Education

Private Photography Lessons

Testimonial: “Grace takes a holistic approach to photography mentoring – something I didn’t expect, but have definitely valued. Lessons ranged between the evolution and history of the art of photography, camera and hardware function, lighting, composition, editing, working with people and good business practice – all of which have contributed to my personal and professional development. While Grace willingly tailored our lessons to suit my skill level, she also challenged me to move beyond my comfort zone. Her flexibility, knowledge and high standards have definitely made me a better photographer.”       – Melita Caulfield 2016.

I’m now taking enrolments for spring sessions. Please contact me via email to register your interest, or why not grab a gift voucher for someone you know would love a special gift of following their creative passion.

Why you need to get off ‘Manual’ mode

Many people ask me, “how is manual mode any different than auto mode on a DSLR camera?”

These differences are worth knowing if you are to become a better photographer, and not just a lazy one who takes snapshots!

Knowing how to use manual mode properly and confidently will instantly take your photography to the next level.

Firstly, and most importantly, the camera does not know what you are trying to photograph. When you are using auto mode, your results don’t turn out the way you want them to. The camera is seeing what it wants to see, the brightest part of a scene. When the camera exposes a scene, it will naturally favour the brightest parts and expose your image as a neutral grey tone. The image will turn out looking like rubbish, which is never your intention!   

You will need to learn to override the cameras auto setting, by using manual mode (M).  This allows us to manipulate the exposure, basically telling the camera how we want a scene to look.  One example I often use; think about when you are taking a portrait of your friend in front of a window inside a room. The result 90% of the time will be the friend turns out very dark and the background looks great, nice and bright. Your goal was to photograph your friend, not the scene outside the window, that should be secondary to the portrait.

To manipulate those situations, knowing how to use the camera settings on Manual and learning the rules of exposure are vital to successfully capture a great photo. .

You will learn how to understand the aperture (A), shutter speed (S) and ISO settings (ISO) all together to make the recipe for correct exposure.

Aperture: is the opening in the lens that controls the amount of light reaching the cameras sensor. It also controls depth of field (DOF), the blurred background effect.

Shutter Speed: Controls the fraction of time the light is exposed to the cameras sensor.

ISO: is a standardised setting for the sensor sensitivity, exactly like the film days when you when and grabbed a roll from the supermarket ISO 100 for sunny outdoors shooting and ISO 400 for indoor or dark situations. Now digital camera can range from 100 ISO to 12800.

Controlling all three settings will help to achieve the correct exposure. The correct exposure will create an image that looks the way you intended. Detail will be more obvious in the white/bright parts of the scene and also the dark/shadows.

Are you interested in learning manual mode in more depth? From a real person, using everyday terms and not an instruction manual? Contact me, grace@gracecosta.com for one on one photography tuition. I’ve been photographing for 16 years in a professional capacity and have a passion for sharing my knowledge in an easy to understand language. I’d be very happy to help you on your journey to becoming a better photographer!

Artist Talk – May ’17, Sydney

Please join me for my artist talk at the Scratch Art Space Marrickville at 2pm. I will be sharing insights into the creative process in creating my new series, my 16 year career and talk about cheeky horses peeing inside the studio space!

Scratch Art Space Marrickville. 67 Sydneham Road Marrickville NSW .

Learn more about my upcoming talk by visitng the following link.
http://www.scratchartspace.com/event/horse/#.WRbq8byGNGw

How To Make People Feel Comfortable

I’ve been a portrait photographer for over 10 years. I’d like to share some tips with you about the small things you can do to make people feel comfortable in front of the camera. This is a skill in itself, which takes practice. If you are new to portrait photography, why not try these tips on your friends and family until it becomes second nature.

1. Make conversation. Start with small talk, get deeper as you get to know the person you are photographing. Start by asking how they are feeling- some people are quite nervous when getting their portrait taken. Acknowledging this is part of the process, tell them “Don’t worry we are going to have a great time, I’ll make it as painless as possible”.

2. Make it swift and painless. People don’t like to be asked to pose all day long, especially if they are not used to it. The process should be fun, but some find it tiring, so try and only shoot what you need without going over the top or dragging it out.  It is important to give your client regular breaks whilst during the shoot.

