03/26/15
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Celebrity Portrait Photographer Miami Kate Benson | New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom

Last week I had a photo shoot with Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets pitcher who was the National League’s Rookie of The Year in 2014. We drove up to Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie where the Mets have their spring training to meet with Jacob. The photos were to be used for the New York Observer and they wanted two different looks: one in his Mets uniform, and one in his regular street clothes. We had access to the field, the stands and the locker room, so we had to decide where we could best capture Jacob’s personality.

We arrived at the site about two hours before Jacob was to arrive because we wanted to check out the location and lighting options. It is difficult to plan for outdoor lighting at 9 in the morning when you will be shooting at 11 because the angle of the sun changes drastically, but we did the best we could. We only had 20 minutes to shoot Jacob, so we didn’t want to waste any time at all configuring lighting or finding perfect angles while he was on set. Instead, I used my assistant as the stand-in and spent about two hours testing everything so we would be one-hundred percent ready to go the minute Jacob arrived for the shoot.

Jacob walked out on the field at 11:00 on the dot. All 6’4″ of him. First off, let me say that he was incredibly nice and personable. None of his recent accolades have gone to his head. He chatted amicably, and even shared some of his hog-hunting stories with us.

We got down to business and ended up with some great shots.

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Follow this link for more work by Miami Portrait Photographer Kate Benson.

Follow this link to read the article in the New York Observer about Jacob deGrom.

03/25/15
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Product Photographer Miami Kate Benson | Jewelry Billboard in Miami

A few months ago, DiModolo hired me to shoot their e-commerce product shots for their website. The client liked the photos so much that they ended up using one for a billboard here in Miami.

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Follow this link for more work by Miami Product Photographer Kate Benson.

03/19/15

Miami Fashion Photographer Kate Benson | Behind-the-Scenes Zacasha Shoot

Last week I shot the 2015 campaign for Zacasha, a wonderful upscale bohemian-style jewelry company. My intern Marina did an awesome job filming the shoot and my assistant Kristin put together a video of the behind-the-scenes. It was a wonderful day with a fabulous team; from the designer Jennifer to her assistants Melani and Leah, from the models Laura Fernandes and Eilie Bennett @ Next Models Miami to the hair and makeup artist Virginia Le Fay, from the gorgeous necklaces and bracelets to the carefully planned outfits pulling from personal collections and Island Girl Miami, everything ran smoothly and we ended up with some truly amazing shots.

Here is the video. Enjoy!

Follow this link for more work by Miami Fashion Photographer Kate Benson.

03/11/15
The wind was difficult at times, but we were flexible and moved inside for some shots.

Zacasha On Model Shoot

On Monday we had an on-model shoot for Zacasha, fabulously elegant bohemian necklace and bracelets. The shoot went really well. Jennifer, the designer, and her team had put together some great wardrobe choices for the carefully selected pieces we were to shoot. The models were fantastic and the weather was great (except for a little too much wind). We shot on location at the beach in Hollywood, and then at a private residence nearby. Here are some of the behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot.

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The early morning sun was gorgeous and provided us with some fantastic light.

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We took advantage of some of the unique parts of Hollywood Beach.

Shooting Laura and Ailidh together .

Shooting Laura and Eilie together .

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The wind was difficult at times, but we were flexible and moved inside for some shots.

The wind was difficult at times, but we were flexible and moved inside for some shots.

Having talented models is always a plus.

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Laying down was one way to beat the wind.

The private residence had a wide variety of areas to shoot in.

The private residence had an amazing backyard with a lot of variety.

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Melanie and Eilie.

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The tiki hut was a beautiful place to shoot.

It was a great day and we have loads of amazing photos to sort through. We’ll share some when we finish processing them.

A huge thanks to everyone who made it run so smoothly:
Jennifer – the designer
Melanie – her assistant who also modeled for us
Leah – Jennifer’s daughter who also modeled for us
Robin – the owner of the restaurant we used as our “home base” at the beach and the private residence
Alex – our “gopher”
Marina – our intern
Laura and Eilie – the models

03/9/15
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Miami Product Photographer | Photoshop – A Useful Tool, Not Divine Intervention

Post-production of photos is extremely important in product photography. In this blog, we will examine Photoshop and its uses and misconceptions.

What Photoshop is NOT: Photoshop is not divine intervention to airbrush your photo and make it suddenly incredible. There is a common misunderstanding that by using Photoshop, any photo can magically become amazing. This is most definitely not true.

What Photoshop IS: Photoshop is a wonderful tool that can help make great photos even better by modifying certain facets of the photo.

It is crucial to begin the post-production with an effective photo that conveys a compelling story relevant to the product. The old saying “garbage in – garbage out” is a very basic way of saying that if you begin with a poor photo, no amount of Photoshop in the world will be able to make that photo great. As a photographer, I do not cut corners during the shoot. I take my time and focus my energy to create the best photo possible. I am then able to enhance this photo with the various tools available in Photoshop.

