More happy clients.

We shot with Krystal`s family just some time ago in Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya. She left us a review. Thank you Krystal for your nice words!

Clients tend to forget we are still there.

Clients tend to forget we are still there.

“Absolutely, absolutely hire Daniel from My Playa Photographer! If you are like us, and vacationing at a resort in the area, you’ll find that they offer photo sessions through contracted agencies. I had hired Daniel before our trip because I wasn’t sure that the resort would have a photographer and after researching, I found his to be the most affordable. However, I was still a little hesitant so once at the hotel I briefly looked into what they offered. I am sure the people who take the photos are great people, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the stagnant pictures taken around the resort...and the price was $150 for 30 minutes and only 10 photos. 
Fast forward to our session with Daniel...all of my reservations were discarded immediately. We walked just a little bit down the beach and outside the ownership of the resorts (outside photographers cannot come into the resort without a hefty fee). Daniel was timely, friendly and extremely talented! My two teenage boys (who are very difficult in photos) were willing participants and the entire session went quickly and efficiently...but Daniel gave us his undivided attention and I was clearly more worried about the time than he was.  Within 12 hours, I had an email in my box with a link to a google drive filled with the loveliest pictures of my favorite people. They are all amazing! Daniel captured my people perfectly...

If you are wanting pictures of your family during your time in the Cancun / Riviera Maya area, do not hesitate for one second to hire Daniel. You will absolutely not be disappointed! 
Note: My Playa Photographer has session prices listed on the website; use that as a reference, but just know that after lots of research, his prices are what I found to be most affordable.”

Happy clients.

We had a nice photo session in Tulum`s jungle gym last week. Here is our review from Aimee.

“Daniel is an amazing photographer. He did our pics yesterday and I told him in advance that we aren’t really comfortable with “photoshoots”. He made us comfortable and at ease during the photoshoot. The results (pics) are incredible, made us look like pros :). Moreover, he is kind and understanding. He graciously offered to give us a ride to and from the location of the photoshoot to our hotel. We had a great time with him and if you have plans of having your pics taken in the Cancun, Playa and Tulum area, I HIGHLY recommend his services!!!”

Tulum Jungle Gym Photo shoot My Playa Photographer myplayaphotographer



Enhance your family & couple session with a clear idea.

Following article will introduce a few tips how to make your photo sessions magical by creating the momentum through good guidance. There is two goals that you should achieve in your session. First you should make your clients relax and feel comfortable in your presence. On the other hand you should try to push your clients out of their comfort zones. Here is how to get there.

Start your photo session slow

Every photo session needs some warm up time so don´t jump right into the actions shots. Connect with the client first, introduce yourself and ask about them or there prior experiences with photography. You will find out fast how comfortable they will feel in front of a camera. If they are new to the field try to relax with them . Don´t leave all to your client, direct them into the intimate moment that will make a good photograph. Ask them to turn the head slightly or move a leg forward slowly. The right choice of words is important to help convey the delicacy you need to take a good picture.

Photo shoot Cancun beach Myplayaphotogerapher

Introduce movement and keep moving yourself

Movement is crucial to get motion and emotion into photography. Make your clients have a walk along the beach and join them. Don´t let the subject just pass your camera. You can´t have a stationary attitude towards something that is moving. Walk around your clients and stay agile. If you usually like to shoot in situations where your subjects are illuminated by direct light from the front try to take their pictures also while backlit. Counter lightening usually more dramatic and sometimes gives you surreal results.

Photo session  Riviera Maya Tulum Beach Myplayaphotographer

You can even go further and make your clients run. It helps to release emotions and totally forget the camera. In case your clients are ready to get sporty try to motivate them like a fitness coach. Make the pull each other while running. If they are lacking in dynamics don´t hesitate to grab a clients hand to demonstrate. Just be careful not to push something the clients doesn’t really want to do as you never know the reason why a specific pose makes the client feel uncomfortable.

Photoshoot Myplayaphotographer XPU HA Riviera Maya Mexiko Playa del Carmen

You can dance!