3. Give clear direction to your subject. Some people can be awkward or even embarrassed in front of the camera unless you are a pro model you will not instinctively know what to do. People always say to me “what do I do with my hands”?  As a photographer, you have to think two steps ahead, and know what you want from the subject: Tell them where to place their hands, and body, where you need them to look, when you want them to relax and be playful or any minor direction. This makes the difference between a good portrait and a great portrait!  It’s your job as the photographer to make the client feel at ease, and trust that you have the skills & techniques to ensure the most flattering image will be created for them.

4. Sneak peak. It doesn’t hurt to show your client a preview of their images from the back of the camera to put their mind at ease. This will encourage them to continue to give you great shots as you move through the shoot.

5. Explain what you are trying to achieve as you commence the shoot, and during the shoot, it can help your subject feel more connected and understand the shoot process.  The client also has the opportunity to contribute their input so it can be a collaboration of both your ideas. It is not just a one-way street!

There you have it, I hope these tips help you on your next shoot. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or send me an email grace@gracecosta.com

5 Reasons You Need A Business Portrait

Business portraits are my main passion in my business. I specially enjoy working with creative entrepreneurs to help them project themselves as the creator in their business. Here I will share with you my top 5 reasons why you need to put a face to your business right now!

  1. Show your potential clients who you are. People like to connect to a face, as well as your written content. Therefore your face is the most powerful icon on your website and your professional portrait should be creating that positive first impression.
  2. Use your new portrait over digital and print media. It will be useful for all profile pictures:  Linked In, Facebook, Website, Instagram, Forum profiles, Twitter- the list goes on! Don’t forget you can have different images for different platforms, and with my specialised sessions I will capture many different looks for you to choose from. Some examples could include: an image of you naturally laughing, a serious but friendly look, a candid shot of you looking away from the camera, even a fun image of you doing something fun if that suits your business essence.
  3. Project a professional appearance.  It makes sense to portray your professionalism with a current and relevant portrait of yourself as the entrepreneur or businessperson and show you have professional standards. After all, you are running a professional business, right?
  4. Take your business seriously. Making a small financial investment in a professional portrait shows that you take your business seriously and are willing to put yourself forward before the client has had the chance to meet you. If your headshot isn’t professional, it doesn’t help people warm to you, it doesn’t inspire confidence in you, it doesn’t help people trust you.
  5. Connect. By including a professional business portrait on your website, social media and everywhere you are represented online, the more likely people are to reach out to ask you about you, your business, your products.

If you would like to book to have your business portraits taken by me please contact me on 0403593548 basic package starts at $550, or drop me a line at grace@gracecosta.com to receive my package details for your consideration. 

New workshop coming in 2017!

Have you ever wanted to host a photography or art exhibition but have no idea where to start? I realise there is no one out there teaching how an exhibition is put together, so I figured I would be the perfect perfect to share this knowledge and get you started on hosting your first exhibition, no matter what stage you are in your creative career, the time to learn is now.  I’ll be posting more information about where and when this workshop will be held, and taking enrolments in the next month or so.

You can register your interest by sending an email to grace@gracecosta.com or send a message via the contact page.

Talking Equipment

Having the right gear can make your job as a professional photographer a hell of a lot easier and more efficient. I have been shooting for 15 years, and of course at first I wasn’t making enough money to buy all the latest gear, so I stayed within my means. I have evolved my business and my professional gear since then, to products I’m now really happy with. So I’d love to share them with you which might help when you’re looking for your next piece of equipment.

Other great products I haven’t mentioned in the layout above:

EIZO MONITOR: They are the best, each to calibrate, low reflection as it has a matt surface which is great for photo editing, they cost a little more but they are worth the investment as you will be using it for years.  http://www.eizo.com.au

SPIDER HOLSTER: The spider I came across at the Digital Expo a few years ago. Its a holster for you camera that you wear around your waist like a belt so you can be hands free when you need to be. It’s particularly great when you shoot with two cameras, you can have one around your neck and one on your waist.  http://spiderholster.com

SPYDER CHECKR: This is a calibration system that is used for colour management. Any decent studio printing photos for clients should have one. It allows photographer’s to colour calibrate their cameras, perform precision in-camera white balance and record known-colour samples and match prints to correct colours on screen.

