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5 of My Best Tips for Getting Through Airport Security Fast

At one point or another, we may have experienced getting stuck at the airport security due to reasons we can’t seem to understand. At times, it is hard to comprehend why airport officials have to stop us just because we bring liquids, and other personal items.

As a traveler, I have gone through all types of delays and getting stuck at different airports. However, wherever you may be, and where you are headed to, airport rules are basically the same. Therefore, I would like to list out 5 of my best tips for getting through airport security fast:

Tip #1 – Dress comfortably

Airport security dictates the need to remove shoes, belts, and other metallic accessories when passing through X-ray machines. Thus, if you want to get through fast, make sure to dress accordingly.

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Why I Left My Corporate Job to Travel

To some, the decision I made to quit my corporate job in order to travel is simply unbelievable. After all, at a young age, I have already achieved things that some of my older colleagues are still trying to obtain. I am at the peak of my career, and, I must say, I am successful. Because of this, many of my friends seemed surprised when I decided to submit my resignation, and finally do the thing I want the most – travel.

Travel is not just my escape – it’s my happiness.

Granted, the complexities of work are undeniable. Existing in the corporate world means a lot of sacrifices. I always had to brush shoulders with people I barely know. I barely manage having a time for my own. At the end of the day, I occasionally feel headaches and stress after spending long hours at work.

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Types of Photography

Types of Photography

In general terms, photography is the art of taking photographs. There are several sub-genres of photography that has its own set of guidelines and unique perspective on the art. General photography equipment can be used for the most common types of photography. This kind of equipment is easily accessible to many people. It is wise to explore the different facets of photography if you are considering becoming a photographer.

The most popular type of photography is portrait photography.  The photographer who is taking the portrait is responsible for capturing not only an image of a person, but also capture the personality and spirit of the subject. Portrait photography is done in a studio with controlled lighting setups, but this can take place anywhere people are.

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Photography for Beginners

Photography for Beginners

Whether you are seeking a career in photography or just a hobby, basic photography courses can teach you more about taking photos. The courses focus on the basics, but sometimes they teach more about how to use your camera. You may even earn a certificate for some programs in photography.

Many photographers find their own aesthetic standards on their own when starting out, but a photography class can teach the different elements of a photograph and how to examine it. Once you  have learned the basics of what a photograph is composed of, you then gain the ability to judge photography using your own  preference against those proposed by standard classical photography.

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5 tricks to step up your photography game

With the advancement of technology, photography has become more and more popular among the crowds. Entry level digital cameras are better and cheaper than ever. Even the cellphone cameras can take photos with acceptable quality. Add to this the numerous social websites which make sharing photos as easy as pressing a button for the users. All and all, it is safe to say that a considerable percentage of people consider themselves experienced in photography!

These changes produce opportunities as well as challenges for professional and semi-professional photographers (by professional photographer I mean the people who make their living by taking photos). The question is: how can pro photobugs separate themselves from the crowd and have decisive advantage over others? In this post I try to list the five main points which I think can address this question.

1. Practice your basics:
It seems trivial, but I see many photos by people from the industry which lack the basic requirements of an acceptable photo. As a photographer you need to know at least the basics about lighting and composition. How can you master them? By practice.
Many times we get so comfortable in our usual routine which we do not want to move even slightly away from our comfort zone. We do not want to practice anything new. To challenge myself, I sometimes spend days capturing photos in genres which would not have any monetary pay back for me. It helps me review the basics and have a better understanding.

2. Know your equipment:
The bare minimum is knowing your camera’s capabilities regarding what you are trying to do. For example, if you shoot in low lights on a regular basis, you need to know the maximum ISO in which you can capture a photo that can would be acceptable after the post process.

3. Know what you have at your dispense:
This has two parts. First: know your surroundings. If you shoot portraits or weddings, go scouting in your local from time to time. Find the good locations in parks, exquisite back alleys, interesting buildings, or rooftops which you can acquire access to.
The second part is about the digital world. Do you know about the software packages which can perform what you want? Can any of them take your work to a new level or simplify the process? Do you know where to find free fonts? Do you know what fonts you have on your computer?

