CASE STUDY: Denise Litchfield, Clairvoyant.

BRAND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

As a brand photographer, my job is to impart your unique brand message through portrait and lifestyle photographs.

I always start with a short questionnaire, so we are on the same page. It makes for photos that are you. And represent your vision and brand. It informs me of my approach to your headshot and lifestyle photos.

Everything about your brand photography session is crafted with these words in mind: the location, the props, the lighting, and the mood to capture during the session.

Denise Litchfield, a clairvoyant, asked me to create images for her newly revamped website, and to use across her social media.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

Brand Portrait Questionnaire

I asked Denise some questions, to get a feel of what she was after, and if there was anything specific she required.

What industry do you work in and how would you describe your brand?

I’m a psychic and medium bringing a fresh take on the all things intuitive. My brand is fun, coastal, with lashings of cake. I want convey that psychics are human too and probably hang out at the same places you do. 

Do you already have something in mind for what your headshot needs to look like?

I need images to work hard, spreading from large landscape styles with lots of room for text as hero images in sales pages, down to more fun snaps that capture the beachy relaxed feel of my brand for instagram.

I knew I didn’t want to look like every other psychic, so crystals and trappings were banned from the shoot, but I do have the favourite deck used in readings.

Where will you be using these photos? Website or Social Media?

Alllllll the places!

Landscape or portrait orientation?

Why not have both?

Do you need space around your images for text and call-to-actions?

Yes.

Do you have brand colours that we need to work with? Do you have a location already in mind?

I’ve attached my brand board with the hex colours I use in my site for reference, but I’ll also bring along key props to use with my brand colours.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

On Location

With all that information, we can go ahead with the shoot, knowing that Denise is going to get the images the way she wants. With the colours she uses, showing her unique self. (with plenty of cake!)

We took these on a the lovely quiet beach of Culburra on the South Coast of New South Wales.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

This is the look on her website. Branded portraits that fit perfectly in with her colours and present her as she is: bringing a fresh take (and plenty of cake!) to all things intuitive.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

If you are interested in how I can help you become the face of your brand, reach out!

Capturing the unique you with portraits that stop the scroll. 

PHOTOGRAPHING CARLA

I had the pleasure working with the amazing up and coming model Carla Calabia recently.

She wanted to update her portfolio with some fresh images. She contacted me and we created some lovely photos together.

Her bubbly personality (and her comfort in front of the camera) can’t help but shine through in every shot.

I really love photographing people and making them shine. There is no better reward. Okay the money, that’s good too! 🙂

Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia

I love photographing all people, so if you are in Sydney, look me up and let’s shoot!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men

Self portraits are hard. They are a real challenge. Staying relaxed while looking at the lighting, thinking about the pose, while looking at the results while holding the reflector while worrying about how good the backdrop looks.

Too many things!

Today I threw on my favourite pieces of clothing (The suit is my own creation- a multi-layered piece hand-stitched from two suits. It comes with a full-length skirt.) and hit the studio.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

So here are my nine tips for better self portraits!

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

1.Use the Autofocus Feature

Yes, use the most basic feature on the camera. I messed up a stack of shots because I pre-focused, but moved out of position, leading to out of focus shots and wasted time.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

2.Don’t Use the Same Angles and Expressions

Shake things up. Laugh, sneer, pull faces. For a start it will loosen you up for the better shots. Sometimes though, they end up being the best shots

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

3.Forget Perfection

What is perfection anyway? Your skin may not look perfect, you don’t have twenty lights or the ‘perfect’ backdrop. Work with what you have got. With these photos, I just used a black fabric backdrop. Keep it simple.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

4.Forget Judgment

There are always going to be haters on social media. There are also going to be fans. If we all worried about being judged, nobody would do anything. Most of the time, people are just looking at themselves anyway. They are too worried about how they look to worry about you. Forget haters.

Love yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be yourself.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

5.Ask for Help

My partner will laugh at this one! I battle and struggle with self portraits, and then she says. “Need a hand?” And I can relax about holding the remote shutter or trying to balance the reflector. I also get feedback like: “Sit up straight, one shoulder is lower than the other, you look like you are constipated. As that the look you are going for?”

