Landscape Photographic

Bold Composition

Soft morning light graces wildflowers and coastal plants along the Sonoma Coast, California.

David Thompson is an ordinary guy with a love for landscape photography. And with his images, he brings the viewer along on this journey to view the world’s natural beauty. His distinct style shines through images that speak volumes for themselves. Bold, vibrant colors and strong lines fill photographs that utilize light for added compositional effect.

“Landscape photography has made me have an appreciation for nature and the world we live in. My goal as a landscape photographer is to capture an intimate moment and bring the viewer into the scene as if they were standing right beside me.”

As the sun rises to the east and starts to creep over the nearby mountains, the expansive field of saguaro cacti, becomes backlit, bringing the desert to life. Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

Composition is a key component with David’s imagery, using strong leading lines, or if the scene demands it, contrasting colors, dark to light transitions or overlapping layers. “I like my images to have some type of visual flow and balance,” he explains.

David defines his work as diverse, quiet, reserved, subtle, with a little spice and flavor. Like other creators, he finds inspiration in many forms: in music, other landscape photographers, family and friends, and from ordinary everyday people trying to uplift others.

“What I love about the landscape is each one speaks differently and has its own unique character. I enjoy photographing these various characteristics of the landscape, as I find it intriguing and fascinating.”

David’s favorite time of day is sunrise, when soft light gives way to scenes awash with color. “The landscape is still and quiet first thing in the morning. I will always enjoy the soft pre-dawn light,” he says.

Many of his other images feature bold pops of color, strong lines carving through the landscape and often one color blanketing an entire scene, only to be broken up by highlight and shadow.

The midnight sun of summer breaks through the clouds to the west, displaying magical light, at one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls on the Southern Coast. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland. Using a small aperture of f/16 allowed for the starburst effect.

Go Big or Go Small

Landscape photography often encompasses everything from the smallest of minute details to wide open vistas.

Incoming waves pound a small sea cave along the northeastern coast of Maui during a winter sunrise. Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii.

“For me, I enjoy photographing smaller scenes. These are the scenes that people tend to overlook. The smaller scenes are challenging, as they don’t just stand out like the wide vistas. I think this is what makes the images more rewarding, when you can capture something unique and different. I also like that the smaller detailed scenes, because these are scenes that you can call your own.”

Glacial rivers meander seamlessly over the volcanic landscape like a paint brush on a canvas, on the Southern Coast of Iceland.

David offers the following advice for other landscape photographers: “Be yourself, be humble, be patient, accept the failures…small or big, trust the journey, dare to be different, take risks and step outside of the box with your imagery; and let the light dictate how and what you photograph.”

Landscape Photographic

Water. Powered.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls at sunset in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Have you ever looked at images of waterfalls with the silky smooth look to the water and thought to yourself, how did the photographer do that? Jeremey, fascinated with water and the power it holds was hooked from the first long exposure waterfall image he saw. It doesn’t hurt that he’s only about 10 minutes from Niagara Falls in New York, which made it easy to practice the technique. The Finger Lakes region is full of picturesque waterfalls and is also accessible to him by car.

Jeremey’s images have a strong sense of mood. He defines his work as “something different with a slightly cinematic feel to it.”

Since many picturesque spots are also popular “instagram spots” Jeremey says he’ll make that quick shot but immediately look for a new angle or perspective to create something uniquely different from the crowds.

My favorite times to shoot are during sunset and sunrise. I love the light produced during these times. When the sun is low in the sky, it can create some great shadows which helps with the mood. I also tend to shoot a little underexposed to protect the highlights.

When everyone is shooting a sunset, I’ll turn around and see what’s behind us.

I try and push my colors around and find a unique look for a scene. Some of my favorite photographers have created a unique aesthetic and I strive to find my own as well.

Inspired by nature

Jeremey finds inspiration from nature.

Photography lets the busy world slow down and slip away for a few minutes. I always aim to try and show the viewer something they have never seen before.

One may think that a landscape photographer just goes out and snaps whatever scene is in front of their camera, but that isn’t always the case.

Whenever I plan a shoot, I spend a lot of time beforehand planning what types of shots I want to capture. I tend to look for natural lines. Once on a location, I look around for things I can use in frame, rocks in the water or a fallen tree. My goal is to try and create an interesting image. Sometimes that means sticking my lens through nearby trees or bushes to get a frame around my subject. I love layers and depth in my images. The foreground of a landscape is incredibly important, sometimes as much as the main subject. Sometimes you can just get low to the ground to add some interest.

Jeremey shares this analogy: To me, it’s like the frosting on the cake. Yeah, cake is good, but it’s that much better with frosting. A landscape photo can be great but with an interesting foreground or framing, it can be that much better.