4. Do one more creative thing:
The work of a photographer does not end with the click of a shutter, it starts there! Try making creative byproducts using your photos. I personally enjoy making quote-images of the quotes which I like and share them online. I usually use Arial font to create a neutral feel. You would be surprised how far some of them can go. Do not forget to put your logo on the photo as well!

5. Act like a pro:
It is very important not only to have the skills of a pro photographer, but to be perceived as one. This includes having standards for your work when dealing with customers and their demands. The customer should be informed about the whole process beforehand and what to expect. You need to set the boundaries and expectations.
Networking is another aspect of “acting like a pro”. Make contacts with other photographers as well as potential customers. You never know whom you might need to help you, or who would bring your next projects.

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Want A Travel Tip? Unlock Your iPhone Online

Hey guys!

I keep getting asked about travel tips because I go from place to place so often. What I want to do today is share one important one with you today – iPhone unlocking.

Let me lay it down for you first. Through my work I get to go to some amazing places all over the world. I mean, one day I could be snapping pictures of some monks in Cambodia then the next week I am on a plane to Africa for some safari shots. The problem was that I could never use my iPhone abroad. Well, that is until I bought an iPhone unlock courtesy of an online unlocking service. Obviously I could use it OK at home however as soon as I went to get some pictures for a client it was useless unless I could connect to the Wi-Fi in my hotel.

That is why I want to show you the reasons I got my iPhone unlocked and why you should as well.

I Can Use It Anywhere

This is the main reason that I love my unlocked iPhone.

All I need to do these days is pick up a local SIM card at the airport in whatever country I am in and I can then use my iPhone on that network. For example two weeks ago I hopped on a flight to get some images for a long term client in Mexico and as soon as my plane landed I simply picked up a cheap SIM card in the airport and I was right onto the local network. Usually I couldn’t even use my iPhone in this instance and it would actually be cheaper for me to buy a cheap cell phone and use that instead of paying my network provider to let me use the device abroad.

I Can Tether

This is another major bonus of an unlocked iPhone.

I often take my laptop with me for several reasons. Firstly so I can pass the long hours sitting on planes or in the hotel and secondly so I can touch up the images that I take. With an unlocked iPhone I have virtually no restrictions on tethering data from the device to my laptop so no matter when I am in the world as long as I have a network connection I can get internet access. OK, it might be a little slow at times however it is still better than nothing at all!

My Number One Travel Tip

When people ask me about my travel tips they usually expect me to offer advice such as bringing mosquito spray or going to see a certain location however having an unlocked Apple iPhone is my number one suggestion.

Aside from simply being able to use the device when abroad it allows you internet access regardless of where you are which can be invaluable for booking hotels, using maps or simply passing the time. If you are going abroad then I suggest that you unlock your iPhone because it has really enhanced my travelling experiences.

I’ll update again soon.

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Stock Photography for Realtors Using a New Tech Toy

Stock Photography for Realtors Using a New Tech Toy

Capturing images of fancy high end homes has always been something that I enjoy. So much work and effort goes into the design of many of these homes. From the beautifully designed exteriors to the well appointed and sumptuously decorated interiors a well designed and built home offers a lot for a photographer to work with.

A realtor friend of mine recently asked me to take some photos of a home which he is planning to list in the next couple of weeks. He warned me that there would be some very challenging aspects to this particular shoot. Of course I jumped all over it at the first mention of a challenge. Taking your standard interior and exterior pictures can sometimes get to be a bit monotonous.

One thing in particular that he mentioned was that we needed to get several aerial shots of the property because of the unique grounds and layout that surround the house. In addition, many of the details that he wanted photographed would be inside the house, but in rooms that were up to 40 feet tall.

This gave me pause as both of these would require the use of expensive equipment, and possibly even renting an aircraft for the day.

