Digital Photo Tips from Professional Photographer Rick Sammon

Rick's "Pro Tips & Educational" Videos

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Rick's Professional Work

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Rick's Professional Work

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Rick's Quick Tips

Rick’s Quick Tip #1
Pro Shots With a Compact Camera

It doesn’t get much simpler or easier than this: a constant-light main light (right), a reflector (left) and a collapsible background. For these portraits, the light above and behind the subject was turned off.

tip 1

This type of simple set-up can help produce some beautiful portraits. The top right photograph shows the effect of using the main light and reflector. As you can see, the reflector bounced light from the main light on to the opposite side of the model’s face, showing his distinctive features.

The bottom-right photograph, however, is my favorite. It shows the effect of using only the main light as the reflector was moved out of position. I like the added sense of drama that the deep shadow creates on the model’s face. I also like the way the model is making direct eye contact with my lens

When photographing, remember this tip: Light illuminates, shadows define.

Rick’s Quick Tip #2
Don’t Be a Lighting Dummy

Hey, are you interested in studio lighting? Here’s a quick tip from one of my books, Digital Wedding Photography.

One easy and affordable method for honing your studio lighting skills is to practice them with a mannequin. You can find mannequins on line by doing a quick Google search. Some cost less than $150 – a good investment for the beginner studio photographer.

When working with a dummy, you can place lights in different positions for different effects – without your “model” complaining and charging you for overtime.


Here you see, clockwise from the top left, the effects of using:

  • Top Left Image: One main light positioned at a 45-degree angle to the subject.
  • Bottom Left Image: Main Light, background light set to 1/2 power and pointed at the background, and a hair light.
  • Bottom Right Image: Main Light and a light behind the subject pointed at the subjects head – for what is called “Hollywood Lighting.”
  • Top Left Image: Main light, a background light set to full power and pointed at the background, and a hair light.

I used Canon Speedlites and Westcott diffusers for this series of images. I fired the Speedlites with my Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter.

When photographing, remember this tip: When a subject shows up in your studio, you can’t waste time. Otherwise, you may look like a dummy. That’s why it’s important to practice your lighting techniques in advance.


Rick’s Quick Tip #3
Keep Shooting

This may sound kinda basic, but it's a good tip: When you think you are through shooting, keep shooting – and try to anticipate what might happen.


While on a recent workshop in China, I spotted this man lighting his pipe, so I took the shot on the left. Then he started smoking, and I took the middle shot. As Borat would say, not so good! I kept shooting, taking more than 20 pictures of the man. The image on my right is my favorite from the shoot – and perhaps my favorite shot from the trip, simply because it's so different from anything I've shot before.

Metering a scene like this can be tricky because the dark area can fool the camera's meter into thinking that the main subject is darker than it is in reality and therefore overexposing the subject. To remedy this situation, set your exposure compensation at perhaps -1. Then, check your camera's LCD monitor to make sure your subject is not overexposed.

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