I always push myself to try and find a new view, to capture something different. I think that comes from shooting Niagara Falls. When a location is shot so often, you have to think differently to find something unique.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Step by Step

Jeremey finds that sunrise and sunset are the best times to shoot, as they can be quite moody and dramatic.

I love shooting at and after sunset the most. I love the warmth you get when shooting during sunset or sunrise. You can also get some colors in your skies that adds interest to your image. With the sun being lower in the sky, you can get more dramatic shadows and highlights. Blue hour is also a great time to shoot. The blue tones you can capture play well off of a warm sunset or sunrise image.

Go to settings:

  • Shutter speed is a 1 second exposure, adjusting it based on the flow of the waterfall. For high, fast flowing water, an image can often be taken with a somewhat faster shutter speed. Those with a slower water flow need a longer exposure.
  • He’ll also look at the surrounding scene, tree branches or bushes, and adjust the shutter speed to balance out the moving water to the moving foliage.
  • To pull detail out of the smooth water and the surrounding scene, Jeremey sets an f/stop at f/8 – f/11.
  • And he typically uses a 2-5 stop variable ND / Mist filter to help block the light for longer exposures. The mist portion of the filter helps to bloom some of the highlights for a dream-like look.

To me, a silky-smooth waterfall always looks good but there can be times when the waterfall has an interesting look when frozen in time. A higher fall can really help the water to create some interesting shapes.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Chittenango Falls in autumn
Chittenango Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 70-200 f/2.8 VR S.

Knowing your subject

Shooting at Niagara Falls can be a real gamble sometimes. The mist from the falls can really add some character to an image. It can catch the golden light from a sunset and really bring in some color. When moving the right way, it looks great, however the mist is at the mercy of the wind. There are times at the Horseshoe Falls when the wind blows the mist back into the falls which can block a good view. It can also soak your lens and equipment. Thankfully with the weather sealing in the Z 6, I don’t worry too much about it.

Whenever traveling, Jeremey is always on the lookout for a new waterfall to photograph. On day trips or family vacations, if there’s a waterfall in the area, he’ll plan to stop and shoot it.

Shooting new waterfalls is always thrilling and exciting but there is also comfort and familiarity shooting Niagara Falls. Being so close, I can run up to the park when I have some free time.

We asked Jeremey to share some advice for other landscape photographers:

  • Learn to shoot in all conditions.
  • Pay attention to your composition and adjust for distracting elements.
  • Experiment with different focal lengths and find your style. A wide-angle lens can show a large scene, full of interest. A telephoto lens will let you pick out details and find new looks.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Learn color theory. It can really help when editing colors and moving tones around without the image falling apart.

Photographic Street

Flip the Narrative

Jesus Presinal (JP) is a breakdancer turned creator (photographer, director, editor) who often turns the camera on himself. You’ll find his gravity defying images at Instagram/officialjpnyc and Instagram/jmpproductions.

I was always used to being in front of the camera and showcasing my skills with dance. Getting behind the camera is a fairly new experience for me, but I’m loving this new artistic outlet.

JP’s always had an interest for photography and the magic made behind the camera. Photography allows him to showcase his artistry while video allows him to showcase his strongest moves. Instareels and TikTok are two platforms that he’ll share these videos on regularly. Instagram has been an important avenue for JP, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the live entertainment industry on hold, he’s been able to connect with brands who saw his gravity-defying skills as a way to showcase their products. Some of these include Denizen by Levi’s, ONE Bars, 1800 Tequila, Ultimate Ears, Starbucks and of course Nikon.

Jesus Presinal in air, on the phone, in front of a building

Performing the Trick

When you are both the talent and photographer you’ve got to accomplish more than just photography, you also have to satisfy your talent-self. JP is pretty specific as to how he wants to be photographed since he’s visualized a specific image in his head. And depending upon what the focus of the image is or the product he’s showcasing. 

The vision is always different depending on what I am showcasing—whether it is an outfit, sneakers, a certain location, or a stationary product … angles can get tricky when you’re flipping or standing on your hands.  

Most of the time, I’ll set up the camera how I want, set up a timer, give myself 10 seconds, and go perform the trick for the shot. If I can’t get the specific angle i want, I’ll give a friend (or my girlfriend) my camera and show them exactly how i want them to shoot. 

With the camera set to continuous shooting, JP’s going to have plenty of frames to choose from. Lighting, location and whether JP’s photographing himself, it could take up to 20 takes to get the ideal shot. With an assistant, it’s easier and usually only takes 1 – 5 takes to get what he’s looking for.

Into the night

JP’s gone from turning the camera on himself, to turning his camera on others with his own photography/videography business (@jmpproductions).

I’m very excited to start shooting other people more and really growing my experience behind the camera. I love to capture my style of “levitating” shots and candid movement in my work with other creatives!

Prior to the pandemic, JP had begun performing on Celebrity Cruise Lines’ luxery ships, taking him to incredible port cities like Ibiza, Naples, Monaco, and Barcelona. JP’s looking forward to the future when travel starts back up again, and taking his Nikon camera gear with him.

Jesus Presinal breakdancing upside down with the river in the background

JP says he’s inspired by the support and encouragement he gets from those around him. 

It means the world to me to hear that my work impacted someone in a positive way. it is an absolute pleasure to leave people staring at a photo and wondering “Wow how is he doing that?” or “How did he manage to capture the shot?”

JP marries his love for movement and photography with gravity-defying photos captured in urban landscapes. Ask JP to define his work and he’ll say it’s an “artistic experience.”

I want [people] to really see the art in my photography and how beautifully you can capture movement in still photos. I use lighting, shapes, and camera angles to turn each photo into a true work of art.

Jesus Presinal breakdancing near the waterfront in NYC
Photographic Portrait

Graphic by Design

Zara Visuals portrait of a woman with heavy gelled lighting
This photo was loosely inspired by the lighting in the movie Hereditary. They used orange- and teal-colored lights and gels very methodically in that movie and in between lighting setups on this shoot I decided to put those together.

Zara Israel is an artist who utilizes a variety of media including photography, short films, digital art, graphic design and painting. She’s always had an interest in photography and when she lost her day job in 2019, Zara jumped into photography full time and has been building her studio ever since. Zara is still finding her style and loves to experiment with new techniques and work with new teams.  

Zara uses her work to uplift black men and women by celebrating their natural beauty.

Along with portraiture, food photography is also a passion of hers. As she notes: “You can eat the set when you’re done!” Bold colors and strong graphic elements make up her images. Zara describes her work as wholesome, colorful, and cultured.

Zara Visuals portrait of a model holding a large frame with flowers attached
This image was the collective effort of a pretty large and talented team. The stylist came up with the outfit, she wanted a more “avant-garde” look. The set designer built the floral frame and my main contribution on set was the backdrop color and the picture—I just thought it looked cool.

Color Theory

When working with bold and bright colors, it’s important to take into account how hues and color values interconnect with a subject’s skin tone, and adjust accordingly. 

In the future I plan to use color theory more intentionally with my photos to evoke more feeling with my work.

Concept and mood boards are put together before shoots. And Zara always briefs her models on her signature “pro-modeling tips”, working off their natural mannerisms in order to frame them in a way that is both flattering and artistic.

Take a look at Zara’s body of work and you’ll notice a theme—props make up a large part of her imagery. 

I love props! I majored in film and we had to work a lot with setting the scene to make the environment communicate what we wanted it to. I learned at that time that props and lighting were two things you could use to instantly make your work look more intentional, so now I utilize my prop collection wherever I can! 

Zara Visuals photo of a model making a sand angel on the beach
I’d been thinking of this idea for a while. I love doing shoots with interesting or unexpected elements, but it wasn’t strictly planned out. We just came up with an outfit, went to the beach and I started giving her this character to embody. I thought a sand angel would be a cool spin-off of a snow angel.

Read the No-List

When you start out in business you feel as if you have to say yes to every job that comes your way. But Zara explains that, “as I grew and increased the number of clients I dealt with; I began sensing patterns of which jobs I wasn’t motivated to do to the best of my ability. I also had to take a hard look at my morals and values and see if I was demonstrating those with the work I produced, and if the answer was no, chances are it ended up on my No-List.”

We think Zara’s No-List is a great way to help prospective clients self-qualify. It saves everyone time and makes sure the leads she gets are qualified. 

Zara Visuals photo of a male holding a frame
This photo wasn’t planned at all. The model travels back and forth between Baltimore and New York a lot, so when I saw he was in town, I asked if he wanted to come by my studio. I had that old frame laying around from the thrift store and the plain shirt in my closet, so I had him put that on and pose with the frame until I got some shots that I liked.


Photography, sound design, and film work are where I have the most expertise and experience, so those are generally what I advertise. Another thing I will be offering very soon is an affordable and well-equipped studio space for local creatives. SONNE Studios is under construction now in downtown Baltimore. 

The future is looking bright for Zara Israel. 

Zara Visuals portrait of a woman with her hair covering her eyes
The picture was loosely inspired by the phrase “see no evil”.
Photographic Portrait

Spinning the Color Wheel

Aaron Pegg portrait of a model with wet hair
Jasmen is a talented makeup artist and has wonderful facial features so we tend to shoot more portraits and beauty imagery together. This image was created with a more edgy feel, with her wet hair, moody makeup and punch lighting.

Aaron Pegg is a self-taught photographer, who began his journey with photography at 28. He explains the difference he sees between photographer and content creator as a photographer works on exploring all aspects of their idiom until landing on a genre or style whereas content creators create for the interest of others.

I just want to be the best photographer that I can be for myself and if I am lucky, people will recognize my tenacity and feel empowered and inspired by it.

Aaron gave himself the name Underground NYC as a way to differentiate himself from others, deciding to shoot in the NYC subway exclusively. This allowed him to build an audience and migrate from iPhoneography to shooting with his first Nikon camera.

I decided to photograph just empty subway stations, later adding one person into the shots. I wanted to turn what people deemed as a boring commute into a beautiful backdrop for photo shoots.

Aaron Pegg portrait of a model with curly hair
Sarah has great curly hair so I wanted to create a beauty image that was fun and playful.

Ask Aaron how he defines his work and he’ll tell you clean, bold and creative. His style incorporates simplicity with a mix of natural light and shadows that allows his subjects’ personality to shine through. In the beginning of his Underground NYC work, Aaron’s inspiration came from the grit and hustle of the subway.

As I delve deeper into photography, my inspirations started to broaden. Inspiration can hit me at any time. It can be from the symmetry of trees in Central Park to the way the light hits the cobblestone streets in Soho. Being in New York, allows you to see how many subjects (people) interact with the city (possible shooting locations) on a daily basis and I use this as a starting point to many of my photo shoots!

Aaron Pegg portrait of a man on the steps of a brownstone
Nicoy had shown me the outfit he had in mind and I felt the look paired well with an iconic NY brownstone. I wanted the image to look homey but at the same time correlate with the hustle and bustle lifestyle of New Yorkers.

Take one look at Aaron’s images and you’ll see that color plays a big role in his work.

I think I gravitate more towards neutral colors (with sometimes a pop of brighter, richer color) because neutral colors to me are calming and give my work a sense of tranquility.

Like many photographers, Aaron starts with a concept, often based on a mood or feeling. Then he’ll seek out a muse, location, styling and lighting that fits the feeling he’s trying to convey.

The lighting plays a very important role in my images. I like to think of lighting like the weather. It has the power to impact and even dictate certain moods and feelings.

Aaron Pegg low key portrait of a model
Tiffany’s image uses low-key lighting to highlight her jawline and hairstyle. I wanted a mix of moody and calmness in the image and I believe we achieved that.

The challenge is always how to make each image unique.

Sometimes a new client will reference an older shoot of mine and want something similar. However, I will always try to make the shoot their own.

Instagram as a Branding Tool

Aaron utilizes various Instagram accounts—using each for a specific genre of his work: @underground_nyc, @aboveground_nyc and @AaronPeggphoto.

@Underground_NYC is the main brand that showcases the full gambit of the genres of photography I do. @Aboveground_NYC simply highlights my landscape and street photography in NYC. @AaronPeggphoto is my newest account and focuses solely on my studio and beauty photography. This brand is geared towards working with modeling agencies and fashion brands.

Having a separation of each of these brands, lets individuals take a closer look at the genres I want to highlight. I think having a singular themed account on Instagram garners more interaction and feedback while showcasing a creative’s style and how they shoot with intention.

Finding Balance

Landscape photography serves as a balance and a way for me to unwind and relax from my day to day shoots. Usually, I like to go out alone and capture New York City and its landmarks through all of its unpredictable weather. Landscape photography is also a way I like to explore a new city I’m visiting.

Recently Aaron had the opportunity to shoot with the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens and found it to be a great lens for portraits.

The sheer weight of the lens and only manual focusing made things challenging at first. However, this just made nailing the focus on shots really rewarding. Just seeing the dial go down to a 0.95 aperture was pure joy in itself.

Aaron Pegg landscape photo taken with Noct lens
Bear Mountain is one of my favorite places to explore outside the city. This image was captured on one of those magical fall days where it was rainy and foggy. I was just taking some shots of the road when a few hikers appeared walking down the road. Their silhouettes barely showing through the fog to me is what takes the image to the next level, making it a lot more interesting.
Photographic Portrait

Color. Color. Color.

Cynthia Brown portrait of a model in front of a wall of lockers

Cyndi Brown is a multi-faceted content creator with a background in photography, videography and graphic design. Her work spans commercial, lifestyle and portraiture. She says she doesn’t really define her work as one type or another because she’s always growing and trying new things.

Cyndi is known to her clients for the bold, dramatic colors you’ll find in her imagery.

“Color is what I’m known for. I’m very intentional when it comes to concepts and mood boards and scouting—making sure the color element is always a priority.”

All about the mood

Beginning shoots using a mood board is her go to thing. She uses them to show clients her vision for each specific shoot. Cyndi has also been lucky enough to have been able to work with clients who give her the freedom to just “do her thing” when it comes to creating imagery.

When it comes to designing a photo shoot, Cyndi builds on the feeling her client is trying to portray and then adds her own twist on it.

“It’s really more about a feeling and a vibe for me that inspires the design of the shoot.“

Other aspects of a shoot, like the location or even a certain outfit the client wants to showcase can also inspire a shoot, but Cyndi always brings it back to the all-important mood board.

“If I find a mood or the client has a certain outfit, I use that to set the tone for whatever location I find. If I find a location before I create a mood, I use the location to inspire the mood.”

A great example of a location inspiring a shoot is the photo of the model in front of the wall of lockers (at the top of the blog post). Cyndi saw the lockers and was immediately drawn to them and so she built a team and returned for a shoot around them.

Lighting is another aspect of a shoot that is super important. Depending upon the style of the shoot and the mood the client is trying to elicit, the right lighting can add to it. Cyndi does a lot of available light photography.

“I depend on the sun and my reflector more than anything so making sure I’m maximizing certain times of the day so I can execute the exact vision is vital.”

Cynthia Brown portrait of a model with short red hair

Getting Emotional

Another aspect of portraiture is being able to elicit the emotion you need for an image to be successful. And that may mean explaining in great detail what you, as the photographer are trying to achieve, or in other instances it may mean demonstrating to a subject exactly how you need them to pose.

“Sometimes we just get in a vibe and I shoot until I feel it, other times the model is just that amazing and we’re on the same page from the beginning.”

It can sometimes be difficult to bring a subject out of her shell, but there are things you can do, like getting to know them before you begin shooting or even acting goofy can relax a nervous subject.

“I find what helps me (because I’m shy and introverted) is asking them questions about themselves, to make sure we’re both extremely comfortable. I’ll also act goofy to relax models, so setting the tone is important for me.”

Cynthia Brown portrait of a model in bright colors with a huge ponytail

Paying it forward

Cyndi also enjoys educating others.

“When I first started I didn’t have access to a mentor to help me and being that I’m self-taught it was hard for me, so I wanted to make sure I used my platform to help and educate beginners about camera settings and lighting. I do one-on-one classes and group workshops where I’m able to teach more experienced photographers as well.”

Photographic Portrait

Bending the Light

JT portrait of a woman looking at the camera, lit by pink neon

JT defines himself in one word: Creator. Creator encompasses all of his skill sets: photography, filmmaking, motion graphics and 3D animation. “All of these mediums have a certain reciprocity with each other, allowing me to solve creative challenges in unique ways,” he explains.

JT has been a shutterbug since the age of 5, learned the basics of photography in high school and bought his first DSLR in 2009. After receiving a BFA degree, he enlisted in the Air Force where he’s been a military photographer and videographer ever since. JT attended the prestigious Syracuse University Military Photojournalism course at the Newhouse School in 2018, and credits it as a creative turning point for his photography.

JT portrait of a woman with orange and green neon

Color theory and harmony

JT’s imagery is a journey of experimentation with Light and Color searching for the harmony between light, color and subject, that the viewer connects with.

“A solid understanding of color is crucial. Color theory—understanding complementary colors and how certain hues evoke specific feeling or emotion—is at the core of my work.”

However he often experiments in B&W, seeing the light without the distraction of color.

“Only after seeing exactly how a modifier or technique affects the light source, will I begin to add color back to the images.”

“I really love the color vibrancy that I’m able to pull out of the Z 6 and Z 7—my style really depends on a solid representation of what I’m seeing with my eyes.”

JT portrait of a couple, taken lit with neon signs

Neon as light source

JT often uses neon signage as a light source for portraits, for the soft and flattering, saturated quality of light they emit.

“I love the way colors interact with each other and my subject. It’s a specific harmony that is difficult to recreate with other light sources. I gravitate towards certain hues, seeking out certain signs.”

You want to stay away from single-color lights because more often than not, the look will seem as if your white balance was incorrect. Instead, seek out lights with strong complementary colors that both stand alone and blend well, for example Blue + Red = Purple.

JT has his own “neon studio” with a handful of signs he’s collected which make it convenient when shooting in winter (too cold to be outdoors) and sadly (for neon fans) as more and more companies migrate from neon to more efficient LED lighting.

JT has been lucky in that most, if not all of the individuals he’s worked with for these types of portraits have specifically reached out to him because of his style.

