Photoshop Tutorial: Creating Grunge & Texture Recipes

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I have a confession to make:

Do you know what my biggest difficulty in editing used to be?


I was all over the place with my editing. In fact I could have probably won an award for "Most Photoshop Actions & Lightroom Presets Used."

Unfortunately for both me and my portrait clients, that meant that my style was never cohesive AND it took me forever to edit a session.

Seriously, I would start form scratch every single time I started a new image, like I was reinventing the wheel.

Plus I had no signature "look." No one would have looked at my work and said "Ah, that looks like Jen Kiaba took that photograph."

And that's what we all want, right?

Having our work recognized as uniquely ours is what brings us clients and artistic recognition.

Whether it's a wedding client or a gallery looking at your portfolio, you Need to Have Consistency!

So when I first sat down to begin my newest body of work, I literally wrote down all of the steps that I took to create the image.

Almost a year and half later I am still using that same Photoshop grunge texture recipe.

Say What?? A Recipe?

Yup. I have an actual Photoshop Texture recipe that I will be sharing in an upcoming tutorial.

But for now I'm going to teach you how to create your very own texture recipe using the textures I offer in my shop, plus a peek at the texture recipe that I've been using the last 18 months or so.

In this Photoshop tutorial I show you how to create your own Grunge or Texture recipe that you can refer to again and again in your editing process.

The benefits of this are two fold: you save time in your editing workflow and you begin to develop a consistency in your work which helps to form your overall artistic voice!

To grab the sample texture pack that I'm working with, sign up for my newsletter at the end of this post!

In the meantime watch the tutorial:

I hope that this tip help you save a ton of time, AND helps you communicate a consistent style to your clients.

If you have any questions about the tutorial, feel free to pop into my Facebook Group Beneath the Surface, Beneath the Surface, and ask. Either I, or one of our awesome members, will be able to answer your question!

Make Money Selling Your Photographs Online with Licensing

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Have you ever considered making money by selling your photographs online through licensing the rights to your images?

It's a great way to bring in money, or to create an additional revenue stream for your business!

Because while being a photographer is an amazing profession, many of us find that there are busy seasons, and then slow seasons where we might need to supplement our income.

Or perhaps you're an enthusiastic hobbyist, looking for ways to offset the cost of equipment and make additional income on the side.

That's where learning about the licensing market can be an incredibly effective way to bring in additional income!

Everyday advertisers, web and graphic designers, publishers and business owners are looking for images to help them illustrate stories or sell their products.

And while in some cases photographers are hired to create custom photographs, many times people turn to stock photography to fulfill their needs.

Perhaps, sitting on your hard drive, is an image that would answer someone's needs.

So, why not get paid for it?

There are a number of companies out there where you can submit your photographs online and potentially begin to earn money for the sale of a license to your image.

Many of these companies are Stock Photo Sites that sell the rights to use your photographs to those designers and publishers for things as varied as blog posts, advertisements and book covers.

How Many Photographers Sell Their Photographs Online

There are several different licensing models that photographers can choose from when selling the rights to their photographs.

The first licensing model that you can use is Royalty Free.

Royalty Free which means that you can sell the right to use your photographs to many different buyers with little to no restrictions in terms of use.

This often means that your photograph can be sold on multiple stock sites; the advantage here is that if several large and popular stock sites represent the work, you have more of a chance of selling that image over and over again. An example of this kind of model would be if you have images of business people, corporations looking for photographs for their websites and reports can purchase the rights to use them.

Once purchased, they can often use the images over and over again on their websites and reports.

The fees for these kinds of photographs will generally be smaller, because the client is not purchasing an exclusive right to use the image.

Many photographers prefer this model because if they can build up a large enough portfolio of in-demand images, it can lead to a regular sales and a steady stream of income.

Another model that you can choose to sell your photographs with is Right Managed.

This means that a client can buy the exclusive right to use your image for a specific usage, for a specific amount of time and in a specific geographic location.

With Rights Managed, most stock agencies require that you do not license represented work with any other agencies as it is important for them to be able to keep close track of where and how your images are being used.

An example of this licensing model would be when a client wants to purchase the rights to a photograph for a book or album cover.

Typically the fees will be much higher, but you will be limited to the amount of people who can purchase the photograph.

However, just because an image has sold, does not mean that will be the only time you will be able to make money from that photograph using a Rights Managed model.

Here is an example of a photograph that has sold several times, in several countries:

A photograph of a woman that has been sold for book covers in different country
A photograph of a woman that has been sold for book covers in different country

Where You Can Sell Your Photographs

There are many stock photograph agencies out there that you can sell your photographs through. Some of them will only represent work on a Royalty Free basis, others on a Rights Managed basis, while others will do a mix of both.

It's important when you're considering selling your photographs to think about which model fits your style and how you're comfortable with your images being used.

Personally, I only sell my photographs with the Rights Managed licensing model because I don't shoot much work that would fit in the Royalty Free model.

Here are some of the top sites that represent Royalty Free images, Rights Manages images, or both, that you can sell your photographs through:

Many stock agencies will pay you on a commission basis when your images are sold. Others might have a set price per image sold.

Some agencies will offer a 50-50 split with the photographer, while others will only offer a 30% commission.

Make sure to read the fine print of an agreement before you agree to work with an agency!

10 Steps to Submitting to an Agency and Making Money Selling Your Photographs Online

Many agencies, whether they are working on the Royalty Free model or the Rights Managed model operate on similar submission principles.

However, it's very important to review each agency's preferred policy and follow it to the letter in order to increase your chances of your work getting accepted.

