Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to find backgrounds that make your images look spectacular!

How to find backgrounds that help your images look spectacular!

Finding excellent back-grounds that complement the subject is an essential part of the process of developing beautiful portraits There are a lot of things to carefully consider in your hunt for the best background.

Do you want your background to be well-defined or possibly blurred?

This is an essential question mainly because the choice determines your entire approach to the portrait shoot.

Should you want the background to stay focus, then this suggests that the background is more or less in some way relevant to your subject. Take for instance, if you are making a portrait of a successful musician, then perhaps it would be nice to take a photograph in a location where they continually perform, along with the environment to clearly show the environment.

However, if your goal is simply to obtain a pretty portrait of any individual, then the background might not be so relevant, having said that it must be complementary. A nice example of this is taking a portrait of somebody on a shoreline, where the natural environment becomes a mainstay of the composition.

The simplest way to grab a portrait with the background in focus is by utilizing a wide-angle lens with a smallish aperture (f/8 is ideal for this). You should be careful not to get too close to the individual (avoiding distortion) in order to include lots of background.

If you want to take photographs with a completely blurred background, then the background itself isn’t extremely important. It will be out of focus, so no one should be able to describe whatever it is. The important thing is that you need to be able to position your model a ways from the background. Then all you have to use is to use a short telephoto lens with a wide aperture, and if the model is far enough from the background it will go out of focus.

This method is most effective with prime lenses because of their wider maximum apertures. But you can certainly still ensure it is do the job, even with an 18-55mm kit lens (which often have maximum aperture settings of f3.5 to /56). You’ll simply need to move the model farther away from the background, and get as close to her as possible (attempt taking a simple head and shoulders shot) to make it work.

Don’t forget there’s a middle ground between these two extremes. You may want to make the background somewhat out of focus, so it is still recognizable although not so sharp it competes with the model for attention.

Are you going to take your photos indoors or outside?

The answer to this query is important since it leads to the question of how you are going to light the photograph.

For instance, inside places can be great for shoots that take place in the winter time, or even at night, if you can’t rely on the weather to be good enough to take photos outdoors. You can utilize your home as a location, another idea would be to keep an eye out for interesting indoor locations in your local area that you may be able to use. Examples are cafes, bars and also hotels. As soon as you’ve found a photogenic location, it’s a quick matter of determining the right person to request authorization to use that location for a shoot.

As soon as you’ve found the location, you should decide how to light the portrait. You might be okay with natural light, particularly if there are actually huge windows or your digital camera works well at higher ISOs. You’ll possibly want an assistant with a reflector to assist.

If you decide to make use of flash to light your portrait, things may be a little more complex. You’ll need room for lighting stands, so you may have to run electrical power cords across the ground. If you intend to use flash, make sure you mention this when you ask authorization to use the location.

If you are gonna have your photos outside then the issue of lighting still applies. Do you intend to use natural light? Once again, an assistant with a reflector may be valuable. If you intend to use are shown to supplement or even overpower the sunlight, you then need to consider if you have sufficient space in your selected area to set them up? Are you going to need someone to help you? Thinking through the practicalities will help your shoot run smoothly.

Background suggestions?

Lastly, here are some of my favorite places for taking portraits. You will find these recommendations useful in your search fantastic backgrounds.

Beaches: I particularly like rocky beaches since rocks render terrific histories. The key to obtaining the best from a beach site is always to take the portraits close to the sunset and also use the beautiful quality of light during the golden hour.

Gardens as well as parks: Public gardens will be an excellent place to take portraits. These are normally quite beautiful and may contain a variety of plants as well as trees and shrubs which you can’t find somewhere else in your area.

City or urban areas: I love to wander around unique parts of the town I live in with my model looking for good backgrounds. It’s amazing how many situations a wall structure or doorway could make a simple yet effective background for a portrait.

Woodlands: These can be tricky as the light has a tendency to come from above, between the trees, almost like a spotlight. The outcome is harsh shadows under your model’s eyes and nose, even on a gloomy day of the week. The solution is to apply a reflector or even flash to fill in the shadows. While the lighting isn’t always simple in woodlands, the outcomes can be well worth the effort.

Children’s playgrounds: Use a playground at a quiet time and your model can have lots of fun on the rides, adding a sense of movement and vitality to your portraits.

One more thing. Don't forget to have fun and enjoy yourself. When you are having fun the person in front of the lens will have fun too!

Note: All the images here are mine. Please be respectful and do not copy or steal them. ;)
If you have questions feel free to message me at

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This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to become a Professional Photographer

How to become a Professional Photographer

Sometime I get really frustrated with other because it seems these day everyone one wants everything now. No one patience these days.

