Blog - Jason Riley Hoss Photography


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Lately, when scouting outdoor locations for my portrait photography, I have been prioritizing the quality of light that can I can take advantage of over the actual aesthetics of the location. The main reason for this is I work with a very limited crew at this stage of my career. Let me explain . . . I’ve realized that we can have a great looking location, but that the quality of available outdoor light can drastically affect the look and feel of a photograph in a very negative way. We either have too little or too much light in areas where it’s not appealing and it’s not easily modified. Inversely, take a mediocre location that has amazing light qualities. Since photography is all about light, these locations make all the difference in the world for our portraits. After all, the subject of our compositions in portrait photography is the person, so there is no reason to be overly concerned with location. As with anything though, we can always introduce artificial light and modifiers such and gobos, gels, diffusion, etc. to help, but this drastically affects time and workload. In summary, trying to take advantage of great locations with bad lighting requires additional prep, work, crew, and equipment, so when shooting outdoors with the bare minimum, shoot for the quality of available light as opposed to location and you will begin to see a drastic improvement in your compositions.

Jason Riley Hoss

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The equipment I use really depends on the type of photography I’m composing. However, there are a few key components that I use and rely on for my portraiture. My basic loadout as of 2018 is:

CAMERA: I currently compose with (2) Canon 5D Mark III systems.

LENS: I compose most of my portraiture through Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 and I also use Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 for many of my group shots or events. I use strictly Canon’s 135mm f/2 for all of my Headshots and Canon’s 100mm MACRO f/2.8 for my “Macro” work. It also makes for a great portrait lens.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING: For the most part, I’m a dedicated strobist photographer, incorporating Speedlights into my work. I currently light with the Canon 600EX II‑RT Speedlite Systems combined with ST-E3-RT Canon Speedlite Transmitters.

LIGHT MODIFIERS: I use strictly Westcott for my larger boxes and umbrellas and Rogue for my smaller needs. Then there’s homemade stuff that I’ll get into next time.

STANDS & TRIPODS: Most of my lighting stands, boom arms, and most all of my tripods are Manfrotto. Simply in my opinion, the world’s best!

NATURAL LIGHTING: I use multiple 5 in 1 Reflectors, but having any quality Gold, Silver, and White reflective surface to bounce with is an important foundation. I also have some Translucent Materials for Diffusion of Hard Light.

CASES: I carry all of my gear using Lowepro Bags and accessory pouches that have the weatherproof attachment built in.

EDITING: I edit all of my work with my Pro Gear using the Adobe Creative Cloud packages.

The final and most important tools I use are my Imagination First, then my Eye Second . . . . Knowledge, understanding, and observation must first be achieved before the creative composition can take place through the lens. Only then are we able to utilize the tools above to push ourselves to the limits of our creative ambitions.

Jason Riley Hoss

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Before I became a full time professional photographer, I actually did question why professional photography was so expensive; and now I understand. Here's a little insight into that inquiry. The time and financial commitment it takes to be a professional at anything is enormous. To remove one’s self from the standard, linear process that labels most hobbyists is an especially challenging quest. Anyone can take a picture, but to do it professionally takes time, knowledge, experience, and of course, the right gear. One reason professional photography is costly is due to the process and labor; that is the time it takes to set up, shoot, and edit photos. Hours and hours are dedicated to this process, even for just one shoot. The high quality cameras, lenses, lights, and computer software cost thousands of dollars. Photographers also have to pay for their own advertisement to drive customers to their website, which is most likely how you found them. And those nice websites are not cheap. Travel costs, taxes, and the need to purchase their own health and liability coverage are huge costs, just to name a few. The cost of doing business is expensive! Anyway, I hope that provides a general insight and helps to understand a professional photographer's financial world a little better. Perhaps it will help to recognize that next time you receive a quote for services from a photographer, a good one is not cheap, and if it is cheap, well you get what you pay for and it’s obvious they don’t do this for a living or they are not reporting their income. Just be sure to research your area’s average rates and you can definitely distinguish a photographer’s quality before you even see a portfolio.

Jason Riley Hoss

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Cinematic Portraiture is honestly my favorite style of photography. Being an actor and filmmaker, I guess it's only natural for me to have a love for this style and tonality. The technique is actually quite simple with just a few options to consider. In cinema, the Director of Photography usually has the job of bringing the viewer's focus onto a single subject or object in order to convey a message and drive a narrative. First, it’s about choosing the right lens. It’s important to be able to compress an image to a degree that the background is thrown out of focus, creating what’s called bokeh. To do this, I use a focal length of 85mm or larger in conjunction with a wide aperture. Second, it’s about composition and framing. Cinema mostly uses the 16:9 ratio; but I find that in photography, the native landscape ratio on cameras works just fine, creating that semi-widescreen feel. It also maintains the capability to have more print options this way. Finally, the rule of thirds plays an important role in creating this look. Most always, with few exceptions, I make sure I position my subject within the rule of thirds on the frame, which just simply makes the image more attractive by not making things so even and symmetrical.

Jason Riley Hoss

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Today, I am officially launching my Blog Page. Here, I will share my experiences, the equipment and tools I've used, the things I've learned, and of course, the mistakes I've made along the way. At this time, I do not provide the ability to Subscribe to this Feed, but that feature will be available in the future as we grow our customer base and  contribute more material to this section. I will, however, announce updates to this section upon my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Feel free to save this page in your favorites, or head on over to our Facebook Business Page to be alerted to updates. I will not do "clone posts;" I will simply alert my followers to the Blog Post Title with a link. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far; I look forward to growing and providing bigger and better imagery as we move forward. For now, my Comment Section will be located HERE. Drop me a line, comment, or feel free to ask any questions, any time. Thanks and Enjoy!

Jason Riley Hoss

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