The Importance of Giving Back & Growing Our Photographic Community

The Importance of Giving Back & Growing Our Photographic Community

Being an excellent photographer requires more than taking beautiful photos.  As you grow in your photography career you will realize that using your camera during that big shoot becomes less of a focus until one day the operation of your camera, lenses and lighting is nearly automatic and takes minimal if any active thought.  During this transition, focus shifts from the camera to the complete attention to the client and their products.  This moment marks the transition from photographer to professional.  When this happens we become an integral part of our client's experience.  

Watching and helping you grow to become the most powerful artist you were designed to be is the reason that we’ve establishes an Apprentice Program at our creative studio. The apprentice program is specifically designed for photographers who are progressing at their craft, who have good technical camera knowledge, and who want to further their photography career. A sense of passion about offering the finest art to clients is something we care about deeply.

Apprenticeships bring together individuals, who are motivated and working hard to develop themselves, and employers, investing in their own success but supporting a wider program of social, environmental and economic value.

An Apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development program. It allows the apprentice to gain technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate and long-term career path. These are acquired through a mix of learning in the workplace and the opportunity to practice and embed new skills in a real work context. This broader mix differentiates the Apprenticeship experience from training delivered to meet narrowly focused job needs.

The photo imaging workforce can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  • Image producers at retail
  • Picture libraries and agencies
  • Manufacturers

Across the photography industry as a whole, 91% of companies employ five people or fewer. The photo sector increasingly requires a workforce with a wide ranging skill set, combining technical proficiency with creativity, visual awareness and business acumen. Practitioners need to be motivated and self-sufficient, committed and enthusiastic. Career success typically requires a strong passion for the subject and a high level of entrepreneurial ability. Competition is vigorous, especially for photographers, and the financial rewards vary greatly depending on the skills and specialties of the individual photographer. That said, the work is usually interesting and seldom routine.

Across the sector as a whole, the most significant specialist skills gaps continue to be around the use of digital technology, knowledge of digital workflow and management of digital assets. The rapid pace of technological change means that businesses and individuals must develop strong market awareness and demonstrate flexibility to adapt rapidly to new business opportunities. In addition, widespread internet access and the opportunity for image sharing across a number of platforms, makes an understanding of intellectual property rights and how to protect them increasingly important. Our Apprenticeship has been designed to tackle these skills gaps.
The framework is targeted at photography and non-photography roles. 

The role will focus on:

  • Commercial photography
  • Event photography
  • Studio photography specializing in advertising, food or catalog/web

The aim of this Apprenticeship is to attract new entrants into the photo business, through a structured and employer-led framework. The main objectives of this Apprenticeship are:

  • to provide a non-traditional route into the industry;
  • to provide an entry route for under-represented groups;
  • to allow our company to supplement our organizations with new expertise, techniques and technologies;
  • to provide the photography sector with a stream of motivated recruits equipped with the technical, creative and business skills required for the future;
  • to offer sufficient flexibility within the framework to ensure that it can be used to support entry into a wide variety of roles within the industry.

The Obscura Companies will carry out ongoing monitoring and evaluation to assess the extent to which this Apprenticeship meets the above objectives. When required, we will update the content of this framework to respond to the fast-moving changes within the creative industry.

Career success typically requires a strong passion for the subject, so candidates should show a high level of interest and enthusiasm for the subject and the photography sector in general. This could be demonstrated by providing a portfolio of personal photographic work or through evidence of work experience. For many jobs roles good color vision is essential, although this is not a prerequisite for entry to the framework. 

Qualifications and other prior achievements, which may provide a useful basis for entry include:

  • a portfolio from personal and/or work experience, non-accredited courses, volunteering; OR
  • previously worked or are working in the sector; OR
  • Awards, Certificates or Diplomas in the field from an accredited school

The apprentice program is very limited and an application is required to be submitted in its entirety in order to be considered. If you’d like to learn more, click here to submit an initial contact form.

Spring Break Photo Tips

Spring Break Photo Tips

Spring Break is right around the corner for most kids from pre-school to college co-eds. This is a rite of passage for most high school and college students. They may be off to the beach or possibly get in a little skiing. Or, they may be stuck on Mom and Dad's couch for the week. No matter where you go (or don't go) for Spring Break you will be creating lasting memories and see amazing things...So don't forget your camera or at least take your iPhone or smartphone with you.

If the beach is your destination for Spring Break here are a few photo tips to keep in mind while you are there.