“I try to utilize the light, color and composition to put my model in a surreal neon world with minimal need for post-processing. There’s always a balance of using the light to emphasize characteristics of the model and not have it overshadow them.”

JT photo of the reflection of lights in a puddle on a wet street

Designing the shot

Designing the shot begins with the light. Once JT sees how the light and color will interact with skin tone, he then moves on to posing his subjects and deciding on the camera angle.

“As much as I love neon lighting, I utilize everything in my tool kit from LED light panels, Speedlights and gels, strobes and soft boxes, and of course natural sunlight. I believe it’s important to be a well-rounded photographer that can make great imagery in a variety of conditions.”

“My photography for the Air Force and Space Force has greatly influenced my run and gun shooting style, and where my ‘RunNGun’ YouTube name originates. Found-light is a light source I don’t have to carry around in my bag, which is why I love on-location neon signs, allowing me to shoot and move quicker. I can utilize techniques I’ve learned to turn any lighting situation into a good image.”

JT’s experience has given him the ability to use whatever light is available to him to craft the best photograph possible. Whether that’s natural light, the light from a cellphone, a Speedlight or a pro studio strobe and softbox.

“I believe it’s crucial to understand the qualities of light: intensity, color, hardness or softness, and direction. When you learn what makes hard light vs. soft light for example, the possibilities become limitless on what you can create.”

JT photo of a metallic looking skull, lit with neon lights

Pay it forward

JT started his YouTube channel in early 2017 as a way to pay it forward. JT says teaching inspires him: “It challenges me to be a better photographer. The more I teach and share what I know, the more I’m motivated to learn.” Check out his RunNGun YouTube Channel for videos on topics like: photography hacks, simple editing tips, winter photography tips, light painting, editing amazing time-lapse videos and much more.

Photographic Portrait

Me. From all angles.

Meagan Bolds self-portrait holding her hands as if framing herself
An experiment in using limited lighting. The scene was lit using living room lighting and a television.

Like many other photographers during the pandemic lockdowns, Meagan Bolds has had to become more creative to keep her photography going. A concert photographer turned portraitist, Meagan also found that turning the camera on herself helped her grow her techniques for photographing others; including posing, lighting, new techniques to try, even new post-production ideas.

Meagan Bolds persephone inspired self portrait
Building a prop cloud during quarantine inspired the “Persephone” shoot.

Practice makes perfect

“When I started shooting more portraits, I realized I didn’t really know how to pose people. I’m a very hands-on learner, nothing sticks unless I get to practice at it, so I decided to put myself in front of the camera to work on it.”

“My self-portraits took on a life of their own, though, when the pandemic started. I wanted to stay creative while staying isolated, and my options were taking pet portraits and self-portraits.”

Ask how she defines her work and Meagan will tell you “Random. I make too many different things, especially now that I’ve been out of my usual element, to really put myself in a box. I guess I would say it’s clean or bright. If I’m going to do anything, I’m going to add a pop of color or overexpose a little to make the scene more dreamlike.”

Meagan Bolds self-portrait at night with lighted triangles
Based on an internet joke, this shoot answered the question “what would your superpower be?”

Just have fun

As Meagan notes, a self-portrait can be as simple as a quick selfie to show off your new hair color or makeup technique, to wanting a photo to practice a specific post-processing technique to getting the itch to take a photo and not having another model to collaborate with to planning a shoot specifically with herself as the model.

“I love the more intense, full studio shots. A lot of my photos are taken in a run-and-gun style and don’t take a lot of planning, so there’s something about actually planning the studio shoots that makes me more inclined to do them.”

Meagan Bolds self-portrait of five of her on a bridge
An experiment in masking and false color.

In control

More than a simple selfie, a self-portrait gives you full control of your work.

“I don’t feel the pressure of ‘make the client happy’ and it allows me to be as creative or as basic as I want. It’s the only time the product is 100% up to me.”

Meagan Bolds self-portrait holding one cat while another looks on
An outtake from a witch themed photo shoot. One of the cats (Oliver) thought the wand was a toy.


Same place. Different view.

Angela Mocniak photo of sunflowers
Angela: When we got to the sunflower fields, they were covered in fog; I was excited! It was very dramatic. The flowers standing tall in the darkness around them just speaks volumes.
Jason Mocniak photo of a sunflower from the back
Jason: We encountered many other photographers and they were all fixated on the front of the flowers and how beautiful they were. I took the picture from the back of the flower because I wanted to be different than everyone else. I usually try to see what others are doing and then think what could I do differently?

Angela and Jason Mocniak enjoy their love for photography as a couple, going out shooting together, the same subjects but with their own individual points of view. Keeping a camera close at hand when traveling, the duo is always ready if the urge to stop and make some images strikes them. The two even plan “shooting dates” to spend time together.