Here are 10 steps to begin submitting your photographs to stock agencies:

  1. Make sure you are the owner of the copyright of the photograph and have all necessary model and property releases. While it might seem difficult and tedious to get signed agreements anytime you are using a recognizable person or private property in an licensed image, this is an absolute legal necessity!
  2. Choose whether you want to sell the license to your photographs using a Royalty Free model or a Rights Managed model. You can only sell your photography using one licensing model or another. It's important to understand the distinction and which model works the best for your style.
  3. Pick the stock photo agency or agencies that are the best fit for your work, and offer the best commission possible. Some agencies offer very low commission fees or have very stringent requirements on how you're allowed to sell prints of your work. Make sure that you're ok with everything that they require of you and that it will not impede on your other avenues of making an income with your photography.
  4. Because your first choice in agency may not accept your work right away, it is important to have a few other choices to submit to. Unfortunately rejection is a constant part of the process when submitting to stock agencies. It took me several submissions before I was accepted to my first choice agency!
  5. Familiarize yourself with the submission requirements and policies of each agency that you are interested in submitting to. For example, some agencies have very strict policies on exclusivity and others will, like Shutterstock, require you to pass an exam to demonstrate that you understand their policies. Many agencies will also have specific requirements around: - File Formats and Colorspace (usually they wants JPEG & RGB) - Minimum file sizes and/or camera mega pixels - Images without any kind of visible trademark or logo - Images with noticeable editing (i.e. heavy vignettes and textures are often discouraged)
  6. Prepare your photographs according to each stock agency's requirements. This includes sizing, naming and keywording where appropriate.
  7. If needed, register for an account on the stock photo agency's site. This may not be a requirement for every agency, but do your research to make sure! For some agencies I submit my photographs by a file transfer, and others required me to make an account for my submissions.
  8. Apply to be a Contributor, or upload the images you would like to have considered by the stock agency per the agency's specific requirements. Other agencies that I work with require a submission form, or a sample portfolio. Include your best work, but make sure to show a range of genres!
  9. If accepted, review the Contributor Agreement they offer you closely. Make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms. If you are comfortable with the terms, sign and return the agreement.
  10. Shoot often and submit regularly, even after you have been accepted!

Whether you decide to submit to a stock agency that represent Royalty Free or Rights Managed work, it's important to keep an eye on the market and continue to shoot new work so that your portfolio is fresh and full of the kinds of images that are in demand.

Study the market to see which genres are popular, as well as what images fit your style.

Would you like these steps as a printable checklist? Download it:

Here is an example of one of the first photographs that I ever got accepted by a stock agency, which has gone on to sell several times under the Rights Managed model:

The same photograph of a shadowed woman looking out a window was sold online for three different book covers.
The same photograph of a shadowed woman looking out a window was sold online for three different book covers.

The Pros and Cons of Selling Photography Online through Licensing

First, let's talk about the Pros!

Selling your photographs online through licensing can be an amazing way to make and/or supplement your income.

If you're a talented photographer and you're already creating images, it makes sense to be able to use those photographs to make money.

Plus it can be a wonderful passive income stream, as you can be paid over and over again for a product that you created once.

I still receive royalties for images that I created years ago as they sell again and again, or the licensing agreement for the usage of an image is renewed.

In fact, I have several photographs that have made me several thousand dollars each over time.

And I will admit, my portfolio of represented work is small compared to other photographers who have made selling photography online through stock their main profession.

In fact, my eventual goal is to reach over 1,000 represented images. Imagine the income you could receive with a large portfolio like that!

Now what about the Cons?

Like the rest of the photography world, it's a very competitive market!

There are thousands of other photographers out there with millions of images that you will need to compete with.

And while you can receive passive income selling photography, you will find that your sales will increase the more often you shoot and submit fresh work.

In fact, many of the stock sites utilizing the Royalty Free model advise that you build your portfolio up to around 2,000 images before you see regular sales and income.

Conversely, I have less than 100 images represented by an agency that only sells using the Rights Managed model, and I can expect at least $1,000 a year in income from this very small portfolio.

It's all about taking quality photographs that are in demand for the particular market you want to sell to!

The bottom line is that you should be creating photographs that you love first, and then finding ways to sell them.

And stock photography can be a lucrative and viable business model if you learn the ropes and the market, become disciplined about creating new work, and constantly strive to create better photographs.

For me, I learned long ago that my heart was not into creating the kind of images that were in demand in the Royalty Free market.

But I love creating fine art work and then selling those photographs for book covers! I get a thrill every time I see that a new photograph has been sold.

So make sure to ask yourself where your heart is first, and hopefully the money will follow!

Would you like to get this blog post as a handy checklist? Download it below:

Learn to Sell Your Photography for Book Covers


Have you ever wondered how to sell your photography for book covers?

Once upon a time, selling my photography on a book cover seemed like an impossible dream for me.

You know, the kind of thing that could happen for other photographers but not me.

It all started one rainy fall afternoon in a cafe in Woodstock.

My photography mentor and I at the time liked to meet there regularly for coffee to talk about art and our dreams for that art.

That day, perhaps on a whim, he said, "Wouldn't it be great to sell our photography for book covers?"

My eyes lit up and my hands gripped my coffee mug a little bit tighter.

"Yeah," I said a little breathlessly. "It would be amazing. How do we do that?"

He shrugged. "Not sure," he said.

"Well, there's got to be a way if other people do it," I mused.

"I think they probably just get lucky," he responded.

"But wouldn't that be great?" He took another sip of his coffee, and was on to another subject.

For him the moment of inspiration had passed.

But not for me.

From that day on I became a little, well, obsessed with that question of "How."

After our meeting that day I went home and fired up my computer (yes, this was before the era of the smartphone if you can believe it!).

Even after scouring Google, I couldn't come up with an easy answer of how I could begin selling my photos for the book cover market.

It seemed like the answer was a well-kept secret.

Disappointed, but not discouraged, I spent the next several months looking for answers to my question.

Eventually, through forums like Flickr, I began to meet other photographers who had succeeded in selling their images and getting them on to book covers.

There I was introduced to the concept of licensing photography, which is a subject that I recommend all photographers become familiar with.

I realized, through further research, that there are essentially two ways of being able to sell your photographs for book covers:

One is to be approached by a publishing house, musician or publication that is interested in using your work, or having you create an original piece for them.

This requires having a solid portfolio that is optimized to be found on a search engine like Google.

It also requires that you, as the artist, negotiate a fair price for your work and handle all of the contracts and manage the usage rights for your work.

The second option is for your work to be represented by an agency.

The stock agency acts as an image library and handle everything from marketing and managing relationships with publishing houses to keywording your images and negotiating usage and pricing.

As a young photographer at the time, the idea of handling everything myself made my eye want to cross!

So I decided that I would get myself an agent!

Over the next few months I would spend hours at the bookstores, checking the backs of books to see if I could begin to decipher which agencies were the best players in the book cover market.

