Category: Education

The right focal length can flatter or make your clients appear FATTER!

· January 19, 2012 · 8:12 pm · Education

Ralph and I just returned from this year’s national photography convention in New Orleans!  WOW, what an amazing experience.  We brought back loads of new stuff for the studio including a new lens!  The kind gentleman shown here helped show us a number of new lens choices and helped us to pick just what I wanted.  My final decision was based on f-stop range, but in testing out the new lenses I inadvertently ended up with a perfect example of what lens NOT to use for portraits!  The two images shown here were created with two different lenses from the exact same distance.  I cropped one in slightly to give you a better view.  You should easily see that the lens on the right shot using a much wider angle and actually caused our friendly lens rep to have a much rounder face!  WOW, we are talking a 35mm difference in overall focal length here…  The image on the left was shot at 85mm, while the one on the right was shot at 50mm using my full frame Canon DSLR.  Traditionally the 50mm lens has always been considered the perfect standard focal length, but I beg to differ when it comes to digital!  The point of this post is to show you a clear example of what a lens is capable of doing to your portrait clients if you’re using the wrong focal length.  Being a professional means that we should be flattering our clients, not exaggerating their features.  Keep this in mind as you make your lens purchases and stay away from anything that may have you shooting portraits using a wide angle!  I suggest never shooting portraits at less than 85mm.  If you’ve ever heard the old saying ‘the camera adds ten pounds’, well now you know that it really can do just that.  ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP

The TRUTH about the Photography Biz…

· January 7, 2012 · 4:47 pm · Education

Below is a post that went up on my facebook about a year ago.  I’m reposting it here today in support of a dear photographer friend who recently posted an informative blog about the photography business and was quite literally attacked with a load of hateful comments.  It literally broke my heart because I KNOW that her post was meant to be an educational tool and not to discourage anyone trying to start or build a photography business.  Many professional photographers like us are trying to reach out and educate through our blogs, facebook etc…   So, it is my sincerest hope that this post is taken this for what it is, an honest attempt to educate, not to belittle.  I have made many mistakes in this business and many of them are actually listed on this post!  My business didn’t begin to thrive until I took a few steps backward and started taking the right steps.  SO HERE GOES:

Ok, so you went out and bought a really nice camera and it’s loaded with more than enough megapixels to create some fantastic images…  Here’s just a few things you’ll need to know BEFORE you make the leap into your own photography business.


1.  There are more photographers out there trying to make a living with their camera than ever before.  Competition is FIERCE!

2.  To be successful, you’ll need to LEARN how to use every feature on your camera including the dreaded MANUAL setting.

3.  You’ll need to invest in PROFESSIONAL lighting, light modifiers and lenses in order for your camera to produce truly professional images.

4.  You’ll need to invest in at least one very fast computer system designed to handle heavy graphic work, professional software such as Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom as well as loads of drive space to hold all those megapixel filled images.  Don’t forget you’ll also need an adequate back-up system which should be completely separate from your working system.  Drive crashes are a photographers worst nightmare in today’s fast paced digital world.

5.  You’ll need to develop a STYLE that STANDS out and offers images that clients simply couldn’t get unless they come to you!  Let’s face it, anyone can take great snapshots these days.

6.  You may only get ONE chance to build a solid reputation and stepping out of the gate TOO SOON could leave you at the back of the race for a very long time!

7.  Be prepared to spend YEARS developing your skills and your reputation.  Photography is NO “Get Rich Quick” scheme.  If you’re looking for a quick or easy way to make a few smackers, you may wanna check into selling cosmetics, candles or jewelry.

8.  Be prepared to SPEND MONEY on an education which includes learning from other photographers.  I don’t know a single successful photographer who hasn’t taken this step.  No, you may not need a college degree, but you do have to get educated and NONE of the photographic educational opportunities out there are cheap.

9.  Get LICENSED!  Photography guilds across the country are working hand in hand with State and Local authorities to help weed out those who seem to think they don’t have to pay taxes.  If you’re advertising your services on facebook or elsewhere, then you have some paperwork to do and checks to write.

10.  GET INSURED!  Accidents HAPPEN in this business and you’re not immune to the possibility of a child taking a serious tumble during a shoot.  Babies aren’t exactly stable when they first start sitting up and what IF they don’t bounce right back when they roll over the wrong way?  You’re also not immune to grandma tripping over the base of a lightstand!  If it can happen, there’s a good chance it will if you’re not properly insured…

11. LOVE YOUR FELLOW PHOTOGRAPHERS!  Simply put, do unto others as you would have them do unto you!  Whether through a hateful comment, blog post or unethical business practice, you can bet that any negativity you bring to a fellow photographer will surely make it’s way back to you!  You will be well ahead of the game and blessed for your kindness by simply taking this one to heart!

PRAYING FOR ALL OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY FRIENDS DAILY INCLUDING THOSE WHO I HAVEN’T YET BEEN BLESSED ENOUGH TO MEET!!!  I pray for those who have been in this business for decades as well as those who may just be unwrapping their shiny new cameras!  Everything I post here is done with MUCH LOVE for each and every one of you!     ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP

Digital Makeup

· December 22, 2011 · 2:35 am · Education, Get Inspired, Photoshop

I’ve been ‘photoshopping’ since the mid 1990′s which will put me right at 17 years into this program come 2012 which just happens to be arriving in just a few days.  There is quite literally nothing you can’t do with this program!  Here’s a quick example of some DIGITAL MAKEUP that I’ve come to enjoy over the years.  Did you know you can add mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, blush, lipstick or even lipgloss?  I chose a nice shiny lipgloss for this example…  If you’re interested in learning some advanced retouching techniques please feel free to email me at and hopefully we can put together a class real soon!  ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP


a Photographer's Blog

Sometimes a girl’s gotta say what a girl’s gotta say and so I’ve created an entirely new place for me to do just that. I have been a photographer for over 25 years so I like to think I have much to share about the business of photography. I have learned many difficult lessons over the years while building my business and I now find myself on a mission to help others by teaching them how to avoid the pitfalls of this business. I’ve decided to share as much as I possibly can about my experiences in the world of photography including the good, the bad and the really ugly stupid. I’ve also decided to share some tips and tricks on how to DO IT RIGHT and that includes sharing how I learned from my mistakes and found myself as an artist. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it certainly has NEVER once been a boring journey. I hope you’ll join me here on my new blog as I take you down memory lane, teach you a few new tricks and even offer some heartfelt advice to those who have chosen professional photography as their career path. Over the years, I have helped many up & coming photographers to develop their skills and I have enjoyed each and every moment of it. I have accomplished a great deal more than I ever dreamed I would behind the camera including winning the coveted FujiFilm Masterpiece Award, the Kodak Gallery Award as well as having the honor of being awarded the Photographic Craftsman's Degree from Professional Photographer's of America. Mix that in with a few 1st Place print competition awards a "Best of Show" and "Photographer of the Year" and hopefully you have the makings of a few good stories.

Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP