Hand holding your camera at low shutter speeds

Anyone can hand hold at low speeds if circumstances allow, but most can easily extend the range at which you can handhold to a second. I wrote this as I can in some situations hand hold my camera down to 3 seconds and get a usable shot. This photo below was in fact shot handheld at 30 secs. I was supporting myself and braced against a tree but it shows what can be done.

Here's some techniques I use:

It's interesting that I use all the same techniques for firing weapons,when taking photos!

*A human heartbeat is so strong it can be detected as vibrations, even when relaxed in a 45 ton vehicle.

*Don't hold with both hands: hold with one flat hand and balance/fire with the other.

*DON'T hold your breath: take 3 quick, deep breaths and shoot midway between letting the last one out slowly.

*Use anything to brace your body from the waist down, (fence, wall, vehicle) but don't brace against things from the waist up, (wall,post) unless the wind is fierce.
*Even in windy weather if you wait long enough there is often a lull, even for a second. Be prepared for it.

*Left foot pointing forward, right foot slightly behind and pointing to the right makes a stable position. Imagine your feet making a letter T in shape.

*Never let your shoulders go further forward than your feet do: you're altering your centre of balance.

*Hunch forward and tuck your elbows onto your stomach when shooting at slow speeds. Don't use this position if you're out of breath!

*When lowering for a shot but not going on one knee, lower by bending your knees, NOT by bending your back. Your feet should always be wider apart than your shoulders.

*Down on your right knee, left foot forward, right knee and toe either side and behind you, so each 'point' creates a tripod shape. Once you're stable you can also rest your left elbow on your left knee. Great position for windy days. Don't be scared of dirty knees: clothes wash

*You can also go down on your bum, right leg bent and against the floor,left leg stretched out slightly with foot on floor. Very stable and lowered position. 

*If you have to lie down, have your left leg straight out, but your right leg bent at the knee and drawn up. Left elbow on the ground for stability. Remember to try and keep your stomach off the ground if possible as it moves significantly with your diaphragm when you breath. Also there is an artery in your belly that can make your entire body 'twitch' as your heart pumps. 

*If you're quite out of breath, your heartbeats are noticeable so try and time your shutter release just before a beat. 

*When really out of breath use walls, posts, fences, vehicles or anything to brace yourself against. You'll find that prone (lying down) positions are worse the more out of breath you are.

*You don't press the shutter release, you squeeze your hand so that the squeezing movement forces your finger to operate the shutter.Practice squeezing with forefinger on shutter release, thumb on the back of the camera and middle finger on the grip, and squeeze those three so that your camera does not move at all.

*Finally,don't grip your camera tightly. You can feel a pulse through many areas of your hand, and arm when it's bent. Support the camera in your left hand in a way that prevents it moving, (base of camera on heel of hand, lens pointing between thumb and forefinger, elbow tucked in if necessary. The right hand is for shooting.

Everyone is different so some of these may work for you some might not. Some you might have to change to get to work for you. It's all a good starting point. :)

Keywording, what's it all about?

Keywording or tagging is important for 2 reasons:

Firstly if you have thousands of images on your computer and someone wants an image of a child in a sunhat, how do you find it? You remember you had a photo of one of your children in a hat on the beach one day and it was an excellent photo, but you can't recall where it is. You may eventually find it of course but you may waste a lot of time searching. I would find it because all of my images are tagged or keyworded.

I use Lightroom but there are very many 'tagging' programs around, some free of cost so there is no excuse not to use one. My workflow goes like this:
I import the images from the camera and set generic keywords if I've been on a shoot. These may be something like "Wales, Rhyl, beach, coast, seaside, summer, 2015, UK, sea, sand" It takes seconds to enter these into the box, and all images during import are assigned these keywords. 
Now, if ever I want an image of a beach, in summer, in Wales, all of these will show up in my search and I've not even done any work yet. I'd easily find them in a general search and sometimes that's enough.

