Images of the Day

Images of the Day

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Woli Arole & Yemi’s Pre-wedding Shoot is Giving Us That Vintage Feel

If you’re a lover of love and comedy, then this is definitely going to get you as excited as we are. It’s a beautiful case of when the joy giver finds his own special source of joy. Now, that’s what we call a complete win.

Brilliant Nigerian actor and comedian, Toyin Bayegun popularly knows as Woli Arole and the love of his life, Yemi is set to take that highly coveted walk down the aisle. Their love story started “somewhere in London” as the comedian mentioned in one of his Instagram posts. Now, the love birds are stepping into the next phase of their career and we’re absolutely excited for them. We can’t help but love these beautiful photos from their pre-wedding shoot. The vintage asooke is giving us that timeless love vibe and we’re here for it. The huge smiles on their faces and undeniable chemistry have us drooling and we wouldn’t have it any other way! 😅🤭

Check out all their beautiful pre-wedding photos below.



Bride-to-be: #YemiOlogo
Groom-to-be: @officialarole
Makeup: @diolsclassics
Outfits: @tsignaturebespoke
Photography: @sojioni


5 Tips for Taking Good Portraits in Ugly Locations

A lot of the time, you have complete control over a portrait, including where you take it and thus, the background that complements your subject(s). But in other situations (wedding photography, for example), you do not get much of a choice and may be stuck with a boring, distracting, or simply unpleasing background. If that is the case, this helpful video tutorial will give you five tips for still making professional portraits. 

Coming to you from Katelyn James, this great video tutorial will show you how to take good portraits in bad locations. Unfortunately, you can’t always get a good background and you have to make do with what you have been given, but I think it is important to remember how differently a photo can be rendered versus what is seen by the naked eye. It only takes a very small patch of something interesting or aesthetically pleasing to serve as a backdrop (particularly if you are using a long lens) and a bit of careful angling and composition, so even the most boring or ugly environments can generally produce good photos with a bit of patient scouting. Check out the video above for the full rundown from James. 


The week in 38 photos

Lightning strikes near the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street, also known as George Floyd Square, in Minneapolis on Tuesday, April 6. The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin started in Minneapolis last week, 10 months after Floyd’s death. Joshua Lott/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Stanford players celebrate after Arizona’s Aari McDonald, bottom right, missed her shot at the end of the national championship game on Sunday, April 4. Stanford won its third national title in women’s basketball — and its first in 29 years — with a 54-53 victory. See the best photos from the tournament Elsa/Getty Images
A health worker at a charity hospital in Belém, Brazil, sings and prays for a Covid-19 patient as part of Easter celebrations on Sunday, April 4. In pictures: The coronavirus pandemic Tarso Sarraf/AFP/Getty Images
Law enforcement officials investigate the scene after a man rammed his car into a police barrier outside the US Capitol on Friday, April 2. Officer William “Billy” Evans was killed in the attack, and another officer was injured. The suspect exited the vehicle with a knife and was fatally shot by police, the US Capitol Police said in a statement. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
NASA’s Perseverance rover took a selfie on Mars with the Ingenuity helicopter on Tuesday, April 6. The 4-pound helicopter is sitting about 13 feet away from the rover. See photos from Perseverance’s mission to Mars NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles pose for a photo together in Windsor, England. The photo, which was taken in the garden of Frogmore House, was released on Friday, April 2. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Fans fill the seats of Globe Life Field for the Texas Rangers’ season opener in Arlington on Monday, April 5. It was one of the first full-capacity sporting events that we’ve seen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Jeffrey McWhorter/AP
A fan attaches balloons for rapper DMX outside of his hospital in White Plains, New York, on Tuesday, April 6. DMX, who had suffered a heart attack, died in the hospital, according to his family on Friday. He was 50. Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs shoots a long 3-pointer to beat UCLA in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 3. The dramatic buzzer-beater gave the Bulldogs a 93-90 overtime win and a spot in the national championship game, which they lost to Baylor. In pictures: March Madness 2021 Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Ana Maria Moreno Portillo embraces her daughter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, after they were deported from the United States on Monday, April 5. They are from Guatemala. Christian Chavez/AP

