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You may contact Alexis at:
phototips@alexismiller.com
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Sale! 25% Off Entire Shop!

In honor of the fast approaching Holidays, I am running a sale on my entire shop now through Sunday, November 21, 2010. Using the coupon code: 25OffSale2010 you can receive a 25% discount off your entire purchase at my shop. :)

http://shop.alexismiller.com

2011 Calendar Templates

I have finally finished working on the calendar templates for 2011. There are 2 Sets - the 8x10 Yearly Set, and the 4x6/5x7 Monthly Set. They are designed for use in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I designed all of the templates using this free, commercial use font: Pupcat from Larabie fonts.


The 8x10 Yearly Set has a total of 10 templates - 5 designs. Each of the 5 designs has a template with a space for a business logo (for easy advertising/client holiday gifts), and a template without a space for a logo. If you're using these templates for advertising/client gifts, you can use adhesive backed magnet sheet, or you can use these handy adhesive easel backs. Both products are available at Pro Studio Supply.


These templates will arrive to you in the colors shown, and it is super easy to customize the colors and the fonts ("2011" and Month Names only).






2011 Yearly Calendar Template Price: $8.00
(You will be redirected to my shop.)




The 4x6/5x7 Monthly Set has 4 total sets of templates. For both 4x6 and 5x7 sizes, templates are included in both vertical and horizontal formats. Every year, I make a calendar of my little boy using one of these sized templates for him to give as Christmas gift to his grandparents. For holders for the calendars, I have used acrylic magnetic frames (and just switched out the page each month), I have used a tiny spiral binding (done at my local Staples copy center), and I have also used the 4x6 CD Calendar Cases from Calendar-Case.Com. I love the 4x6 horizontal case that they have, and it's fairly simple to convert the 4x6 vertical template into the right size for the Business Card CD Case (which I think is super unique and fun!)


These templates will all arrive to you with black backgrounds and gray/white text. Below I have shown a few ideas of how simple it is to customize the colors of the backgrounds and text. You can also change the fonts on these templates for every text layer except the numbers of the days.






2011 Monthly Calendar Price: $10.00
(You will be redirected to my shop.)




If you'd like to purchase both the Yearly Set and the Monthly Set together, they're available at a discounted price at my shop:




2011 Yearly and Monthly Set Price: $15.00
(You will be redirected to my shop.)
I have been busy working on my new 2010 Holiday Card Templates for Photoshop. There are (6) Templates, and they all have fronts and backs, are suitable for printing as flat press printed cards or as photo cards, and are easily customizable. The set is available for $20.00 at my shop.




Sale Price: $20.00
(You will be redirected to my shop.)

















Finding Inspiration

I was asked to write an article on this topic by a friend on one of my favorite photography message boards awhile back. Today is the day that it was posted, and I thought my blog readers might like to read it too. :-)

  1. Read magazines, books, and newspapers with lots of photos in them.
    Look at the photos and critique them - list the things that you love about the image and also list the things that you thing would have been better if done differently. As you do this with several different images, you may start to notice some things that the images have in common that you either like or don't like. Use the newly discovered knowledge to help guide you to some new and different ideas for your work.

  2. Join a local photography club and participate in their activities.
    Many cities have a local photography club. Most clubs meet at least once per month or more frequently. The group in my area meets weekly, and each week they do something different. For instance, one week of the month they will do a meet and critique (the first time I went to one of these, I was simply amazed at the talent of the other photogs.) Then, the next week they will do a photo walk at a fun location in the area (they did a really cool one at the greenhouse at the university awhile back.) They do other field trips, organize photography exhibits for all of the members to participate in, etc.

    If you don't have a group in your area, try starting one. Even if there are only 3-4 members, you can still have a great time learning from one another and finding inspiration.

    You can also take a photography class or attend a workshop to get similar inspiration like you would from a photography club. The whole purpose is simply to find people with a similar interest and learn and participate with them.

  3. Take yourself for a photo-drive.

    This one has to be one of my favorites. There are two rules that I have found that make these more successful: 1. Do not take any kids or husbands or anyone. Just you. 2. Don't stress about exposure or figuring out manual mode. Put it on Aperture Priority mode and use the exposure compensation. Or, if you are still learning about the modes on your camera, just use Auto mode or your camera's scene modes.

