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BenQ SW320 Photography Monitor Usage Review

 This post is an in-depth review of our experience of using the BenQ SW320 monitor. To read about colour calibration and the first part of this monitor’s review, click here

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a brief review about the BenQ SW320 Photographer Monitor that we had recently received in our studio. We also spoke about colour calibration and its importance to us as wedding photographers. This post goes into a little more detail about our experience of using the SW320 monitor for the past few months. Though we’ve had it for a brief period of time, we’re already impressed by what it can do. The BenQ SW320 monitor is perfect for us since our work involves visually intensive tasks and the SW320 has been made especially for the professional photographer.

Moreover, wedding photography now requires much more colour accurate deliveries with the advancements made in album printing technologies. At Twogether Studios, we usually proof all our albums before they to print – which is why it’s very important to ensure that we have 100% colour accuracy in the work we do!

We’ve tried to break down our review of this monitor into the features that made the most sense to us.

#1 Switching between Adobe RGB and sRGB on the fly rocks!

For as long as we can remember, we have relied on colours displayed on our Apple monitor (which has it’s own calibration). It could display colours in the sRGB mode with fantastic accuracy, but wasn’t fully accurate when in Adobe RGB and Profoto RGB. But with BenQSW320, we could move a step further. The BenQ SW320 monitor supports Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB modes, and switching on the fly. And the colours and the viewing experience in these modes has been incredibly eye-opening for us! With 99% Adobe RGB, BenQ offers a far greater range of reproduction of blues and greens. When in Photoshop, if the colour space was set to Adobe RGB – we could see the difference between the display on BenQ and our iMac. The colours on the BenQ monitor were richer and vibrant looking and gave our images an extra edge. BenQ’s SW320 massive 31-inch monitor also made an impact with respect to the viewing experience. Our 27 inch iMac’s looked smaller in comparison.

Although almost all photographers usually use sRGB, as it is the standard colour profile for sharing of images online. But Adobe RGB provides a wider colour gamut. It also has a wider range of data with respect to the colours in an image. The HotKey puck made it easy to switch between different colour modes.

#2 It changed our workflow process

The HotKey puck (a little shortcut key device that attaches to the monitor) made it super easy to switch between colour and B&W modes. We didn’t need to switch back and forth between two windows to decide which looked better. The GamutDuo feature made it possible for us to see both colour spaces on the same screen. We realised how convenient this feature was when we found ourselves with a folder full of images to decide from. It was possible to go through thousands of images and immediately decide with the press of a button if it worked in black and white. The monitor also gave us the option of viewing our image in three different black and white presets. Post that we could process and make adjustments to the image in our editing software (=Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop!).

Working on BenQ’s portrait mode was really fun – being able to swivel the monitor to a portrait orientation without disconnecting the wires is a really cool design feature! Fine editing bridal portraits were so much better with the clarity and details the monitor provided us with.  Zooming in to edit the fine details was pretty rewarding because of the 4k resolution of the monitor. The height adjustable stand made it easier to find a comfortable viewing position. The images were free of any outside manipulations courtesy of the shading hood. Basically, we were in our own cosy editing nook, unaware of the outside world.

#3 Quality and colour accuracy

In a typical set of wedding pictures, at least 60% of all pictures receive basic colour correction. The rest of the images require a little more fine-tuning and detail editing.

Working on the images that require a little more attention on BenQ SW320, everything looked exactly as it should. Its Brightness Utility function made the screen brightness consistent all over, no matter which angle you viewed it from. And the matte screen helped us avoid any glare or reflections. Often, the surroundings we work in, effect the images we see on the screen (especially the glare and reflections of indoor light sources). The monitor’s matte screen kept any glare and reflections out and our work remained unmanipulated from the outside world. We were also sure we wouldn’t have to worry about colour accuracy with the monitor’s inbuilt hardware calibration. It keeps image display consistent and true to the original. That unusual shade of pink popped just right in our bride’s lehenga. And thanks to the monitor’s colour accuracy, the images looked just right when we printed them as well.

#4 Dual monitors and more workspace

When working on software like the Lightroom, we often have multiple windows open. Having the BenQ SW320 side by side with our Mac made it easier to manage our workspace. We now started working on a multi-monitor setup – had the Lightroom library module open on the Apple display with the develop module open on the BenQ SW320. The set up helped us work with more efficiency and in distraction free mode. Having the option to view multiple programs across different screens actually increased our productivity. We could keep regular everyday work tasks like the social media, our work emails, other documents etc on the second monitor and focus solely on images on the BenQ.

#5 Pairing the Epson P5000 printer with the BenQ SW320

A few weeks ago, we were writing about the importance of printing photographs and reviewing the new Epson P5000 printer. It was a stroke of luck that we had the BenQ SW320 monitor and the Epson P5000 printer in our studio at the same time. We decided to hook up the printer to the BenQ SW320 in hopes of getting some great colour-accurate prints. Thanks to BenQ’s factory calibrated monitor, the results were exactly what we’d hoped to see! The colour and resolution of the images were incredible (pretty much because they printed exactly as they looked)!

A good monitor not only helps you make great looking images but also reproduce high-quality colour-accurate prints. As a photographer, your knowledge about printing technology and correct colour calibration can only enhance your credibility as an experienced professional in the field. So if your monitor is producing accurate prints, you know it’s definitely colour-calibrated.

 

Most wedding clients visiting our studio recently have been curious to know what the impressive big monitor actually was or did. It was a great conversation starter – and everyone who saw it felt reassured that they’d get colour accurate albums and didn’t have to worry about inaccurate colours ruining their precious memories.

You should definitely think about buying the monitor if you want superior quality images and colour-accuracy in your prints. Priced at approximately a lakh and fifty, it is no doubt an expensive buy. But in the long run, it is worth for your business and improvement as a professional photographer. Think of it as a one-time investment that will bring returns for years to come. There are a couple of online websites, where you can place your order. You can see the available options on BenQ’s website here.

Is there anything you’d like to know more about the monitor? Let us know in the comments!

SEO wedding photographer tips

SEO for Wedding Photographers: 5 Easy-to-Follow Tips

SEO for wedding photographers made easy in a few steps

A decade ago, finding a wedding photographer wasn’t that complicated. An elder of the family would just hire a photography studio in their area, one which shot everything from a passport size photo to a full wedding. Today, wedding photography is a completely different ball-game. It has become a whole field in itself.

Shooting a wedding is the most obvious part of the job. But part of being a wedding photographer is also marketing yourself and your business today. The more people see your work, the more inquiries and assignments you get. Your best wedding photos have no value if no one is reaching your website or seeing them. With the internet and the ever-present Google, one click can show a to-be bride thousands of photographers to choose from in her city. In this scenario, it’s increasingly important that when people search for a wedding photographer, you land up, if not in the first three, but at least the first page of the Google search results. If you’re not on that search result page, you’re missing out on potential clients. To generate traffic to your website, you need to follow some rules that will help your website come up in search results. And that leads us to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ranking.

Now SEO for wedding photographers is not a technology monster that you cannot slay. SEO optimisation is far more easy to achieve than you realise. If you read on you’ll know that it doesn’t have to be a complicated and time-consuming process. There is no mystical secret to a good SEO. But there are some best-assumed practices that can help you.

Screenshot of SEO results

Over the years, we’ve done quite a lot of trial and error and figured out what works. These are things we did manually and organically without paying for Google ads. From our experience, there are a few simple things you need to keep in mind and you will be sorted. It worked for us, so there is no reason why it shouldn’t work for you!

#1 The Linking Game

Before you even start thinking about backlinking or internal linking, you need to fix the links that are already present on your website. Broken links can do your website more harm than any backlinks can do good. We suggest that you find a website that checks for broken links. You can use sites like the Siteliner and Google Webmaster Tools to find your broken links and fix them.

Now let’s talk about building backlinks. When a website or blog other than yours links to your website, it gives you credibility. Think of it as a good reference in an interview. The more other blogs and websites link out to yours, Google will deem your site as more credible. But also make sure the source is credible and trustworthy. A couple of backlinks from popular websites is always better than twenty spams. If wedding blogs have mentioned you, ask them for a link back to your website or blog. You can also establish and maintain good relationships with the wedding vendors you work with. Tagging and mentioning them in your posts will encourage backlinks from them. Another way to backlink to your website is adding it to all your social media accounts.

Also, add internal links to your own content. This is a good way of improving your bounce rate. But don’t go crazy. Keep only 3-4 internal links in a post – a link to your homepage, one of your other blog posts or the wedding venue. Make sure that your images or blog posts are shareable so clients and their family can share it. If a lot of people share articles from your website, it’ll add to your credibility. As people share your photos and posts, the traffic to your website will also steadily increase. Link stock image

#2 Use the right keywords and tags

We can’t stress enough how important choosing the right keywords are for SEO. The first step here is to think like your average consumer. What will a couple search for when looking for a wedding photographer? Make a list of all probable words and phrases that a potential customer might use to search for the likes of your business.

It’s important that your keyword is related to the content of your post. So once you’ve finalised on a keyword/s, try and make sure you use the exact same thing in the following – post title, URL, H1/H2 tags, meta keyword and meta tag. Meta tag is that little description beneath the title that you can see in search results. So make sure that your meta tag description gives the reader information that is enticing enough for them to click on when they view you in search results.  Use the keyword a few times at the beginning of the article and then spread it evenly 3-4 times throughout the post.

#3 Add Alt Tags and Titles to your Images

Google doesn’t understand images. Adding Alt tags or Titles to your images simply tells Google in words, what your image is about. It helps categorise your images into different buckets and makes it easier for Google to index them. So when the next time a bride searches for pre-wedding ideas or bridal portraits, if you’ve added the right words to your images, they would pop up in her search results. Also try and use you include your keyword in the alt titles and tags, but don’t spam every single image with the same thing. Keep the content related and specific to the image. You don’t want your bridal portraits popping up when someone searches for portfolio shots, do you?

#4 Make your Website Light and Mobile Friendly

Oh, the horror of a visitor moving away because your page took too long to load! More and more people are using mobile phones for browsing, so websites that are optimised for phones are boosted by Google in results. Simply said, faster websites rank better. Check your website on various mobile devices to make sure it works properly.

Another way to help faster loading of your pages is to down-size the images you upload. Down-sizing doesn’t mean you have to lose out on quality or clarity of the image. You can easily use Photoshop or plugins like JPEGmini to help reduce image size without compromising on quality. You should also spend some time choosing a good hosting provider for your website. The time it takes to load your website and its security depends on the kind of host you invest in. So, do some research and make sure it’s a good one. If you have any trouble with the above, consult a web developer to help you out.

#5 Content Content Content!

None of the above tips will help you if your content is not engaging. Once a reader/viewer arrives at your website, only your content will keep them from moving away. Try and create content that other wedding photographers, as well as potential clients, will relate to. Use a conversational and easy-to-read writing style for your blog content. For example, if you’re uploading an image gallery on your wedding blog, make sure your text is not the same old repeat of what you said about the previous couple. Add in details unique to the couple – why they fell in love, funny moments from the wedding, what makes their love story special and what you as a photographer loved about the wedding. This way not only will the readers keep coming back for more but the client you wrote about will also appreciate it!

As much as it is important to create good content, it’s also imperative that you create it frequently. Disappearing for days on end will affect the way Google ranks your website. So keep posting new and topical content regularly to increase your chances of landing on the first page of search results. Also, make sure that your tone and style of writing remains true to your brand image. Try and keep the length of the article under a thousand words. It’s also important that you create unique and original content. Don’t ever copy paste content from other websites. You’ll lose your credibility, and Google can read duplicate content. So your SEO will suffer too.

This is not the be-all and end-all list. Google keeps changing its algorithm every few months so no one knows how exactly it works. But getting these done is surely a step forward towards building up your website’s rankings. Consistently following these for a couple of months should get you better results, we’re sure of that! Feel free to ask us any questions about SEO and we’ll help you out! Have we missed out on anything? Let us know in the comments!

Wedding photography pre-wedding couple shoot Mussorie

A Mussoorie Destination Wedding Story | Isha+Kurt

One of our most fun couples tie a knot in a Mussoorie destination wedding

When you love a person, you need no words to describe how you feel about them or how much you love them. You just know.

Kurt had chosen Isha to be his life-partner long before marriage was even on the cards. From the first moment he saw her, he was intrigued and wanted to be around the strong energy she exuded. For Isha, Kurt was the calming presence in her life. Being with each other felt natural to them; like it was meant to be.

Wedding photography couple photo cocktail Mussoorie
Wedding photography couple photo cocktail Mussoorie
Wedding photography bride sangeet photo Mussoorie
Wedding photography pre-wedding couple shoot Mussoorie
Wedding photography pre-wedding couple shoot Mussorie
Wedding photography pre-wedding couple shoot Mussoorie
Wedding photography pre-wedding couple shoot Mussoorie

Their love brought two Indian and Australian families together in a three-day music-and-dance gala. They had a crazy fun sangeet night with performances from artists Hari and Sukhmani, and DJ Sumit Sethi. Isha was a total ‘bridechilla’ who knew how to have fun! Her friends described her as the quintessential carefree spirit in the movies brought to life!

Wedding photography couple photo sangeet night Mussoorie
Wedding photography groom haldi Mussoorie

Kurt and Isha became one team in one of the most fun weddings we’ve shot this year. Their ceremony took place at the beautiful Jaypee Residency Manor amongst the lovely mountains of Mussoorie. And to make it even more special, Kurt made vows to her in Hindi during the wedding rituals, that made everyone (even us!) teary-eyed.

Arjun Kartha Wedding photography Bridal Portrait Mussoorie
Arjun Kartha Wedding photography bridal portrait Mussoorie India
Arjun Kartha Wedding photography Bridal portrait Mussoorie India

Watch Isha and Kurt get married in the beautiful mountains of Mussoorie in front of their closest family and friends.


This is what our gorgeous bride had to say about her experience with us!

“Twogether carries a unique perspective and tries novel things, and not simply repeat typical criteria of shoot or shot with every customer. Moreover, they treated us more like a family and didn’t resist from helping any of the family members in need. They totally made our decision worth it. Overall, Twogether Studios would make your wedding’s memorable moments more beautiful than experienced. ❤”
-Isha

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Tools to Increase Productivity in Photography Business

Some tools and resources we use that make our work faster and more efficient

Wedding photography is an amazing job, isn’t it!? We shoot stories of extraordinary love and celebrations, travel to exotic destinations and create beautiful fairytales for couples. And for half the time, yes, it is exactly like this! We meet amazing people with beautiful stories and help capture one of the most special days of their lives. But the other part of the job is essentially a desk job where we spend a larger part of our work lives on the images we just shot. When you think about becoming a wedding photographer, you naturally don’t think about the hours of laborious work that come with it – data backup, culling, editing, uploading, delivery, albums, online presence, and so on. But a majority of being a wedding photographer includes all the above.

A few years ago, we, just like everybody else slogged on with thousands of files, backing them up, renaming them, copying them into hundreds of folders, editing each one separately, painfully outputting each one, delivering them to the client in a USB, and on and on and on. But the past couple of years have given us great tools and programmes that have made this process from taking an image to delivering them, much faster and easier. Although we do spend a fair amount of time on our desks still, let’s say we don’t break our backs all night anymore. (Unless we’re on a deadline!)

Including these tools in your workflow will save you hours of unessential labour and keep you ahead of deadlines. We have written in detail about the workflow we follow in our studio and why it is important in a previous post. So give it a read if you need some quick tips on how to create a better workflow for a successful and efficient photography business.

Let’s take a look at a few of the tools and programmes we use in our studio and how they help us increase our efficiency.

Online Sharing System: Google Drive and Dropbox

These file sharing and storage systems make our internal working process super convenient! It is a very essential part of our daily workflow. There is no need to keep passing around a pen drive to share data or write everything in our diaries to keep track of things. The Dropbox/Google Drive folders can share data with any amount of people you give access to. So keeping a track of our assignments and work projects in one single Numbers/Spreadsheet file is hassle-free. We can also share images and files with our editors, content writers and social media managers.

Also, all of this is offline! Any changes made to a file by one person gets automatically updated and synced for all. Additionally, it’s a great backup option for project files and work-in-process files. If you also want to backup heavier files, you can explore their pro paid versions that give you more storage space.

Tools to increase productivity in photgraphy business

Photo Culling and Post Processing: Photo Mechanic / Lightroom / Photoshop

We know you’re thinking that if you have Lightroom, why use another software for importing and culling? The answer lies in the reason we’re writing this article – to increase productivity. Photo Mechanic beats Lightroom in efficiency by miles! It can browse through tons of files much more quickly than Lightroom, saving precious time. In Lightroom, rendering a file, going through them with smart preview or even switching between photos is painfully slow. The whole process can take hours. Photo Mechanic goes through images with incredible speed. It also helps cull, organise, name, label and sort images into different buckets, so you can be equally efficient in the editing and development stage. The software gives the option of colour labels, ratings, flags and other ranking methods to identify the ones you want to prioritise. But it’s not a photo-processing/editing tool. So once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to work on, the next step is moving the images from Photo Mechanic to Lightroom which the said tool manages quite effectively.

Lightroom is a great tool for bulk edits. About 80% of images from a wedding require only some basic correction like adjusting exposure, white balance, colour temperature, contrast, vibrance, saturation, sharpening and reducing noise if any. If we follow these individual steps for every single photograph, it could take weeks to complete one wedding set. And we honestly do not have that kind of time. So what do we do? We have some basic presets in Lightroom basis our style of shooting and the kind of photos we need to edit. A preset for all similar images reduces the steps and speeds up the process, leaving us with enough time to give extra attention to 5-star photos!

Now, this is where we need t0 bring our the big gun – Photoshop. All of our photos that need detailed editing and special attention go into this software. You can do almost anything you want once you get a picture into Photoshop. It’s also more of a photo manipulation software than basic editing. You can use it to enhance certain part of the images, make dramatic effects and create concept shots.

A screenshot of our Lightroom catalogue showing our presets for images.

Client image sharing: Pixieset

We no longer have to worry about sending a courier to our clients with their images on a pen drive thanks to this nifty little software. Pixieset is a cloud-based client delivery software. It provides easy download and sharing of images for the clients. We love that we can upload high-resolution image galleries which can also serve as a back-up for images in case something untoward happens.

Another great feature is that we can sync our Lightroom catalogue to Pixieset and upload images directly to the cloud from there. There is no need to output all images into a JPEG file first and then upload it to Pixie. Pixieset also helps us get rid of the headache of sending the wedding set individually to friends and family members. One link can be sent to all, and they can pick and choose which images they want to download. It also lets you ‘white label’ the website and add it to your website as a sub-domain. Which means that the link to a client’s picture gallery will seem like it’s on your website.

A screenshot of our Pixieset image gallery.

Marketing videos and Slideshows: Animoto

Sometimes you just need a quick and dirty video slideshow that you quickly need to get done and don’t want to spend hours on. That’s where Animoto comes in. It helps us create video slideshows with incredible ease! You can choose between various templates depending on the kind video you need to create – slideshows, marketing videos etc. There is also a vast media library for choosing the music for your slideshows. You can choose between templates which allow for fonts or not, basis your requirement.

The biggest advantage we think is that you don’t need a video editor to work on the application. Anyone with a fair understanding of the internet can create a slideshow within minutes. The only limitation is that you have very little control over font type, sizes, and a few other formatting options. Still, we think it’s a small price to pay for making effective and quick slideshows. You can be in and out with a smooth
Save-a-Date slideshow for your client within 15 minutes!

A screenshot of different templates Animoto provides.

Album Creation and Designing: SmartAlbums

When it comes to designing albums, the sky’s the limit! There are software like InDesign that give you options and control over every single detail. But like we said, we’re looking at software that save time and increase efficiency while giving us good control over the product. SmartAlbums is a no-hassle, easy-to-create tool with which you can make albums with ease. The application provides a host of layouts to work with. We absolutely LOVE the drag and drop feature! All we need to do is drag the images we want and it’ll import the images into the library. You can also use the drag-and-drop to swap two images. The software can also read the rating systems – labels, stars, and flags – from your Lightroom catalogue. It also gives the option to edit a photo in the album directly in Photoshop or Lightroom. After you’ve made the edit, the updated and edited version of the image is automatically reflected in the album.

Another feature which makes our work completely easy is cloud proofing and online commenting. We no longer need to go back and forth on emails or phone calls with the clients. They can view the album online from anywhere in the world and give their feedback on images directly. We can’t imagine a time when albums were created differently or left at the mercy of the printers. Once you’ve started using it and get the hang of it, you’ll even start having fun with the process, as it gives you quite a lot of control to execute your vision.

A screenshot of one of our albums on SmartAlbums.

Marketing and Newsletter Campaigns: MailChimp

MailChimp has made marketing campaigns and sending out newsletters to our subscribers extremely easy, and dare we say, super fun for us! It has an easy-to-use interface and multiple options for email creation and lists. So we can choose the template of emails or create them from scratch with their easy-to-use template editor. With MailChimp we can also create a segmented list of people – blog subscribers, wedding inquiries etc.

Once you’ve created an email, you can preview it and even send a test email to yourself before sending it out to your list. The service also has an option of creating automated and auto-reply emails that you can schedule. It also gives us the option of tracking analytics – number of subscribers, how many people opened and clicked on the links and other data. So we can keep a track of which campaign, newsletter or marketing strategy is working better than others.

A screenshot of MailChimp dashboard.

Social Media Scheduling: Hootsuite

It’s a fact that as professional wedding photographers we need to be active on social media today. And considering how much work we have on a typical day, it’s an inevitability that we forget to post regularly. Although a direct upload is any day better for reach and engagement, sometimes you just don’t have the time to choose a picture, write a caption, and post. This is where HootSuite comes in. It can integrate all your social media platforms. You can schedule a picture for a specific time, save the caption and hashtags and forget about it! It’s a good idea to schedule a few posts from time to time when you know you’re going to be busy than to miss out. It also helps keep a track of the success of your social media campaigns. You can also use applications like CoSchedule, Buffer and Later for your Instagram marketing.

A screenshot of HootSuite dashboard.

Using these tools is not only a way to improve your photography business but also maintain a good work-life balance. When you’re not stuck in your studio for hours, you not only have time to finish more work but also to give attention to your family and friends. Your personal life is just as important as your professional one.

A lot of the above-mentioned tools have free trials but paid subscriptions. So, take a trial of any of these to figure out if they’re worth spending money on. Or you can use similar applications, paid or free, to keep yourself ahead of the game. As you keep using these, you’ll notice a stark before and after difference in your work and output. Some of the tools we mentioned above may not necessarily be the best ones out there, but they get our work done quite good and fast.

Let us know if we can help you with any doubts or queries about these software programs. We’d love to help you out!

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. We use all the above-mentioned tools and resources in our studio. All opinions expressed in this post are strictly our own.

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A Kochi Destination Wedding Story | Vidya+Ankur

A Kochi destination wedding story of a charming couple

As wedding photographers, we are the biggest fans of love stories. And it’s especially heart-warming when we get to witness ones that have stood the test of time to make it to the big day.

Vidya and Ankur were medical students when they met in college eight years ago. They met through a common friend as strangers and became friends soon. There was something Vidya liked about Ankur since the beginning that she couldn’t quite put a pin on. And Ankur felt the same. It was one of those friendships where both the people feel like there is something more between them. And there definitely was! Ankur was the ice to her fire! And soon enough, they had decided that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

When we first met our stunning bride, she told us that she knew she definitely wanted two things for her wedding day. An elegant Sabyasachi lehenga and having us shoot her wedding! It was an absolute joy that we could fulfill one of those two wishes and capture her love story with her beloved Ankur. We shot their pre-wedding in the incredible backwaters of Kochi and got some magical moments between them.

Here are a few of our favourite moments from their wedding.

Indian wedding photography Sabyasachi bride portrait

Vidya and Ankur’s eight-year-long love story culminated in a beautiful Kochi destination wedding. Their wedding ceremony was held at the gorgeous Ramada Resort. They had two wedding ceremonies – a North-Indian style Hindu pheras and a lovely Kerala Hindu wedding. And we couldn’t be happier that we could capture Vidya in all her Sabyasachi glory!

Wedding photography South Indian bridal portrait in Kochi
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Review: Epson SureColor P5000 Large Format Photo Printer

This is the second part of our review of the Epson P5000 printer. To read what we had to say about printing and using Epson, click here

A few weeks ago, we posted about the importance of printing your photographs – and how for the modern photographer, being able to put ink to paper really is what separates the men from the boys. As the second part of that thought, we got our hands on an Epson P5000 Fine Art Photography Printer. A lot of you (dear readers!) have asked us to post more about this machine, so here it is!

What is fine art printing

A fine art printing is in simple words, a high-quality and high-resolution print on fine art paper. The term not only refers to the quality of the image but also includes other important factors like the medium used and the print’s longevity.

The quality of an image of a fine-art print is highly superior. It has incredible resolution, sharpness, and clarity than a regular print that you would frame and hang in your living room. It is rather much like a painting or picture you would see at an art gallery. A fine art print is made for permanence and longevity. Which means that the ink won’t fade and the paper won’t deteriorate for quite a long time.

What do you need to get started

Like we said before, all you need is a printer and the medium of your choice to get started. But one of the biggest challenges in digital photography is getting on print exactly what you see on the monitor. Each monitor and printer on the market uses a different printing technology. Which is why your images will look different on every screen and print. The printer and the paper you use determines how the image will look onscreen and the end product.

So first and foremost, you need a printer capable of reproducing colours that we see on the monitor. And our Epson SureColor p5000 gets pretty close to our vision. We’ve been using it for the past few months and we can safely say that it produces images with incredible details! It provides print longevity and ensures colour accuracy with its wide gamut of colours. The printer also makes calibration easier with the Colour Calibration Utility.

Once you’re sorted in the printer department, you need to have the right paper for your image.

How to select paper

It can be overwhelming to choose the right paper with the numerous options available in the market today. But there is really no other way to figure out which paper to use other than to experiment with a couple different ones. We recommend printing the same image on different types of papers to ascertain which ones you like. In fact, buy papers from a few different manufacturers also.

Some of the things to consider while choosing is first if you want to print on canvas or paper. Under paper, there are a few more options to pick – weight or thickness, texture, finish and colour of the paper. For the finish, there are options like glossy, matte, lustre and pearl finish. You wouldn’t think that the colour of the paper has anything to do with how the image will appear, but it is! You can choose from pure cool white, cream and off-white.

There are no hard and fast rules to this. Paper selection is a personal artistic decision. Only you can decide what conveys your vision best. After a while, you’ll know which paper to use for the mood you’re trying to evoke. Visualising the end product and knowing what you want to use it for will decide the kind of paper you should choose. Epson has invested and created quite a good range of papers. Epson Enhanced Matte 192 is our all time favourite. It’s versatile and can be used for posters, proofing, client giveaways, with the added advantage of being reasonably priced.

Overview of colour profiles

Every paper manufacturer creates a set of rules that a printer understands. There are specific profiles you need to use for certain papers. You can download the right profile form the manufacturer’s website and reset your printer’s settings accordingly. Using the settings right for a certain type of paper will give you the desired results for your images. But sometimes artists and photographers have been known to deliberately change the regular settings to enhance the quality of an image or achieve a certain mood for their photo.

Again, it comes down to you and your style and preference. You will have to experiment a little with a couple different types of papers and printer settings to figure out what you want.

Using the P5000

To test the limits of what we can really do with the Epson P5000, we did a small experiment. We used the printer to create an art installation for our studio.

We needed a print of over 7 feet width and 5 feet height. Here is where we donned our thinking caps and came up with an idea. We broke the image down into squares and printed each block separately. Since we wanted the colours of the image to stand out, we used Epson Lustre 260 paper. Then, we mounted them on a 6mm MDF board and stuck them on the wall with a double-sided tape. And tada, the outcome was pretty good!

Understanding how important media is

To help you understand the differences between how different papers and their textures can affect an image, we printed one coloured and one black-and-white image on four types of papers. Also to give you a sense of their texture, we took close-ups of the same prints.

The results were quite interesting.

(The images on the right are a 100% crop of images on the left)

(Canson) Arches Aquarelle Rag

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(Canson) PhotoArt ProCanvas

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(Canson) Baryta Photographique

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Epson Premium Canvas Satin

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As you can see, Epson makes some jolly good papers too – and the Satin Canvas with its semi-gloss finish really makes the canvas pop. Of course, the archival quality Bartya Photographique looks amazing for colour while the Aquarelle Rag makes black and white really pop. Which is our favourite? Well, it’s almost impossible to choose – and we’ll always let the image decide the paper!