Self portraits don’t have to be done alone.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

6.Don’t Shoot For Hours

Set aside an hour or two. Set a timer if you have too. The striving for the perfect shot will have you running in circles and in front of the camera for way too long- longer than is comfortable, and it will show on your face.

When you are tired you will look it. Don’t burn yourself out.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

7.Use a Tripod

There is no way you can hold a camera, or a phone, for a hundred shots or so. Also, you are going to have a big head, big nose and out of proportion face from having the camera at arm’s length. Selfies never look good. Self-portraits are the way to go.

After a camera and a lens, the tripod should be your first purchase. Get a good one, not one from Kmart or wherever. Get one as an investment in your photography.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

8.Use Artificial Light

You can’t control many things in this world, but setting up proper lighting is one thing you can do. Set up like a serious shoot. If you are outside, the sun will move, the sun will go behind clouds, exposure will change. Minimise pain and suffering by shooting indoors.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

9.Don’t Pose All the Time

Be free. Don’t stand there looking at the camera all day. Some of my favourite shots were when I moved. I like movement in my shots so these were my favourites.

Laughing or those off-guard moments generally end up being the best shots.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

10.BONUS TIP

Shoot tethered if you can. If you can plug your camera into your computer running Adobe Lightroom, you can see all the photos with having to get up and look at the photos in the camera. This will make it easy to get instant feedback about your position, your pose and lighting.

Conclusion

I hope these tips will be of help next time you are planning a self portrait session. If you have any tips to add to the list, I would love to hear them!

If this all seems to hard, and you are in Sydney. Contact me for some cool portraits. I shoot models, actors and entrepreneurs.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

8 TIPS FOR TAKING BETTER PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

They say the best camera is the one you have on you. Most people have a phone on them, and therefore a great camera. ( I have a friend who has a flip-phone, but that’s another story!) As photographers, we are so lucky to be able to have these powerful cameras that just slip into our pockets or bags. It’s a modern miracle!

Phone cameras are great, but you have to treat them like a camera, not a phone, to get the best out of them.

Redfern Sydney 2013. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Redfern Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

use the front camera

Your front camera is going to be way better than your back camera. For example, here are the tech details on my Samsung Galaxy S7:

Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP
Front: 5MP

More than double the megapixels. It is going to produce sharper and better images. Unless it is selfie-time, use your main camera to capture as much detail as possible.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

CLEAN THE LENS

Sound basic right? Fingerprints easily get on the lens, just by holding your phone. A quick wipe will guarantee you are not getting that David Hamilton look. I use and recommend a t-shirt. Haha.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

FIND THE GOOD LIGHT

Shooting in shadows or in full bright sunlight are going to do nothing for your images-especially if you are photographing yourself or others. Look for light shade, indoors with some soft light coming through curtains.

Harsh shadows, unless you are going for a high-contrast image, are not going to look great when shooting people or flowers for example.

Avoid using the flash. Generally the flash is just going to ‘blow-out’ your image and it will look terrible.

Shooting at sunset or sunrise is always going to produce better images too.

Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

reduce saturation PLEASE!

Nine time out of ten, you are going to want to reduce the saturation of your images slightly. Nothing screams inexperienced like oversaturated images. Hit that slider and calm the image down a little. You will always have a better looking shot by reducing saturation. Please. Nobody likes having their retinas burnt out by oversaturated images.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

KEEP YOUR PHONE ROCK STEADY

Nobody likes unintentionally blurred images. If you are going for a longer exposures, use a mini tripod or rest your phone on a park bench, post or against a tree. I love my mini tripod- it just goes in my pocket.

Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

don’t zoom

You will destroy your image quality. Simple as that. Zoom with your feet. That said, zooming a tiny amount will reduce distortion, I have found, when shooting portraits.

Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.
Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.

