhone 5, several years ago.

Jan 6, 3:01PM EST0

How long have you been doing this job? Can we consider this as your career for life?

Jan 6, 12:37PM EST0

I've been full time since 2000 and yes, it is my career for life.  It's funny though when I hear people say (on social media), do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.  That's simply not true. Anyone who is following their passion and is self employed is working more hours per week than someone who has a 9 to 5.  In fact, if you have a 9 to 5, you might actually have more time to follow your passion than someone who has combined their passion into their business!

Jan 6, 1:10PM EST0

What is the purpose of having all these photos? Are you selling it?

Jan 6, 12:03PM EST0

I'm not sure if you're referring to a specifc body of images, but for  me, the majority of what I shoot, is intended for sale.  Truth be told, I don't actually shoot enough "personal work".  So yes, the purpose for much of my photography is actual sales.

Jan 6, 12:16PM EST0

Have you tried joining photo contests? Did you win?

Jan 6, 11:24AM EST0

I've never entered a contest.  It's never been of interest to me at all.  

Jan 6, 12:17PM EST0

Oh, I see. Can you share some helpful tips for beginners?

Jan 7, 1:55PM EST0

How much is the most expensive camera most preferred by most hobbyist?

Jan 6, 4:33AM EST0

A hobbyist should really be on the top of the line iPhone or Samsung smartphone. Those cameras are excellent.  A lot of hobbyists use Nikon D800 series or Canon 5D series or Sony A7 series bodies, but its overkill for what they are doing.  If they enjoy using these cameras then using them is a good move.  If they feel they "need' these cameras are necessary, they are likely mistaken.  That said, much of my own work is created with a Leica M10 -a $7,000 camera, so I definitely understand the desire to buy a more expensive camera than you actually need ;)

Jan 6, 12:19PM EST0

Do your pictures change when you shoot with the Leica and with a phone? As in how you take them, what you focus on, how you plan them, how long do you take before you click the button?

Jan 7, 2:27PM EST0

What could be the most ambitious project for you?

Jan 5, 9:57PM EST0

Travel would be ambitious for me.  I tend to shoot in my studio a lot.  I’ve created the perfect place for me.  Lights, minimal props, large screen TV monitor, iMac, White walls...everything I need.  For me to do more shooting out of NYC would be a big step out of my comfort zone and would probably have a very positive impact on my photography.

Jan 5, 11:43PM EST0

What, if any, microphone set up do you recommend  ?

Jan 5, 7:54PM EST0

Recording high quality is essential for any video work -even casual blogging.  The VideoMic Pro+ is a great choice if your camera has a separate mic input.  Another easy option is to add a mic directly on to the phone.  A $100 plug in mic from Zoom or Tascam will produce phenomenal sound quality.  Even if you're just filming IG live clips though, you can use a plug in mic like the free ear pods that come with the iPhone, and you'll get much better sound than using the built in phone mic.  Finally, keep in mind, the closer you get the mic to your mouth, the stronger the sound will be.  

Jan 6, 12:24PM EST0

Have you been hired by Fashion Designers to cover their photoshoots for magazines or other print ads?

Jan 5, 3:27PM EST0

I have done a lot of magazine work over the years -Today’s Black Woman and Hype Hair for example.  I have also photographed a lot of line sheets and Lookbooks.  These are used internally by fashion companies and are seldom seen by the public.

Jan 5, 3:31PM EST0

What is the best thing about what you do?

Jan 5, 2:46PM EST0

I love being the only person who witnessed a particular event or witnessed the event from a specific angle and then having that unique moment preserved in a photograph for others to view.  I also love photographing people whom I’ve seen in other photographs or on TV.  It’s really cool to meet them in person after being aware of them in a digital or media sense at first.

Jan 5, 3:33PM EST0

When you take a picture, do you take many and then pick one that you like best or you wait and focus to get that one shot? Also, if you pick one of many, do you keep them all still?

Jan 7, 3:26PM EST0

Do we have to apply filter every time to ensure good results?

Jan 5, 8:09AM EST0

Absolutely not.  I think one of the biggest problems with social media photography is everyone doing what everyone else is doing.  The more you can independently create what looks good to YOU, the more authentic your photography will be.  If the photo looks fine right out of the camera, there’s no reason to apply a filter. In my own photography, it’s funny to me how often a model will apply a filter to an image I’ve sent her, even though I’ve already processed that image.  No matter how extreme my processing might have been, she still feels a need to apply a filter.

Jan 5, 8:29AM EST0

What kind of megapixel should a smartphone have in order to create an excellent effect on pictures?

Jan 5, 5:52AM EST0

The iPhone 5, which had 8 Megapixels was more than enough for travel or food blogging.  The key is to use an app like Camera+ that allows you to set an exposure and lock that exposure in so that it won't change.  The problem with smartphone photography isn't the mexapixels.  It's the tendency of the cameras to expose incorrectly.

Jan 5, 6:09AM EST0

What is the most difficult photography session you've had? Where was that?

Jan 5, 5:37AM EST0

Last year's session with Cardi B at my studio was pretty tough.  She arrived a couple of hours late, and then spend more than 2 hours in hair and makeup.  We photographed a couple (literally) of images, and her team decided to change her look.  We waited another hour or so for that look to be completed, and whe she came back on set, she only stayed for about 10 minutes before leaving to film a music video.  I had only a handful of useable images from that session.

Jan 5, 6:11AM EST0

What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?

Jan 4, 6:49PM EST0

For much of my work, I use a Leica M10.  It is a digital camera that has Fewer buttons and controls than a 30 year old film camera.   It does everything I need it to do, and it doesn't do anything else.  I wish more electronic products were designed with that mindset.

Jan 4, 10:02PM EST0
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