Here is a list of things that Photoshop cannot fix, taken from the blog “Six Things You Can’t Fix in Photoshop,” by Shutterfinger:

  1. Camera position – if the camera is too close to the product, it is impossible to “back it up” in post-production
  2. Lighting direction and quality
  3. Focus
  4. Blurred image due to motion of the camera or subject
  5. Lost data
  6. Lack of creativity/spark/intent
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Here is an example of a jewelry shoot I did and then enhanced with Photoshop.

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Here is an example of necklaces that were not conscientiously shot and therefore would be difficult to improve with Photoshop (and certainly not cost-effective).

 



Click here for more info on Miami Product Photographer Kate Benson

03/6/15

Miami Product Photographer | Raw Image Files – Better Known as “Digital Negatives”

The term “raw file” is often mistaken or misunderstood. Nowadays, with everyone taking photos on their phone and sharing them with the world, the idea of a digital photo seems relatively straightforward and easy to comprehend. But that is not really the case. If you don’t fully understand the difference between a raw file, a processed file and a retouched file, don’t worry, you are not alone! This is a common issue that I hope to clarify here.

It is essential to distinguish between these three terms (raw files, processed files, and retouched files) in order to get exactly what you need and can use from a photo shoot. Sometimes clients will ask me for the raw files from the shoot when they actually meant to ask for the processed files (they want files that have not yet been retouched, but that are in a format that they can use).

So let’s start with the basics. First of all, it is important to know what a raw file is. Believe it or not, raw is not necessarily what you think it is. Many people think that “raw”simply means that it hasn’t been re-touched or edited using Photoshop or a similar program. This is not the case. To clarify, a raw file means “camera raw.” But what does this mean exactly?

Consider this: years ago when you wanted to shoot photos, you had a roll of Kodak film, for example. You placed the roll of film in your camera and began shooting. After you shot all 24 or 36 photos on the roll, you would typically take the roll of film to a photo center to have it processed. The roll itself was no good to you until it was processed. What you got back from the photo center was the developed film (as negatives or slides) and prints (if you opted to print them). In terms of the digital world of photography, think of the raw files as the undeveloped roll of film that has been shot, the processed files as the developed film and the retouched files as the prints that you would get.

Part of the reason we shoot tethered (with the camera attached to the computer by a cable in order to send the files directly to the computer) is so that we can show the client a preview of a processed file that doesn’t actually exist in reality yet. It hasn’t been processed at this point, but it can be viewed as if it were. Shooting tethered is a great way to give the client a general idea of what the photo is going to look like when it is processed. If I were shooting to a CD or memory card, you would not be seeing the hypothetical version of the image. You would be seeing the raw version which is hard to understand unless you know how to read them.

So, after the raw images are shot, they need to be processed. Clients hire me because they like my work and part of that work is file processing. It is the part of post-production that occurs after the shoot, where I make sure that when I give you the files, they look exactly like they are supposed to. In the past, when using film, photographers would shoot photos with the idea in mind of how we were going to process it. Pushing or pulling the film during the development process was a way to adjust what we shot in order to create the best image possible. Now, with digital images, this is done in the “digital darkroom” or in the processing phase of post-production. Some of the things that can be done during processing are (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_image_format):

  • decoding – image data of raw files are typically encoded for compression purpose, but also often for
    obfuscation purpose
  • defective pixel removal – replacing data in known bad locations with interpolations from nearby locations
  • white balancing – accounting for color temperature of the light that was used to take the photograph
  • demosaicing – interpolating the partial raw data received from the color-filtered image sensor into a matrix of colored pixels.
  • noise reduction – trading off detail for smoothness by removing small fluctuations
  • color translation – converting from the camera native color space defined by the spectral sensitivities of the image sensor to an output color space (typically sRGB for JPEG)
  • tone reproduction – the scene luminance captured by the camera sensors and stored in the raw file needs to be rendered for pleasing effect and correct viewing on low-dynamic-range monitors or prints
  • compression – for example JPEG compression
  • removal of systematic noise – bias frame subtraction and flat-field correction
  • dark frame subtraction
  • optical correction – lens distortion correction, vignetting correction, and color fringing correction
  • contrast enhancement
  • increasing visual acuity by unsharp masking
  • dynamic range compression – lighten shadow regions without blowing out highlight regions

And after the images are processed, they are typically retouched.  Retouching is a digital way to make your photo look even better. Sometimes, in order to produce the best shot, you have to shoot multiple images and put these images together into one photo. This would occur in the retouching phase of the post production work. Jewelry photography is an excellent example of this.

So, as you can see, just as in the days of “old school” film, digital photography involves multiple steps that all lead up to the final, usable image. And hopefully this clears up the difference between a raw file, a processed file and a retouched file.

