ShootProof Review

ShootProof Review

The ShootProof homepage bills itself as “Professional sales tools and stunning client galleries for photographers”, but they are selling themselves far short in their tagline.

ShootProof is more like a ‘swiss army knife’ for professional photographers who want an all-in-one solution for managing their photography business. What looks like a simple online gallery service is also your sales platform, invoicing system, contract manager, printing partner, lead generator, and cloud backup service, all under one roof.

Having all of these services inside one platform is a massive time saver, and helps you manage your photography business more efficiently.

Read on for the full review.

ShootProof Pricing

ShootProof offers a free demo to test drive the platform before you commit to a paid plan. The demo allows you to try out the service for 14-days, free of charge, without requiring a credit card to start your trial.

After the demo period, the service plans are as follows:

  • FREE for 100 photos
  • $10/mo for 1,500 photos
  • $20/mo for 5,000 photos
  • $30/mo for 25,000 photos
  • $60/mo for Unlimited photos

If you opt for yearly pricing, ShootProof offers discounts around 20% off of the normal monthly price.

ShootProof is Super Easy to Use

ShootProof is dead simple to use. If you’ve got the chops to tackle Lightroom, ShootProof will be a breeze.

Once you sign up, you can be ready to receive payments in about 20 minutes. This includes dialing in your branding, setting pricing rules, choosing a print lab, uploading a photo shoot, and organizing your session into separate albums.

For new ShootProofers, you’ll see a linked checklist of the steps you need to take to get up and running when you sign into your dashboard. 

Ideal Customers for ShootProof

ShootProof is subtly branded towards wedding photographers, but the features it offers could easily serve photographers shooting fashion, boudoir, and special events, too.

Thanks to its integration with third-party software providers like WordPress, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for fine art photographers and digital artists to enjoy using the platform as well.

ShootProof Features

At first glance, the simplicity of the ShootProof layout might make you think it isn’t full-featured. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

If you’re considering a switch from another online gallery service, here are a few of the features that might tip the scales:

  • Pricing is based on the number of photos you upload, not the size of the files
  • Upload up to 50mb per file.
  • No commission on sales of your photos
  • High-resolution images are automatically optimized for web and social media 
  • Uploaded high-resolution images are automatically optimized for web and social media automatically
  • Send and sign legal documents digitally, including model releases and contracts
  • Separate iPad “Event app” to collect customer email addresses from future customers and potential new clients
  • Connectivity with a ton of third party service providers

These are just a few of our favorite ShootProof features. 

(For a list of all ShootProof features, click on the “+” sign on the “More ShootProof Features” box below.)

More ShootProof Features

Online galleries and slideshows

Digital downloads

PIN protection

File sizing

Social sharing options

Custom playlists for slideshows, with 14,000 songs

Client controls

Password protected galleries

Private URLs

Selective show/hide galleries

 Print lab options


 Your own preferred lab

Sell  Single images  Albums Full galleries

Sign legal documents

 Send docs to clients, who sign digitally

Choose from templates, ours your own  contracts and model releases can be purchased directly on Shootproof, and range in price from $40 to $175

Invoices  Session fees, retainers, etc

Custom discount rules



Size, placement

Setting to autoremove when purchasing digitals


Brand colors

Manage multiple brands

Contact manager

Event iPad app “Email Capture”, collects contact info  

Email marketing:  Automated emails are sent to reengage a customer who has abandoned their cart or favorited a photo. Automated emails can also notify your group of special sales, or when their gallery is about to expire.

Reporting:  Track visitors who have supplied their email address. See the popularity of albums and photos, and see a report of your sales for a given range.

Extras:  Send clients a free gift, such as a favorited image or two from their session.

ShootProof Gallery Design

The customer-facing galleries can be customized with three colors (background, main text, sub text), a selection of fonts, a featured image, and your logo.

As customers navigate from your website to the ShootProof gallery the branding continuity will feel nearly seamless (which helps potential customers feel more confident about making a purchase.)

Galleries can be laid out in several mosaic arrangements, and can also be viewed in customizable slideshows. ShootProof has a library of over 14,000 songs to choose from, and the photo transitions are very smooth.

This can be a great way to share your work for the first time with your clients!

Select your best photos from your session, find a song that matches the tone of the event, and sit back and watch your clients relive their special day.

The buttons to ’favorite’ an image, compare photos, navigate albums, share images on social media, start a slideshow, get pricing info, and see their cart are unobtrusive.

Your photos take the stage. There is no overwhelming ShootProof branding to distract your customers.

Customer Service and Technical Support

It’s a universal truth that the majority of people who leave feedback are of the disgruntled variety.

Satisfied customers tend to move on too quickly to leave a review. That’s why we’re so impressed when the overwhelming majority of reviews we see for a company are positive.

Almost all of the reports we dug up for ShootProof were 4 stars or higher.

The happy customers cited the ease of use, the connectivity with print labs, the integration with Lightroom and other business management tools, and their amazing customer service as the biggest draws.

The biggest negative feedback we found centered on the 5-day holding period for using their invoicing platform, the lack of customized printing options (for products which utilize more than one photo) and  occasional software glitches involving the Contact List. 

