My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a photographer, writer, graphic designer, model, and former journalist who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. This is where I share my life daily, as a creative professional.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I enjoy traveling, home improvement projects, and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life and work and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

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Category Archives: Photography

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This is applicable to all smart phone users, not just iPhone.  I was asked by a girlfriend how I backed up images taken on my iPhone, this inspired a blog post.  I don’t put much emphasis on my iPhone photos but after I looked through my files I noticed so many of my dog Paris who is like a baby to me, so I would highly suggest having a way to keep your images saved somewhere if your iPhone were to get stolen, lost, or dropped in water with the inability to be retrieved.

Note: I know there are various methods, iCloud being one of them, but I love my Dropbox and this is my method.  If you have another method I would LOVE to hear it in the comments to help others.

What you need to know

  • Every single picture you take gets uploaded, screen shots, and downloaded/saved images.  If you delete it right away, it won’t recognize it and won’t upload.
  • You can delete the images on your phone knowing they have all been uploaded to Dropbox as long as on the App it doesn’t say there are any more images to be uploaded (read later in post).
  • You can easily access the images like you would if they were on your phone as long as you open up the Dropbox App
  • By having the Dropbox App installed on your iPhone, it will upload to the Dropbox “cloud” – HOWEVER if you download the Dropbox installer, it will also sync from the cloud to your desktop.  Basically:  iPhone –(app)—> Dropbox Cloud –(desktop instal)—> Computer desktop
  • Cost: Free, if you need more space, buy it.  I have 6,000 photos and plenty of room.

Getting Started

  1. Sign up for a Dropbox account here.
  2. Consider downloading the Dropbox program install (makes retrieving files easier from desktop than having to go to the site).
  3. Download the Dropbox App on your iPhone or any smart phone.

Dropbox App Set Up on Phone

When you open up the App on your phone, wherever you save it, you may see images from your phone already uploading – in my case anyway.

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If that isn’t the case, go to your camera settings.

Make sure “camera upload” is turned on.

Turn off “use cellular data” unless you want it instantly to upload after each photo – which would use up your data quickly.

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 On the Dropbox App it’s pretty much exactly what you’d see if you logged into your account on the site.

Your photos will be under “Camera Uploads” (Purple folder).

You can go back as far as you want with the images you have.  Mine go back to 2012!

When you access the files folder and the correct folder,  it will look like this:

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Computer View

If you download the installation for your desktop, you’ll see this pop up occasionally (if you are home).

This means files are being added.

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This is what it looks like if you see the icon and you can see what is being uploaded from your phone.  I would occasionally open the App on my phone to make sure images are being pushed through.  I’m not sure if that’s necessary, I don’t think it is because my images just seem to be uploaded.

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How to view your images

On your computer
You can then access your “camera uploads” folder which is synced by going to your finder or windows explorer and computer home screen to see the “Dropbox” file.

Tip:

  • A green checkmark means all files are synced
  • A blue arrow in a circle shape means files are syncing or being uploaded/updated

Or, you can go to the Dropbox.com site and log into your account and see them there and download it.

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On your smartphone
To restate what I said earlier, simply open up your Dropbox App on your phone and click your files.  All images will be in your Camera Uploads folder.

And just like that, all 6,000 smart phone images on my phone have been uploaded!  Even the bad ones…

What’s your method of saving images to your computer or cloud?

For Photographers, Photography

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Continuing with requested photography posts, I’m onto camera settings.  I started my photography hobby with the Canon Rebel XSi, jumped into the 5D Mark II, and upgraded two years ago to the Canon 5D Mark III which has been rocking my world.  While the 5D Mark II certainly changed my photography game from hobbyist to pro, I never truly loved the Mark II with its focal issues.  The Mark III is superior in every way.

To broaden this post, I’ll talk about a few things that can relate to you no matter what camera you use, while also touching upon my personal favorites and settings using the Mark III. Right now there are some amazing deals and packages if you want to upgrade to the Mark III, this one is my favorite, and it’s about $1,000 cheaper than what I paid for the body alone when it first came out.

Firmware Update

Check for Firmware update on Canon site here (Mark III, 7D).

How to update firmware on your camera:

  • Go to the site
  • select your camera model
  • Select Drivers and Software
  • Download it onto a compact flash card
  • Insert the card into your camera
  • Go to settings to find the Firmware version you have and click it to update

Why should you update your firmware?  