This aerial photo, taken on Friday, April 2, shows rescue workers at the site of a deadly train derailment in eastern Taiwan, just north of Hualien. An eight-car passenger train carrying 498 people derailed in a tunnel, killing at least 50 people and injuring dozens more, authorities said. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images
Ashley Solis, one of the massage therapists who has accused NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, wipes away tears while reading a statement in Houston on Tuesday, April 6. More than 20 women have filed civil lawsuits against Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing. Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle/AP

People watch migratory birds at a wetland near the Yalu River in Dandong, China, on Sunday, April 4. AFP/Getty Images

A rare albino wallaby peers out of its mother’s pouch at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Auckley, England, on Wednesday, April 7. Danny Lawson/PA Images/Getty Images

Lee Elder acknowledges applause Thursday, April 8, as he joins Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters at the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. In 1975, Elder became the first African American to ever play in the Masters. See the best pictures from this year’s Masters Matt Slocum/AP

A specially designed vehicle transports the mummy of King Ramesses III from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization during a parade in Cairo on Saturday, April 3. Islam Safwat/Getty Images

The Easter Bunny makes a surprise appearance during a White House press briefing on Monday, April 5. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Cemetery workers in São Paulo, Brazil, lower a coffin at the Vila Formosa cemetery on Wednesday, April 7. The person had died from complications related to Covid-19. On Tuesday, Brazil broke its previous daily record for Covid-19 fatalities. Andre Penner/AP

Victoria Francis, left, and Kylie Welker wrestle Friday, April 2, at the Olympic Team Trials in Fort Worth, Texas. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A bus was set on fire in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Wednesday, April 7. Unionists and nationalists in the country have been clashing with police and each other. Unrest first broke out last week amid rising tensions relating to Brexit and unionist anger over a decision by police not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions during the funeral of a former leading IRA figure. In west Belfast on Wednesday, rioters clashed along the so-called peace line dividing predominantly unionist and nationalist communities. Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Baylor’s Flo Thamba blocks a shot by Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert during the NCAA Tournament final on Monday, April 5. Baylor won 86-70 to win its first national title in men’s basketball. Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos/Getty Images
This aerial photo, taken on Saturday, April 3, shows a reservoir near the old Piney Point phosphate plant in Bradenton, Florida. The Manatee County Public Safety Department declared a state of emergency and ordered an evacuation of the reservoir site and surrounding areas after a leak was discovered in a containment wall. There was concern that the leak could cause a collapse of phosphogypsum stacks, waste that is created during fertilizer production and phosphate rock mining. Tiffany Tompkins/The Bradenton Herald/AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from right, attends the evidence-hearing stage of his corruption trial in Jerusalem on Monday, April 5. Netanyahu faces charges in three separate cases. He did not speak during Monday’s proceedings but has previously denied the charges, describing them as a media-fueled witch hunt against him. Abir Sultan/Pool/AP

Leona Mezga, who turned 102 years old on Saturday, April 3, waves to well-wishers at her assisted-living facility in Streetsboro, Ohio. Her birthday celebrations included a parade, cupcakes and the Easter Bunny. Lisa Scalfaro/Kent Ravenna Record-Courier/USA Today Network

The Rev. John Kellogg, rector of Christ Church, wears a protective mask Sunday, April 4, as he distributes communion at a sunrise Easter service that was held at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC. Al Drago/Reuters

Swimmers enjoy the Jubilee Pool in Penzance, England, on Tuesday, April 6. The community-run pool had just reopened to the public. Cameron Smith/Getty Images

Singer Miley Cyrus performs during the Tribute to Frontline Heroes, which took place between Final Four basketball games in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 3. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos/Getty Images

Leanne Montenegro, who doesn’t like the sight of needles, covers her eyes as she receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Miami on Monday, April 5. Lynne Sladky/AP