In the unlikely event you need to contact customer support, ShootProof offers the following methods:

  • Knowledge Base
  • Web ticket
  • Email 
  • Phone

ShootProof Integrations

ShootProof partners with several print labs, payment gateways, business workflow services, studio management tools, and even third-party postprocessing companies.

You can check out their partners here, and you’ll find the supported payment gateways once you log in to your new account (available payment gateways are determined by your region).

Our Verdict: Two Thumbs Up

For ease of use, features and pricing, ShootProof offers pro photographers a ton of value. 

For photograhers who are looking for an “all-in-one” solution to manage their businesses, we highly recommend the platform. 

Lightroom vs Photoshop: Which One Should I Choose?

Lightroom vs Photoshop: Which One Should I Choose?

Lightroom vs Photoshop: Which One Should I Choose?

If you’re looking for the right editing program, Lightroom and Photoshop should be at the top of your list. These programs are preferred by professional photographers all over the world.

While you can edit photos with either Lightroom or Photoshop, here’s what’s most important to keep in mind.

Photoshop is for perfecting one photo at a time where Lightroom is for editing and organizing hundreds of photos at a time.

Let’s take a closer look at each program.

Editing Features of Lightroom

In a professional photographer’s workflow, Lightroom does most of the heavy lifting.

With Lightroom, you can bulk import hundreds of images at once, cull images, select images for further processing and make all of your basic edits.

In terms of editing features, Lightroom is almost identical to Photoshop’s Camera RAW filter.

The image to the left shows the editing interface of Lightroom (on the left) and the Camera Raw module inside Photoshop.

As you can see, both programs allow you to make the same adjustments:

  • Cropping
  • Exposure
  • White Balance
  • Temperature
  • Contrast
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Whites
  • Blacks
  • Clarity
  • Dehaze
  • Vibrance
  • Saturation
  • And more…

While you can make basic adjustments in either program, there is a reason why most photographers prefer to begin their editing process in Lightroom, not Photoshop.

Bulk Adjustments with Lightroom

The ability to make bulk edits in Lightroom makes it the perfect choice to begin the editing process.

You can select an entire series of imported photos and apply the same edits to each photo at once.

When you have hundreds of photos to process, this is a massive time-saver.

And to save even more time, you can apply these adjustments at the same time you import your photos.

This magic happens with an assist from Lightroom Presets.

Lightroom Presets for Bulk Photo Editing

Lightroom Presets are photo editing recipes that adjust exposure, contrast, saturation, apply gradients and much more.  They make all of your photos look like they were edited by a pro…even if you’re an editing novice. 

The beauty of a preset is that you don’t have to adjust any sliders yourself unless you want to make a few fine adjustments. 

They can be applied to as many photos as you wish when you import your images into Lightroom – and with only a single click! 

Needless to say, the ability to edit a large number of photos with a single click cuts hours of editing time down to just seconds. 

(Grab some FREE Lightroom Presets to edit your photos in one click here!)

Lightroom’s Organization and Cataloguing Features

Presets aren’t the only reason to use Lightroom.

While Lightroom and Photoshop share many of the same basic photo editing features, Lightroom shines as the best tool for photo management and cataloging.

Lightroom allows you to tag photos with flags, star ratings and keywords.

This means that Lightroom makes it easy for you to find a specific photo in the future, instead of spending hours sorting through images. 

Lightroom even allows you to create entirely different image catalogues to make photo management even easier. 

You can also set up Lightroom to publish directly to online services like Flickr and Facebook. 

Apart from Lightroom’s photo management capabilities, something else you’ll appreciate about Lightroom is that it is a non-destructive editing program. 

Worry-free Editing with Lightroom

Another key difference between Photoshop and Lightroom is that Lightroom is a non-destructive editor.

The program keeps a database of your edits, so you can go back to your original photo and change it up at a later time. With Photoshop, once you hit the ‘Save’ button, you’re committed.

Now that I’ve given you a quick overview of Lightroom’s features, let’s take a closer look at Photoshop.

Photoshop Features

While I’ve already mentioned that Photoshop Camera Raw and Lightroom share basic editing features, that’s where the similarity ends. 

Photoshop started out as a digital photo editor, but over time has evolved into a beast of a software suite.

If you want to do advanced editing and retouching, Photoshop should be your software of choice. 

The ability to use layers lets you work only on specific areas of a photo while leaving the others untouched.

Photoshop’s advanced graphic design capabilities mean that it is used not only by photographers but also by graphic designers, digital artists, social media marketers, architects and more.

This is why Photoshop is the best, most comprehensive (and probably the most complicated) editing program in the world.

When You Care About Perfection, Choose Photoshop

If Lightroom is the workhorse program for photo management and basic editing, Photoshop is the best tool for refining and perfecting single images.

Photoshop is also the best program for compositing images. (Compositing means to seamlessly combine images together to create a brand-new image.)

Here are a few of examples of compositing. 

Replacing a grey, washed-out sky in a photo with a vibrant blue one, or changing out an unattractive background for one with a lot more appeal. 

Compositing is also used a lot in portrait photography. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve replaced the head of a non-smiling kid in a  photo with a different photo where he has a perfect cheeky grin.

All in the name of creating a perfect family portrait!

But really, what Photoshop is most famous for is its retouching abilities. 

The Photographer’s Choice for Retouching Images

Adobe Photoshop iconPhotoshop is a pixel-level editor. This means it has the power to transform the pixels of the image as it is edited.

We’ve all seen amazing Photoshop work where editors removed people from a scene, made chubby people thin, and even switched heads on subjects.

That’s pixel-level editing. Lightroom doesn’t have this capacity.

Photoshop also lets you zoom in and make fine adjustments with healing and cloning tools on a level you just can’t achieve with Lightroom. 

So how would you use Lightroom and Photoshop together? Let’s go through an example editing session!

Sample Lightroom & Photoshop Editing Workflow

Say you just finished an epic photoshoot and shot 1000 images for a client.

Now you’re ready to cull all these images down to the very best ones from the shoot. 

You import all those the images into Lightroom, then narrow those down into 300 images.

From there, you’d be super picky and cull these 300 images down to the 50 best images from the shoot. At this point, you could apply a Lightroom Preset, so all of your images have a consistent look. 

Then you would send your top 50 over to your client and have them select their favorites. 

Only after your clients select their favorites, are the images imported into Photoshop for final retouching.

A general rule of thumb is that any time your photos are to be printed in a large format, they need some extra TLC and refinement inside Photoshop. 

When you enlarge photos for print, you see every little imperfection. So go the extra mile and do some touch-ups inside Photoshop.

I Don’t Use Photoshop for Every Photo Session

Personally, the only time I bring photos into Photoshop is when millions of people are going to see a specific image.

For example, because it’s going to be printed in a magazine or on an album cover and I want to zoom in on the details and give it a little more love.

Now, if your photos aren’t seen by millions (yet), that doesn’t mean you don’t ever need to use Photoshop.

I just wanted to put it in perspective for you by describing what a typical workflow is for me.

Do I need both Photoshop and Lightroom?

My honest answer to this question is, “It depends.” 

I would encourage you to ask yourself some questions first before deciding:

  1. What kind of photography are you involved in or interested in?
  2. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced photographer?
  3. Are you a hobbyist or a professional?
  4. What do you need from a photo editing program?
  5. What overall “look” are you going for in your photos?
  6. Do you want to edit quickly or on the go, or do you wish to perfect each and every image?
  7. Are you publishing or printing your images somewhere?

Choose the Editing Program that Best Fits Your Needs

Adobe makes both Lightroom and Photoshop.

But you don’t necessarily NEED to use both in your workflow.

You need to pick what best suits your needs, whether that means Lightroom, Photoshop, or both!

Regardless, I would almost argue that you DO you need Lightroom.

It’s really the best program for quick and professional photo editing – and there is no better program for managing and organizing your photo collection.

But I’ve got good news – you really don’t have to decide on which program is best for your editing needs!

Get Both Lightroom and Photoshop for the Same Price

If you decide on Lightroom, you might as well get Photoshop too for the same price!

Both programs are offered together in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan

I have this exact plan and love it because I ALWAYS have the latest versions, plus it’s less than $10 a month.

Select the Photography plan that includes Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, and also get 20 GB of cloud storage for only $9.99/mo!

Want More Training?

I am doing a FREE editing training, where I’ll reveal my 5 Step Editing Recipe that every photographer should know.

In under 30 minutes, I’m going to show you how to edit your photos like a pro.

Yep, you heard me! After just 30 minutes with me, you’ll walk away a better (and more confident!) photo editor and photographer.

Click this link to register! 

How to Allow Motion to Show in Your Images

How to Allow Motion to Show in Your Images

Have you ever ‘ooh’ed’ and ‘ahh’ed’ at photos that show the movement of traffic on a busy street at night?

Marveled at how the water in seascapes and waterfalls looks soft and dream-like in certain images?

Or maybe you’ve gasped at the images of fireworks captured in the night sky?

None of these cool effects are photoshop magic!

Capturing images like these are all about slowing down your camera’s shutter speed to the point you can capture motion.  And it’s easy to do!

Even if you’re a brand new photographer, this is a technique you can easily learn. Here are some tips and tricks to get started.

Step 1: Use a tripod

When you want to show motion show in your images, use a tripod whenever shooting at shutter speeds below 1/60 of a second. 

Most of us cannot physically hold the camera steady at shutter speeds below 1/60.

Everyone’s hands shake a little, and at these slow shutter speeds, your camera will pick up that shake. This causes the unwanted blur known as camera shake to show up in your photos. (It looks like your image is out-of-focus.)

So dust off that tripod!

Note: when shooting on a tripod, always turn image stabilization (aka vibration reduction) off.

Leaving image stabilization turned on while the camera is on the tripod can pick up the vibration caused by the image stabilization feature itself.

Step 2: Turn AUTO ISO on

Set your camera to AUTO ISO. If you’re not sure how to do this, refer to your camera’s user manual. (ISO controls your image sensor’s sensitivity to light.)

Once you do this, you won’t need to touch your ISO setting again during your shoot. Your camera will automatically calculate the correct ISO based on your shutter speed and aperture settings.

Step 3: Put your camera in shutter priority mode.

All DSLR and mirrorless cameras that aren’t point-and-shoot cameras have a shooting mode called Shutter Priority. This mode is a semi-automatic mode that is ideal for new photographers to experiment with changing their shutter speeds.

In this mode, your camera automatically adjusts the size of your lens’ aperture so that your image doesn’t become overexposed. All you need to do is change your shutter speed setting, and the camera takes care of the rest.

It’s very simple to set your camera into Shutter Priority mode.

For Nikon and Sony users, simply turn your mode dial to ‘S’ to select Shutter Priority.

Canon cameras have also this mode, but  Canon doesn’t use ‘S’ to denote shutter speed. Instead, turn your camera’s mode dial to TV. This stands for ‘time-value’ or the length of time the shutter stays open. 

This setting is exactly the same as Shutter Priority mode on the other cameras.

Step 4: Set your shutter speed

You’ll have to experiment a bit with your shutter speeds to get the effect you want – and of course, your settings will depend on the speed of your subject.  Lighting conditions play a big part in selecting the right shutter speed, as bright conditions call for a faster shutter speed.

Here are some suggested shutter speeds to start you out.


Start out with a shutter speed of 2 seconds. Experiment with reducing your shutter speed down to 8 seconds. For the best fireworks images, get your shots in early in the show. The longer the fireworks show lasts, the more the sky fills with smoke.

Fireworks images look best when the fireworks are contrasted against a clear sky.

For detailed instructions, check out this post on how to perfectly capture fireworks

 Student Feature Brenda Williams

  ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/11    Shutter Speed 8s

ISO 200    Aperture ƒ/14    Shutter Speed 4s


If you’d like to capture the movement of a waterfall and create a soft, dreamy effect in your photo, try a starting shutter speed of two seconds.

If you keep getting ‘too bright’ warnings, add a neutral density filter to your lens. A neutral density filter acts like sunglasses for your lens and allows you to keep the shutter open longer without overexposing your image.

In a pinch, try using a polarizing filter. It won’t be as effective to reduce the light as much as the N.D. filter is, but it’s still better than nothing.

 ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/11    Shutter Speed 10s

 Student Feature Kristen Wallace

  ISO 400    Aperture ƒ/8    Shutter Speed 13s


The same techniques used in capturing waterfalls are also used for seascape photography.  Start with a shutter speed of two seconds. Use a neutral density or polarizing filter if needed.

 Student Feature Lisa Bronitt

  ISO 400    Aperture ƒ/10    Shutter Speed 2s

Moving Traffic:

 Student Feature Tim Ritchie

  ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/20    Shutter Speed 15s

To capture the movement of tail lights at night, start out with a shutter speed of 10 seconds. Experiment with leaving your shutter open up to 30 seconds to capture different effects.  

Panning (Advanced):

If you’re looking for more dramatic action shots, try panning. Panning gives the effect of a moving subject in sharp focus with a blurred background, This effect is created by moving your camera along with the subject as they pass by.

It can be challenging to nail the technique, but well worth practicing.

Set your camera in shutter priority mode. The speed you choose depends on the speed of the subject. You’ll need to experiment a bit to get the right shutter speed, but here are are some starting points to try.

  1. Fast moving subjects like cars – try shooting at 1/125 of a second
  2. Slower moving subjects (people running or walking) – ⅛ of a second
  3. Cyclists – 1/60 of a second.

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/8    Shutter Speed 1/40s

Set your autofocus mode to AI Servo or AF-C (continuous) mode. (Different camera manufacturers may use different names – consult your camera manual if you are unsure.)

This autofocus mode automatically adjusts focus for moving subjects.

For best results, combine AF-C mode with the dynamic area setting. This allows you to focus on a single point, and the camera makes adjustments as the subject moves.

Frame your subject as they come into view then partially depress your shutter to activate autofocus. Smoothly follow your subject right to left or left to right as they move past you.

You may need to experiment a bit with these suggested shutter speeds. If your subject looks blurry, increase your shutter speed until you get the results you want. 

Have fun and experiment with shutter speed for more creative photos! 

Ready to take your photos to the next level?

Join me for my free training called “Show Your Camera Who’s Boss” and I’ll show you how to use the dials on your camera to freeze motion.

How to Photograph Fireworks Like A Pro

How to Photograph Fireworks Like A Pro

How to Photograph Fireworks Like A Pro

One of the best things about photography is learning new skills that creates stunning pieces of art.

Firework photography produces amazing photographs that capture the viewer and the photographer alike.

It can seem a little tricky but with the right tools and tricks, you’ll capture the colors and shapes in the sky that happen on some of our favorite holidays & celebrations. 

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/11    Shutter Speed 3.5s

Equipment and Tools

There are a few different types of equipment that you need in order to successfully photograph fireworks.


The first is a camera that allows you to adjust its settings. When shooting photos of fireworks, you need to be able to change the f-stop, ISO, and shutter speed. All DSLR cameras allow you to do this, as well as some point and shoots from Canon, Sony, and Nikon. Only have your iPhone with you? Here’s how to take photos of fireworks on your iPhone.