Armed with a notebook and a pen, I began making a list.

Once I had my top ten prospects, I turned back to the internet to visit the websites of those agencies.

Most agencies will accept submissions, and many detail that submission process on their website.

In the intervening years I have also been contacted directly to join an agency.

But in the beginning, your best bet for becoming represented is to make yourself known by submitting.

Many agencies want to see at least 20 -100 images in your first submission.

So I gathered up my 100 best images, sent out a round of submissions and waited in anticipation.

You can imagine my disappointment, weeks later, when all I received was a round of polite rejections.

If your ego has ever been as fragile as mine was back in those days, I'm sure you can imagine how close I was to giving up.

It was only the kind email from one agent that kept me going.

He said, "Your style isn't quite in line with what we represent. Take a look around our website, keep shooting, and submit again in six months or so."

I'll admit, I nursed my ego for a while before I rose to his challenge.

But once I emerged from my pity party and took an honest look at my portfolio, I realized that he was right.

Up until then I had only been shooting to satisfy my own creativity.

Which is 100% my number one job as an artist.

However, if I wanted to be an artist who sold her photographs for book covers then I realized that I had to make a shift.

And so I took that agent's advice, and over the next six months I worked diligently to study the market, make note of what was selling and what various agencies were representing, and created a portfolio that I thought reflected that.

This time when I resubmitted my portfolio, I felt that much more nervous. The stakes felt higher, and I worried what another rejection might mean about my ability to ever get my photos on a book cover.

When a response came back from that same agent of six months prior, I almost didn't want to open the email.

Holding my breath I pressed open.

There, to my pleasant surprise, was a very different kind of note:

"These are much more in line with what we're looking for!" he wrote, along with a welcome to the agency.

Shortly thereafter I had the biggest thrill of my life when I got my first royalty check, along with notice that I had sold my first book cover!

Jen Kiaba's first book cover ever sold
Jen Kiaba's first book cover ever sold

Since then my photograph has sold for dozens of book covers all over the world, but to be honest it has never stopped being thrilling to find out about a new cover!

Does this sound like a dream that you have for yourself?

If so, I would love to help you out on your journey to accomplishing this goal.

When I started, I had very few resources or tools available too me and so it took me nearly two years of set-backs and disappointments before I ever signed my first contract with an agency.

Now my work is represented by four different agencies across the world.

So I've taken everything that I've learned in both those early stages, as well as what I'm still learning along the way, and created the Book Cover Challenge!

This challenge is designed to do several things:

  • Walk you through the process of how one can get their work on book covers
  • Teach you how to identify what is currently popular in the market
  • Inspire you with photo prompts that are designed to get you shooting marketable work
  • Help you build your first marketable portfolio

To join, signup below!

How to Use Facebook Ads Strategically and Delight Your Potential Customers in the Process!


A Look at One Photographer's Killer Facebook Ads Strategy - that You Can Use in Your Own Marketing!

This post originally appeared on Photography Spark Although this post is written with studio photographers in mind, the same ideas and techniques apply to all artists and photographers!

Can I be honest? I love Facebook Ads. I think they are a stellar way to get traffic and sales for almost any business.

But they can be really confusing for a lot of business owners.

So when I see someone doing them right, I mean totally nailing it, I want to shout it from the rooftops and do a little happy dance.

Facebook Ads Work When You're Strategic

I was scrolling through a photography group on Facebook, and a post by Amanda Lacy of Authentic Portrait caught my eye.

She had popped into the group to help buoy the spirits of other group members who were struggling with their marketing.

Her mention of Facebook Ads piqued my interest because I’ve seen a lot of photographers struggle to use them effectively; but Amanda’s strategy was spot on!

So I decided to reach out to Amanda to ask her about her Facebook Ad strategy, how she went about targeting her ads, and what her ultimate results were.

Amanda was kind enough to share a deep look into not only the Facebook Ad that she had been running, but also let me interview her to understand the work that she did before launching her ad, what her exact results were, and what her next steps are.

First let’s take a look at a screenshot of that initial post that caught my eye.

I want to dissect what she said that clued me into knowing that she had a solid strategy, and then talk about how you can implement a similar strategy to help you start getting leads who are excited about working with you!

A screenshot of Amanda's celebratory post about her Facebook Ads

The first thing we know off the bat from this post is that Amanda’s strategy is working. Wahoo indeed! She’s getting the coveted “bums in seats,” so let’s talk about why.

Amanda’s strategy is a holistic, client-focused one.

She is thinking about the kinds of things that her clients would be interested in, and provides that content in her social media curation.

She has a healthy mix of her business content and outside sources, so that her social media doesn’t seem like she’s on a megaphone preaching about her services.

She’s got a regular email newsletter that she grows consistently.

Finally she’s using Facebook Ads to help grow her email list by providing something every single client of hers would want, and she’s not trying to sell directly to them in the ad!

Facebook Ads and the Direct Sell

If you just heard that record scratch sound effect in your head, hear me out:

I’m not telling you that you can’t sell to people using Facebook Ads. I’m not even going to tell you that you can’t get bookings using Facebook Ads.

But I will tell you that if you implement a strategy like Amanda’s first, you’ll have a lot more success booking, not only through Facebook Ads, but also through organic Facebook interaction and on your website.

And it’s going to be a helluva lot cheaper.

You see, Facebook Ads shouldn’t be your stand alone online marketing strategy.

You shouldn’t create a single ad or boosted post and expect to get leads clamoring to book.

For something as expensive and non-essential as a photoshoot, you have to expect that the time between someone being interested in having a photoshoot, researching various photographers to find the right fit, and then finally booking is going to be long.

Rarely is a photoshoot an impulse buy.

In fact it can take anywhere from 7 to 13+ touch points before a customer is ready to buy!

Those touch points can be social posts, blog posts, newsletters, and ads.

But none of these should stand alone.

They work together to become a part of the larger, integrated strategy that we mentioned.

Once you have those various pieces, then you can launch ads to help show potential customers the next piece of content or the next step to help them in the research and decision making process towards booking.

The Strategy Laid Out

So let’s slice out a piece of Amanda’s strategy and look at it from the Facebook ads perspective (remember: it’s tied to her blog and her email list, so it is integrated into her overall strategy):

Amanda created a free ebook geared towards women, promising them insider secrets on how to look gorgeous in photos.