USE AN APP OR PRO MODE

Unless your phone has ‘PRO’ mode, (or even if it does) The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor is amazing for shooting with complete control over shooting and for editing. It is available free for Android and IOS.

If your camera has a “PRO’ mode, use it to really take control of your photos. A whole world opens up to new possibilities when you don’t rely on Auto.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

think like a pro

By this I mean, look for different angles, (high, low) shoot through other objects like door frames (frames within frames), leading lines (like a garden path, or a row of trees). Use dynamic angles (tilt your phone). Get creative.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

CONCLUSION

If you think like you are using a ‘real’ camera, you will get more from your photos. If you have the attitude: ‘this is just a photo on my phone’ then that is all you will achieve. Clean your ‘camera’, get creative, play with apps and editing, keep your camera steady and watch those saturation levels.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

I took this photo of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris thirty-five years.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Canon T-70 (what a camera!)

I took this photo of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris thirty-five years ago. A lifetime ago!

The Smiths’ ‘Cemetry Gates’ had not been released then, but I had the maudlin vibe down pat. I was living in London at the time, eighteen, in love, no grey hair or anything!

The wonderful thing about photography is those moments are kept forever. My memory is okay, despite the substance abuse, but nothing compares to a photograph that takes you back to the very time and place of your youth.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

First Roll On Instax Mini 70 Instant Film Camera

Recently shot my first roll of film on my new instax Mini 70 instant film camera by FujiFilm. It’s been a long time since I was excited by a new camera, but this one is so much fun.

My dad had a Polaroid camera back in the 70’s, and I always loved playing with it (film must have been cheaper back then!) Watching the image appear slowly was/is magical.

The camera gives a unique softness, which is highly flattering. It was also great to be able to give my model a few shot on the day, which is really cool.

It also creates an original piece of art- never to be created again-just like a real film camera. These scans are not the greatest, the images are a little crisper in real life.

Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.

I won’t go into to much technical details, but it has several modes including Landscape, Macro, High Key and Selfie Mode and Timer Mode. Built in flash (which in this model you cannot turn off, but will not fire in bright light) which can be srt to Fill In Light.

Film is not super-expensive- around $1.00 per shot, a little more for monochrome. It does not give super-sharp images, but they are really nice, business card sized photos.

There is nothing to really dislike about it. Yes, there are some better models with multiple shots (double exposure and an option to turn off the flash- the INSTAX Mini 90. But I bought this cheap off eBay, just to see if I liked using it.

It takes me back to the 70’s, and for that, I love this little yellow camera.

Do you have one? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

Last week I had the pleasure of working with the wonderful model Hannah Mitsovski. The really exciting thing was the shoot was done completely in artificial light. I love natural light, and my studio and house if filled with great light. In this session I used a combination of continuous lights with big softboxes and flash. So very different to how I usually shoot.

It actually was less of a challenge than I expected. Using quarter power on my on-camera Godox flash provided ample light, enough that I could get Hannah to move as much as possible to create blur. I’m a total sucker for movement and blur in my images, and feel I’m moving away from a very ‘static’ look to my portraits.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

Slowly, I am collecting vintage and vintage-inspired clothing and hats, that Hannah just looked so wonderful in.

Hannah is such a charm to work with and understood the feeling I was aiming for. It is always wonderful to work with model that understands you and your work.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I’m finding digital images a little too crisp for the images I want to create, so slowing the shutter or getting the model to move, gives me the look I really love. I’m a big fan of Ellen von Unwerth and Herb Ritts, who use/used movement to convey an aura of sensuality and excitement in their images.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I’m also now adding a small amount of grain in processing to create a timeless, old-world feel. Using Abobe Camera Raw, I have created a couple of pre-sets, refined over many images, to instantly get the feeling I want to convey-a sexy, old-fashioned and moody portrait.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I also took shots with my Instax Mini instant camera, and will post those soon. Hope you enjoy!

Best wishes,

Don Urban

Camera Porn: Fujica 35 SE

A most beautiful camera

When I decided to start shooting film again, I got very excited with my options. So many cameras out there! So many expensive cameras too. I wanted one that would not break the bank, have manual and auto exposure features and had beautiful vintage good looks too. So I decided on this beautiful camera from Fujica (now Fujifilm).

