How to be Confident In Front of the Camera

The NUMBER ONE QUESTION I get asked is how to stay confident when posing.

For some people, getting photographed is a lot easier than for others. There are ones who are anxious, nervous and overall confused when they get in front of the lens.

 

Have you ever said or thought one of the following:
''I freeze when I see a camera in front of my face.''
''What should I do with my hands?''
''Am I required to smile or not?''

These are all valid questions, but it's easy to underestimate them. I want to share with you my own experience when it comes to being in front of the lens.

If you have been following me for some time, you know that I have a rich background in self-portraiture.

That allowed me to feel confident in my skin not only when I am also the one behind the lens, but when I am being photographed by others too.

I think it's very important to gain that self-confidence and to feel comfortable in your body. 

Yes, it is easier said than done, but here are some tips to help you along the way.
 

1. PRACTICE MAKES.... BETTER!

isabella bubola self portrait

Try this to practice 'posing' and get to know yourself:

  • Look at yourself in the mirror and try to find poses that suit you and that make you feel powerful
  • How does your face looks like in different lighting situations? What kind of poses work with different light sources (sunlight, a lamp in the house, a reflection from the sea)
  • Take selfies in good light and tilt your head, move your shoulders - explore how your body moves and what kind of poses work best for you.

We all walk, laugh, sit in a different manner and it's all part of what makes us distinguishable and interesting.

I can spot some of my friends from far away, before I see their faces clearly, because I can perceive the way they walk and my brain knows it can't be anyone else but them.

Knowing your poses will help you be more relaxed in front of the camera and once you're comfortable enough with those, you will have enough space to try something new.
 

2. FOOD KEEPS YOU FEEL MORE ENERGIZED

healthy lunch

Junk food tastes jummy! What's better than a freshly baked pizza with oozing mozzarella and a lot of basil on top?

That said, junk food is called like that for a reason. It's mostly food that we enjoy a lot, but it isn't exactly the best for our gut health. 

Fruits and veggies will make your body a lot happier, as well as a healthy amount of proteins. They will also make you feel more energized and that feeds confidence!

I have a lot of problems with gut health and food intolerance and you can immediately tell if I've been eating proper or not just by looking at my face. 

(Btw, I am currently working very hard to make my health better because my immunity had recently reached a low point.)

Long story short: healthy food is good in the long run, but don't forget to treat yo'self from time to time! My favourite treat is small pizzas, of course! Made with puff pastry, mushrooms and tuna.


3. EXERCISE BOOSTS ENDORPHINS

It has been proven that regular moderate exercise helps beat depression, increases the quality of sleep, strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure. 

And guess what else? 

You could see this one coming - exercise boosts your self-esteem too!

How is that possible?

Well, when we exercise, our brain produces chemical substances that are called endorphins. They trigger an elevated, positive feeling in the body, reducing the feeling of pain. In a way, they act as analgesics.

Have you ever danced, swam, biked or ran and, although you were dripping in sweat, you still felt SO GOOD? Those are endorphins at their best - giving you, as what is often referred to as a ''runner's high''!

It has been proven that such a simple yet frequently underestimated activity such as walking holds huge benefits for our brain. 

Any kind of moderate exercise and physical activity is surely going to lift you up and provide a kick of self-confidence.

Give it a try!

isabella bubola model

What is it that makes you feel good and more self-confident? Have you ever experienced a runner's high? Share your thoughts in the comments below :)

Natural Light Portrait Photography | TIPS and REAL EXAMPLES

Shooting with natural light is full of unpredictability, which is exactly why many photographers find it challenging and exciting. Ever since starting my photographic journey, I’ve always been drawn to natural light because it allows me to create a certain atmosphere and, thus, translate the idea I have in mind into a photograph.

Light is a crucial element to photography: no wonder the word photography itself means painting with light.

As much as studio photographers love the control the studio environment provides them, I love the spontaneity and adrenaline of catching the perfect ambient light.

That means getting used to different lighting conditions, but it also makes you better as a photographer because you gain experience and flexibility.

These are some of the most common natural light setups:

BACKLIGHT

One of the first rules you learn on a photography course or class is: don’t shoot with your light source positioned behind your subject.

That is — don’t do it unless you want to break the rules and have fun experimenting The lowering sun during the golden hour is perfect for backlit photos because of the softer shadows it casts.

Tip: if you want to see the model’s face in the image, overexpose it and bring back the contrast in post.

Make sure to always shoot in RAW so that you have the versatility of toying with settings in your editing software of choice. Another way is to use a reflector and direct some soft light in the model’s face.