A man wears a mask of German Chancellor Angela Merkel while protesting Covid-19 restrictions in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday, April 3. Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Tampa Bay’s Barclay Goodrow, left, and Columbus’ Eric Robinson fall down while battling for the puck during an NHL game in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday, April 1. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Victor Tripiana reaches out to a plastic sheet to touch the hand of his daughter-in-law Silvia Fernandez Sotto at his assisted-living home in Tandil, Argentina, on Sunday, April 4. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, residents have not been able to have physical contact with their relatives. Natacha Pisarenko/AP

This aerial photo, taken on Tuesday, April 6, shows damaged houses after a cyclone triggered flash floods in East Flores, Indonesia. Aditya Pradana Putra/Antara Foto/Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson eats ice cream during a visit to the Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park in Perranporth, England, on Wednesday, April 7. Johnson was visiting businesses to see how they were preparing to reopen. Tom Nicholson/WPA/Getty Images

A seagull cries out at a beach in Timmendorfer Strand, Germany, on Tuesday, April 6. A snowstorm is approaching in the background. Michael Probst/AP

A person wears a Boba Fett “Star Wars” helmet while on the subway in New York City on Tuesday, April 6. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images


Wedding Photography Post-Pandemic: Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

If you’re a wedding photographer who has had a change of heart about your chosen path in this industry as lockdown restrictions and subsequent client cancellations continue, you are not the only one. It’s never too late to make a career change!

It would be surprising if being confined to your home for prolonged periods didn’t make you contemplate your current life and work choices as well as future plans or goals. I think it is safe to say that most of us have gone through this process in some shape or form.

Some photographers used this quiet period to modify their existing business strategy to be ready for the post-pandemic world, some paused their business and turned to any available work opportunities to support their families, while others, like myself, were faced with the somber realization that this may not actually be the career we want for our future even when weddings eventually resume.

The wedding industry follows seasonal fluctuations in bookings where certain periods of the year are busy and booked for most full-time wedding photographers in that region, followed by quiet periods where fewer weddings take place. This makes it complicated to plan personal life events, especially for photographers who want to start a family or already have children.

It’s an emotionally charged job that requires the photographer to deal with anything that may be thrown their way before, during, or after the wedding, and forces them to maintain a sense of alertness throughout the year. It’s not just a technical or artistic job, it’s certainly a social and physical one, too. Having said that, it can be a highly rewarding profession for the right person but it can equally slowly encroach upon your health and personal life if you are not careful.

If you don’t have what it takes to sell your personality to potential clients during a consultation or if your presence at the wedding causes discomfort to others, a good portfolio will only get you so far for so long. You are the face of your business and your personality is an important aspect of it.

I believe that is one of the reasons why wedding photographers, such as myself, begin to unintentionally blur the lines between what is considered personal and what is professional life. Being so emotionally involved in a job can cause distress when it comes to resolving clients’ issues or demands, setting boundaries regarding communication, or sacrificing your own family life and mental or physical health.

In the pre-pandemic world, I thoroughly enjoyed the highs of this business but I already had an inkling that it would not be something I dedicated the coming decades of my professional life to. Physically, I could document a full-day wedding with no visible problems but underneath, I often suffered from headaches which were exacerbated by the lack of mental breaks during a wedding day. I generally had to keep the day after the wedding free with no appointments or shoots because I needed it free just to recharge. This cycle had the additional side effect of hurting my personal relationship: I would lose more quality time that I could have spent with my partner either shooting or recovering.

Lockdown brought this issue to the forefront for me and I was forced to deal with the situation at hand instead of brushing it under the carpet and letting yet another wedding season come around, which would leave me dissatisfied with my work and the responsibilities I take on. I believe that there are moments in our lives when we already know what we need to do but we just seek that extra push to make the change which can be daunting because it’s taking us to unfamiliar territory.

Personally, what made me more comfortable about my choice to leave the wedding industry was seeing that I am not the only one who feels this way. Lisa, a U.K. wedding photographer whose real name has been changed to protect her privacy, revealed to me that 2022 will be her last year of weddings. During the pandemic, she realized that they are not as profitable for her when broken down into hourly pay and evaluating that against the time she is forced to spend away from her family, even taking into consideration that she is one of the highest-priced photographers in the area. The cancellations and postponements during the pandemic left her scared to rely on weddings as a dependable source of income, while a shift towards family shoots offered the flexibility she was looking for.