New features (sometimes) or bug fixes.  This is the same as if you were running your iPhone or Mac on old software.  When I updated the firmware I didn’t notice any of my custom settings change.

My camera settings

Here’s a screenshot of my custom controls.

This is on the 5D Mark III so some features may not be available.  My favorite features are the silent shooting mode and the two cards.

  • beep - off  // just like texting on your phone, you don’t need to hear every button pushed or focus locking.
  • release shutter without card - off  // incase I forget to insert a card, I don’t want to continue.
  • img type/size - RAW on compact flash card (main card);  S1 on SD card (backup card)  //  I use the SD card for smaller files for my clients – this is for corporate sessions where I want to give them small size so they can go through and select their edited choices.
  • silent LV shoot - mode 1 // I used to envy the sound of Nikon’s shutter. Now Canon makes it pretty, as long as you are using a good lens, of course.
  • file name - DEP_  // It’s nice to label your images, you can do a lengthier one but this works fine for me.
  • LCD brightnessmanual ; 6 // I don’t like when my screen goes dim so I decided to control.
  • copyright information - Diana Elizabeth Photography, dianaelizabeth.com // I’m not sure if this works as well as the copyright you can insert in Lightroom, but I have it on there just in case.

Backbutton Focus

I also do back button focus setting to ensure my shots are locked in focus – this is absolutely important and I cannot imagine not controlling my focus.  In fact, because I know how to use my camera and settings well, I know that when I review a shot and it’s not in focus, something is off.

I had that occur while on assignment and it ended up being my lens which went so bad that it ended up needing to be sent to Canon for repairs (no explanation, I assume it was due to travel pressures).  You should know your skills and equipment so well that simply by previewing it you know it’s not user error, it’s equipment error.

 

I hope that helps explain firmware and why I have the settings I do.  Do you have any favorite settings or new features you love with your camera model?

For Photographers, Photography

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I find that explaining how to pose couples can depend on a lot of variables.

Things I consider:

  • What is the environment – is there an activity they will be partaking in?
  • Do they want posed portraits?
  • Is there a theme the client wants (did they bring props)?

Each client is different – some bring props, others revolve a session around an event, like a State Fair, and some just want peace and quiet in a field.  A photographer cannot shoot the same in each environment, because each client is unique which makes sessions incredibly fun, or for some, stressful if not given enough scenarios to practice.

First, let me say that it’s so much easier than you think – just read your client.

Their choice of location says it all.

Active location

Say, the state fair, or the couple says they want to look like they are fishing, playing ball, flying a kite, you pretty much have it easy – you document the fun.  Find the location, and find ways to capture moments.

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I loved MJ and Jon’s session at the State Fair – it revolved around activities and little posing. The posing was minimal, I just gave instructions that included, kiss, and look at each other.

The Non-Posing Pose

Find a creative, natural way for your couples touch – and it doesn’t have to always be by their hands or lips.

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Sitting can be creative, and also romantic.  Yes, we don’t sit on stairs like that, but isn’t it just lovely to see something a bit more dramatic?

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Romantic Moments

Yes you pose them into these romantic moments. The eyes down, kiss her temple is always sweet.  I tend to drop my voice and be a little quieter in my tone.  Sometimes we can be overly excited or high energy that it can rile up our clients – which is great for children or the laughing shots, but when you want your image to be quite, start with yourself.  The quietness will follow.

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Circle noses or what I call, “sharing space” is sweet too – this is a close up in a classic car for this maternity session.

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Isolated Locations

For locations that can stand alone, the couple concentrates on the character of their location – so your job is to plop them in, and look as if you just captured them in their natural setting.  Like a walk through Prescott (if the wardrobe allows).  They can hold hands, walk or look at each other.

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You – you move around

Posing is just the first thing about getting a good shot – the other part is where you are standing.

The traditional wedding shot, hands around waist, or hug, whichever is your jam, but what about…

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…then walking around behind them and taking this shot?  Or, you have them quickly turn around and face the other way?