Tripods are a must to capture fireworks (here is my favorite one!). They keep your camera steady and reduce the camera shake that comes from holding your camera by hand when shooting. If your tripod isn’t as stable as you would like it to be, you can weigh it down by adding something heavy to the middle of it. A sandbag will usually do the trick.

While I don’t really recommend it, you can get around the need of a tripod by bracing yourself up against something stable or finding a pillar to set your camera on. You will also need to adjust your shutter speed if you are shooting fireworks handheld  (It’s very difficult to shoot handheld at shutter speeds below 1/60 without introducing camera shake. )

Shutter Control App or Cable

A remote shutter is a must for shooting firework photographs. Using a remote reduces the amount of camera shake that comes from manually hitting the shutter button. When you have a camera that has Wi-Fi enabled, you can also use a remote shutter apps.  (Nikon has the Nikon App WMU, Canon has the EOS Remote, and Sony has different remote apps depending on which model.)


When it comes to lenses, you have a few different options. If you are wanting a shot that includes a lot of space filled with fireworks, reach for a wide angle lens. Anything under a 24mm will do the trick. If a close-up photo of a firework is more your style, choose a telephoto lens. 

Camera Settings for Photographing Fireworks

One of the most important things you need to get right when shooting fireworks are the settings of your camera. It is important to shoot in manual mode if you want to correctly capture the fireworks. When setting up your aperture, you want to keep it on the small side. Start with f8 or f16. This will help keep your photograph sharp and in focus.

When it comes to shutter speed, you want your shutter to be longer because your aperture is narrow and you need time to allow more light into the camera. A longer shutter speed also allows you to capture more bursts of fireworks.

Now that you have your aperture and shutter speed figured out, you also need to adjust your ISO. The higher the ISO, the more  noise you will have in your photograph, so try to keep your ISO as low as possible. Start with ISO 100 and bump it up if you only if necessary.

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/11    Shutter Speed 2.5s

How to Adjust Your Settings on Each Camera Model

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After choosing the appropriate settings for your camera, you need to think about how you want to frame your photograph. You want to pay attention to what is both in the foreground and the background of your shots. Is there something in the frame that is going to distract from the fireworks? Or is there something in the frame that is going to add to the picture?

One of the most important things you need to do while framing your photographs is to watch your horizons. This means that you need to make sure that your camera is shooting straight and that the horizons won’t be off and tilted. If there are other things in your photographs besides the fireworks, people will be able to tell that your camera was tilted because the objects will also be tilted. 

Quick Tips!

  • Get to your location early to scout out good locations clear of objects that will obstruct your view
  • Try to get your best shots early in the show. Often times the smoke from the fireworks will fill the air and the photos will not look as crisp in the sky.
  • Make sure you’ve charged your battery! Shooting at longer shutter speeds uses up more power in your camera. You don’t want to miss the shot due to no battery!

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/22    Shutter Speed 4s
Smoke haze example (above)      ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/11    Shutter Speed 2.5s


Have you ever wondered how to focus when photographing fireworks? Similar to taking a photo of the moon or something off in the distance, auto-focus isn’t going to work for you. 

When you have the choice, manual focus is the way to go. You have a higher chance of your photo being in focus in manual mode than if using autofocus. In order to focus with manual, point your camera far off into the distance like at a tree or at the moon and focus on that.

What I typically do to make sure that my focus is 100% accurate, is focus with the auto-focus button on a bright explosion right at the beginning of the show. Then I’ll swap it over to manual focus immediately after I’ve found the accurate focus point.

Creative tip:

  • Focus on an object in the foreground. You can leave all of your other settings the same and snap a few photos throughout the show. This is especially good when the smoke has made the sky too polluted to shoot the fireworks.
ISO 800    Aperture ƒ/2    Shutter Speed 1/60s

Have Fun & Experiment

The most important part of the whole shooting fireworks experience is to have fun and experiment. You may have to adjust your settings and your focus as you go to get exactly what you are looking for, but that is part of the magic.   

I hope you enjoyed these tips on photographing fireworks. Go out there and have fun & be safe! 🙂 

Join me for my free training called “Show Your Camera Who’s Boss” and I’ll show you how to use the the shutter priority dial on your camera to get amazing photos every time.

6 African American Photographers Who Advanced Civil Rights Through Their Art

6 African American Photographers Who Advanced Civil Rights Through Their Art

6 African American Photographers Who Advanced

Civil Rights Through Their Art

We’re celebrating Black History Month with a tribute to six pioneering African American photographers.

Their accomplishments were astounding considering the odds against their success because of segregation and prejudice. Through their technical excellence and storytelling through image, they fought racial stereotypes and injustice.

Among these men, two won Pulitzer Prizes for journalism. Others created successful studios that captured a rising black middle class in the early 20th century.

Civil rights advancements in the 1950s and 60s owe a massive debt to the collective works of these superb photographers.

Gordon Parks  (1912 – 2005)

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”

Photographer, filmmaker, musician and novelist Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott Kansas in 1912 in an era where racial violence was commonplace. After his mother died when he was 14, Parks moved in with relatives in Minnesota, but soon after became homeless.

He began his photography career in 1941, after purchasing a second-hand camera in a Seattle pawnshop. After seeing his work for a women’s clothing shop in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mrs. Joe Louis encouraged Parks and his wife to move to Chicago and start a portrait studio.