But when I started doing research into aerial photography in the area, I found a very interesting option that I had never before seen. There was a local contractor in the area around the house that performed aerial photography using a drone instead of an airplane or helicopter. His rates were less than a third of what it would cost to hire a pilot and aircraft for the day. And his online portfolio looked pretty impressive.

I decided to reach out to him to see about helping me photograph this property for my realtor friend. He said he had done dozens of jobs like that before and would be happy to work with me.

A couple weeks later I was on a plane. I was pretty excited as I made my way to this house that is tucked away in the mountains near Aspen, Colorado. The property was absolutely breathtaking. And I could see right away why the realtor was asking for aerial shots. Trying to show this property any other way would be a complete disservice to it’s design and the setting.

The pilot of the drone or quadcopter as he called it, gave me a quick run down of the capabilities it had in getting both still and HD video footage. Given the quality of the shots we needed, we opted to remove his HD camera and mount my Nikon using a universal bracket that he had with him. The video feed from the on-board first person view camera still enabled him to see firsthand what the camera would be shooting.

Once everything was set up, we sent it up into the air to get some test shots. Once we got the lighting and contrast calibrated, we were able to get some pretty amazing shots of the entire property. I was impressed with how stable this drone was while hovering almost 500 feet above the property.

We were able to get some incredible exterior shots. We then moved indoors. This was going to be extremely challenging. There were several details on the ceiling and trim that the realtor wanted up close shots of. Amazingly we were able to maneuver quickly into place, and get the shot we needed.

Overall I was truly impressed with the ease with which we were able to capture all of the necessary shots. This particular pilot was very impressive with his control and manipulation of the quadcopter. I will most definitely be looking into these further for upcoming shoots. If you want to read up on these gadgets yourself, check out the Drone Depot. They’ve got tons of information on different models and accessories.

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Kickstarter Project Product Photography

I recently landed a job photographing some watches for a company that was launching a project on Kickstarter.com. Apparently they had seen some stock photography of watches of mine and contacted my email through my profile on that website. Awesome! I hadn’t even thought of ever getting a lead from that site, so I was pleasantly surprised. Let me tell you the process I went through to photograph the watches. Oh, and when they ended up getting funded on Kickstarter they gave me a free sample of their product.

Client Goals

When the client emailed she said her main goal was to get her project funded. She wanted photos of the watch in action but also still shots that looked professional. That was where I came in – the professional. I had no experience with watches but I had experience photographing sunglasses so I could rely on that experience for this shoot.

I proposed a final product of 3 images: a close-up of the watch face, an angled shot of the watch and band and a side view shot showing the thickness of the watch face. These 3 images could provide up with the professional feel she needed for her project thumbnail and cover image.

The gist of her Kickstarter page was to walk through what the watch was capable of and show how it is boxed and how it uploads its data to a computer. This review of a heart rate monitor is essentially how she wanted to layout the Kickstarter sales page. She was going to take care of the action shots but wanted some professional images for the cover photos.

Setting Up the Shots

When photographing sunglasses in the past I was able to accomplish the close-up professional photos with only 1 light. Check out this post as it outlines pretty clearly the method I used. I already had the stands and light I needed so I just set up and started taking shots to get the best angles and distance.

The watch the company was trying to get funded was actually a heart rate monitor. The selling point was that it didn’t look like a heart rate monitor. It looked a regular dress watch that you could wear to work but then also use while training. There’s a plethora of ways to heart rate train and it has huge benefits. The downside is that people need to own multiple watches and often the HRM looks too sporty to wear outside of working out.

My first few shots weren’t really working out so I had to take some white paper and place it below the watch to ensure the light was properly reflected. A few more hours and a couple hundred more shots and I felt confident that I could choose the 3 that were best and photoshop them into exactly what my client was paying me for.

Final Images

A few days after I was hired for this gig I was able to send off 9 images – 3 different options of each style I mentioned above to the client. She settled on her top 3 and I then photoshopped her logo onto them and then organized them into a perfect thumbnail and that was that job done! Another excellent example of my brilliant lifestyle if I don’t say so myself.