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Posing Tip Summary

  • Don’t ask your clients what they want – you can easily tell by their location choice and if they have a planned activity.  Don’t ask them if they have a planned activity, you’ll know if if they have one trust me.  Ex: If they pick a farm, they probably want chicks and live stock around them, no need to ask.  If they pick Sedona, they want tranquility and to showcase the scenery.   In fact, just don’t ask to many questions in general, you’ll stress them out and look as if you don’t know what you are doing.
  • Make a posing list on a label and stick it on the bottom of your camera – nuzzle noses, back of head, walking, etc.  Name your poses and have a quick look when you tell your couples to “relax” you can look down at the bottom and be inspired – trust me your clients are not watching you.
  • Eyes closed, look at each other, kiss her temple, he looks at her while she looks at you – those are 4 different looks right there.  Move around or slap on a different lens and you just multiplied your shot count.
  • You can do the same poses at different locations in the same session.  It’s repetition – that’s how you get your style, same poses, same settings, different location.
  • Watch their hands – if they look uncomfortable or stiff, get in and rearrange it.
  • Use positive affirmation.  Never use negative words like – “no” “nevermind” “no, like this”  You are only pointing out they are doing it incorrectly.  Instead, say, “Let’s try this,”  or “a little more,” and positive affirmation.  Even if they are doing it wrong, take your shot (pixels are free) and then quickly jump into rearrange.  Never laugh at your client or make them feel embarrassed – while this is typically unintentional, sometimes we are nervous ourselves we try to alleviate the pressure off ourselves, try to refrain.
  • Want more? Read an article I wrote for SLRLounge.com here.

For Photographers, Photography

If you don’t give me photography post ideas, I’m just going to make them up and hope you like them – this is a hint to leave a comment with post ideas on what you want me to chat about.

There are so many ways to get the right kind of white balance, and for the most part Auto White Balance (AWB) has been fine for me.  I tend to adjust my color temperature in Lightroom to get it right.

I had stopped in the offices of PHOENIX magazine to say hello to my friends, check in on my photo assignments (really to see the layout) and chatted about Kelvin temperature balance.  This came up from a shot I took that I wasn’t crazy about but did manage to make it work, then showed some examples of other assignments that had been done using Kelvin – due to crazy light scenarios.

I just wanted to show you the difference.  AWB is on the left, and Kelvin on the right – now this is SOOC, straight out of camera.  I think you will always have to adjust just a wee bit in post but at least you can not have a freak out moment in case the lighting is really off.

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I felt like I should challenge myself to use the Kelvin scale this month with my photos!

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To me it’s just a trial and error depending on how the lighting situation but on the 5D Mark III it’s very easy to adjust so I’m going to keep at it this month to practice using it so I can use it if there’s an emergency lighting situation.

For Photographers, Photography

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There’s one more thing I want to talk about that I love having in my back pocket during the reception – a cheap little video light.

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Polaroid Video light, $20

Video Light uses:

  • Polaroid Video light, $20 or any video light that just stays on – is a good idea for the cake who somehow got placed in the corner with no pin lighting, desserts on a dark table that were forgotten about, or to bring your own spot light.
  • You could probably also use the flash on your iPhone too (leave it on of course so it’s like a flashlight).

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I have my assistant Amy hold it at an angle and I just grab a few shots.  We walk around to all the details with it and I open my aperture up wide.

That wraps up my off camera reception lighting series!  If you have any questions please ask.

I’d love to hear if there’s anything else you’d want me to cover – to make Wednesday posts more beneficial to you.

Off Camera Flash Post Series

For Photographers, Photography

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We are continuing the off camera set up I use during wedding receptions.  In this post I’m going to mention some extra pieces of equipment that will help with making your off camera flash images look better.

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Additional equipment I talk about in this post:

Flash Diffuser

IMG_0310Your diffuser should always be positioned like a whale tale – instructions come with your diffuser

Battery Pack

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  • If you use full-power, or start to take a lot of images at once, like a burst, you may notice it drains your battery quicker or has a slower time recharging.  This when a battery pack comes in handy – if you want to be shooting bursts – your flash will power up quicker. You need to find a battery pack that suits your camera model.  It plugs right into your flash – because you’re powering the flash.
  • I was told to use Energizer AA Rechargeable batteries 2300 mAh, because they last longer and provides high power.  Pair it with this charger.  I own two chargers so I can recharge quicker before a big shoot or wedding.

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The items in this post are must-haves for every wedding photographer.

Off Camera Flash Post Series

For Photographers, Photography

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It’s been nine years of running my graphic design/branding boutique, Silver Spoon Studio and also being a photographer for the past five years – I’ve really learned so much along the way.  Mistakes were plentiful as much as the successes.  Turning a passion into a full-time while on my own, meant I was really putting myself to the test.