Similarly, photographer Chloé Grayson from Fox and Owl initially saw wedding photography as her dream career. That is until she had her first baby and her priorities and goals shifted. The long hours away when she was tasked with photographing weddings across the country conflicted with the gentle attachment parenting approach Grayson and her partner had adopted for their newborn. This wasn’t made easier by the pandemic when a flurry of postponement and cancellation emails came in, which caused financial loss, unpaid admin time that spanned across several months, and mental stress.

Looking into the future, Grayson is navigating her business in a new direction to focus on design work and smaller sessions or less intense full-day bookings, which is something that suits her as a family-orientated working mother.

Just like the two examples above, others are also seeing their career steer towards more frequent but smaller scale shoots. Nadine Boyd, also a U.K.-based photographer, has removed wedding photography from her website as she’s seeing out the existing bookings while transitioning to what gives her the most joy and job satisfaction: family photography. This type of work doesn’t require as much preparation nor does it take up the whole weekend, making it more manageable, especially for those with younger children at home.

The family aspect of this pandemic-induced career change should not be underestimated. Having to plan pregnancy around weddings can be difficult because jobs are booked at least a year in advance. Add pandemic postponements in the mix, and you have families waiting at least one or two additional years to have a child while they are obliged to finalize all of the bookings that have had to move their date due to COVID-19.

The time we were forced to spend at home under lockdown restrictions has given us the opportunity to examine our work-life balance and how we intend to navigate this in the future. It is not easy to make major changes in our professional life but knowing that there are many in this industry who feel just as unsure, whether they are wedding photographers or operate in a different photography field, can be a consolation to the rest of us.

There are many other reasons why photographers are reconsidering the future of their wedding business but the one thing that brings all these stories together is that this period of prolonged uncertainty has given us clarity about the changes we do want to make.

Image credits: Photos by Anete Lusina.


Opinion | What Happens to Theaters When They’re Closed?

The ghost light

does not sputter or fade.

It stands as a sentinel

dynamite stick, whose

bulbous flare attracts

moths and phantom players.

The faceless clock

without hands cannot call

the actors to places.

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Costumes from “Tina: The
Tina Turner Musical.” The stage
has been silent for 395 days.

Metropolitan Opera House
Wigs from operas past and future. The last production held on this stage was Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” on March 11, 2020.

Metropolitan Opera House
Wigs from operas past and future. The last production held on this stage was Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” on March 11, 2020.

The Public Theater The set of “Coal Country,” designed by Richard Hoover. The production was shut down nine days after opening.

Rows of theater

seats, covered with tired

fabric, today have

the appearance of padded,

worn tombstone slabs.

Ghosts of seated audiences

with the remembrance

of theatrical things past.

Smudged lipstick

kisses on the quick-change

dressing-room mirror.

Costume dummies

standing as mysterious

as Stonehenge.

Metropolitan Opera House Mannequins in storage backstage.

Among the alleys

and canyons, a lost city, where

overcrowded civilizations

once thrived with

light and storytelling.

Walter Kerr Theatre “Hadestown” Kay Trinidad’s dressing area. All performances have been cancelled through May 30, 2021.

Metropolitan Opera House Though some performing arts spaces remain closed, workers nonetheless keep guard over the lobby and the Grand Staircase.

On the anniversary

of your demise,

I am pounding on your chest,

O my fabulous invalid!

Come back!

Re-enter our ruined orbit.

We are handing

you back our hearts

to be broken.

Walter Kerr Theatre André De Shields’s dressing room for “Hadestown.”

I need the collective

unison of gasps, the shared

narcotic of laughter.

Return to me the inability

to catch my breath again.

Open padlocked playhouse

doors, where my name

is carved on the shuttered

box-office window.

Vineyard Theatre The set remains from “Dana H.” by Lucas Hnath, the show that was running
when the theater closed in March 2020.