 This photo was shot with my model Mietta near an amusement park where was our primary location.  The sun was setting low and I positioned Mietta in front of the sun, the backlight casting a warm tone to the image. It was created without any reflectors and I pulled up the brightness of her face in Photoshop.

This photo was shot with my model Mietta near an amusement park where was our primary location.

The sun was setting low and I positioned Mietta in front of the sun, the backlight casting a warm tone to the image. It was created without any reflectors and I pulled up the brightness of her face in Photoshop.

SUNNY DAY

During a sunny day I prefer to shoot in the golden hour that enriches photographs with a beautiful warmth and glowing colours. The golden hour is the time of day one hour before sunset, and is the favourite lighting setup of many photographers who work with natural light.

Those few minutes after sunset (during the so-called blue hour), with their cooler tones, are superb to use for a darker theme, but it’s important to have everything already prepared because it gets dark quickly.

 I shot this with my friend and model Lisette during the golden hour in summer. The light had a specific warm glow that looked beautiful on Lisette’s blonde hair.  We shot this in my garden and I thought it had a slightly vintage feel to it, so I decided to create a colour palette that would match that mood.

I shot this with my friend and model Lisette during the golden hour in summer. The light had a specific warm glow that looked beautiful on Lisette’s blonde hair.

We shot this in my garden and I thought it had a slightly vintage feel to it, so I decided to create a colour palette that would match that mood.

Shooting at noon, especially in the summertime, is not such a good idea for portraiture: the sun is set at almost 90 degrees, casting deep dark shadows underneath the model’s face.

In that situation, I would either use a reflector, or opt to shoot in the shadows instead. A shadowy area (like the one underneath a roof or trees) will shape the model's face with softer light.

However, shooting in harsh sunlight gives you more of a fashion feel with high contrast between lights and shadows.

You can use a reflector to add some additional light into the model, or the model should tilt their head in a way that will enhance their features.  

 I  created this self portrait on a sunny spring day. Since the sun was high and the light direct and harsh, I tilted my head on one side. This way, one part of the face is deep in the shadows, while the light enhanced my cheekbones on the other side.  The yellow tracksuit created a pleasing contrast with the blue sky, which I further deepened in post-processing, allowing the yellow to really stand out against the background.

I  created this self portrait on a sunny spring day. Since the sun was high and the light direct and harsh, I tilted my head on one side. This way, one part of the face is deep in the shadows, while the light enhanced my cheekbones on the other side.

The yellow tracksuit created a pleasing contrast with the blue sky, which I further deepened in post-processing, allowing the yellow to really stand out against the background.

CLOUDY DAY

Although the images taken on an overcast day can sometimes seem flat, I love shooting under a grey sky, as it allows me not to care too much about harsh shadows.

Clouds act as a giant softbox, evenly dispersing sunlight that goes through them, which makes cloudy days great for portraits.

What might be missing during cloudy days is that spark in the model's eyes which can leave them with a rather blank expression. That also depends on the way the model's head is tilted and how much light is coming into their eyes.

You can always use a reflector if you wish to bounce some light back into the model's face.

 In wintertime the sky is mostly cloudy and gloomy and that’s why Stella’s features matched perfectly with the dark tall trees behind her. We shot this in the middle of the day using pure natural light. Since this wasn’t a classical portrait I didn’t mind the shadows — they even made the photo look more in tune with the overall theme.

In wintertime the sky is mostly cloudy and gloomy and that’s why Stella’s features matched perfectly with the dark tall trees behind her. We shot this in the middle of the day using pure natural light. Since this wasn’t a classical portrait I didn’t mind the shadows — they even made the photo look more in tune with the overall theme.

 We shot this on the beach on Ibiza for the campaign Logomania by the Croatian designer Iggy Popović. 

We shot this on the beach on Ibiza for the campaign Logomania by the Croatian designer Iggy Popović. 

PLAYING WITH SHADOWS

One great thing about sunny days is playing with shadows in all ways possible. Use a hat with tiny holes, tulle, lace, plants; basically anything where a beam of sunlight can get through.

I have also used reflecting objects, such as CDs, small pieces of glass, a candle holder and even a sequined dress. 

Properly positioned, all of these materials allowed me to create interesting effects on the models' faces by using the simplest of means - basic sunlight. 

I am always like a magpie on flea markets too. There is a plethora of shiny objects and clothing that people want to sell and get rid off. 

 A sunny spring day made it possible to have interesting shadows on  Laura ’s face. The park where we shot it had a beautiful blossoming tree and I underexposed the shot and pulled up the shadows in Camera RAW.  It’s always better to shoot RAW than JPG simply because it allows you more options in post-processing!

A sunny spring day made it possible to have interesting shadows on Laura’s face. The park where we shot it had a beautiful blossoming tree and I underexposed the shot and pulled up the shadows in Camera RAW. It’s always better to shoot RAW than JPG simply because it allows you more options in post-processing!