When doing anything great and worthwhile you should expect to put your heart and soul into it. You  should expect to sacrifice things.

The same applies to becoming a great photographer.
It takes time and patience and learning and practicing.

I tell every student that attends a workshop or class that they should be shooting every day.
I know most of them don't do it and those are the ones who will never get to work a professional photographers.

Here is what I tell them..
If you are a body builder and you work out only on Saturday for 7 hours in two months you don't get so far..
How ever if you spend one hour a day for 7 days for two months you can look and feel amazing.

This a concept that can be applied to any aspect of improving anything in your life..

There is also a statistic that says if you want to excel at anything in life do it every day for 2 years.

So you want to be a professional photographer..
Here is what you do.

1. Shoot every day. At least 20 images.
2. Work at making the shots you do today better than the ones you took yesterday.
3. Two years.
4. Be patient
5. Only positive talk. A failure is not a failure, it's a learning experience.
6. Market yourself and put your work out for others to see.

That's it!
What will you be doing in two years?

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This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally. This summer I am taking 10 students to Europe for the entire summer to learn photography. You can find out more on the Missoula Photography School site!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do this to get more business.

One thing I have learned since starting my business is that the most important thing you can have is a great looking website. I know so many photographers who just have a Facebook page or a blog. Why do you need a great looking website? It's your home. You control it. It's the one place where you don't have to worry about a company like Pinterest or Flickr having more power than you. It also makes you look professional. When I opened my new site I looked for a simple design. I wanted something clean and elegant. Here is my site.

Having a simple site that is easy to navigate will help make you money For 10 dollars a month there is no reason not to have a nice site that makes you money. don't get me wrong, you will still need to market it and find other avenues to get business.

The days of having only a Facebook page are gone. If you are having a hard time with your business let me know. I offer photography business coaching. You can message me at

My name is Brian.

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This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One simple trick to get better portraits...

Are you ready to know a simple trick that will help you get better portraits and make more sales? It's really simple. 
Make them laugh. 
That's it.  I can tell you from years of experience that when people laugh everyone wins.
When you post your shots online and others see others see them your gonna get a lot more "likes" 
Everyone loves to see happy people. So make them laugh and you will both come out ahead. 

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This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I read this quote the other day.....

I read a quote the other day...

“IF you can’t make sacrifices for your dreams, you should probably choose bigger dreams.”

A man named Beau Weiher said this last year. He was a into extreme sports and he was killed doing what he love a few days ago while base jumping in Glacier National Park. 

He makes a good point.

Last night I was at the park watching my kids play and I started a conversation with another father. After talking for a few he asked me what I do and when I told him I was a full time photographer and showed him my work he said. "It's not very often that someone actually gets to follow their dreams."
He's right. But I am going to tell you a secret and getting your dreams..
Beau had it right.  You have to give something up... At least for a while. You ask what I had to give up?  I gave up comfort. I lived on no money for a while. I didn't have much food.  I was behind on bills. I lost friends.  Was it worth it? Now I have my dream. The friends who left.. I am not living to make them happy. I am here for me. Now that I have my dream I can go out and I can help others. I am in a position to do that now.
 So is your dream worth it? What do you want to do? What is your passion? What are you willing to give up to have your dream?

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This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Canon AE-1 Review

Canon AE-1 Review

Brian Johnson is the owner and main writer for Buffaloz Photography Training.. He also owns Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall.

Free photography tips and training

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The most important thing you can do to get good portraits is....

 The most important thing you can do to get good portraits is....have fun.

Have you ever walked by a photographer working with a family and they all look like their bored. Have you every know a photographer that just shoots and doesn't engage the person he is working with.
Let me tell you a secret. Make them laugh and they will love you. Make them laugh and you will get more business. People like seeing others laugh and smile. For a long time my work was dark and sad and moody. It's still moody but something I have noticed is that when I post a photo of someone laughing or smiling, even though the lighting isn't perfect or the pose, it's received better and gets more "likes".

Human nature tells us that we want to be around happy people. Even depressed people want to be around happy people. If you want get amazing portraits and make money at it you need to know what we as humans love. We love seeing happy, smiling, laughing people. It rubs off on us and we feel better. So next time you are out shooting be funny. Laugh your way right into the hearts of your clients..

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This is me! Brian Johnson
My philosophy on teaching might be different than others. I believe on the hands of approach. I travel the world teaching workshops and I run a photography school! I would love to hear from you if you have questions. You can email me at 

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