    The whole purpose of this exercise is simply to go and have fun and enjoy seeing beauty and things of interest everywhere around you. I love to get myself a smoothie (or other treat), find some great music to fit my mood, and drive to different locations. When I find a good location, I try not to be rushed (unless I am somewhere that I really shouldn't be, etc. - not that I am advocating that type of behavior! LOL) Anyway, I will take a bunch of photos - like really a lot of all of the different objects and textures and patterns that I find. I try to photograph things from a variety of angles and perspectives.

    When I am out on one of these drives, I try to look for interesting old buildings, alleyways, etc. I always listen to my gut if I don't feel comfortable there, though. I also love to drive into the country and take pictures there. It will be different for you wherever you live, but I hope that you will have fun exploring and discovering new things and places. And
    you'll probably come home feeling much more inspired and refreshed.


  4. Take pictures of something that is a different subject matter for you.



    This is something that I used to encourage the students in my beginning photography class to do. If you're a portrait photographer, try doing a few landscapes and close-ups of other subjects. If you primarily shoot landscapes, try photographing people. Breaking out of the subject matter that you're most accustomed to will help you see what you normally photograph in a different way.

  5. Photograph a series all based on one theme.
    I love this one, too. Choose a theme that you'd like to photograph - it can be a color, a specific type of object, or something even more specific (like the Danbo images below). Whatever theme you choose, be sure to do all that you can to find variety and be creative with it.

    Here, I did a search for the word "blue" on Flickr, and this is a screen shot of what it came back with. Obviously, each of these images was taken by a different photographer, but it is a great source of ideas and inspiration for a color theme.



    Here is another screen shot from Flickr - this time I searched for "shoes."



    And, for the last screen shot I will share I searched for "danbo." I don't know why I find this little guy so inspiring, but I think he is. Or, I should say, the photos of him are.


  6. Read blogs of other amazing photographers.
    Here is a link I found that has a list of links to some amazing photographers online. Super inspiring.

    http://www.thephotoargus.com/inspiration/40-great-photographer-portfolio-websites-for-inspiration/


    Also, I love to surf around at stock photo websites. I use lots of stock photos in the QuickPro DVDs, and I can easily lose hours of time surfing through the images there. You can register for free at most of them, and create a "lightbox" that you can add your favorite photos to. It's a great thing to revisit every so often when you need some inspiration.

  7. Participate in a Photography Assignment or Challenge.
    There are tons of these all over the internet. Here are a few links to different ones that I found:

    dpchallenge.com is full of digital photography contests:
    http://www.dpchallenge.com/

    dpreview.com has an amazing challenges section:
    http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/


    I also like the challenges that I have seen at forums like Two Peas in a Bucket, Clickin'
    Moms, ILP, and Digital Photography School.

  8. Tell a Story.

    This is the goal of any photographer - we all want to tell a story about our subject. But, this tip goes a little beyond that. When you're out taking pictures, try to keep this really in the front of your mind. Tell the story. That means taking pictures from all different angles, perspectives, etc. Get close up shots, and take shots from a distance. Photograph each of the individual elements that tell the story - for instance, this photo of a toddler's toy immediately tells you the toy's story - it broken. The angle and perspective work well to emphasize what I was trying to say with the image.

  9. Make a Photo Notebook or Idea Wall.
    This is one that many of us have seen or heard before. When you are working on Tip #1, clip the photos that you like and put them in a binder or notebook. I have seen offices of graphic and interior designers that have a wall just for this purpose as well. If you use a binder or notebook, be sure to record on the page your thoughts about the image - particularly the specific things that you liked about it. As the notebook or wall becomes more and more populated with images, you'll have a great resource to refer to for inspiration.

    Be sure to periodically go through and remove any images that don't appeal to you or your style anymore, and replace them with images that better fit your current interests.

    Something that always crosses my mind when people suggest this tip to me is that photography magazines cost lots of money. Several of them are almost $10 per issue, and that's a lot of money to spend to simply cut it up. So, here is my suggestion to you - go to the thrift store or used book store. Many of them will carry old magazines for very affordable prices. Also, many libraries simply give away past issues of magazines, so try checking there, too. One last thing that you can do to keep this project affordable is to use non-photography related magazines. Many of these are only $1 - $3 per issue, and they are also filled with amazing photos.

  10. Look for beauty in the ordinary objects around you.
    About a week or so ago, there was a thread posted here where someone had photographed a weed. It was a beautiful image, and I think that it really applies to this tip. There is beauty in everything around us - even ordinary things, and even things that we normally view as unattractive. Try to look around and see everything a little differently. Try to photograph it in a different way. Experiment with different distances, perspectives, and
    angles.