Candid Photos

When you are taking candid photos (photos where people aren't posing or looking at the camera) be sure you aren't taking photos of the back of people's heads. Try to get in close and time your pic carefully (laughing is always a great candid)

Posed Photos

Taking photos of your family or group of friends on the beach is definitely necessary, but can be a challenge because you are usually there in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead. What's the solution...well, you are at the beach so sunglasses always work for the younger crowd. Try to find a spot that had any type of shade. An umbrella, a lifeguard stand, or even a passing cloud. As the day goes on try to face your group pics away from the sun for the most flattering light. Having the sun at their backs will prevent squinting and harsh shadows under their eyes.

Other Photo Opportunities

Sunrise / Sunset on the beach. If you are on the East Coast or on the Gulf of Mexico that means getting up pretty early. But it is definitely worth doing at least one of the days you are at the beach. If you are at a West Coast beach you get to watch the sunset over the Pacific ocean. Be ready but patient with your camera...sunrises and sunsets can change dramatically in just a minute or two...then all of a sudden they are gone. The sand and ocean water itself can be fun to sure to pay attention to small details.

If you and your friends or your family are hitting the slopes for Spring Break then...well #1 is be careful. Here are a few more bits of wisdom:

  • Taking a compact point and shoot or even using your iPhone on the slopes is going to be way easier to carry than a full DSLR and lens. Keep your camera in a zipped pocket (preferably on the inside of your pocket so it doesn't get wet.
  • Take advantage of the view. When you are at the top of the mountain take a breath, pull out your camera and try to photograph both wide landscapes and zoom in a little on nearby mountain tops. These can make for some breathtaking canvas prints once you get home.
  • Ski ahead of your friends or family, pick a SAFE spot to take photos of them as they come cruising by. Probably not the best idea to do on a double black diamond slope with moguls (especially if you are my Mom). Take close ups of all your gear: snowboards and skis have a great shape to them. All the gear in the snow or leaning up against a fence makes for a pretty cool insert the whole gang into that shot and presto instant classic!
  • End of the run photos: After a long day on the slope make sure to get the weary group together for a group shot. If everyone is still wearing their skis and snowboards be sure to get full length of the whole group.

And, if you are stuck at home this Spring Break, take advantage of everyone being gone. It's like you have the whole place to yourself...and the rest of us who have to work during Spring Break. If you have a car or know a friend who has a car go out and explore your city or town. Have your own little mini adventure. Even if it is for a day. Taking silly and fun photos along the way will be something you can remember after that day is long gone.

Now, what to do with all these amazing photos once you are back. Here are just a few ideas for you:

  • A collection of some small square canvas prints can make that beach trip come alive. Pick 3 or 4 of your favorite shots and crop them square (if you took them with Instagram then you are already set) and get them printed as 8x8's. 
  • Make a photo album. You likely took close to 300 photos on your trip…or if you are like me…1,500. That is way to many to a photo canvas out of each one. These days there are several great options to make a personalized photo album. Shutterfly is just one of many online options. You can always do the old school route and buy an album to slide the photos in as well.
  • If canvas photo prints aren't your style you can always have us print your best shots on our Fine Art Photo Paper. I am still a little partial to framed photo prints. And hey, there is no rule out there saying you can't do both a photo print and a canvas print.

Enjoy whatever you do during Spring Break... feel free to tweet us your photos @WeAreObscura

5 Tips for Better Food Photography

5 Tips for Better Food Photography

We all know food tastes good, but it’s not always the easiest subject to photograph. Taking good photos doesn’t just happen by pointing and shooting. There’s a lot that goes into it.
A great photograph doesn’t just happen. You need to think about the details like composition, lighting, styling, etc. A good food photo makes your drool just looking at it because it displays the best traits of the food (aka, the subject).

Below are five tips from one of our brands, that detail some of the key aspects to getting great food shots:

Don’t Ignore Composition

Tell a story by using your backdrop or setting and props. Make sure that everything looks beautiful and well-rounded. Composition basically means the arrangement of stuff in your photo. A good composition sets the scene for your audience, whether it’s a plate or a single piece of parsley on your dish.

One useful tool to keep in mind is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a nine-part grid that you need to imagine over your photo or subject. Your main subject should be either along the lines or at the intersections of your grid. Our eyes are naturally drawn to these points, so it’s good to keep in mind when taking your photos. You use this method to really highlight your dish and tell a story.


Props Are Essential

Props can really set the storyline for your photo and give it more depth. However, you don’t want to overdo it. You want your photos to be full of detail, but you don’t want the props to take over the shot or upstage your main subject (the food).

For example:

  • Choose the plate you use wisely

  • Use accessories like napkins or utensils

  • Garnish the dish

  • Get creative with your backgrounds

  • If the food is busy, make sure your props aren’t, and if your setting/food isn’t so busy then add some flare and character using your plates, bowls, etc.


Angles Are Critical

Choosing the right angles makes all the difference. Some dishes are better with the side view and others are better from a birds eye view. When you establish which is best for your subject, you’ll really see an increase in response because you’ll have made the food look incredible!