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre The proscenium arch for “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”

Allow, with the pricking

of our thumbs, the

rumble of the floorboards,

the dousing of the ghost

light, allow the cry:

Open locks, whoever knocks!

Walter Kerr Theatre A balcony view of the set of “Hadestown.”

Devin Oktar Yalkin is a photographer based in New York City.

Tazewell Thompson, an award-winning director, playwright and librettist, is the chair of opera studies at the Manhattan School of Music.

Cover image is of the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center.


Here’s What I Learned From Not Judging My Work

A problem that many photographers face is being unhappy with their photos. This ends up running shoots and makes matters even worse. Some never fully experience the joy of creating that photography can bring. 

Whenever we shoot, we inevitably check the photo on the back of the screen and assess. Every little detail, we obsess over, every small thing, we try to correct. Striving for perfectionism is within many of us. With fashion and portrait photography, there are often some things you can’t control. Sometimes, there isn’t a way of making the subject look exactly how you need them to. You did all you can, but the photos are not coming out right. You’re not confident, and if it’s a paid client, they feel that. They get even more worried, and it’s a spiral down from there.

Judgment Is Something I Struggled With

I had this problem over and over again. It came from my anxiety about having paid clients, which is probably what most photographers also deal with. Let’s face it, no one wants to screw up on a paid job. I remember being very worried that my photography career was ruined because I didn’t photograph the client how they wanted (in hindsight, those images were pretty awesome for what they were).

Without realizing it, I was doing what was natural yet destructive to my work — judging. But what’s the difference between self-critique and judging? Well, the line is very fine indeed. Knowing where this line is, came as a steep learning curve for me. Judgment is destructive, while self-criticism is constructive. A much-loved book of mine, Big Magic, claims that we are either creative or destructive. I chose to be creatively critical, not destructively judgmental.

First Steps Towards Being Constructively Critical

The first step that I took when trying to even begin to understand what judgment and what criticism is, was just observing my feelings during a photoshoot. I asked myself what do I feel about the photos? 

What I found out is that I often look for mistakes and analyze the images more than just observing them for what they really are. Of course, this didn’t take me one two three photoshoots, it took me several months of consciously asking myself this question. I caught my negative judgment of the photo. I consciously told myself that I was spending time on judgment when I could really have been just having fun and creating at the moment. After some time, I saw my photos as simply interesting. That said, I was interested in exploring the photo by changing things up. Let the universe guide me to the right outcome, so to speak. Let’s be frank, not everything we change in the photo actually improves the photo. 

Creating in the moment is a huge part of this. While I am keeping this photography-related, I will point out that by not judging myself all the time, I generally became more positive. When shooting, however, I almost never look at the tethering station. I am there, and I am shooting. If I’m missing the focus of a flash is not firing, someone will inevitably point it out. That’s why I like to have a digital tech on set. If you can’t have a digital tech, set everything up, pre-light, and shoot away. Don’t check your camera after every photo. It shows the insecurities you may have about your work. Approach a photoshoot with excitement, and when shooting, try not to think too much about what the final photo will look like. It will look interesting, I promise.

There Are No Good or Bad Photos, Only Interesting Photos You Should Be Grateful For

I strongly believe that dividing between good and bad photos makes the matters worse. It’s easy to say that a photo is good, even easier that it’s bad. Ironically, photos I personally love tend to do quite badly online. The point is, the moment you stop looking at your photos as good or bad, but instead, consider them interesting you will progress a lot faster. Say something like this: “wow, this is interesting! Where can I take this next?”

Even if now, you’re judging a photo as bad, I’d propose looking at it as if it’s a lesson. Be grateful to the universe for offering you this. Say you set your camera wrong, and a backlit portrait turned out dark. “Wow, this is interesting, what can I learn from this? Let’s see what opening up the aperture will do.” After adjusting the settings, you may get a much nicer photo and be happy that you learned this new technique. If it weren’t for the lesson from the universe, you wouldn’t have known. Be grateful. 