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Japan Ninja Museum Trip

Being a photographer, it is necessary for me to travel around the world and come up with plenty of insightful and quality photographs. I have traveled almost all the world, but my last visit to Japan was overwhelming. There are plenty of go-to places in Japan, particularly for photographers, but there was something more than that during my visit to Japan. Since photographers seek creativity in whatever they do, so the situation was no different to me at all.

I am always fascinated by the Japanese culture. My childhood favorites involve Ninja, Anime, Manga and Sumari. Ever since I was a kid, I always love the Ninja Kunai, shuriken and katana. This is one of the reasons why I started practicing knife throwing. So when I heard that there was a photoshoot job in Japan, I jumped on it immediately without even thinking. I was working on a marketing campaign and I used my spare time to visit all sort of museums and places to experience the Japanese culture.

A Museum full of ninja throwing stars

As I said earlier, I practice knife throwing as a hobby. So when I planned my trip to Japan, I put the Iga Ninja Museum at the top of my list. I wanted to explore the Ninja era of Japan, especially the ninja throwing knives. During my visit at the museum, I have learn so much about the Ninja throwing weapons like Kunai, Shuriken, Bo-shuriken and Hira-shuriken. I have also learn the history of these amazing knives. Shurikens is considered as one of the main and basic throwing knife. Its history goes back to the time when different metals were considered for hunting purposes. That was the time when Kunai, Shurikens, ninja stars and throwing darts were used as hunting knives.

This makes it clear that the history of such knives goes back to prehistoric days, with certain improvements from time to time. The metal quality has changed and so does the blades used in such knives, but the essence and feel of these knives remain the same since these knives were first introduced. It was so interesting that I actually bought some Ninja throwing darts after I returned home so that I can play Ninja.

Ninja Photo-shooting Skill

There is also a ninja show in the museum. It features authentic ninja skills with real weapons. The actors are dressing up as ninja demonstrating the use of throwing darts. They might actually be the real ninja because their accuracy is unbelievable. Overall, the show was full of action and it was totally worth the trip.
I figured out how cool and specific these Japanese throwing knives are. I was overwhelmed to see the accuracy of these ancient Japanese weapons and, how skilled the people using them were. Of course, as a photographer, I would let these great photo-shooting opportunity slip pass my fingers. I like to have the best clicks, and the ninja nailing it down were really something to capture with my camera in hand.

Japan is such a great place for taking photographs. It has a very interesting history and beautiful scenery. I would definitely recommend visiting there if you love photography like I do.

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The Benefits of Professional Photography in Real Estate

The Benefits of Professional Photography in Real Estate

One of the really great things about taking photographs when you travel is that you can have a working holiday as well as experiencing the delights of new places at the same time. In fact, you can actually finance your whole holiday with stock photography if you are so inclined, especially if you have an interest in buildings or architecture. These types of photos are great for gracing the covers of brochures, particularly if they include interesting window coverings or other eye catching details that entice the reader to continue looking.

One especially lucrative aspect of stock photography involves the real estate industry. Photos of houses that emphasize their best features are always in demand. Houses that sell for big price tags are a lucrative source of income for real estate agents who can garner generous commissions from these types of sales, so they always require professional photography that shows a property’s most pleasing aspects. As a photographer, you can use your creative skills to present a property in all its pictorial glory and you should build up a portfolio that demonstrates your skills.

While you are on holiday, you have an excellent opportunity to build your portfolio of stock photography, knowing that you will be able to sell them. One thing worth considering is taking photos of smart, quirky or unusual houses and creatively present various features that could be potentially used by an estate agent to advise his/her clients on ways to ‘dress up’ the property they wish to sell. These photos could be themed around an outdoor entertainment area, gardens or water features for example. These types of features all add value to a property as they demonstrate a pleasing appearance that could resonate with a potential buyer of the property.

The other great thing about taking photos of houses in other countries is the cultural element and the attractiveness of those elements to potential home builders and buyers. There are plenty of home owners and potential home owners who prefer the cultural design elements of homes in other countries and this applies to both hot and cold climate design elements. Your stock photos of houses and other buildings that you take while holidaying in foreign countries have the potential to capture the imagination of home owners who are seeking to renovate, purchase or build a home that stands out from the crowd.