 This is another example while it's important to shoot in RAW. I underexposed this shoot to keep the details in the highlights and in post-processing brightened up the dark areas. That way you still keep visual information in the highlighted areas.

This is another example while it's important to shoot in RAW. I underexposed this shoot to keep the details in the highlights and in post-processing brightened up the dark areas. That way you still keep visual information in the highlighted areas.

 For this photo, we used a sequined piece of fabric to create some visual light effects. The light falling on the model's face is coming from the window, but since it was a sunny day outside, it enabled us enough light to bounce it off the sequined fabric right into the model.

For this photo, we used a sequined piece of fabric to create some visual light effects. The light falling on the model's face is coming from the window, but since it was a sunny day outside, it enabled us enough light to bounce it off the sequined fabric right into the model.

WINDOW LIGHT

Window light is my absolute favourite. It produces soft shadows that don’t lack depth, and is ideal for portraiture because it shapes the model’s face in a very pleasing manner.

Placing the model closer to the window will have a ‘retouching’ effect on the skin, evening out pores and pimples, while placing the model further away is suitable for moodier shots.

Depending on the day outside, it can result in warmer or cooler tones, as well as give you more brightness during sunny days.

The time of day is also incredibly important. For example, one room in my house has more light during the morning because sunlight is peaking in, while the room on the other side of the house has more sunlight during midday.

But because the colour and feel of morning sunlight is not the same as the one during midday, we could get two completely different photos even if we had the exact same model in the same pose!

 Self-portrait done lying on the floor below a big window (on the right side of the image). The soft light created gradual shades because it was cloudy outside. If I would’ve shot this on a sunny day, the light areas on the plant would’ve been completely blown out.

Self-portrait done lying on the floor below a big window (on the right side of the image). The soft light created gradual shades because it was cloudy outside. If I would’ve shot this on a sunny day, the light areas on the plant would’ve been completely blown out.

 This portrait of the dancer Ema Janković was shot using a single source of light - a window above her head. Would you ever guess that we shot this in the attic?

This portrait of the dancer Ema Janković was shot using a single source of light - a window above her head. Would you ever guess that we shot this in the attic?


Want to Remember More? Draw.

THE BENEFITS OF DRAWING

I got into the habit of sketching daily scenes from the bus. It's a great way to warm up my drawing muscles and stay in shape every day (yes, drawing muscles are a thing! And they require continuous training).

Sketching is also a way to preserve memories and everyday moments.
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Have you noticed that you memorize things better if you draw them? When I decide to give all of my attention and focus to draw something, it creates a deeper connection in my brain and longer lasting memories. 

This effect has also been scientifically proven. In fact, when people draw certain items instead of writing them, they have a much higher chance of remembering them.

Even if you think you cannot draw, drawing as a process can increase your level of memorization - all you need are 4 seconds for a quick doodle.
 

We believe that the benefit arises because drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual, motor and semantic information.
— Jeffrey Wammes, researcher at the University of Waterloo

I've recently found my old sketchbook from a trip to Venice in 2011. It immediately sparked memories from that place and I could recall the exact place where I was standing while I was drawing many of the scenes.

The power of drawing in correlation to the mind is fascinating.

travel sketchbook

So where could you possibly find better models to draw than while commuting?

THE CHARM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT - OR LACK OF IT

Public transport is a bit intimidating. You get to share your personal space with strangers, soak up all the smells that could be coming from grocery bags or strong perfume, and listen to a lot of conversations just because you forgot to take your earphones.

But sometimes, there are fun situations too.

Like a guy explaining to his friend how much he ADORES pudding with caramel. 
Or a girl wearing fake flowers in her hair.
Or another girl telling her friend to move away because it's too hot. 

#WIP - WORK IN PROGRESS

I am currently working on a lot of the sketches from the past year. This includes inking and vectorizing them.

Not to go too much into details now, I will show you the whole process in my next blog post.

Until then, here is a sneak peek into my work in progress.

Can you guess what am I working on?

linework illustration
linework illustration making of

Shooting Logomania - an Upbeat Campaign on Ibiza

The sand was soft under our feet, the salty air caressing our hair. You could hear the waves and the wind, bringing echoes of people enjoying the last rays of sunlight before dusk.

The light was just about perfect when we set off to shore on one of Ibiza's beaches. It was the best setup to follow the brief - ''do whatever you think will work out great''.

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THE PROBLEM WITH CREATIVE FREEDOM

Having this kind of absolute creative freedom may feel like anyone's dream come true. Sometimes, though, it may come off as rather hard. This sounds counter-intuitive. 