Love Your Work, or Else No One Will

When creating you will inevitably make errors, or at least what you consider errors. An overexposed image isn’t inherently wrong, nor is an underexposed one. There are images I love that happened by accident and are technically wrong. I’ve been told that they’re rubbish, and they’ve not rated five stars on here, but so what? I loved shooting the photo, and that’s what matters to me personally. While that sounds egotistical, art is so subjective that if you don’t give your work some love, you will probably be incredibly susceptible to the negative critique that you inevitably will get online (we all do, there isn’t a single artist who is universally loved). 

Closing Thoughts 

I think that the key to being happy with your work is constructive criticism, not destructive judgment. This is the strategy I employed to be much happier with my photography, and so far, it has worked wonders. I strongly encourage you to read the book Big Magic if you’re interested more in the topic. A review of Big Magic has been done recently on here too, perhaps read that first. 

Do you also struggle with judgment? Perhaps are you unhappy with some of the work? Maybe you have anything to add to the article? Let me know in the comments, I always read them! 

Feel free to share the article with anyone who will find it useful, that way you’re helping them discover something new. 

Lead image: Model: Niki Toth, Agency: Weareone Management, Hair and Makeup: Csilla Gődeny, Jewelery: Ginte Studio, Mood and Drection: Hadisha Sovetova


Testing the Affordable Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8 for Portraiture

Fast glass is more affordable than ever before, with brands pushing quality and lowering prices to attract photographers away from the big names. But how good are they?

Around six or seven years ago, I needed (read: wanted) an ultra-wide-angle lens for a project and a trip. I hadn’t used one before, and the more I searched, the more I realized why: they’re expensive. Or rather, if you want one that has a wide maximum aperture for low light, then you should expect to pay some money for the privilege. Then I found Samyang (also goes under Rokinon) and their offerings at a significant discount from my camera brand’s lenses. There was a trade-off, however. The lenses were manual focus and the front element of the UWA lens was so bulbous that filters were borderline impossible.

Things have moved quickly in the last seven years though. Now, not only is there a wider selection of these sorts of lenses, but they come — for the most part, at least — with autofocus. They are marginally more expensive than they used to be, but that’s a fair exchange. In this video, Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge heads out with the Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 RF, Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF, and Canon EOS R6 to see how they perform with natural light portraiture.

To my eye, the results are superb, and with a little tweaking in post to eke out some extra contrast, the results are beautiful. It doesn’t hurt that the model is stunning and photographing Indian traditional dress and henna is a lot of fun though!

Do you own any Samyang or Rokinon lenses? What do you make of them?


How To Successfully Use Blur in Your Photographs

Blur is generally seen as a negative thing in photographs. Sure, it can fully ruin an otherwise good image or take away from a moment that would have otherwise been wonderful to document. But, blur can also be an amazing and helpful tool, one that can add a lot to an image, as long as it is used intentionally and thoughtfully.

Motion Blur Versus Camera Shake

Before we go any further, we need to first distinguish between camera shake and motion blur. Both of these are due to slow shutter speed, but one is purposeful and a creative method to be used and the other is not and should be avoided. Camera shake results from either hand-holding a camera or using a subpar tripod in combination with a slow shutter speed. The entire image will have some degree of blur when camera shake is the issue. While photography rules are made to be broken, generally speaking, an entirely blurry image is not a good thing. The lack of a defined subject will typically create a confusing image for viewers, and it can also be a visually jarring and unpleasant result. Motion blur, on the other hand, is something that is used intentionally (happy accidents do happen, however) to convey movement, tell a story, or add interest in an image. 

The easiest way to avoid camera shake is to use a tripod, however, that isn’t always feasible or even necessary. Instead, shooting with a shutter speed that is just fast enough to leave the scene sharp but the moving subject blurred is essential. The general rule of thumb is to keep your shutter speed faster than the reciprocal of the focal length of your lens if you are hand-holding the camera in order to ensure a sharp image. If you are using a 50mm, that means shooting faster than 1/50 s. If you have the tendency to have shaky hands like me, however, going around a full stop faster, something like 1/100 s, is the safest bet when the situation allows for it. 