Just think for a moment how popular the ‘Bali bathroom’ has become in recent years for people in hot climates who have sought and found an aesthetically pleasing, yet superbly practical alternative to a traditional bathroom. You can fine excellent examples of these bathrooms at resorts in Bali and you can easily take plenty of stock photos while you enjoy your holiday, capturing different angles of the many interesting and unique features of this type of bathroom. This type of stock photography provides inspiration to home owners who may then follow up with their own ideas for features that suit their individual circumstances.

It’s not just home owners either that are able to put your stock photos to good use. Consider for a moment, the building supplies required to build a ‘Bali bathroom’. This could include tiles as well as fixtures and fittings so immediately you have another market for your stock photos. Home owners and those who want to renovate need the relevant materials to do so and an aspiring supplier of tiles and bathroom fittings will definitely use your photos to their advantage.

So enjoy your overseas holidays and take advantage of the opportunity to increase your stock photo portfolio with a view to the various design elements that can inspire some unique real estate experiences while at the same time, increasing your bottom line.

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My Story of Becoming a Professional Photographer

My Story of Becoming a Professional Photographer

Years ago, I was trying to figure out how I could morph my passion of photography into my passion for traveling. My early years were filled with mundane jobs that had me working locally taking product pictures for businesses. While I was happy to be making money with my hobby-turned-career, the outlook was bleak. I didn’t envision my life being filled with running from business to business to snap pictures of people running on treadmills or grand opening promo pictures. Instead, I wanted to take pictures of life as it happened and experience the world in a new way.

The Initial Love

Photography was a passion of mine from a very young age. As an adolescent, I would always grab my parent’s camera and snap pictures of everything from the leg of a chair to my cat sleeping. The world seemed to come alive with pictures and I never truly considered the idea of being a photographer until I got older.

Right around the time when everyone was going to college, I was struggling to figure out a way to pay my bills. I knew someone that owned a gym, and they needed some promotional work done. Since the owner knew that I dabbled in photography, they asked me if I was interested. This turned into a door opening that led to referrals and repeat work. With the feedback I received, I gained the confidence to pursue my passion even further.

Eventually, I was making a career out of my passion, but as with all things, the “work” feel was killing my love for photography. Instead, I wanted to travel the world and make money from my passion going from town to town. You know, the enticing idea of the nomad life.

The World of Stock Photography

Stock photography was something I always heard of before but never really dabbled in. I decided to add a few pictures I had taken in my spare time during a trip to Italy, and the response was incredible. Not only was I making residual money, I didn’t have to snag new clients on a weekly basis. Instead, my old photos were working for me.

I started building up my portfolio on various stock photography sites and sales came rushing in. Before I knew it, I was shooting only what I liked and people were buying my pictures. This was a dream come true.

Going International

After a while, I was making enough money where I could take a month to pack my bags and hit the road snapping pictures all along the way. As a photographer, I am able to travel to Greece, Italy, Spain, America and anywhere in the world taking pictures of life as it happens. From espresso in Italy to waves rushing against the rocks in Malta, people love the pictures I take and I am able to sell them from anywhere in the world as a result.

Now, I am able to travel as long as my passport permits and simply move on to the next location when it suits me best, but my life began the moment I took a picture of a treadmill.

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Taking Photographs in Japan

Taking Photographs in Japan

I recently visited Japan and Tokyo on a photoshoot, which was really exciting for me because it’s somewhere I haven’t been before and had wanted to go there for quite a while.

This was actually a really interesting shoot that I had decided to take on and was part of a marketing campaign for a product for men with hair loss. This looks like a really big problem for lots of men in Japan. This wasn’t exactly the kind of thing I would normally be interested in because the big photo campaigns can be alot of work and often not much fun. However on this job I was really excited to take it because taking pictures in Tokyo had been one of my bucket list ideas for a long time.