A quick overview of print driver settings

Driver settings can be tricky. Even if you’re not using a RIP software, tweaking driver settings makes a lot of difference to the quality of your print, and overall how well the image reproduces on your selected media. Choosing the wrong settings will give you a dull looking print that looks way different from what you originally wanted.

Here are a few quick tips on things you can tweak to make sure you get things right:

  1. Media Type: This is the most important setting you need to choose. All papers have different ICC profile settings that allows the software to correctly translate colour settings for the printer. Epson papers all have the profiles built in, if you’re using third party papers – there will be an equivalent paper type given by the paper manufacturer.
  2. Ink: There are two types of black – matte black and photo black. Use the correct black ink based on the paper you’re working with. A general rule of thumb is that matte papers used matte black (duh!) and glossy papers use photo black.
  3. Colour Mode: Leave this off. Let the software (like Photoshop or Lightroom) manage colour.
  4. Choose the correct settings:
    1. Super Microweave: Leave this on. This makes sure that the print heads fills all the dots in the way it should.
    2. High Speed: This makes no difference in print quality but makes the head print in both directions (while going up and down)
    3. Finest Detail: This makes text, lines and other shapes print sharper. Best left on even if you’re printing photos.

Another setting you can play around with is the resolution. We’ve found that there isn’t much difference between 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi to the naked eye, and printing at 2880 dpi consumes much more ink. Frankly, with the quality/ink usage tradeoff, we usually print at 1440 dpi.

Lastly, if you’re using 3rd party paper, please make sure you download the corresponding ICC profiles from the manufacturer website. These are usually fairly easy to find with good paper manufacturers like Canson, Hahnemuhle etc.

Our experience with P5000

The p5000 is great for people starting out in printing to get their hands dirty.

The printer’s roll feed is simple to use with a built-in cutter. The best thing about it? You can print smaller sizes and you will still have paper left for other projects; there is minimal paper wastage. It can also print on cut sheets if need be. It’s impressive that the printer can switch from roll paper to cut sheet automatically. Another advantage is that it uses pigment-based inks. There is almost no drying time required for a print. Which means no fear of smudging after a print is out!

The printer is built for continuous usage and heavy-duty everyday printing. We’ve used it for consecutive days and have had no issues with the prints. It works seamlessly for hours! For a machine with this capability, it is of relatively compact size. The 17-inch desktop printer needs only a table size of space, though a sturdy one because of its weight. (It takes three people to move it around the studio!)

Learning how to print really helped us in our artistic journey. It is a journey from photo ideation to creation and final completion. And we believe that a photo is complete only when you print it. Don’t get daunted with complicated words and processes you may read about calibration and colour modes online. But once you jump in, you’ll find out it’s not really that complicated.

If you have any questions about printers or different papers, we’d love to answer!

 

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Best Lenses for Portrait Photography

A guide to choosing the best lenses for portrait photography

As wedding photographers, we constantly think about how we can make our images better. Giving our couples the best memories of their wedding makes us super happy. There’s no better motivation for us than a happy bride who loves her wedding day portrait!

While we truly believe that a photographer makes the images, having great, high-end gear doesn’t hurt. There is no scarcity of the number and variety of good quality lenses in the market. And making a decision on which to use is something you should definitely spend a few brain cells on. Technically speaking, you can make fabulous portraits with the most basic gear out there, including your kit lens. But certain lenses help us create more flattering and pleasing portraits.

Do you even need one?

What is a portrait lens? What can it do that your existing gear can’t? Portrait lenses are simply those that produce a more pleasing effect on people photographs, whether it has to do with image compression, depth of field, beautiful bokeh etc. We reiterate that you can easily take people portraits with any lens you have – the best lenses in the world can’t help you if your creativity, vision and commitment are limited. But if you’ve exhausted the capabilities of your existing gear and have the extra cash, lenses are definitely a fabulous long term investment in your business. Personally, we love our portrait lenses and can’t imagine a time before we had them.

We’ve put together some things for you to think about before investing in new portrait lenses and also some of our favourites.

Things to consider while choosing a portrait lens

We often get asked about which lenses we think are the best for portraits. The answer is a bit precarious because it’s a subjective one for every photographer. Even us! What works for us may not work for you and vice-versa. For most professional photographers, choosing gear is a decision based on what kind of images they want to make. So, it’s not a question of right or wrong but what suits your needs and best reproduces your vision. You can make good pictures in almost any kind of lens that you pick up, provided that you know your basics, can handle manual mode and are willing to get creative. Having said that, a good lens will certainly enhance your skills. So let’s talk about a few factors you need to consider to arrive at a decision.

Prime vs Zoom lens

These are the two major classifications of lenses. A zoom lens is very versatile because it covers a variety of focal lengths. You don’t need to switch lenses as often and gives you the freedom to take close-ups and environmental portraits using the same lens. In fact, you can easily cover an entire wedding in one good zoom lens, like a 24-70 or a 24-120 for example. With a prime lens, however, you will need to move around a lot because of it’s fixed focal length. But they give you a much superior picture quality with regards to clarity, sharpness, depth of field and bokeh. And they’re lighter (read easier to carry around) than a lot of zoom lenses!

Focal Length and Aperture Control

The longer the focal length, the more image compression and depth perception, which makes portraits much more pleasing. But that also means that you need to shoot from further away, read not suitable in small cramped environments. A wider lens, on the other hand, allows you to shoot in these smaller rooms but will give more distortion to your images/portraits. Wider primes are fabulous for environmental portraits though – so keep them on your wish-list too!

A prime lens will typically have a larger maximum aperture and therefore, a shallow depth of field. Which means your subject will appear more isolated and distinctive from the background and also get you that beautiful bokeh.

Number of people and available space

Who and where will you be shooting? Will it be the bride or the groom (i.e. single person), the couple or will you be focussing more on family and group portraits? Will you be shooting in a small room, medium sized but crowded hall or a larger, open outdoor space?