Shutter Speed and Motion Blur

As touched on above, blur results from two things: slow shutter speed and moving subjects and/or a camera in motion. Unfortunately, there isn’t one shutter speed that can be recommended to blur motion, since the way that motion comes across in your images depends on a handful of factors. The speed of the movement is an obvious one, but the direction of movement, how far the moving subject is from the camera, and your focal length all have an impact on what shutter speed is necessary when it comes to achieving blur (or freezing motion, for that matter). It also isn’t necessarily a case of the slower the better, as too slow of a shutter speed can result in your subject being so blurred that it isn’t even visible (on the extreme end, that is). At the end of the day, it takes some trial and error and practice to know what is best for any given situation. 

Types of Motion Blur

While there are two broad types of blur (camera shake and motion blur), motion blur itself can be divided up further into categories. To keep things simple, I’m going to discuss two main types here today: blurred subject and sharp background and blurred background and sharp subject (also known as panning). There are plenty of other types of motion blur, such as light painting, star trails, shutter drag, and so on, so if blur in images intrigues you, I highly encourage you to keep digging and look into those types as well!

In order to capture a blurred subject with a sharp background, you need to have a few things in place. First, the camera needs to be mostly stationary. It can be handheld, as long as you have a fast enough shutter speed that only the moving subject will be blurred, but it should remain in one place for exposure. Then you need, obviously, a moving subject! In the example below, I was photographing a ceramic artist who was spinning a pot on the wheel. Because she was holding relatively still and I was holding the camera still, she remained sharp in the image while the wheel and the pot ended up blurred. Also, because of the speed at which the wheel was spinning, I didn’t need a very slow shutter speed to get blur here; 1/250 s was slow enough to do what I wanted in this case.

Panning is the second main category of motion blur. Panning is a result of the camera moving in the same direction as a subject in motion, leaving the subject sharp but the background blurred. This can be tricky to get just right, as the direction of movement of both the camera and subject matters significantly, as does the speed of both of those things. Ideally, the subject and camera are moving at roughly the same speed and in the same direction in order to maintain a sufficiently sharp subject. Panning can create a really dramatic and active image. You typically see panning with photographs of vehicles, but there are lots of creative options out there for this technique! 

When To Use Blur

Perhaps the biggest conundrum is when to use blurred movement and when to freeze that motion instead. When used correctly, blur can add a lot to an image. It can tell more of a story than a perfectly crisp image would, giving a real sense of action and movement to an image. I love to take some images with motion blur when I photograph artists, as it can give more insight into how they work. For example, the painter below uses short, quick brushstrokes to blend her paint on the canvas, which is more evident with blur as opposed to without. The blur here adds information that is helpful for the viewer and doesn’t take away from the overall quality or feel of the image. 

Water is a frequent subject of motion blur, in part because it helps emphasize the power of a water source and also conveys the passage of time as water continuously flows on. Blurred water in the right circumstances can also create an almost otherworldly feel, which can be a powerful thing for an image. Such was the case with this image, taken on a bright and sunny afternoon using a neutral density filter in order to blur the ocean waves washing over the rocks. The image would have been much more mundane and boring if I would have used a fast shutter speed to freeze the action of the small waves.

Lastly, blur can add a wide variety of emotions to images, depending on how exactly it is used. Portraits are a great subject for blur in order to express strong emotions, such as this image below. The model being blurred creates a sense of uneasiness and sadness that would not be there were they entirely sharp. But, it is important to note that it is not so much blur that we cannot make out the features of the subject, which is key. If the figure was entirely distorted, it would be difficult to understand the image and the same emotions would not come across.

At the end of the day, blur is like most things in life. Used in moderation, it can be a powerful and helpful tool to have in your photography skills arsenal. But, too much blur, whether that be in one single image or using it too frequently, can end up being a negative thing that takes away from your work. Asking yourself what you are trying to convey and what style would best lend itself to that is going to be the key to using blur successfully (and purposefully) in your images. 