So once they're imported I start culling them and of the ones I am keeping I start tagging individually. So the first one has a child in the foreground with a very blue stripey sunhat. She's with her family playing in the sand so I might add "children playing, sun hat, blue stripes, blue hat, family, sand castle, bucket, spade, siblings, parents" You can see where these tags fit into the scene. It takes me about a minute to scan the scene and think "if I was looking for this image, what might I be looking for?"

Well if someone said show me your images of families playing on a beach, there you go, I've nailed it. What about a blue hat? Yes I can find it easily. What about children playing with a bucket and spade on the beach? Again, I'd find it easily. 
This is a very brief overview as some images have dozens of keywords all designed to be able to bring up that photo when required, for any element in it. 

It is possible that you can now add what I call extended tags and I do this at a later stage, usually with images that I actually export for upload. Apart from the obvious scene, you might add something like "British holidays, pebbly beach, clear blue sky, wide angle, afternoon sun, happy, waves." Now we're being specific about things that aren't necessarily what the original image was of, the original was simply a child playing on the beach. But what if you want a photo that has a clear blue sky, or a specific image of a pebbly beach instead of a sandy one? Perhaps you're simply looking to see how many images you used your wide angle lens on? Try and think what you may want to find this photo for and add words. It sounds a long process but once you're used to it it really isn't. You get used to seeing individual elements of a scene and adding them as a searchable keyword.

And this brings us to the second important reason for tagging. The first is so you can find your own images, but the second is so other people can find your images too. 
Once you upload your files to Photo4me their keywords go with them but you can alter them after upload at any time. When they are displaying on the site the only way people can find them if they don't specifically trawl through your entire portfolio is to use the keyword search. 

So let's say someone has come to the site and wants to find a specific image of Stonehenge during a sunset. You took that picture, and you should have tagged it with "UK, Wiltshire, Stonehenge, monument, ancient, history, attraction, Druids, solstice, stones, stone circle, English heritage, sunset, tourists" 
So they type in Stonehenge and/or sunset and along with other images, yours will be included in the results. However what if they are fairly new to the area and type in Wiltshire, attractions? Or just Druids, they might even type in Wiltshire to see what pretty, local pictures come up that they can hang in their shop.
Given this scenario, what else might you be able to tag a photo of Stonehenge at sunset with? What about crowds, tourists, gathering, superstition, culture? Are there any more words to add to enable someone to find that image? Have a think and make a list and see how many you can get.

This is important because the addition of only one word may mean the difference between you earning £money from an image, or of that image gathering dust. You may look at an image and not see any more things you can tag but what about other people? I've tagged some of my images with "emotional scene" and "inspiring" because sometimes people look for images that fit a mindset rather than a subject. Add "happy, sad, party, exciting" and other such descriptive emotional words to your images. 

So, keywording or tagging helps you find your own images and it also helps other people find your images. But if it's not done right you are missing out and that all important sale goes to someone else. When you find yourself complaining that "I never seem to sell anything..." is it your own fault? 10 minutes of careful thought spent on one image might mean £30 in commission from one sale, that's an hourly rate of £180. That's worth it to me.

Help! Why am I not selling?

Often I get an email from a frustrated member asking what can they do to improve the odds of selling on the site. There is a general reply I would give, although I do taylor it to their specific question if needed.

In my experience, people want to see a few things. They are highlighted below.





A lot of people tell me about their personal stories about an area, a place or an event that happened somewhere. I then try to match that description with what they've told me. I then send that picture to the client.


I also try and find a description which makes an emotional connection with the client.


I don't know how many times I've seen say, Brighton Pier. Good picture but the description says "On holiday took a picture. I think it looks nice."


We've stressed it many times but please be descriptive with your image. Pull on peoples emotions and make them want to buy it.


I'll send that picture along with 4-5 others which match the description the client was looking for and 9/10 times, they'll go with a feel with the picture and an emotional touch.