Suppose you’re in a bridal room; then you know you don’t have much space to move around. In this scenario, a prime lens with a shorter focal length (35mm-50mm) will work the best. With more space, you will have more flexibility to choose a lens.

Hopefully, these points will have helped you in making a choice. If you’re still confused, we’re listing out some of the lenses we love for taking portraits. This is not an ultimate list, just some of the lenses that have helped us make awesome portraits of our couples and their families. In case you are unable to make a decision, we’re sure these will not disappoint you. Go on, have a read!

AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

This is a favourite and is our go-to portrait lens because of its quality of being closest to the human eye. The 50mm works well when you don’t have a lot of space to work in. It’s pleasing for almost all body types and works well for half body shots (i.e. head, shoulders and torso). It’s also lighter compared to other lenses. In addition to portraits, this lens works great in other wedding scenarios as well, like the phera ceremony, haldi & mehendi rituals, dance floor etc. If you’re looking for a good balance between quality, versatility and price, this lens is a great option.

Love this bridal portrait of Vidya with the 50mm. Just look at that depth of field and subject isolation.

 

This is why we love the 50mm! You can create almost all kinds of images with it. Just step back and you can get more of the action.

AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G

This lens gives you the classic head and shoulder portrait. Its frame has a tight fit and renders facial features nicely. You also get a lovely, round and natural bokeh. Which means the subject stands out quite well from the softly blurred background. With an open aperture of 1.4, this lens lets in more light than anything else we’ve probably seen. There is an effective reduction of ghost and flares as well. This lens loves being shot wide open – the brilliant auto-focus ensures we’re locked on to our target for as long as our heart desires.

A tight head & shoulders portrait with the 85mm from a slight elevation. Notice the frame compression.

 

Another version with some action to demonstrate that the 85mm works for more than just portraits, but ideally when there’s some movement space

AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E

We won’t lie. The 105mm is an indulgence and one that we love having in our kit! This lens is brilliantly sharp with an incredibly shallow depth of field. But, like the 85, its frame is quite tight and doesn’t lend itself to much more than portraits. So it isn’t one that we use all the time at a wedding. It’s quite on the heavier side as well. But what we really love about this lens is that it makes highly superior images with bokeh even better than the 85. It’s also quite good for frames where the background is cluttered. So you can create a soft and creamy background blur with it.

We were able to make this portrait because we had ample space to move away from our subject. The 105mm creates a soft, lovely bokeh in this portrait shot.

 

Again, the bokeh is really great with the 105mm! The shot was taken through the gap in a row of fairy-light covered trees with the bride posed amidst the branches of the farthest one!

AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

The 35 mm is a great choice for environmental portraits. It also works well for full body shots or portraits where outfits need more focus. You can get some great group portraits as well, e.g. family, bridesmaids, groomsmen etc. This lens is what we would call a ‘workhorse’. The best part about this is that you can shoot the entire wedding with this, if need be, and get great pictures – from haldi, to baraat, pheras or vidaai. You name it. If you’re starting out and need to decide on your first portrait/prime lens, keep this on your priority.

A couple portrait of Vidya & Ankur on a fishing boat in the backwaters taken with a 35mm (a 24mm works beautifully here too), allowing us to include more of the background/environment.

 

The 35mm is really flexible in terms of the kind of images it can make. You can shoot almost everything with this lens. 

We know that the options available in the market can make it difficult to make a decision. But for every photographer, the choice is a personal one. If you don’t want to invest in buying a lens yet because you’re not sure, why not rent them? You can get a few different ones for rent, shoot with them for a few days or weeks and then decide which one you like best. Hands-on experience with a lens will make your decision much easier.

Did we miss out on any questions you might have about lenses? Ask away! Need our help with making a decision? We’re here for you!

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Field Test: Fuji XH1 at an Indian Wedding

Our first experience at a wedding with the new mirrorless Fuji XH1

We recently got the brand new Fujifilm XH1 from the lovely people at Fujifilm India. To test the limits of what the mirrorless camera can do, we took it for a field test to Rahul and Sanya’s two-day wedding. Although we have shot with a mirrorless camera before, this was our first experience with it at a wedding and we were excited about the prospect of trying it out!

Our experience with the Fuji XH1 was pretty fantastic! The weight of a camera was something we’d never considered to be a factor while shooting before. But the XH1 was so handy and light that shooting all day for two days continuously was no hassle and there was hardly any fatigue. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) was pretty awesome too! We could see what we were shooting while we were shooting it – adjustments to exposure made were visible live in the preview and there was no need to chimp our shots.

What we liked best about using the XH1 was that we didn’t have to re-think our off camera lighting – our existing flash kits worked perfectly and all we had to do was switch out the trigger to one that was compatible with the Fuji. All in all, we were quite impressed with the camera’s performance. We got some really amazing shots of our awesome couple Rahul and Sanya!

Watch Praerna in action with the XH1 in the video below!

 

Have you tried using the XH1 or any other mirrorless Fujifilm camera? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Do leave us your comments and feedback below.

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A Delhi Wedding Story | Ajay+Nandini

A Delhi wedding story of a couple that warmed our hearts

 

Love at first sight doesn’t always happen. A lot of times, it takes years for two people to realise that they share something more than just friendship. And sometimes, that very friendship becomes the foundation for a bond so strong that you can’t help but want to spend every waking moment with that person.

Ajay and Nandini met at a party in Las Vegas. Neither of them knew then, that they had met the person they would end up being married to. They were friends for the longest time until one special Thanksgiving trip to San Francisco that changed it all for Ajay. Let’s just say that it took a little more time for Nandini to realise that she loved him too! Once that happened, there was no looking back.

They spent the next few years loving each other, fighting, eating, travelling and enjoying their lives together to the fullest. Individually, they are lovely, but together they make a fantastic couple that everyone adores! And it is only when you see them together in action that you know how great their chemistry is.

Ajay proposed to Nandini on a beautiful sunny day in New York, in the presence of their closest friends. The rest, as they say, is history.