How is following someone else's idea easier than creating your own?

There are a million different ways on how to approach a shoot, and freedom demands of you to be your own creative director. 

While following a brief means you have guidelines that you must follow, freedom means you need to define your own guidelines. 

My thought process requires structure. The only times when I don't need it is when I'm doodling in my sketchbook, although you can see that there are certain rules that I unconsciously follow.

I approach any project, regardless of the medium, by creating a clear set of rules that I will follow throughout in order for the end result to be cohesive.

A logical connection is important to see the final project come together.

fashion photography models ibiza editorial

LIFESTYLE MEETS FASHION

For this shoot I decided to take a fun, upbeat, youthful approach with elements of lifestyle photography.

After all, we were in a magnificent place with my team of gorgeous ladies, shooting mostly swimwear and clothing that could be easily worn in spring as well as autumn, all coming from the hands of the Croatian designer Iggy Popović.

A readhead, a brunette and a blonde - it felt a bit like shooting one of those Benetton campaigns from the 90s that caught flame like wildfire.
 

fashion photography models ibiza editorial
fashion photography models ibiza sandy beach
models editorial swimsuit ibiza
fashion photography campaign ibiza model
model on beach swimsuit
model laughing on sandy beach
fashion photography models campaign palm trees

Finding Vivian Maier's privacy

Have you seen the documentary about Vivian Maier?
If you haven’t, you should.

A strict nanny, but also a photographer whose works haven’t seen the light until a few years ago, Vivian Maier made thousands upon thousand of photographs during her lifetime.

Those works have been found and revealed by John Maloof who accidentally bought a huge box of negatives on an auction and found out they were really, really good. He was curious and wanted to know more about the artists herself - who WAS this Vivian Maier?

He tried Google - nothing came up. Strange, isn’t it? He had all this amazing work from a completely unknown photographer and decided to scan the negatives and try reaching for Vivian’s family and friends because Vivian herself passed back in 2009.
There came a surprise - she did not have any family left and not many friends either. The people who remember her most are the kids she used to babysit and they've got both joyful and dark stories to tell about her.

(Photo source HERE)

Deciding to create a documentary about Vivian’s life, even though he’s never met her, Maloof sets out on a mission to connect the bits and pieces of her life.
He was granted access to her storage unit and found a massive pile of Vivian’s stuff like letters, her hats and coats, newspaper articles, undeveloped film, tickets, flyers etc. from the 70s and the 80s.

I won’t be writing a movie review here, but I’ll rather focus on the matter of privacy.

Wikipedia describes privacy as the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes.

 

With phone and computer hackings, privacy has surpassed being a right and it is now a privilege. Who does have that sort of privilege?
I assume that only a small percentage of people have the freedom to keep their documents private without leaving a trace.


Vivian was a very private, reclusive person. She needed a lock in her room and didn’t allow anybody to come in. She was also a pack rat and her room was the reflection of a typical hoarder: chaotic, with stuff all over the place and so many stacks of newspapers that you could barely walk.

Now that she’s gone, the author of the movie revealed all this information about her to us, the viewers. He revealed the things that she kept in secrecy and didn’t tell anyone about.

There have recently been committed privacy crimes in terms of leaking nude photos of celebrities. Is this much different?
That internet leak of photos was meant to harm and embarrass.
John was fascinated by the splendid works of a photographer the art world knew nothing about. He made sure to have the works exhibited and promoted, therefore promoting the name of Vivian Maier herself.

Would she have approved? And how much does it matter, now that she’s not among the living?

 

(Photo source HERE)

(Photo source HERE)

From one standpoint, it’s unethical to disrupt someone’s privacy, but from another stance, now we’re given the opportunity to enjoy her work. The Egyptians surely didn’t want anybody rumbling around their pyramids, yet hoards of tourists visit them every day. Many works of art were hidden for decades and, once found, presented to the audience in museums or galleries.

Dedicating yourself to archive and exhibit in public places so many works made by an unknown artist, like Maloof has done, could be a long and nerve-wracking but, in the end, extremely valuable act. We can learn so much not only about the artist, but also about a certain period of time by looking at paintings, photographs, sculptures and other works that emerged from it.

What is the point of creation if you keep it all to yourself? Have those photos actually been created for the eyes of others as well as Vivian’s?

I think I’ve come to an unanswerable question. I find her photographs splendid and I’m glad I can take a sneak peak into Vivian’s world and way of seeing things. 

The best thing to do is watch the movie and judge by yourself. And pssst, rumour has it that the documentary could be nominated for the Oscars!

Let me know in the comments below what you think!
Was it wrong to publicly display all Vivian’s things? Is art meant to be enjoyed by the public?