LOWEPRO: They make great camera bags. I have a few different styles and sizes for different purposes and also one on wheels which is like a suitcase. This is great for when I need to take all my gear on an aeroplane as its protected and snug in the case, it also carries a laptop and snacks for when your shoot runs way overtime! http://www.lowepro.com

ELINCHROM: Studio lights and accessories. Elinchrom has a huge range, but one of the reasons I like them so much is they make smaller light kits for people like me who’d rather have a light weight quick set up kit. At the moment I have the Quadra Ranger kit and it fits nicely in an easy to carry, fit in your car strong case. http://www.elinchrom.com/battery/ranger-quadra.html

If you have any questions about the gear I’ve discussed in this post, please contact me and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Show Time – Selecting your best travel images

So if you’re anything like me, you might find it very difficult to narrow down all your amazing new travel images, and you often take so many it’s hard to know which ones to show. So here are a few things I like to consider when making my final selection.

1. Eliminate the emotion

We often have an emotional attachment to certain images that other people may not be able to relate to. My suggestion is to think about what you are trying to say about that part of your trip. What is the essence of that location? Is your aim to show how old and grand everything is in Rome, or how sweet and quaint the little village and its people are in Greece, or the old architecture and colours you have seen in Venice? Whatever it may be, try and condense your intention with just a few of the best images.

2. Mix it up

Select a mix of people, places and things – this will add variety to your visual story. Often I capture the local people of the places I’ve visited, sometimes in a photo-journalistic style or I ask someone to pose for me. Add a little of the streets to show what it’s like to live there – is it chaotic, quiet, dirty or simply rustic?

3. Don’t show too much

So you have taken a huge amount of images and you’re so excited for everyone to see where you’ve been and all the amazing things you have seen. Well, you can only keep someone’s attention for so long. I suggest only showing your best images, so when you think you’ve selected your best, then cull it in half again. Keep the shots with most impact that help express your original intention (Point #1).

4. Think of the viewer

Who is your audience? Think about the images being of interest to the viewer. Of course we want to show everything if we can, but can your viewers relate to the images your have selected? Keep in mind you might be sharing your images on a blog and not necessarily face to face so you won’t have the opportunity to add narrative to your images.

Top 5 Travel Photography Tips

I’ve just returned from my honeymoon in Europe which prompted me to make a list of my top tips to make successful travel images.

1. The telephoto

Don’t take a long telephoto lens with you, you will not end up using it. I’ve taken a 70-300 lens in the past and never found the need for it. My husband took a similar lens and didn’t pull it out more than once. Most subjects are in close proximity of where you are standing, and I find anything that’s taken from a really long distance doesn’t make a very good photo as it lacks the impact you get when you shoot at a closer range. On all my trips to Europe i have found the 24-70mm most useful.

2. Always take the shot

It happens so often. You see something that catches your eye, you hesitate, to take the photo, then say to yourself “I’ll just take it on the way back”. More often than not, you never walk past it on the way back, usually taking an alternate route to explore other areas. So always stop and take the shot there and then!

3. Look up

Foreign countries are filled with amazing architecture. Look up when you are walking down narrow streets or around the city – you will see the buildings from interesting angles, things hanging from balconies, maybe a flock of birds. Change it up and point your eye to the sky.

4. Show it your way

Look for something in your travels that other tourists aren’t capturing. It’s not always about shooting the famous monument. Think about what is going on in that place. When I visited the Mona Lisa this time around, there was a mass of tourists taking photos of the famous art work. I turned my camera to the people and got a shot of all the tourists with their cameras frantically pushing to get the best photo of the painting. This made for an interesting image with a story rather than the painting on the wall.

5. Look within the scene

When I travel I’m always noticing the intricate details and textures that help tell a story and give a sense of what the place is like. I notice fancy door handles, textures of walls, golden gates with beautiful emblems, the locals sitting with their dog, windows filled with geraniums (to me that says Europe).

If you can relate to any of these tips or have one of your own, feel free to leave a comment.

Dynamic Food Photography Lessons

Recently I’ve been teaching food photography ‘one to one sessions’. I teach my student to explore different styles of lighting food to help create mood and emotion, and we plan styling and compositions to help achieve a narrative about the food we are photographing. I find it is great fun and brings me back to my TAFE days where I first learned to art of food photography. It takes time, patience and planning but the results can be amazing and all worth the effort.   I have been inspired to shoot a few things in my free time, here are my results.

If you are interested in custom mentoring sessions, please send me an email.

Lessons start at $230 for 1 and half hour session which includes homework task.