How and when do you like to use blur in your images? If you think it is always a poor choice, why is that?

Images used with permission.


The Tragedy Of Khloé Kardashian’s Image Freakout

Khloé Kardashian, a woman with virtually unlimited financial resources, was so bothered by an untouched picture of herself that she aggressively pursued people who reposted it, releasing a lengthy explanation and an Instagram Live that suggested she’s so damaged by public dissection of her body, she craves total control of her image. The dust-up was headline news in the pop culture world all week.

Piers Morgan compared the Photoshopping and Facetuning Khloé uses to fake news, arguing it hurts girls. Snooki, meanwhile, asked Twitter followers this week to send pictures of her worst looks so she could explain them. It was hilarious.

Staff Editor Madeline Osburn and Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky break down the controversy below.

Emily Jashinsky: Is there anything to that juxtaposition of Snooki and Khloé?

Madeline Osburn: I have no sympathy for Khloé’s complaints about having to “live up to the impossible standards” set for her when she is, quite literally, creating those impossible standards for everyone by posting Photoshopped images and scrubbing the internet of photos she doesn’t like. The argument that the toxic Instagram culture hurts girls is an obvious one but still worth pointing out, as more and more girls and young women are pursuing Instagram influencer as a serious career path.

The juxtaposition of Khloé and Snooki is a good example of two different ways that pursuit can end. You either let your sizeable following convince you that you must be a compelling protagonist who is occasionally attacked by the mob for heroic pursuits, or you use the pseudo-celebrity to make money and laugh at yourself and the absurdity of it all.

EJ: You make a good point about how this is essentially a vicious cycle: By reacting to society’s ostensibly cruel standards with perfection, she’s reinforcing them.

I thought her statement was interesting to the extent it revealed how deeply the early days of Kardashian fame wounded her, when she was constantly mocked as the big Kardashian and the different sister. I get it. But while it may be personally cathartic for her to obsessively use Facetune and Photoshop, it’s self-defeating for society more broadly in that she’s actually empowering the impossible standards of perfection she opposes.

Joan Rivers predicated her vicious celebrity comedy on the argument that rich and famous people should be able to take a joke at their own expense. Nevertheless, it was a little troubling for Rivers to be confronted by Elizabeth Taylor in the flesh, knowing her jabs had landed personally. That, of course, didn’t stop her — and thank goodness it didn’t. But the Rivers mentality is clearly what Snooki embraces.

On the one hand, it’s totally understandable that Khloé would be hurt by the public criticism, but on the other hand, it’s mystifying to imagine having all the resources in the world and not being able to muster some Snooki energy in making peace with reality.

MO: It’s mystifying that after all the intense drama and scrutiny Khloé has faced as part of being in the world’s most famous family, she couldn’t handle a photo with bad lighting. She’s right that the media has treated her horribly for years. So this incident really highlights that she can deal with rumors about having a different dad or the father of the child she’s carrying publicly cheating on her, but not the leaking of a bikini pic.

It’s very odd, and I think that’s why this story has been so widely talked about, and for an entire week. It’s really a non-story, but her reaction to it made it the whole story. Some Snooki energy would have saved her a lot of time and money and grief.

EJ: It’s also interesting because Khloé has always sort of been admired for her psychological grit, after going through everything with Lamar and Tristan and fertility and generally being seen as the odd sister out. But isn’t she the most likable Kardashian? I mean, I’ll admit her statement actually did induce some sympathy, just thinking about how much it would suck for anyone, even a multimillionaire, to have a chunk of the entire world thinking they’re fat and dumb and talking smack about them. But it makes me sad that after all these years, and with all of her resources, Khloé still can’t absolutely own her actual body.

In the statement, she totally owned up to loving the digital touch-ups, so I can at least give her some credit for that, almost like a digital version of Dolly Parton joking, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” But Khloé isn’t joking. She can’t see the humor in it. And that seems kind of tragic for someone so privileged.

Emily Jashinsky is Culture Editor at The Federalist. Madeline Osburn is Staff Editor at The Federalist and Producer of the Federalist Radio Hour.