His exemplary work led to him winning a 1941fellowship with the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which was tasked with documenting the nation’s social conditions, under the direction of Roy Stryker.

Park’s Work with the Farm Security Administration

Working under Stryker, Park’s created one of his most well-known photographs, American Gothic. 

This racially charged photograph was inspired by Parks’ daily encounters with segregation in Washington, D.C’s restaurants and shops.

The subject of the photograph, Mrs. Ella Watson, was a part of the cleaning crew that worked on the FSA grounds.

Upon viewing the photograph, Stryker commented that it was an “indictment of America” that could get all of his photographers fired.

Yet he encouraged Parks to keep working with Watson to document the inequalities in American society between African Americans and whites.

Another of Park’s major works of this era was a series of 1943 photographs depicting a racially integrated camp in New York state.

The photographs depicted children playing together, cooking and enjoying the fun of summer camp.

For a still largely segregated American society, these photographs showing racial harmony were a revelation.

Career After the FSA

After the disbandment of the FSA, Parks remained in Washington as a photographer with the Office of War Information. He later followed Stryker to the Standard Oil Photography Project, which documented life in small towns and industrial centers.

Upon resigning from the War Office, Parks became involved with fashion photography again and was featured in Vogue magazine, despite racial segregation that stacked the odds against his success.

But it was during his career as a photojournalist that Parks received the recognition he was due.

Staff Photographer at Life Magazine

In 1948, Parks became a staff photographer for Life Magazine, the premier publication of its day. His association with the magazine lasted until 1972.

During this time, Parks became one of the most celebrated photojournalists in the U.S., photographing celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael as well as capturing sports, fashion and documenting poverty and racial division.

During Parks’ tenure at Life, the March 8, 1968 edition featuring Parks’ portrayal of the shocking living conditions of the Fontanelle family, living in abject poverty in Harlem rocked the nation at the height of civil rights unrest.

As well as achieving fame as a photographer, Parks was a celebrated filmmaker and musician (directing the screenplay for the hit movie Shaft, as well as composing the score).

Parks passed away in Manhattan at age 93.

James Presley Ball (1825 – 1904)

James Presley Ball was a master photographer who used his craft to fight against slavery in his abolitionist campaigns. 

Ball was a man whose photography skills evolved along with the technology of the times. An astute businessman who founded a thriving community of artists, Ball started his business offering his clientele expensive daguerrotypes.

He later embraced the less costly photographic print to draw a larger clientele and thus maximize his earning potential.

One of the Most Celebrated Galleries in the West

Ball’s Cinninati-based ‘Great Daguerrian Gallery of the West’ became one of the most famous and celebrated photography galleries in the U.S. He used his fame in campaigns to abolish slavery.

Working with a team of fellow African American artists, Ball created a massive painted canvas panorama titled: “Mammoth Pictorial Tour of the United States Comprising Views of the African Slave Trade; of Northern and Southern Cities; of Cotton and Sugar Plantations; of the Mississippi, Ohio and Susquehanna Rivers, Niagara Falls & C.”

The panorama consisted of 2,400 yards of canvas that was slowly unrolled before an audience. The work exposed the shocking conditions his fellow African Americans endured under slavery.

Sadly, this work has been lost.

Featured Exhibits, Notable Clients and Awards

Ball’s works were featured at the Ohio Mechanics Institute expositions in 1852, 1854, 1855 and 1857. He won the bronze medal for photography in 1857. 

In September 1887, Ball was honored as the official photographer of the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Among Ball’s noted subjects were Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Jenny Lind, P.T. Barnum and the family of President Ulysses S. Grant.

He moved west and became a prominent figure in Helena, Montana. He was active in politics and established a studio there.

In his last years, Ball relocated to Honolulu in 1902 to find relief for his rheumatism. He passed away there in 1904.

Daguerreotype Sets Auction Record

In 1992, an 1851 daguerreotype of Ball’s sold for $63,800. At the time, this was aworld’s record for sale of a daguerreotype at auction.

James Van Der Zee (1886 – 1983)

James Van Der Zee was born in Lennox, Massachusetts and received his first camera in 1900, at the age of 14. As the owner of one of the few cameras in his hometown, Van Der Zee was often called on to document events in his community.

After moving to Newark, New Jersey in 1915, Van Der Zee was employed as a darkroom and photographer’s assistant. After relocating to New York City in 1916, Van Der Zee established his first photographic studio in his sister’s music conservatory.

The Photographer of the Harlem Renaissance

Within two years, he opened up the Guarantee Photo Studio in Harlem. He quickly became the most successful photographer in the Harlem district of Manhattan.

His famous clients included activist Marcus Garvey, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and poet Countee Cullen, Joe Louis and Florence Mills.

Along with his portraits of famous clients, Van Der Zee also captured dignified portraits of a rising African American middle class that included home and business owners.

Glamour and Technical Proficiency Were Van Der Zee’s Trademarks

Van Der Zee’s technically proficient studio work featured props, retouching and double exposures. He often was asked to capture important happenings in the lives of his customers such as weddings, funerals and social events.