Then she created a blog post to advertise the ebook, offering the download in exchange for an email address.

Already, without the added benefit of using Facebook Ads, this is a brilliant piece of marketing.

She has identified a concern that her potential market has (looking terrible in photos) and has offered a solution!

This helps develop the know, like and trust factor that is so important in both marketing and connecting with your client during a photoshoot.

As a benchmark, she noted that prior to her creating her ad, she had already had 9 organic shares on the blog post.

After running her ad that number had jumped up to 273!

Prior to launching her ad, she had installed the Facebook pixel on her website and was able to use that to create a Lookalike Audience in Facebook based on female visitors to her site.

This means that Facebook was able to match people who were similar to Amanda’s website visitors and serve her ad up to that larger audience.

Then she launched a Website Clicks ad to drive traffic to the blog post offering her download. Here’s a glimpse at the ad she launched: A Screenshot of Amanda's Website Click Facebook ad to drive leads to her photography site She ran this ad for a little over a week, with a daily budget of $5 per day, spending a few cents over $38. So how effectively was her money spent? Lucky for us Amanda was nice enough to share her results:

From a screenshot of the Facebook Ads Manager we can see that she was able to reach 3,005 people and get 55 clicks to her website.

While Amanda mentioned that she should like to improve her click-through rate, which was 1.83% for the run of the ad, according to a study by Wolfgang Digital this is actually very close to the average click-through rate of 2% for Facebook Newsfeed ads.

And considering that these are ads that people are not searching for, like ads we see in the Google search results, anything near a 2% click-through rate is pretty good. A screenshot of Amanda's Facebook Ads Manager, showing the Click Through Rates of her Facebook Ads From the 55 clicks through to her website, Amanda received 25 email signups from women interested in downloading her ebook. That’s a whopping 45%!!

And, now not only is she able to offer these potential clients value through her e-book but she is able to stay in communication with them via her newsletter.

And for $1.52 per person that’s pretty cost-effective!

And as a bonus Amanda was able to get four inquiries out of these ads, because she had provided so much value through her e-book.

For an ad that was not designed to drive inquires right away, she is still getting inquiries at a rate of about 7%.

If we look at the cost of these four inquires, Amanda paid less than $10 a piece.

Will they all book? Maybe not, but they were interested enough to reach out.

And if even one books a session, Amanda has more than covered her advertising cost and gotten a return on her investment!

Snag Her Strategy

So now let’s review and talk about how you can take cues from Amanda’s strategy and employ them in your own business? We can take Amanda’s initial post in the In Bed with Sue group for inspiration:

  • Get to know who your ideal client is, where they hang out, what their interests are and what their aspirations are.
  • Share content on your blog and social networks that is relevant to them and that provides value.
  • Identify at least one pain point of theirs as it relates to your business, and provide a solution.
    • In Amanda’s case she created an ebook that helps women feel more confident in front of the camera, because their biggest pain point is feeling insecure about how they look in photographs. She also broke down the exact things that women would learn in the book - from learning how to get rid of the dreaded double chin to stand to accentuate their shape.
    • She was organically advertising her ebook on her Facebook Page (in this case she used Leadpages to create a Facebook Landing page):A screen shot of how Amanda linked her photography lead magnet to her Facebook page

A screenshot of Amanda's Lead Pages, and the lead magnet that Amanda is advertising her Photography Business with through Facebook Ads

  • Build you ad with laser focus in terms of targeting.
    • Amanda used the Facebook pixel to help her identify who was going to her site, and then find a Lookalike audience that could potentially be interested in her information.
      • Notice that I said interested in her information and not necessarily interested in her service. Yes, she did get inquiries from this ad. But that was the cherry on top for having created a killer piece of content for prospective customers.
  • Offer your freebie but ask for an email address. You want to be able to continue offering awesome value to these potential customers before offering booking deals.
  • Continue to send out great content on your newsletter, blog, and social channels.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

Yup, marketing is a long term strategy. And you’re in business for the long haul right?

Even Amanda, who had amazing results from her ad, admits that there is a learning curve to Facebook Ads and that you can’t just launch an ad and expect people to come banging down your door.

You have to keep testing and see what works.

So don’t get discouraged if your first foray isn’t stellar, and remember to keep testing what works and keep making improvements.

In fact Amanda has already launched two new ads for that very same reason! She’s testing ads to compete against each other, varying her messaging, so that she can see what her audience responds to.

In each she is focusing her messaging to appeal to her potential clients, helping them alleviate their worries about stepping in front of the camera:

One example of an A/B test that Amanda is running with her Facebook Ads for her Photography Business Another example of an A/B test that Amanda is running with her Facebook Ads for her Photography Business

So now that we’ve looked at what a successful Facebook ads strategy looks like, I would love to hear from you!

How can you take learnings from the strategy we’ve discussed and employ them in creating Facebook ads that will delight your audience, and make your prospective customers fall in love with you - all before they book.

Tell me in the comments below!

Looking for more support in running Facebook Ads?

Don't worry, I've got you covered! In fact, I've co-written an entire book on Facebook Ads with Photography Spark!

It's a 149-page ebook designed to help you plan an effective ad strategy to find perfect potential clients at the lowest cost.

In this book you will learn how to attract the right person at the right time with the right ad. There are plenty of examples and formulas make it easy.

I totally understand that business needs are as unique as your photography. In this book we show you how to use Facebook’s options to create a tailor-made marketing campaign perfect for you!

Peek Inside Perfect Facebook Ads:

The Perfect Facebook Ads ebook is now for sale by Jen Kiaba and Photography Spark!


Photoshop Tutorial: Removing Textures Using Photoshop Layer Masks & Custom Healing Brushes


As promised, here is Part Two of my "Using Textures to Enhance Your Portrait and Fine Art" tutorial series! If you missed Part One, check it out here: Photoshop Tutorial: Using Textures to Enhance Your Portraits and Fine Art.

One of my biggest pet peeves when I began using textures was that I didn't always want to see the texture on the skin. There are times where it definitely enhances the image: think of cracks overlaid on skin and what a cool effect it could make.

A blindfolded woman in white sits in a red boat, that floats in black water, surrounded by fog.