In photography everyone is a good dancer. Make the client twirl and stretch arms and maybe you can even play a song through your phone. Tell them to bring tension to every part of their body and motivate your client to give it all. Don´t be afraid to suggest dancing poses even if you think you´re not good at it. Seeing that you are not taking yourself too seriously will help the client to open up himself. Also shouting commands like “more power” or “more drama” will help to get the energy you´re looking for. Remember that the more energy you bring into a shoot the more you will affect the outcome.

Photo shoot Playa del Carmen Riviera Maya Mexico

Everyone is special

Make your client see their beauty. Don´t be afraid to tell them what you like about their appearance. Compliments don´t only help to get good photographs you will also lighten up the clients day.

Photo shoot Tulum Riviera Maya Mexico

Take a step back

Take a step back and invite your clients to do the same. Finish the session by giving the client their own space. Operate from distance and snoop around working silently. Like this you will get good shots of trusted intimacy.

Photo shoot in a cenote Playa del Carmen Mexico


The correct exposure.

Making correct exposures is key to successful photography. Getting a well exposed image means that the correct amount of light is reaching the sensor. You might ask: what is the correct amount of light? When do I know my exposure was correct? 

Ansel Adams, an old master of landscape photography, wrote many pages about the correct exposure. He was the first human being figuring out how to capture the rising moon and a village at the same time, without the moon being over- or the village being underexposed.

Ansel Adams: Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico.

Ansel Adams: Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico.

Tip 1 - Studying the old masters will always improve your photography.

Some might think, what’s so special about this photo? He can easily have photoshopped it. Well, it was taken in 1941, 50 years before the rise of the internet and digital methods. Quite an astonishing discovery by Adams considering that, by the time he did that shot, photography already existed a 100 years! 

So what is the correct amount of light? Finding the correct exposure means finding the right balance between the very dark and the very bright parts of an image. What you always should try to achieve is having an image were the dark parts (called the shadows) and the very bright parts (the highlights) both still show details.

Tip 2 - Analyze your images under the aspect of brightness!

Over- and underexposed pictures.

Let me exemplify further. The following three images show a man I photographed in Cuba. 

The left image would be what is called „underexposed“ in terms of photography. The all in all impression is too dark, you hardly can recognise the man’s eyes, the details in the shadows are lost. 

Taxista_Cuba_Hasselblad500c.Portra400.jpg

The image in the center is correctly exposed. The overall impression is balanced. We are able to see all the details of the face. The blurred background of the building behind the man already starts to disintegrate into the white, but I don’t give it too much importance. When shooting a portrait, all you should care about is the face

Tip 3: Slightly overexpose the face, even if you loose details in the highlights of the background. 

The image on the right is obviously overexposed. Look closely at the mans forehead and the nose. Parts of it are completely white, there is no information at all. The structure of the skin disappeared and the color of the skin is gone. 

How does exposure works technically?

Imagine your photo sensor as millions of little buckets (instead of pixels) arranged in a rectangle. When no light hits the buckets they stay empty meaning they stay black (= no information). When you shoot your camera and light hits the buckets they are getting filled with information. If a bucket gets completely full it will be completely white (no information again). There is even the effect of overspilling; meaning the filled bucket will overspill and spill over on neighbour buckets turning them into white pixels. Your image will be partly „damaged“ or „burnt“ - what you loose is information and large parts of the image will stay white. You really want to avoid that, but you can’t avoid it always. We are just photographers, not magicians! 

How to influence exposure? The exposure triangle. 

There is three key settings of a camera called the exposure triangle.

ISO

APERTURE

SHUTTERSPEED

If you think about starting to be a serious photographer, you need to learn how to control these three settings first. How to expose an image correctly depends very much on how you handle the exposure triangle. 

Exposure_Triangle_weboptimiert.jpg

The ISO signifies a specified value of your cameras sensor. The sensor is the rectangle surface inside your camera „recording“ the image. In digital photography you can make your sensor more or less sensitive towards light, just by turning a wheel. Small ISO-numbers like ISO 100, ISO 200 indicate that your sensor is not very sensitive towards light. The higher you push your ISO-values (ISO 1600, ISO 3200) the more sensitive the sensor will get towards light. Normally you apply lower numbers in bright sunlight and higher numbers in twilight or inside areas. Side effect: Higher ISO-numbers produce visual noise! 

ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200 ISO 6400 

NOTE: If you double the ISO value, you sensor reacts with light twice as fast! 

APERTURE. Every lens has aperture blades, which can hinder light passing through once they are closed. You can close them step by step, or open them again, if you want more light to hit your sensor. The steps are given in „f-numbers“. Keep in mind that smaller f-numbers (like f2) mean that the lens is wide open and therefore a lot of light can pass and hit the sensor. Bigger f-numbers (like f22) mean the opposite: the aperture blades are closed, less light will pass the lens! The creative side effect of opening or closing the aperture is what is called depth-of-field. Small f-numbers will have the effect, that only the object in focus is sharp and the background blurs (bookeh). With larger f-numbers you will have over all sharp images. Here the f-numbers in full stops: 

f1.4 f2 f2.8 f4 f5.6 f8 f11 f16 f22 

NOTE: If you stop down for a full stop (for example f2 > f1.4) double the light will pass through your lens. 

Tip 4: Learn these (full) f-stops by hard as they are irregular! There ist f-values in between but only memorise the classic f-stops listed above.

SHUTTER SPEED is the amount of time you let your sensor being exposed. Time is controlled by the shutter curtain, a cloth inside the body of your camera ready to open and close again. You push the shutter release, the sensor gets exposed, the shutter closes again, the picture is taken. In most modern cameras you have exposure times (=shutter speeds) ranging from 1/8000 up to 30“ seconds. Short exposure times allow you to freeze moments. Long exposure times give you the creative opportunity of motion blur. On the other hand long exposure times bring along the unwanted shake blur, in case you shoot handheld in lowlight conditions. The critical area for handheld shots starts with 1/60 or longer, depending on what camera and lens you use. Here typical times from short to long. 

1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1“ 2“ ... 30“ 

NOTE: Half the time means half the light will reach the sensor. 

One Exposure, three ways! 

Every digital camera is equipped with a light meter that is instructing you how to set up your camera. Let’s make an example. Look at this street scene I shot in Havana. 

Havanna_Kodak_Portra_400_020_weboptimiert.jpg

I‘ve chosen a sensor sensitivity of ISO 400. My light meter proposed me to set my camera on a shutter speed of 1/250 and an aperture of f8. I am accepting these proposals as a time of 1/250 is short enough to shoot handheld and enough depth-of-field (=overall sharpness) for a street scene like this. Now have a look at this table I created. 

ONE_EXPOSURE_3_WAYS_weboptimiert.jpg

Depending on what you, the photographer, want to show us, you will choose different settings. In the photo- graph shown above I made a choice, which I thought was appropriate for this scene. If I would have chosen the last of the three options shown in the table, the blue car coming into the frame on the right would shown much more motion blur. Exposure settings always depend on your priorities. If your priority is to freeze action, then you need to set your camera on times of 1/250 and shorter. On the opposite: if you want to indicate motion, then chose longer exposure times. Same with aperture: If you want to isolate your object from your background open the aperture (f1.4, f2, f2.8), if you want high depth-of-field chose higher f-numbers (f8 and beyond). Usually you want to keep ISO-numbers low, as you want to avoid visual noise. With most cameras all values under ISO800 create acceptable noise. 

Tip5: Set your ISO first depending on the light, then adjust time and aperture! 

Sometimes you will be limited by the light available and reality will force you to opt for a specific setting, sometimes you will have more freedom in making a creative choice. In any case, photography keeps you occupied. 

Tip 6: Always know what your intentions are when taking a picture. 

Understanding the trinity of ISO, APERTURE and SHUTTER SPEED is the Pater Noster of photography. Once you internalised the exposure triangle you will be able to understand what your camera can do and even more important what it can’t do. 

I know, getting into photography can be overwhelming at the beginning, but hey, no-one said it’s gonna be easy. Please trust me when I say, it is totally worth the effort and time. You will understand that owning an expensive camera doesn’t make great pictures in itself. You will know why Ansel Adams was one of the most sophisticated photographers of its time and still outreaches most of todays landscape photographers. 

Keep in mind: once you inhaled und understood those rules, you can play with them. But first it is important to understand what your machine is doing once you push gently the shutter. Click!