Don’t Get Too Close

Try to take a shot far enough away from the ideal sizing you’ll want. This way you’ll have wiggle room when you are editing and you can play with different compositions in the editing process. Sometimes playing with the cropping when editing can take a photo that you didn’t love from the start to one that’s fantastic.

A good rule of thumb is being far enough away that you know you won’t end up cropping half the bowl out or even someone’s head. Think of the subject and how you want it to look in its "end use".


Interact With The Food

Interaction is a great way to liven up your photos. For example, cutting into the item, using a hand with a fork, etc., will create a story and make it more real versus just looking like fake, pretty food. It also adds character and creates a style to the client's photography.


Is Virtual Art the Future of Creativity?

Is Virtual Art the Future of Creativity?

Have You Experienced Virtual Art?

Every art piece demands a certain level of immersion and engagement from its viewers, but art experienced via VR googles takes things to an entirely different level. Virtual art, VR art or virtual reality art are all terms we use to describe the virtualization of art, made with the technical tools developed in recent decades. The development of computers and other tools such as “visualization casks, stereoscopic spectacles and screens, digital painting and sculpture, generators of three-dimensional sound, position sensors, tactile and power feed-back systems transforms artwork into a virtual universe and allows viewers to get in and edit. This deep level of immersion and personal involvement and the application of specific technical tools are the main characteristics of what we refer to as virtual art.

Unlike many other art forms, virtual art cannot exist without the observer, but at the same time, it erases the difference between the viewer, the creator and the artwork itself. It merges all three in one by letting the viewers control their surrounding with gesture and movement, by giving them different paths of exploring the artwork and by integrating the participants into the piece itself (sometimes through breathing, speech or video clips, other times through virtual representation of the participant aka the avatar).

A Milestone Event

Recently, a blockchain crypto-art rose titled "Forever Rose" has been sold to a collective of investors for cryptocurrencies with a value equivalent to $1,000,000 USD. The collective is composed of 10 investors, each of whom contributed an equal amount toward the digital rose. The artwork is based on Kevin Abosch's photograph of a rose and was created by Abosch and GIFTO, a decentralized universal gifting protocol. Blockchain technology is behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and rights management platforms like KODAKOne. The tech can also be used for art, as demonstrated by Abosch with "Forever Rose." Abosch previously sold an image of a potato titled "Potato #345" in 2016 for more than $1 million.


Forever Rose is believed to currently be the most valuable virtual artwork in the world. The buyers can choose to hold onto their rose tokens, sell them, or give them away. Abosch and GIFTO will donate the sale proceeds to The CoderDojo Foundation, which provides kids around the world with the opportunity to learn coding skills for free.

What is the Future of Virtual Art?

The future of Virtual Art will in many ways depend on the development of components that will be available to future art-makers. The first wave came instantly and gained immediate attention around the globe. But shortly after, virtual art began to fade a bit, since the possibilities of the latest equipment was quickly exhausted. But technological progress continues, and now you can make paintings, sculptures, even murals by using VR tools but still there’s a long way to go, and developers know it. With its ability to simultaneously occupy all our senses, transcend time and space and present the work from numerous perspectives, virtual art offers something that no other art genre does: the complete and impeccable substitute for reality. 

Let us know your thoughts or your experiences with virtual art… and as always, keep creating!

In 2018, Image Means More Than Ever

In 2018, Image Means More Than Ever

So if you thought one way when you read the title of this post, we’re hear to tell you that it’s truly a “two-fold issue" as far as how our creative team looks at it. As part of a group of creative companies, FIRM NAME and it’s people believe that the “visual image" we capture for you and your company directly impacts how your “brand image” is perceived out there in the world, be it on packaging in a supermarket, on social media, or as part of an editorial spread in a newspaper or magazine.


Humans are visual creatures hence what others see has an undeniable impact on our success. Images transcend language and words and allow for a greater understanding of whatever is being discussed. Since first impressions are formed within seconds and since most of the information we consume and interpret is visual, quality design can make your site and your brand stick in the viewer’s mind as professional and credible.


It’s simple: the more professional, compelling and enticing your imagery is, the more business you’ll conduct over time. We’re not just talking about pretty pictures, we’re talking about a way to visualize information in a way that makes sense to your end user. Using high quality imagery of your products and services will help you market to a much larger audience. Imagery opens your content up to a whole new audience by giving visitors the chance to share your imagery with friends and family… and as a bonus: shared images are basically free advertising.


Using great design and imaginative, high quality imagery is a necessity in today’s visual world. Great creative should convey a message in an easy, simple way, transcend language barriers, provide a good summary of information, support and break down complex concepts, and take a fraction of a second to understand. Yes, that’s a tall order, but it’s one that we fulfill for our clients on a daily basis.