The trains in Tokyo are amazing, they are double deckers, which is something I have never seen before. Another crazy thing I have never seen before was the chairs in the train actually flip over the other way around when the train changes direction.

For this photography job I bought my Canon and Nikon camera with wide angle lenses. I didn’t need any long distance lenses for this job. I used the wide angle lens to capture some of personal photos of the cityscape which I may add to my stock photography portfolio in the future.

One of the great things about taking pictures in Japan is that everyone has a camera and so I don’t get lots of people staring at me in the street. In fact Japanese people are very polite and almost never stare even if they interested. They are quite shy. This can be a nice change from other places in Asia where you can get hassled quite a lot and stared at as if you are an alien.

People are also very interested in your camera. However, I love Asia as a whole and it is a ver interesting place to take photographs and capture the feel of the people. Asians can have very interesting facial expressions, and some people look very wise.

The marketing campaign went really well and the team was happy with the pictures of men’s hair loss, as was I. For now I am happy to have come and gone from Japan, it has been a great experience. I am not sure how quickly I ill be able to return. One of the things about Tokyo is it is very expensive. Sometimes fruits can be incredibly expensive, but I still love it.

The next place where I want to take pictures will be Taiwan, which is apparently quite a similar country to Japan. Well it is like a mixture of Japan and China which should be quite interesting. The architecture in Taiwan is very original so I hope to capture some of this with my wide angle lens.

However, at the moment I don’t have any scheduled jobs going on there so I will have to decide whether to spend my own money to travel there and whether it will be worth it or not I don’t know.

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Photographing Homes Hit By A Natural Disaster

Photographing Homes Hit By A Natural Disaster

While I travel I’m active on the local community boards as I finance my travel through private photography. I happened to be in the South East of the USA when a hurricane came through. I wasn’t in the line of fire but I was close enough to be scared. Anyways, I received a message on the photography job board that my services were required for an insurance consultant. He wanted me to come along with him to various houses that were claiming insurance for flooded basements because their sump pumps couldn’t handle the load as the hurricane obviously brings copious rain.

He stressed the need to act fast because the photos had to be an accurate portrayal of the destruction so the insurance company could accurately asses the damage and thus payout. So I packed up my gear for a next day photo taking tour. I took the bus about an hour to the town in question and the consultant picked me up. It was a high paying job so I was excited to do some good work. He explained to me that the point was to be like a forensic team going in there and being able to tell a story with the images.

House 1

The first house looked fine – it didn’t look like it had been damaged on the outside. Which made sense since it was “only” a category 2 hurricane. But once we stepped to the top of the stairs looking into the basement I was shocked. It was a swimming pool. See the image in this post? Yeah that is what it was like. No, that’s not me but it was that bad – you could have gone swimming in there. The water was 5 feet deep. What had happened, apparently, was since the power went out their primary electric sump pump stopped working and they didn’t have a battery backup system to continue pumping the water out of their sum. It was wild I’d never seen anything like it. So I took my photos and we left. The guy who hired me said he’d need me again to come out in a week once the basement water had subsided so we could get more photos. The money was great so I accepted on the spot.

House 2

House 2 was in the same neighborhood as the first house but it was more damaged. It was an older house. We spent a good 45 minutes walking around the exterior taking photos of the exterior. The consultant guided me and instructed which things to take photos of. Once we completed the outside we went inside to find a pretty un damaged interior. The basement was dry because these guys had a backup sump pump and that was that. On to the next house.

House 3

The last house totally obliterated. Now even though this was a cat 2 hurricane that still means 100 mph winds. If the construction of your house is not sound and you are in the worst area of the hurricane your house could be ravaged. This one’s roof was destroyed and entire walls had fallen. It was what they call “a write-off” in the insurance industry. We spend about 2 hours walking around this house taking photos for the insurance company.

That was the day. All up it was a decently long day since I had the hour bus drive at the start and end of the day. I returned to where I was staying by 7pm and started getting to work putting all the photos together neatly so I could send them off the next day.

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