How would you describe your style?
Angela: I love leading lines, but I also try to see things differently, we often times will shoot the same location several times and each time find a different way to view it.
Jason: I’d say that my photography style is simple landscapes. I often find myself low to the ground and trying to get as much interesting foreground in the image along with trying to find some sort of leading lines for the viewer to follow.

How do you describe the difference in your styles?
: Jason loves long exposures, shooting the big picture. He’ll find a spot, plan out his shot, then get set up. When I get to a location, I’m all over the place looking for different angles, framing and details.
Jason: I tend to want to take more simple photos but I feel like Angela is a lot more creative. We could be out photographing trees and when I look over at my wife she could be crawling under a bridge to get the same picture with a totally different composition.

How we see it.

Jason Mocniak photo of White Mountains and River Bridge
Jason: I loved the snowcapped mountains in the background with the fall colors, creating so much contrast between the snow, river and trees.
Angela Mocniak photo of a leaf with water drops on a log
Angela: There was so much to take in on this trip, the colors, rushing rivers and waterfalls, I was eager to capture all of it to the smallest details. The details of the water droplets on this leaf on a log caught my eye. I wanted to capture the contrasting colors, along with the detail of the droplets.

Where does your inspiration come from?
: My mother was a quadriplegic. She wasn’t able to travel much, let alone walk through a park to see the details that are often taken for granted. After she passed, photography became an outlet for me. I want to show everyone the beauty in the world, from the vast landscapes to the little details.
Jason: Just being in nature. I think because of our fast paced life with our full times jobs and being so busy every day, photography allows me to slow down and enjoy nature; watching a sunrise or sunset and having the opportunity to just view the world from a different perspective.

Angela, What do you enjoy about going out shooting together with Jason?
I enjoy watching Jason get out of the busy “let’s get things done” mode to being relaxed, enjoying nature, and showing his creative side. Then it is fun to view each other’s photos to see how we captured it differently.

Jason, What do you enjoy about going out shooting together with Angela?
I love watching Angela, seeing her excitement and creative side. I just love watching her passion and it spills over into my shooting. Like a muse.

What do you do to get inspired if you feel stuck?
: I try to coax Jason into a drive to explore the city or just somewhere we don’t usually photograph. A change of scenery usually does it for me.
Jason: We try to nudge [each] other when we feel like we’re getting stuck or in a rut. I’ll say to her, “all we do is shoot barns, it’s getting old.” Angela will tell me to grab my camera. Once we get going, I start to get inspired again because as soon as her eye catches something she likes, she hops out of the truck and literally goes running through fields to get the shot she wants. It’s her passion of photography that gets me back inspired to shoot again.

POV x 2

Jason Mocniak photo of a Horse in a field
Jason: I saw this beautiful horse trotting around the pasture. I had enough time to get the camera up to snap a few photos from the car before the horse spooked. I loved the barn in the background with it, along with the luscious green grass, it really was a picture perfect scene.
Angela Mocniak photo of a horse in the snow
Angela: We were driving through backroads during a snow storm. I’m a sucker for farm animals. The conditions were just perfect to get the portrait capturing this horse’s curious eyes behind the snowy fur giving it a bit of a dramatic look.

What is your favorite subject?
: Sunrise. I love to start the day catching a sunrise whethe. It’s just that peaceful time of day where life is just waking up, and taking in the beauty of that is my favorite subject.
Jason: I love photographing lighthouses, rural barns, waterfalls and of course my beautiful wife. We live in the great lakes region where there’s plenty of water, barns and lighthouses within a couple hours’ drive.

You both seem to use leading lines a lot in your compositions, what other compositional techniques do you enjoy employing in your work?
: I also enjoy finding natural framing for a subject. Its fun finding a different view of a subject. Minimalism too. I love the lonely tree in the middle of a field or hanging off a cliff. Sometimes simple shots are the best.
Jason: I really like getting low to the ground. It’s crazy to think how different things appear from a totally different level. Seeing it from that vantage point, it can make some interesting compositions. I like to try to create images with objects close in the foreground and beautiful scenery in the background, making the image clear from top to bottom.

What is your favorite lens?
: The NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S. It is a very versatile everyday lens. The S glass is very sharp and picks up great detail. If I could only take one lens on a hike with me, this would be the one. It is compact, lightweight and perfect for the landscapes I shoot.
Jason: By far my favorite lens is my NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S. It is a great all-around, go to lens for almost any situation. Whether its climbing up the side of a mountain to get a picturesque sunset looking vastly into the mountains, visiting the shorelines and looking for lighthouses or driftwood, or chasing the northern lights, this lens can capture it all.