But there are other times, say with a bridal portrait, where the texture doesn't exactly make it look like the bride has the greatest skin.

When I began creating my most recent series, "Burdens of a White Dress," it was really important to me to be specific about how and where the textures were applied.

For the most part I only wanted the texture to be applied to the background.

In this video I show you a couple of different ways you can achieve that result.

The first way is to use Layer Masks. This method can work great if your textures aren't changing the overall exposure of your image. But if you have multiple textures on various blending mode, especially soft light, multiply or overlay, you'll likely end up having a few textures that are effecting the brightness or contrast of your photograph.

So, in order to remove textures without affecting exposure I like to use a custom healing brush.

Take a watch and see how I use both methods, and how to create that custom brush:

If you'd like to get more of the tutorial videos in this series delivered straight to your inbox, along with the free Photoshop Grunge Textures that I use, click here to sign up for my newsletter.

As always, take a watch and let me know if you have any questions.

The next video will be talking about how to create Texture Recipes that you can use over and over again on your images to create consistency within a series.

So stay tuned and happy creating!

Marketing Tip for Artists: Curating the Customer Journey

How Curating Your Client Experience Before They Book Can Improve Your Business

A video tutorial on how you can begin to curate your customers' journey prior to the pricing conversation to make booking a no brainer!

Have you ever thought about what your client's customer journey looks like before they contact you?

Maybe this is the first time you've even heard the term "customer journey" before, so the idea of curating it seems a little, well, alien.

That's ok.

But it's also an important idea to start considering, because it can be foundational to a lot of the marketing that you so.

I wanted to create a quick video about it because it seems like, in general, marketing is an issue that comes up pretty consistently among artists and photographers.

Many artists and photographers struggle with the idea of marketing themselves.

What does marketing even look like and what do you say? Is it posting on social media, blogging or networking face to face?

The truth is that it can be any and all of those things.

But what's most important is that you are sharing relevant information and insight with your potential customers on their buying journey.

Sometimes it can feel really difficult to even get those conversation started, so I wanted to offer you a little story, and then some advice to help you take that story a template and apply it to your own work to start getting your brain thinking about marketing a little bit differently!

Watch the video below or, if you prefer, read on!

The Story:

Several years ago I had a client named Christine a couple years ago, and she had contacted me for a consultation.

Now the thing is is that she was pretty familiar with me before she even book a consultation and this was something that I had engineered.

When we sat down to have our consultation she had money in her pocket and she knew that she wanted to book my next available date. So how did this happen?

Well she found me initially on Facebook.

And then she found my blog and she started reading my articles.

Then she signed up for my email newsletter and got a series of auto responders that was prepared by me to help walk her through what I call the Customer Journey.

So let's take that piece of jargon and break it down:

What is the Customer Journey?

It's kind of what it sounds like: it is literally the journey, the research phase, the thoughts, the emotions and the experiences that your potential client goes through when they decide that they want start looking for service, or they decide that they want make a purchase.

So for some of us, like when we're buying a new car, it looks like: the idea, and then the research and then the comparison, and then finally making the decision.

For example, I'm going to compare Toyota and Honda. I'm going to do some test drives. Then, finally, I buy a car.

So when somebody's thinking about a photo shoot, they go through similar motions and what you can do is start putting yourself out there to address those various needs at those various stages.

The Customer Journey Stages

If, for example, your ideal client comes to you because they want to celebrate something in their lives, then you can create content around how, for example, booking a beauty shoot is the perfect way to celebrate yourself.

If you do headshots, then maybe it's similar content around celebrating a new jobs. Same thing with senior sessions and celebrating arriving at a special stage in high school.

With fine art it can be kind of the same kind of thing: creating content around art being an heirloom investment and a wonderful, commemorative experience.

If that's the beginning phase, start to think about what the next stage would be.

It might be the research stage.

So you might want to create content about what is it that you offer that is different than what other people are going to offer.

And then even further along in the journey you can start talking about the really special things about the experience offer.

What is it that your potential client is going to take away from from the experience? Because it's not just going be a photo shoot; it's not just going to be a piece of art; it's going be something that lasts.

So back to my story: in the auto responders that I had created, the content was around how a beauty session is a wonderful commemorative experience and how this photo shoot is not just a one time experience.

It also talked about how the albums and prints that they would buy would become heirlooms, and that the shoot itself  would be an experience that they would carry with them for the rest of their lives.

So when Christine signed up for my newsletter, she received about seven emails; she received them in succession and each one was designed to build off of the other.

By the time Christine received the last one she was so excited that the money conversation with kind of a non issue. During our consultation she just wanted to know when my next available date was!

So I want you to think about how can you curate your customer journey from what you're putting out there; whether it's on social media or on a blog or on a newsletter, what is it it that you can do to help the people that are in those beginning stages, start thinking about your services.

What can you put out there for the people that might be in the middle stage of their journey to really help them think about what sets you apart or what the lasting benefit is going to be when working with you.

And then start getting them excited about what it is that you offer and what they're going to keep with them forever.

Because like I said, by the time you gotten them that excited, your pricing is not even gonna be an issue.

So I hope that this is really helpful and I would love to hear what you think! Let me know if you get some ideas of how you can curate your own customers' journey towards making the sale or booking the session!

You can join my free Facebook group for more tips, support and inspiration:

Music "Marxist Arrow" by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Artist:

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Textures in Portraits & Fine Art


It's time for a quick & easy Photoshop Texture Tutorial!

Ever wondered how photographers get that gorgeous vintage or painterly effect on their images?

The secret is by applying textures in Photoshop.

Check out my photoshop tutorial on how you can achieve kind a painterly look that you can achieve using textures.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've had a Photoshop Texture Tutorial in the works for a bit to accompany the free Photoshop grunge textures that I'm gifting (grab them here!). 

And, as promised, I've created the tutorial, especially for those who are wondering how to incorporate textures into the portrait and fine art workflow. It ended up being pretty long, so I've broken it up into bite-sized chunks.

You know, for easy digestion and what have ya.

This savory morsel kicks things off with some basics. If you've never used textures before, then this is for you!

I show you how to apply textures, change their blending mode, change the opacity, how to remove the color cast that they can create, and how to apply multiple textures to an image.