I mention the last sentence because I think it’s frightening for a single gal to do something on her own with no backup plan other than her college degree, experienced resume and whatever is in savings or stock accounts but I say it because I want to empower you.  If you wonder if you need to have a safety net in order to pursue dreams – probably better yes, but I wouldn’t put dreams on hold for that.  Just save enough money and build up your dream while you have a steady 9 to 5 job.  I used my shoe money to invest in lenses and equipment.

So many things I’ve learned that I wanted to pass along to you if you are boss lady.

9 lessons I’ve learned:

  1.  Learn to evolve.  The economy changes, industries become saturated, and if you don’t offer multiple services you won’t be able to move with the changes.  From graphic design, marketing to photography and writing, it’s a good thing to have several skills when you are in a pinch and need to evolve to make money.
  2. Learning to say no to opportunities that don’t make sense. It’s not being snobby, it’s being selective or rather realistic on what you want or can allow to do given time, energy and if it’s a good fit for what you actually do.  Once you realize you are the boss of you, you realize your ability to exercise no – whether it’s now or later, or just not right now. It’s also saying no to just looking busy because if it doesn’t pay the bills or have interest to you, that’s OK.  Have no guilt.
  3. Always charge.  There are things you don’t charge, like normal friend things you do, but when it comes to things you do as a profession, you must and should exercise your right to charge, after all, you could be using that time taking a paid job.  Your real friends will understand that it’s your bread and butter, we all have bills to pay.
  4. Stay positive and be around positive people.  If you’re going to make it, you have to believe it and you have to surround yourself with people who believe it too.  Have meet ups to talk shop and just encourage one another, it’s best to find those who are in the same boat as you, starting up or more advanced.  If you’re going to complain or whine, stop doing what you’re doing.
  5. Share the networking/wealth.  The best way to make friends in the business is to include them or pass along a referral.  The good vibes will always come back. It’s also nice to have a buddy so you don’t go alone to networking events.
  6. Stay on brand. This includes your marketing collateral, thank you cards, packaging, all of it – to the way you dress and respond to emails and present yourself is important.  Be a thankful business owner and send thank you cards and gifts at the appropriate time.
  7. Take advice from people who have done it – successfully.  I listen with both ears from a person I know has done it well and who I want to model myself after.  If someone has failed you can listen to their lessons in failure, and pay attention to the success of someone who has been successful.
  8. Consider a loss as a valuable lesson.  If you experience a bad client or project (we ALL have) or you felt you didn’t charge enough for your time – that is not wasteful, it’s a huge lesson you will take with you and hopefully never experience again.  Knowledge is power.  Mistake on you? Apologize when necessary – own it, and fix it – whether it’s a discount or doing another job on you.
  9. Education is worth the investment.  Education will always be worth the money – classes, workshops, conferences will sharpen your skills and one lesson can turn into a profitable one!  You will always get your money back from attending a workshop as long as you take the knowledge and put it to good use.

Realizing you are in 1 of 2 positions:

  1. Starting out you need to book anything and everything.  You take any job.  You are learning what you love, what you hate, but neither really matters yet because you’re so happy to get a job.  A job is a job.  That’s OK, you need to either build your portfolio, figure out who you are, what you like, don’t like, or build up your bank account.  This is not a bad place to be, this is probably when you will make a lot of money by taking any opportunity and make the most out of networking opportunities.
  2. Selective due to time or perspective.  You start to have less and less time, or you realize that job isn’t worth the time because 1) You don’t have much time or 2) It doesn’t make you happy.  Best of all, you have the ability to say no because you have worked hard enough to be selective about the jobs you take (every business owner’s dream), or you are financially in a place where you only want to do what makes you keeps you creative, and happy.

Knowing what position you are in and realizing sometimes you can go back between the two, will allow you can make wiser decisions with your time and talents.  It will also help you keep the right perspective so you can also avoid entrepreneurial burn out.  And always be kind to everyone, even if you are discouraged, even if you find yourself not at the level you want to be yet, the more you are around the energy the more it should propel you, learn all you can from one another and share – this world can be a lonely place without encouraging friends who know the ups and downs of being a small business owner.

{Photo: Melissa Schollaert / Makeup and hair: Lizzy Marsh}

For Photographers, Photography

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