A marriage of styles

Jason Mocniak photo at sunset of a dock
Jason: I love symmetry and lines. For this shot I tried to line the building up just in the middle to get equal parts. It made a pleasing photo with the colorful sky. I waited patiently for the walkers to clear out trying to make it a clean photograph. I believe someone still snuck in on the right side of the frame.
Angela Mocniak photo of a trail in Crosswinds Marsh
Angela: I’m intrigued by paths drawing you into a photo. It was chilly and moody with breaks in the sky making it more interesting and I wanted people to feel like they were there walking the path on a chilly moody day.

Angela: I enjoy photography and the way it opens your eyes to the beauty of the world. My hope is that people see our photographs and it makes them start to look at the beauty around them too.

Jason: I’m still learning and growing as a photographer. I’m always looking for new ideas. I’d love to try shooting different subjects, portraiture interests me. I’m constantly learning how to improve camera settings to get different looks and editing techniques.

What advice would you give other landscape photographers?
: Always keep an open mind. Don’t worry about following the “rules” too much. Photograph what makes you happy. Never stop learning.
Jason: Try stepping out of your boundaries of what you think makes a great photo. Angela and I sit down to edit our photos together, reviewing each other’s photos first. Sometimes I find myself not liking a photo that she really likes and vice versa. Everyone sees things a little differently.

Angela & Jason: Be mindful of your shooting partner and their frame, communication is key. You don’t want to walk right through the scene they’re trying to capture. Don’t be afraid to share knowledge and listen to your partner’s advice.

Angela Mocniak photo of a road in the fall
Jason gets the low to the road profile shots and I wanted to get the perspective as if you were driving the road.
Jason Mocniak photo of a road in light snow and autumn leaves
Jason: I found the lines in the road along with the snow-covered trees with contrasting colors to be captivating.
Photographic Portrait

A Change of Focus

This year has made all of us reassess what we are doing, whether by necessity or choice. But despite all the changes and upheaval, a lot of creative professionals have discovered new avenues in their work. One of them, portrait photographer Marina Williams, faced big challenges during the lockdown when her clients postponed or cancelled upcoming sessions. After sharing old work on social media and being underwhelmed by the results, she decided to push her limits by shooting more intentional self-portraits on her own. That, and creating tutorial videos of her process, led to a whole new type of photography she wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Marina told us how this new way of seeing saved her during the pandemic—both professionally and creatively.

Marina Williams double exposure B&W hands and texture

Get Out There.

“My biggest piece of advice for portrait photographers right now is to not let anything stop you from shooting. Whether that’s a pandemic or your own hesitation to try new things, you should always be out shooting and practicing as often as you can. The biggest growth I’ve seen in my own work was when I let go of the fear of making mistakes and just shot every single day until it came easily.” 

Don’t let circumstances in the world around you impede your creativity. If the universe throws you a curveball, take a swing at something different. Above all, keep the creative juices flowing as much as possible. You may be surprised by what you discover about your work. And yourself.

Marina Williams B&W double exposure woman and texture

Fanning Your Fan Base.

“I love sharing advice and tips on all aspects of photography, from the creative side to the business and marketing side. When I started to share this type of content instead, my followers grew quickly.”

Don’t limit yourself by only talking to your fans about one aspect of your work. Be open to sharing more than just your work—people are often interested not just in what you do, but how you do it. Giving a wider view of what you do can grow your fanbase exponentially. 

Marina Williams B&W double exposure of a woman and texture

Try New Stuff.

“I shot multiple times a week trying out concepts and ideas that I had been sitting on, and constantly producing new content helped me grow substantially.”

Now—when many of us have more free time than usual—is the perfect time to experiment. If you always shoot stills, try video. If you make short form films, try time-lapse. A time when the world is full of unwanted boundaries turns out to be the perfect moment to push your own.

Marina Williams double exposure of a woman and bubbles

Platforms Matter.

“I also started posting Tik Tok videos in January, and as my following grew on Tik Tok, it also did on Instagram as a direct correlation. I think especially during quarantine, all photographers were craving ideas and inspiration too, so creating content for them helped me grow a lot.”

While you are expanding your creative horizons, think about how you are putting your work out there. The more platforms you are on means more opportunity to reach a wider audience. 

Marina Williams double exposure of a woman and bubbles close up

A Parting Shot.

“When I got that shot, I had one of those giddy “YES!” moments that makes photography so special.”

I made this image in my studio with a white wall and natural morning light from a window. I love keeping my images monochromatic and I do it pretty often in my work. I had two toy bubble guns blowing bubbles into the frame from both sides to create bokeh at varied distances. Z 5, NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4 lens at 24mm focal length, 1/320 sec., ISO 320 .