The next video will be talking about a couple of different ways that you can edit your textures so that they don't show up subject's skin.

If you'd like to get the rest of the videos in this series delivered straight to your inbox, along with the free Photoshop Grunge Textures that I use, click here.

I'll be back again soon with Part Two of this tutorial! Until then, happy creating!


Photoshop Tutorial: Using Textures in Portraits & Fine Art


It's time for a quick & easy Photoshop Tutorial!

Ever wondered how photographers get a painterly effect on their images?

Check out my photoshop tutorial on how you can achieve kind a painterly look that you can achieve using textures.

One of the most effective ways is by incorporating textures into their photographs using a software program like Photoshop.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've had a Photoshop Tutorial in the works for a bit to accompany the free Photoshop grunge textures that I'm gifting (grab them here!). 

And, as promised, I've created the tutorial, especially for those who are wondering how to incorporate textures into the portrait and fine art workflow. It ended up being pretty long, so I've broken it up into bite-sized chunks.

You know, for easy digestion and what have ya.

This savory morsel kicks things off with some basics. If you've never used textures before, then this is for you!

I show you how to apply textures, change their blending mode, change the opacity, how to remove the color cast that they can create, and how to apply multiple textures to an image.

The next video will be talking about a couple of different ways that you can edit your textures so that they don't show up subject's skin.

If you'd like to get the rest of the videos in this series delivered straight to your inbox, along with the free Photoshop Grunge Textures that I use, click here.

I'll be back again soon with Part Two of this tutorial! Until then, happy creating!

A Free Vintage Style Lightroom Preset: Burnt Sunflowers

Bear with me for a minute whilst I geek out a bit.

I've created my first Lightroom Preset and I am quite pleased as punch with it.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me enlighten you:

Adobe Lightroom is photo management and editing software.

If you are familiar with Google's Picasa, you would find that there are many similarities - only Lightroom is much more powerful.

A difference, let's say, between driving a car with a 4 cylinder motor, and then hopping into a sexy BMW with a V12 motor. Mmmm - horsepower!

How did we get talking about cars?!

Anyway, much in the same way that one can create an Action to automate certain procedures in Photoshop, presets in Lightroom memorize and save settings that you have adjusted for color, clarity etc.

I created my first one the other night whilst playing around and I thought I would share it with you:

Vintage style adobe lightroom preset by Jen Kiaba
Vintage style adobe lightroom preset by Jen KiabaVintage style adobe lightroom preset by Jen Kiaba

The three examples above show how the preset behaves with different tones. You may find that you want to adjust the Hues of your Red or Oranges, depending on the type of tones found in your original image.

Download this preset for free with the coupon code SAMPLEME and try it out for yourself: Download Burnt Sunflowers

Remember: all presets need to be tweaked a tad to get them to perfection.

Rarely are they perfect right out of the "box."

Let me know how it works out for you, and if you would like to see more in the future!

Tutorial: Photographing Sterling Silver

Recently I got a tutorial request on how to photograph sterling silver from the Etsy community:

Shazzabeth Creations said...

My biggest problem is finding the right background for my silver pieces, some chainmaillers, for example, have great black backgrounds on reflective surfaces that really make the silver pop, but my silver just glares!

So I decided that it was time to figure out how to photograph sterling!

Things you will need for this tutorial:

-Your camera -Your manual (just in case) -Jewelry (or handmade product of your choice) -Background (again of your choice - it's nice to begin with grey!) -Something to distract your children or pets (my kitten desperately needed the distraction...)

The first thing that I would suggest is to sit down with your camera and your manual and find the section in manual called "photometry," which refers to the science of the measurement of light, in terms of its perceived brightness to the human eye - or in this case your camera's light metering mechanism. Follow me? If not, that's ok. It basically just refers to how your camera is deciding on the correct exposure. There are different ways your camera can meter: Matrix, Partial, Spot, and Center-Evaluative.

canon eos metering types Matrix (Evaluative) Metering: On a number of cameras this is the default metering setting. Here the camera measures the light intensity in several points in the scene, and then combines the results to find the settings for the best exposure. How they are combined/calculated deviates from camera to camera. The actual number of zonesused varies, from several to over a thousand.

Partial metering: Partial metering is found mostly on Canon cameras, so if you don't own a Canon then just ignore this section! This mode meters a larger area than spot metering (around 10-15% of the entire frame), and is generally used when very bright or very dark areas on the edges of the frame would otherwise influence the metering unduly. Like spot metering, some cameras can use variable points to take readings from, (in general the auto focus points), or have a fixed point in the center of the viewfinder.

Spot Metering: Your camera will only measure a very small area of the scene (between 1-5% of the viewfinder area). This will typically be the very center of the scene - although some cameras allow for multiple spots. In general this is probably the setting you want to use for product photography!

Center-weighted average Metering: In this system, the meter concentrates 60 to 80 percent of the light sensitivity around the central part of the viewfinder. The balance is then "feathered" out towards the edges. One advantage of this method is that it is less influenced by small areas that vary greatly in brightness at the edges of the viewfinder.

Ok so here is where you manual comes in. Find out how to change the photometry; again unless you own a Canon, your best bet is to switch to Spot Metering.

Next set up your scene with the type of lighting that you prefer. My suggestion is that natural light on an overcast day is going to be your best bet for even lighting. For this tutorial I used my window and a sheer white curtain to diffuse the strongish sunlight.

So here is image number one. Basically this is a straight shot with the camera on Macro setting and the white balance set for "Sunny." I wasn't using anything to diffuse the light, so first notice how strong the shadows are in this image. It may be a personal aesthetic kind of thing, but I don't like that. It makes the image more of a study or a still life than an image advertising a product.

So from here I did a couple of things. The first thing I did was to change the photometry. In my camera I hit "Menu" while in shooting mode and the option to change photometry was readily available. This is where I changed to spot metering - refer to the image with the metering icons to see what that should look like in your camera.

These steps yielded the very next image:

Note how much brighter everything is. Basically what happened was the camera said "Oh, there is less light being reflected than before." Thus the camera compensated (I was shooting in *aperture priority mode* by the by) and slowed my shutter speed down to take in more of the available light .

So the yield is a brighter image overall. You experience may differ if you started out with a dark background or a black background. But if you were using a white or a lighter toned background then you should have a similar experience in terms of overall image brightness when you change the way the camera meters.