Van Der Zee’s photographs lent an aura of glamour to his subjects and he went out of his way to make them look good.

“I tried to see that every picture was better-looking than the person … I had one woman come to me and say ‘Mr. VanDerZee my friends tell that’s a nice picture, but it doesn’t look like you.’ That was my style”, said VanDerZee.[6]

In 1924, Van Der Zee was asked to document the members and activities of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to portray a positive view of the Association – despite the controversy surrounding its creator, Marcus Garvey.

Depression Brings Change in Business Model

During the Depression, the demand for portraiture dried up due to economic circumstances and the increase in numbers of personal cameras. Van Der Zee responded to the challenging times by doing passport photos, photo restorations and other miscellaneous photography jobs for the next decades.

Featured in ‘Harlem on My Mind’ at the Met

In 1967, Van Der Zee rose to worldwide fame after he was featured in a Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit titled “Harlem on My Mind.”

It was mere chance that Van Der Zee was featured after exhibit researcher Reginald McGee walked into Van Der Zee’s studio and asked him if he had any photographs from the 1920s and 1930s.

Because of this accidental discovery, Van Der Zee’s legacy is still with us today.

Moneta Sleet Jr. (1926 – 1996)

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Moneta Sleet Jr.’s fascination with photography began when his parents gave him a box camera as a child. But he didn’t decide to pursue a career in photography until attended Kentucky State University as an undergraduate.  

Initially enrolled as a business major, Sleet made the switch to photography after he landed a job as an assistant at a photo studio operated by one of the deans at KSU.

After graduating from Kentucky State, he went on to receive a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University in 1950.

Sleet’s first job was as a sportswriter for the now defunct Amsterdam News, a black newspaper in NYC.

Joins Johnson Publishing Company

In 1955, Sleet joined the Johnson Publishing Company and began shooting photos for Jet and Ebony magazines. He went on to spend four decades with the company, covering the U.S. Civil Rights movements, including the 1963 march on Washington D.C., and the 1965 march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. Sleet also covered the rise of independent African nations, including independence celebrations in Nairobi, Kenya in 1965.

He photographed many African heads of state, including Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, Liberian president William Tubman and Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta.

Sleet was also much in demand as a celebrity photographer.

Billie Holiday, Patti LaBelle, Thelonius Monk, Arthur Ashe and Sidney Poitier were among his subjects.

The Pulitzer Winning Photograph that Almost Never Was

But Sleet’s most famous, Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph almost never happened.

Mrs. Corretta Scott King noticed that no African American photographers had been invited to document the funeral of her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King. When Mrs. King noticed this slight, she threatened to ban all photographers from the funeral unless Sleet was invited.

Two Firsts for African Americans

Sleet captured a heart-rending photo of Dr. King’s five-year-old daughter lying across her mother’s lap, looking wide-eyed in grief at the camera. This photo won Sleet the Pulitzer Prize the first for an African American and also a first for an African American to win for journalism.

The Photographer of a Rising Black Washington Society

Addison Scurlock was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Following his high school graduation, he moved to Washington D.C. with his family. Soon after he began a photography apprenticeship under Moses P. Rice.

Scurlock opened his first photography business in 1904, later opening his storefront studio in 1911.

His mission was to make his subjects ‘look good,’ and he delivered on this mission with excellent technical skills in posing, lighting and retouching.


Attribution: Photomohammad [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

John H. White (1945 – )

“I light candles, I don’t curse the darkness,” he said. “Even now, my colleagues are cursing the darkness. I’m lighting the candles. And I give wings to dreams, I ain’t breaking no wings. I’m not clipping any wings. Make a difference in the world. One light. One day. One image.”

Deeply Influenced By Minister Father

Pulitzer Award-winning photojournalist John H. White was deeply influenced by his Methodist minister father, who made it a point to expose his sons to the best and the worst the world had to offer. The influence of this father instilled a deep love of people in John that shines through in his photography.

White decided to pursue a career as a photographer while enrolled in a commercial art program. He said that at the time, he decided that photography was the “best and simplest means of expression for me …”

Remarkable Photojournalism Career

White began his career with Chicago Daily News, then moved to the Chicago Sun-Times in 1978. He remained with the Sun-Times until 1993.

White’s photojournalism assignments took him all over the world, including Russia, South Africa, Mexico, the Middle East and Asia. In 1979, he covered Pope John Paul II’s visit to Mexico as one of the few photographers approved by the Vatican.

To honor his long career and body of work, White received the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1982.

Selected as a Photographer for ‘Day in the Life of America’ Project

White was one of 200 photographers who participated in the largest photographic project in U.S. history, the 1986 “Day in the Life of America.”

As well as being employed by the Sun-Times, White also taught photojournalism at Columbia College Chicago, passing on the torch to the next generation of photojournalists.

The ‘Eyes of the World’

One of White’s most inspiring quotes is, “A photographer can be the eyes for the world. It’s a privilege and a tremendous responsibility.”

There is no better way to sum up the achievements of these men than those words. Their work helped break down racial barriers and shine a light on the issues of injustice and poverty. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Sources used for this article:

How to Photograph the Moon for Astonishing Results

How to Photograph the Moon for Astonishing Results

How to Photograph the Moon for Astonishing Results

You’ve seen countless stunning images of the moon and night sky, but do you ever wonder what it takes to capture these photographs?