Nikon D80 Camera Giveaway! - WINNER!

Thank you so much to everyone for your participation in this contest! It was so much fun to read all of your comments! (And I did read every single one!) I originally thought that maybe I would just be able to "choose" someone to win, but there were SO MANY good and worthy causes and reasons for wanting to win; I just couldn't narrow it down to just one winner by myself.

So, with a little help from random.org, here is the winner of the Nikon D80.

Sarah Nicole said...
What an awesome prize! I would love to win this camera so I can take better pictures of my kids and have the pictures that I already take turn out better! I do have some photography skills but no money to buy a nice camera. So I have to use my two year old crappy digital (I think it's like 9 pixels or whatever, it's early and I'm running on 4 interrupted hours of sleep), it's super slow and it eats batteries like no one's business. :( The worst is that by the time it gets around to taking a picture, the moment (my kids are 5 months and 19 months) has passed and my camera has missed it. I just got an old used Canon Rebel off Craigslist but it's film. The pictures are AMAZING from it, my first taste of a professional camera, but they are film, so it gets expensive. So I would LOVE this camera for SO MANY REASONS!!!! <3
Congrats!!! Please email me at phototips@alexismiller.com to claim your prize!

Nikon D80 Camera Giveaway!

I have been wanting to do a really fun giveaway on this blog forever, and I happened to get this opportunity! :) QuickPro Camera Guides and Alexis Miller Photography are teaming up to give away this Nikon D80 with a Nikon 24-85mm Lens! ETA: This lens is the 3.5 one, not the 2.8 one - just don't want any confusion! The camera was used only for a few hours during the filming of the QuickPro Camera Guide for the Nikon D80, so it is used, but not very much! I am excited to give it away because I love how much my cameras have changed my life, and I hope that someone will love this camera and taking pictures with it as much as I do!

Here are the rules for this giveaway. For one entry into the giveaway contest:
  1. You must be a follower of this blog.
  2. Leave a comment on this post before Midnight MST on Thursday March 18, 2010. Tell us why you want to win this camera.

And, if you would like one extra entry to the contest, post a link to this blog somewhere online (your blog, message board, facebook, etc.). Then, post a comment with a link to your link on this post.

Tips for Food Photography

While I was teaching photography at our local technology college, I thought that I would have a brief section on food (and product) photography. I didn't realize how much I would love photographing food! I especially love taking pictures of fresh fruits and veggies. The vibrant colors and textures are just super fun to capture. I wanted so share a few things that I have learned about taking pictures of food. So, in no particular order, here are my 5 Food Photography Tips:



1. Do not use a direct flash. In fact, avoid harsh, direct light altogether. Using flash or other harsh light will cause poor shadows and will wash out colors and details. Try to use light that is more diffused. In this series, I was outside in my backyard using the shade of a large tree. There was
plenty of light, but it was not falling directly on the subject.



2. Pay close attention to the white balance. It's difficult to correct colors in Photoshop. I will often set a custom white balance. When I am photographing food, it's especially important to me that the colors are accurate.



3. Use props! I don't cook or entertain much, but I love shopping in the kitchen/dinnerware sections. The limes in the top photo are in a really fun square wooden bowl that I found at Walmart for about $5. I also love dollar stores. They have cheap wine glasses, silverware, fun bamboo placemats, etc., etc. Watch for things that will compliment and not distract. Watch for things that have unique textures. You can also be creative with your props - to get this shot of the kiwi slice, I used part of the little plastic container that some berries came in. I simply cut one panel out, "stuck" the slice to it, and had a friend hold it up so the sun was shining behind it.



4. Choose food that is vibrant in color, has good texture, is free from many blemishes or bruises, and just looks appealing in general. Also, look for foods that are unique - the wheatgrass in the bottom photo is one of my favorite things to shoot because it's just not the same as the apples and bananas that are on my kitchen counter every day.


5. Many foods will start to lose their appeal if they are not kept cool (or warm). So, work fast. Have everything that you need set up prior to bringing the food out. For this series shot in my backyard, I set up all of the following before I brought the food:

• Photography Gear (Lenses, Batteries, Memory Cards, Tripod, etc.)
• Table (in the shade)
• Knives and cutting boards
• All props
• Small towels and a dishwashing type tub filled with water (for rinsing food and hands)

If you're shooting indoors, your list will be different, but if you have everything set up and ready, your photos will turn out better.