Ok so last step here is just to throw that sheer curtain up to diffuse the light a bit. Depending on how thick your material is it may mean that your image will be a bit darker - play a little bit and see what you like and what you don't like. Obviously if you are shooting on a nice cloudy day (I know, seems like an oxymoron) then you can forgo the whole curtain deal.

Here is a quick idea of what a difference that curtain makes with the shadows and the distribution of light on the silver itself:

dscf2168 Also, note the color change! By throwing a white curtain up it changed the temperature of the light. It made the temperature cooler, which makes for warmer tones. Don't worry, I will have a in depth tutorial on all of that later! But if you don't like what has happened to your color, check and see if changing to "Cloudy" helps at all.

Ok so now we're going to move onto a black background, which can be one of the most difficult backgrounds to shoot on if you don't know how to change your camera's metering settings. As soon as you know, it should be almost as easy as pie...depending on the kind of pie.

Now this picture was taken with default metering and a curtain to diffuse the light. It is very washed out and we are getting a lot of glare from our silver. Take a look at that locket. You can barely see the details on it.

The reason this is happening is that your camera takes one look at the black background and says "Oh no, there isn't enough light here! Must compensate!" So if you are, like me, shooting in aperture priority then it is going to slow your shutter speed WAY down. In my case to about a 30th of a second to let enough light in. Unless you have a really steady hand and brace yourself, your image will be slightly blurry.

Essentially your camera likes to look at the world as though everything were in black and white - and it tries to turn everything to medium grey. So this image is the camera's best estimation of a "medium grey" world.

Alright so here is our final image.

Photographing Sterling Silver Tutorial

We have changed the metering to spot metering and have diffused our light. Overall this is a much better image and our silver really stands out.

If you don't like the glare you are getting - for example the top of the locket - then try diffusing that light a little more.

Maybe try a thicker white material.

Or try a white canvas or mat board on the other side to create more even light.

You camera will take that into account and will adjust accordingly.

The best way to photograph sterling would be in a light box, (which you can DIY you know!) that way you will get very even distribution and diffusion of your light. It will help a ton with glare management.

But this is where we had to end this week's tutorial because my darling kitten decided it was time to go mad on the jewelry and scatter it to the nether most regions of my house. I am still on the hunt. Wish me luck!

Any questions or comments? Suggestions for a future tutorial? Let me know in the comments below!

Let's Learn About Your Camera's Settings!

Let's Learn About Your Camera's Settings!

And then forget about them.

(No, really. I mean it!)

Camera commandment: Know thy camera

If you are interested in photography for any reason, whether it be a personal or business pursuit, one of the best things you can do for yourself is get to know your camera.

Even better is to know your camera on an intimate level.

If you still have lingering questions along the lines of "ooh what does this button do?" then I suggest snuggling up with a cup of tea (or a beer - your choice), your camera, and the dreaded manual!!

After a couple of sessions you will be feeling much more confident about this little machine in your hands.

This is especially handy when working with live models.

Your confidence will inspire confidence in them. You will get better pictures. Everybody wins.

Those Little Icons - What Do They Mean? Ever asked yourself that question? I know I did for a while.

The silly running man icon confounded me for longer than I'd like to admit.

Now that I know what my little running man buddy does to the camera, I can duplicate the same effect manually.

Does that mean that I do it all of the time? No, not really.

But it's good to know that if there is one out of five of the components associated with a particular setting that isn't working for me, then I know how to change it and make it work!

Most of the camera on the market today have a dial with the little icons that I have been talking about. They represent a range of settings - from full auto to full manual mode.

Unless you are working in a controlled environment where the lighting will never change, then manual mode may not be for you. This is why we're going to focus on the other settings a little more in depth.

Auto This setting can be identified as either a small icon of a camera (it's a red camera on my point and shoot, and P mode on my DSLR) or just the word Auto. Most people are familiar with their auto setting and, unless you're in a photography class, it's probably the setting that you used when first learning about your camera.

Auto can great for snapshots, but it is a double edged sword. Because the Auto setting doesn't require any input from the photographer at all, the camera will arbitrarily decide on a shutter speed, an aperture opening and a film speed (ISO).

If you have nice, even light in your setting then Auto may work great. But it won't, for example, give you the control to throw your background out of focus on demand.

My advice is use auto until you are comfortable shooting with the camera and then move on.

Portrait The icon of the person's head is for Portrait mode; this is used when you're photographing a person in fairly close proximity.

Basically this setting automatically creates a large aperture opening which blurs the background behind your subject.

Depending on your camera there can be 2 modes for this setting- portrait and night portrait. As I'm sure you can tell, the portrait mode is for photographing people in the normal daylight hours.

Night portrait allows you to photograph a person when in a dark night-time ambiance and still retain detail.

Basically it will slow down your shutter speed, letting more light into the camera. This may require a steadier hand if you are not using a fill flash as well. Landscape That's the little mountain icon. Basically what this setting does is tells your camera that you want a lot of crisp detail, even of things far away.

This setting will automatically set up the camera with a smaller aperture, which in turn creates a larger depth of which (this lets the camera capture more detail).

The result is a crisp image of subjects both close to the camera and a great distance away.

Sports Yes, it's our running man friend again!

The setting is for capturing movement; so if you are attending a fast paced soccer game, this is probably going to be your go-to setting.

With the little running man icon you can either stop motion completely or you can give your background a fun motion-blur effect.

Each has its advantages and you will have to decide when to use which. A blurred background shows that your subject is, indeed, moving.

In fact they're moving really fast (or at least it will look that way!).

It is likely that your camera's settings will automatically be prepped to stop motion completely with this setting. Your camera will adjust to use the fastest shutter speed and the smallest aperture possible, which will stop motion and create a large depth of field.

In order to do this, your camera will also take control of the ISO (film speed) and use the highest it can get away with.

Ifyou're outdoors, this should be no problem. If you're trying to photograph in a dimly lit gym you may find that your images will come out looking rather grainy.

This is why learning these settings in depth and knowing how to replicate them manually is great. Then you can take control of the ISO or the film speed as needed.

So let's say you want to blur everything but your subject in sports mode? Not too difficult.