This is a small all-metal rangefinder camera with a selenium meter and auto-exposure mode. The film advance is on the base and the focusing mechanism is near the viewfinder on the rear-just where your thumb naturally rests.

I wear glasses, and I found finding the focus pretty hard with this camera. SLR’s are way easier than using a rangefinder. Half my shots were out of focus, which were a real disappointment. Maybe I just need to get used to it. (The camera, not the shooting out of focus!)

“From the solid heft of its die-cast metal body, to the soft purr of the shutter making the exposure, you have in your hands the feeling of ease and proud mystery such as you have never before experienced. Each operating control answers smoothly and swiftly to the touch of a finger. Your subject is easily focused in the a viewfinder that indicates the edges of your composition within a frame of golden light. Easily read numerals inside windows give you immediate data on your lens opening and shutter speed. The rapid-wind lever swiftly transports film to its next exposure, winds the shutter and automatically prevents double exposures…”

Fujica 35-se specifications

  • Fujica 35 SE 35mm rangefinder camera
  • Lens FUJINON 45mm 1:1.9 (6 elements in 4 groups)
  • Shutter speeds B, 1-1/500
  • Focus range 3ft – ∞
  • Shutter Fuji Synchro MXL
  • Diaphragm f1.9 – f22
  • ASA 12-800
  • Exposure modes Manual & Auto, shutter priority
  • Rear focusing wheel near viewfinder
  • Built in selenium meter cross coupled with shutter
  • Top plate focusing scale and depth of field indicator
  • Film advance lever on bottom plate
  • Self timer 10 sec
  • Filter 35.5mm, screw-in
  • Side mounted rewind crank
  • Split image rangefinder and parallax compensation
  • Manual available here
  • (Please throw Mike coffee money if you download the manual)
Fujica 35-SE (1959) Analog camera
Fujica 35-SE (1959) Analog camera
Fujica 35-SE (1959) Analog camera
Fujica 35-SE (1959) Analog camera

Fujica 35-se test shots

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting they say, so here are some shots from the first roll. For my first roll in almost six years, it is a surprise to see how everything is so soft (and how out of focus) images are with a manual focus film camera. The film was Kodak Portra 400.

Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Carla. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Carla. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Lucia. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Lucia. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Mushrooms. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Mushrooms. Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Culburra Beach Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.
Culburra Beach Fujica 35SE Kodak Portra 400 film. Pro scan.

Not too sure if I will keep the camera at the moment. I do have another film camera, and and another instant camera purchase I am watching on eBay. Who knows? My main beef was focusing, plus, the 400 film is way to grainy for my taste. May have to put another roll through it before I decide if it’s a keeper. Will keep you updated!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

Editing In Adobe Camera Raw

I love Adobe Camera Raw. Most, sometimes all of my photo editing gets done in Raw. Because I only shoot in RAW format, Camera Raw is a perfect program to do all my editing in.

Originally, I loved developing my images very naturalistic, but now I love a bit of punch and the program makes it so easy to create the style I like, and more importantly, to apply that style across many images.

This is not a tutorial, as a celebration of such as simple and powerful program.

Before and after.

I find it easy to pull all the images in a set into Camera Raw, selecting all, and adjusting one image, while applying my changes to all images at once. Then, I go back and tweak each slightly.

Yes, this can be done in Lightroom too, but the interface and simplicity of Raw is just hard to beat. It is simple, clean and fast.

Of course, Camera Raw is non-destructive, and all edits are saved alongside the original RAW file.

Two lots of presets I created. One warmer tones, and one cooler look.
Creating a warmer look. (Border done in Photoshop)
Getting punchier and stronger images instantly by creating presets and applying them.
One the left, the original image, on the right, applying some simple adjustments to create a stronger, more dynamic image.

Do you love Adobe Camera Raw as much as I do? Let me know, I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, best wishes,

Don