Photographing the moon can be intimidating at first but once you get it down, you’re in for an incredibly rewarding experience every photographer should strive for.

Determining When to Shoot

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/4.5    Shutter Speed 1/160s

One of the first steps to getting a perfect moon photo is planning when to venture out for your photos and knowing what scenarios will produce the desired results.

Time of Day

The best time of day to photograph the moon is either right after sunset or just before sunrise, which is displayed in the photo above. Doing so allows you to capture the moon when its closest to the horizon, which is when it’s least contrasted against the sky.

This makes your job easier and gives you foreground imagery to work with, since the foreground will likely still be illuminated.

If you have a long telephoto lens, photographing the moon in the dead of night can land some beautiful detailed shots.

Crop in on the moon as tight as possible and use a lens that is at least 300mm when shooting the moon against an almost black sky.

Weather Conditions

The quality of your photos will greatly depend on the weather. If you’re looking for a photo with a crisp moon as the focus, make sure to shoot on a clear night when there are very little or no clouds. Higher elevations with no air pollution work best!

Moon Phases

Actual full moon photos can end up feeling flat and dull, since the light is hitting it face on. If you want to photograph a “full moon” your best bet is to shoot the day before or after the actual true moon. Another great option is to shoot a Gibbous or Quarter moon, which will reveal the craters and shadows of the moon’s surface. You can find out what phase the moon will be in at any given time and place at this link.

Equipment Needed to Capture the Moon

The next step is making sure you have your equipment ready and on hand. Moon photography can be quite expensive, but can also be done with less expensive equipment if you’re willing to compromise on the type of shot.

At a bare minimum you’ll need:

  • Tripod
  • Remote trigger or cable release
  • 55-200mm lens. 800mm+ preferred

Even the slightest movement will cause blur when shooting the moon due to how extremely far away your subject is, so a tripod and remote trigger are a must.

ISO 320    Aperture ƒ/20.0    Shutter Speed 1/50s

Your lens will of course make the biggest difference when taking a photograph of the moon. The longer the lens the better and using a telephoto lens is preferred. Using at least an 800mm lens will give you the highest quality images. If this isn’t in your budget, consider renting a lens for a one-time shoot!

Photographing the Moon on a Budget

Without using at least a 200-300mm lens, the moon will come out very small. This being said if you’re shooting the moon with a 55-200mm lens, afterward you can use editing software after shooting to create some stunning images.

ISO 100    Aperture ƒ/5.0    Shutter Speed 1/320s

If you’re working with less sophisticated equipment and still want to photograph the moon, instead of focusing on the moon itself, put the focus on the foreground and have the moon positioned nicely in the background of the photo.

Camera Settings to Use When Photographing the Moon

Although specific camera settings will differ widely based on the specific conditions you’re shooting in, there are some rules that should always be followed when photographing the moon.

Image Stabilization and Mirror Lock-Up

One of these is that the image stabilization feature is off to prevent blur, which should be done every time you use a tripod. This may seem paradoxical, but turning on vibration reduction when using a tripod will actually result in blurred images. If you’re camera allows for it, you also want to use mirror lock-up mode (MLU) to minimize shakiness.

Shooting in RAW

Using a RAW format when shooting the moon is a good idea, which gives you significantly more power when editing the photos in post production. After all the work you put in to photographing the moon, you’ll definitely want this option! To learn more about the advantages of shooting in RAW read our RAW vs. JPEG blog post.

ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

You’ll have to play around with the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, so make sure to switch to manual mode. Don’t rely on the light meter when deciding on your settings, since the camera will be confused by the moon’s light.

Considering the extreme brightness of the moon, most of the time you should be able to use your camera’s native ISO setting with good results. Some exceptions would be when photographing the moon in a landscape setting with lots of foreground imagery or when capturing an extreme crescent moon.

Although it doesn’t seem like it, the moon is moving in the sky at a fast pace and you’ll need a fast shutter speed to keep the image sharp. Using a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 to photograph the moon is a good benchmark. If you’re using a longer lens you can use slower shutter speeds but keep it at least 1/2 a second to prevent blur.

A good place to start overall is with your camera on the lowest possible ISO speed, an aperture of f/11 and a shutter speed of 1/250, and adjust as needed.

Importance of Composition with Moon Photography

Composition is very important when photographing the moon. If you’re capturing only the moon with no foreground imagery, place the moon in the center or use the rule of thirds to determine where it should be off-center.

ISO 160    Aperture ƒ/4.4    Shutter Speed 1/800s
ISO 320    Aperture ƒ/6.3    Shutter Speed 1/200s

When using foreground subject matter in your moon shots, some ideas are to photograph the moon as it comes over the mountains or ocean, or to frame it between objects.

Now that you have the tips you need to capture the moon’s beauty, get creative with it! You could try a day time shot, or try photographing a celestial event such as a blood moon, supermoon, or an eclipse. The opportunities are endless.

Need help understanding all the different dials on your camera? Join me for my free training called “Show Your Camera Who’s Bossand I’ll show you how to use those dials!

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