For more in depth information about this topic see my other blog post located here:




Your portfolio


Another point would be to have a strong portfolio. This idea of more is better is a complicated one.


- You want people to see your portfolio and all the nice stuff.

- To much stuff leads to substandard photo's.

- You want to keep all the emotional storied photos and take out the "meh" pictures.


People look at other images from that photographer. If they see great photo's and substandard photo's they question the professionalism and skill of the photographer. Never underestimate the power of your own portfolio.


Notice that those who sell multiple pictures tend to be those with great photo's? Sure you have the 1 time seller because they have a specific area and that great shot of it. But notice it's more or less the same people in the "Top sellers last thirty days" It's not on the always because of the home page.


Avoid pictures which don't sell often. Reason why we came up with the redundant decline. Insects/Swans/Ducks/Geese/Cats don't sell often and the site is loaded with them already. Takes away from the power of your portfolio.





People are also looking for the best price. Sure some can get away with having 100% mark-up and if that works for that member great. However people are always price comparing. I'll see potential carts through admin and they'll have 4-5 same images and be comparing the price. Don't give them away but don't make it out of reach of their budget.





Try uploading one of two pictures a day, do your own picture of the day. Put ads around facebook and twitter. Others have said that part of proceeds go to a charity. Do something different.



Keep up the good work!


Planned work for week commencing 17th January

Tiny URL's

This week I will be working on the new tiny URL's for members.

An example of a tiny URL would be http://photo4me.com/jon as you can see that takes the visitor directly to my portfolio page. http://www.photo4me.com/canvasprints/_/_/grossSales/_/1 (which does not roll off the tongue).

In the past when the site was smaller, it was easy to have a shortened URL like above. We can no longer have them off the main route of the site, as it is causing some application issues. and they need to be moved to either a new domain e.g. http://profile.photo4me.com/jon or have them within a folder of the main site e.g. http://photo4me.com/profile/jon.

We need to give fair warning to members that have the old style of shortened URL that they will stop working after 31/03/2015, when the new ones will take over.

We will make an announcement later this week when we have decided the new layout of the tiny URL. 

We are aware that this may cause some members issues but the work is essential and we thank you for your patience.

Helping you get your wordings right for search engines!

We are currently working closely with a search engine marketing company. They think the pictures on the site are lovely and marketable, we just need to get people to see them! However, if they want to be found they have told us multiple times that search engines will be targeting those with good accurate description and keywords.

Be specific, have the emotional touch, write a couple lines. Whatever you can say about the picture say it. (Make sure it is relevant and important to the the picture).

3 Good examples:

"The sun shines through Cromer Pier and on to the pebbly beach as it rises in early September casting its light on the buildings of Cromer in Norfolk." -Stephen Mole


"The Lancaster and Spitfires from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Battle of Britain Memorial Flight passing over a field of poppies. RAF." James Biggadike


"Finnieston crane and the Clyde Arc. Taken in the final moments of daylight on a very cold day. Typical Glasgow. A very long exposure image capturing the movement of the clouds across the sky. "John Farnan


There are a couple bad examples:

"Red rose" 

"Beautiful day at pier" 

"Black dog"

Don't be general with a sentence or a couple words. Don't write fluff as in write for the sake of writing.

Write the keywords, if possible from most important to least important. Have them relate to the description above.

Hopefully this helps you all in the future.
Jon & Mike

Welcome to the Blog!

We are looking for writers!

Photo4me is starting a blog for members, as you can plainly see. This is will be article style where you write about your experience, thoughts, locations, pictures, equipment anything that interests you and what can be a benefit for the community. We will not be looking for self-publicizing articles about your own images.

Jon and I will co-write 1 article a week with our "thoughts of the week".

Our "official" launch date is February 1st barring any set-backs.

If you are interested, write a small excerpt or article 500 words max and send it to me: customercare@photo4me.com

We hope to take on board a handful of writers to start with. Those selected as contributors will be announced at a later date.

We look forward hearing from you!
Jon & Mike