If you are still a little confused, here is another photographer’s explanation

Click here for more info on Miami Product Photographer Kate Benson

03/4/15

E-commerce Photographer Miami | Kate Benson | Client Feedback

After our shoot with Jennifer Belcourt, the owner and designer of Zacasha, I received a wonderful email thanking me. Jennifer had previously expressed to me how difficult it was at times to convey her wide-ranging ideas and how sometimes people became frustrated with her because she is an extremely artistic thinker.

This is an excerpt from her email:

 “Shooting with both of you was honestly a real moment of pleasure, in total peaceful creative harmony between us! Even though, when it comes to my artistic way of expression, I am so crooked in my mind and often scaring or annoying people around me, I never had this feeling with you. Thank you so much. I respect your work a lot and that you commit heart and soul to your shooting with us. Even committed your arm muscles, Lol! You totally dedicate yourself to your work and have an amazing balance between creating and staying focused!!!!
Thank you so much , I am so glad we met! I love your pictures !!!!

Big big kisses,
Jennifer”

It was a true pleasure working with Jennifer and translating her ideas to beautiful photos. We are thrilled that she was so happy with how well the shoot went.

 

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Click here for more info on Miami E-Commerce Photographer Kate Benson

02/27/15

Advertising Photographer Miami |Kate Benson | Donald J. Pliner Shoot

Daniela, a model I worked with years ago, contacted me recently requesting high resolution files from a shoot we did for Donald J. Pliner back in 2011. I spent some time looking in my archives, searching for the exact images she wanted. It was a lot of fun revisiting old photo shoots from years past. Thankfully I am organized in my file-naming, so it didn’t take too long to locate the photos she needed.

Here are some of these images:

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I also came across this cool group shot that was used in a general marketing email blast for Donald J. Pliner:

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Click here for more info on Miami Advertising Photographer Kate Benson

02/17/15

Miami Product Photographer | Kate Benson| Christian Roth Eyewear Composites

One of the best parts about shooting e-commerce photography is seeing how much more clients can do with the images I deliver! My client Christian Roth has fabulous eyewear! I’ve posted about it a few times because I really just love shooting it so much! A few weeks ago, Christian and Eric posted on their Instagram these incredibly creative composites. I had to grab a few screen shots of them and reshare. My personal favorite is the sunglasses set. If you think this is cool, you should see their website!

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Naturally, I have a pair that I wear every. single. day.

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02/10/15

Switch 2 Social Recap | A Seminar on Social Media and Blogging

Last Thursday I spoke at an ASMP event titled, “Social Media Secrets Revealed,” about how blogging has helped my business grow. For those of you who attended, thank you. For those of you who couldn’t make it or were too far away, you missed a great show! Rosh Sillars was the keynote speaker and had some great tips. Pascal Depuhl, Jorge ParraScott Coventry and I were additional speakers who shared our own personal success stories. My story was about how blogging has really helped my business. It is often overlooked by artists because we think our work speaks for itself. But in a world where clients want to know who they are hiring, the blog is your new resume and portfolio.

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When I talk to people about blogging, there is often a lot of fear surrounding the idea of it. Some common fears are related to insecurity, weak writing skills, lack of information, and the list goes on. Insecurity stems from the misconception that someone else out there probably knows the topic better. Many people are anxious that writing isn’t their strong point and so are afraid of not sounding eloquent. Some have a false belief that they should first gather more information and then blog when they really have something of epic proportions to say. Whatever your reason, just toss it out. My first blogs were terrible (and some still are). I mean really, really awful. And the pictures that I took back then, well, I wouldn’t be putting any of them on my website today. But it was material. It was content. It was a starting point. Writing anything is almost always better than nothing. Nothing will get you nothing. Often, the idea of writing for the entire online community is daunting. Sometimes it helps to imagine that you have no audience, that you are just writing for yourself.

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So, where do you begin? What would you like to tell someone about yourself or your work if you were writing in a journal and could say anything, for example? Write that. Add some visuals if you have them; if not, oh well. Post what you wrote. In the beginning your audience probably will be close to zero. I have been posting so infrequently that I’m pretty sure the size of my blog’s audience is back down. But, even if it isn’t, I prefer to imagine that it is because if no one is reading my blog and I’m just writing to give Google some fresh content to crawl, the pressure is off! I have yet to lose a client because of a blog post (knock on wood it doesn’t happen in the future). So, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, which is the same for you!

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So your homework this week (for those of you who already have some sort of blog platform up): Write a post. Even if it is a post about never getting around to posting (I think I have at least 10 posts like that). But write something! Break the ice!! You have to start somewhere!

If you don’t have a blog yet, you have a bigger assignment: Figure out what platform you want to use to blog (research WordPress, Blogger, etc), learn how to install it and get to it. Or get a buddy who is computer savvy to do it for you. If you have no computer savvy friends, hire someone to do it. Just figure it out and do it!! Worst case scenario, you don’t install it correctly and have to try again. Practice makes perfect and eventually you will get it!

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