They had a gorgeous wedding ceremony at the Chhabra Farms in Delhi followed by a grand reception in the regal Taj Krishna in Hyderabad. Here are a few of our favourite moments captured from their wedding.

Watch the story of how two best friends fell in love.

Wedding Makers

Designers for Nandini: Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Anushree Reddy
Designers for Ajay: Rohit Bal and Shantanu & Nikhil
Decor: Abhinav Bhagat
Venue: Balsons Farm, Satvik by Chhabra Farms, Pride Plaza and Taj Krishna (Hyderabad)
Make-up: Priyanka Arora


Here’s what Nandini had to say about her experience with us!

“We had a blast with Twogether Studios. One thing that I absolutely love is that at no point was it becoming very like,” Pose, pose, pose!” It was always very very conversational. Everyone in the team is super nice. So that’s the thing I enjoyed the most with Arjun and Praerna – just the way it was so candid. There were a lot of pictures that when I saw, I was like I had no idea when they were clicked. So definitely really loved that aspect. I personally loved our wedding trailer and video. They got the gist of whatever I wanted to hear from whatever person. I think they (Twogether Studios) really invest in the time in understanding how everyone is. When you know someone you can anticipate certain moments, and they did a very good job at that.”
-Nandini


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How to set a budget for wedding photography?

The first and key step to finding a perfect photographer to capture your special memories is to set a budget for wedding photography

Over the years that we’ve been photographing weddings, what we’ve come to realise is that most prospective clients who reach out to us have no idea where to start when it comes to finding the photographer best suited to their wedding or how much it should cost. Some don’t bat an eyelid when they hear approximate budgets from us while others have been astounded. What it boils down to is that there is no industry standard or even a right/wrong answer. It all depends on two factors – one, how much emphasis and priority you place on wedding photography; and, two, how much you have allocated towards the photography & cinema cost.

Wedding photography is a once in a lifetime purchase. It’s an investment in capturing memories that will last you a lifetime. It’s not like any other commodity or consumable that you can set a monthly budget for – like groceries, personal grooming or even shopping. These are much more tangible and easier to budget for. As a bride or groom to be, with a wedding to plan and a thousand other details to figure out before the big day, there are so many things that you could spend your wedding budget on – from venue & catering to decor, entertainment, clothes & make-up artists etc. The avenues are endless and over-spending is inevitable. Which is why it is very important to have a figure in your mind that you feel is appropriate. It is a personal opinion and you are the only person who can decide what budget works for you. Without that figure in mind, it is difficult to judge whether a photographer whose work you like is below, within or above your budget.

Wedding photography today is available at all price points and you can pick and choose what works for you. But remember this: cheap or bargain deal doesn’t necessarily mean “Value for Money”. The ideal scenario is hiring a photographer or team who’s style you like, is a reputed professional and whose charges fall in your budget. Trust us, there are great photographers in every budget and you will be able to find one best suited to you. But to begin the hunt, you need to have a budgetary benchmark. And that’s what we’re here to help you with.

Cheap does not mean Value-For-Money

There is no dearth of wedding photographers today. A huge variety of services are available at different price points. If you don’t decide on a budget, you will be confused with the sheer number of photographers available in the market. We’re sure that you can find a photographer for any price range that you set. But bear in mind that cheap and quantity will not always mean quality.

While it might be tempting to hire someone who seems to offer a lot in very less, remember that you get what you pay for. Although this is not a guarantee, you can generally assume that a more expensive photographer would have more experience, be better known (brand name), have a reputation as a professional and be more reliable. Those are definitely qualities worth paying for. But this doesn’t mean that more reasonable photographers lack talent, dedication or professionalism. In another roundabout way, we are saying that there are good photographers in every possible budget. It all depends on how highly you prioritise your wedding photography and cinema.

Bear in mind that you are not only hiring someone to capture your precious moments but also investing in the expertise and experience they will offer while shooting your wedding story. Your wedding pictures are kind of a big deal! It is unquestionably important to find a photographer in your budget. But it is also equally important to find someone who will capture your wedding day with respect and love. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a less experienced photographer, so long as they match your vision for your day. So, choose wisely!

So now that we’ve confused you with so many suggestions, what should you do, you ask us? Well, read on!

What do we recommend?

We absolutely understand that a wedding has thousand other expenses that you need to take care of. First and foremost, decide if spending on wedding photography is what you and your fiance want. Is it your priority? Do you value those timeless memories over other aspects of your wedding? And although we would love to think that wedding photography is a priority for every couple out there, it all depends on how important it is to you. Like we said earlier, there is no correct budget, just what is right for you and for your wedding.

So how do you set one?

Our recommendation for setting a budget for wedding photography is this: 10-15% of your total wedding expenditure. It’s not about how much you can afford but, rather, how much you want to allocate. If the (celebrity) entertainment is more important to you than the wedding photography, for example, then you’ll know to set your budget as less than 10%. We are confident that you’ll be able to find a good photographer in that budget as well.

Or, conversely, if your wedding photos are a super-high priority and you have a photographer in mind whose work you adore but who is outside your budget, then stretching beyond the 15% and scrimping on something else is also a good solution.

But if you don’t have a budget in mind, how will you be able to take these decisions?

We for one, are big advocators of capturing the most important day of your life as timeless memories in pictures. Not just because we are in the business, but because we truly believe that memories should be captured for posterity. Years from now, after your wedding is over, the decorations are pulled down and the food has been eaten, what will remain with you are the pictures and the movies. The moments and your fleeting emotions captured eternally. Our recommendation may sound like a lot, but what you get in return is priceless. It’s a lifetime of precious memorabilia.

A final piece of advice? Don’t buy into any trends or get taken away with what the wedding magazines and websites tell you to do. It’s your special day and your experience and memories are the most important. So give it a great deal of thought and find a way to balance out your style and artist preference with the budget that you can allocate.

We would love to answer any more questions you have on the topic!