Imagine an image of a race car with a blurred background. I would simply follow the car's movement as best I could when taking the photo.

This would produce a blurred background while keeping the car relatively in focus.

Macro That's little icon of a flower.

If you are shooting products like jewelry or enjoy close up nature shots, then the macro setting can be your best friend.

Any time you want to photograph something like an earring or a cool looking spider at a close distance, place your camera in Macro.

The focus will adjust and the camera open to a wide aperture to produce a shallow depth of field.

Some cameras have 2 modes of macro: macro and super macro.

Macro will allow you to get close up photos of your subject, where you can be within inches of your subject. Super macro will let you get even closer, practically right on top of it with a clear focus.

The distance ranges will differ depending on your camera - so break out that manual (again) and double check to see what the best distance is for your camera to shoot at.

“A” or “Av” This is probably my favorite mode and one that I tend to shoot in the most. The “A” or “Av” stands for Aperture Priority and is a semi automatic mode that lets you choose the aperture you want to shoot with.

The camera will then compensate with a shutter speed that lets in the correct amount of light. So in my case, I enjoy shooting with a relatively open aperture.

If I want to shoot with an aperture of 2.0 (really open!) on a bright sunny day, then my camera will compensate with a super fast shutter speed to make sure that I'm not letting in way more light than needed.

This is also a great setting for a novice photographer who still wants control over things like depth of field. I love it because it gives me that control that I want and I don't have to worry about much else.

“S” or “Tv” Shutter Priority is just like aperture priority except this setting allows you to increase or decrease the shutter speed while the camera chooses the right aperture.

This is great while you are learning about how different shutter speeds can affect your photo- they will each produce different effects (remember our race car image?).

Each has their use. Using this setting will help guide you in producing these different types of shots and observing the effects without having to revert to a full manual setting.

Both this and aperture priority will help guide you as you learn how to handle the full manual settings of your camera.

Manual (Dun dun duuuuun!) The manual settings of your camera will allow you to have full control over each aspect of your photograph. This setting gives you control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash, white balance and more.

Once you have mastered all of the automatic and semi-automatic settings, I suggest going over to the dark side of Manual.

You will become more connected with your images as a result of thinking ahead and planning which settings you want to use in order to achieve a certain effect.

Manual gives you more latitude in which to play and experiment, which can be a very satisfying experience. If you want to create a certain mood, then you can do it!

So that concludes our Crash Course in Camera Settings. Of course, some cameras have many more settings and some have specialized modes. I will talk more about the individual settings in further detail in further posts.

But now you have an idea as to what your settings are and what you can do with them.

Now you can take your camera out and play while becoming familiar with each setting. Remember, while practice may not make perfect, it certainly makes a lot better!

Have fun. =)

Create a DIY Lightbox for Product & Macro Photography for Under $10

Alright it's time to roll up your sleeves, dig up some of those old crafting supplies and create an awesome mini photo studio for under $10.

The Strobist has a wonderful article on creating a DIY Light Tent that I thought was worth sharing with you here!

When I saw this article I thought, "Wow, $10? How is that possible?!" Especially considering that if you want to buy a lightbox online it will run you about $100.

But, actually, you can probably DIY this for less.

I'm going to assume that you have an old cardboard box in the garage somewhere and some white tissue paper laying around from a birthday last year. I know I do!

You can get this stuff at an office supply store or a local drug store, but I think it's always more fun to scrounge in the closet, or in the garage.

So if you do have the above stuff, then only thing you will need to buy is two sheets of poster board - black and white. Total damage would be less than $2. Sweet!

Because this basically recreates the illusion of softened natural light, which means you can shoot your product photography in the harsh daylight, or with off camera flashes!


So the Strobist wrote his article to appeal specifically to photographers that are using speedlights, or off camera flashes.

But honestly, any bright lamp will do because it's very easy to balance for tungsten light and get the color balance spot on.

So even work lamps from the Home Depot are great (just make sure that you are careful working with any kind of hot lights) and bright compact fluorescents work wonders or LEDs!

This is the secret is being able to have nice, soft, even light coming from either side or the top - or any combination of the three.

You'll be using the black and white poster boards serve as light blockers (black), reflectors (white) or sweep backgrounds.

Now let's make this baby

In his article, Strobist starts out with a 12" x12" x12" box, but let your subject needs define your size.

If you are only photographing small earrings, for example, then maybe you want to build a smaller one.

However, if your subjects vary size wise, go larger and give yourself that nice range.

First, tape that original bottom of the box securely into place before making your cut.

This will help create structure for when you do make your cutes, otherwise you will be left with a twisty cardboard mess.

Next start by cutting windows out in three sides of the box and totally take out one side. (That last part is optional - see below for why.)

Leave two of the top flaps on for light control as shown, and remove the other two:

Examples of a DIY cardboard lightbox setup

He recommends using a razor to slice the boxes. Just a bit of advice: this is not a good project for when the kids are hovering around.

That last photo in his three-shot sequence shows the box with the tracing paper taped over the windows, which will act as your light diffusers!

You can choose to leave the "side" of the original box that will eventually form the bottom of your studio attached.

This will make it stronger, but it will mean that your ability to place the box down over an object (like a plant) outside will be limited.

So, now you'll need at least one light source.

A flash works great, as long as you can manually control the output and get it off of the camera.

But, as mentioned, you could also use a bright lamp or work light.

Just be sure to balance your camera for tungsten and put the camera on a tripod to keep it still during the exposure.

For those of you who prefer shooting outside, this is the perfect tool for a sunny day!

It will diffuse that sunlight light and distribute it softly and evenly; to make the light come from whatever direction you need just rotate the box.

The way that he teaches you to build the box also gives you an amazing amount of control over the light!

For example, if you're shooting outside during bright sunlight, you'll have the ability to almost completely wrap your subject in beautiful softened light.

But if you use only one light, the tissue paper on the other sides acts as a fill!

If you need to kill the light on one side for a more moody look, slip a piece of black poster board in as a block

One of the best parts of the box is the seamless background look, even thought it's just a strip of posterboard.

And if you want to change it up, you can add in colorful posterboard!

He goes into even more detail on how you can use remaining pieces of the box as "gobo's" to create more control!

Read the rest of his tutorial here for more in-depth use information!

Photo by Strobist