photography101: special topics: film

photography101blogBack in March I was an attendee at the WPPI conference in Las Vegas with my good friend Carly of Carly Valentine Photography.  Before we even set out for the trip, we both decided that we would be brining only our 35mm cameras, as we both share a love for film (and travel!).  We took time out of our schedule that week to make a trip out to the Valley of Fire and Carly graciously volunteered herself as my model.

About 10 rolls of Kodak Portra later, courtesy of Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood, California, here is some of my favorites that came back from that shoot.  Later, during the series, Carly will be guest blogging a bit more about film and how she incorporates her passion for the medium into her wedding photography business.

For now, enjoy these images from the Valley of Fire!






























photography101: EXPOSURE: tips, tricks and techniques



This week’s topic is near and dear to my heart, as I feel that what makes or breaks a photographer is the perfect exposure.  I’ve said before that no amount of photoshop can bring you back from a poor exposure…and I truly believe that.  Yes, of course, there are actions and presets that can “save” a poorly exposed image, adding a curves layer can adjust every highlight and shadow imaginable…but spending an hour editing an image when you could have just nailed the exposure in camera in the first place seems a bit silly.

Many (if not all) DSLR camera’s have a light meter built in.  It should look something like this (but probably won’t be pink, which is decidedly a serious flaw!):

in-camera light meter



The “0” represents a technically perfect exposure.  To the left, the negative numbers would be considered underexposed; to the right the positive numbers would be considered overexposed.  As you adjust your settings (aperture, ISO or shutter speed), you are adjusting your exposure, and as you do, the little arrow will move away from the “0” in either direction.

That all being said, exposure can also be preferential and used as a form of artistic expression just as much as it is a technical tool.

In my portraiture, I typically overexpose my images by a “stop” to a stop and a half.  For example, when I photographed this newborn, my in-camera meter looked something like this:

newborn in-camera light meter


The slight overexposure in my images not only improves the look and texture of the skin, but it also adds a light and airy feel to them, which has become part of my personal aesthetic.

Here is an example of an image which I underexposed to create more of a serious, moody look, and what the in-camera meter looked like:


in-camera light meter

I absolutely encourage everyone to try adjusting their own exposures to find a look that you like and that you feel makes your images unique!  But there is definitely a delicate balance – go too far over or under in exposure and the aesthetic is lost entirely as it becomes just a poor exposure.

Last week I hinted that I would be giving a few more details on the giveaways…and that the giving would be starting this week!  So here’s how you enter:

1. LIKE Joanna Fisher Photography on Facebook.

2. SHARE this post and invite your friends to join in the fun!

3.  submit a topic – ANY topic – you’d like covered during the photography101 series AND let me know in the comments that you’ve entered!

Next week we’ll  be giving away the Photojojo Project Book – full of awesome DIY projects, camera hacks and ideas to get you excited to bust out your camera!  Good luck!!

Photojojo Book

(image from

photography101: what’s ISO and why do I care?



Finally some sunny skies and warm weather – and it’s week 3 of photography101!

Today’s topic is ISO (or ASA) – basically, it’s your film speed.  Of course, with digital, “film speed” isn’t technically correct, but the principle is basically the same.

A lower ISO is ideal, as it produces images with a finer “grain”, meaning there is very little digital “noise” in the details.  Shooting in sunlight or on bright days will warrant a low ISO because there is so much available light already – so an ISO setting of between 100 and 400 will be just fine.  But, when shooting in lower light situations, you will likely find that you need to change to a higher ISO to compensate for the lack of existing light around you.  Pushing your ISO to between 800 and 1000 will allow you to continue shooting with the available light, even if there’s not much of it!  But, this means that you will begin to notice more “noise” or “grain” in your details.

Here is an image that was taken with an ISO of 400 (and a closer look at 100% zoom).  You’ll see that there is very little grain in the details!

ISO 400

ISO 400

Now look at the image again, this time photographed with an ISO of 6400.  Again, make sure to look at the detail shot, where the grain is now extremely noticeable in the details!

6400 ISO 6400 ISO

Most cameras have a default ISO somewhere between 200 and 400.  Again, that’s perfect for MOST situations and I would recommend not going much higher if you’re photographing portraits or nature.  But for events like concerts or wedding receptions or anywhere with lower light, if you want to avoid using flash, you’re going to need to bump up the ISO.  In situations like those, I like to start at ISO 1000 and adjust as necessary.

I once had a friend come to me with her PAS camera, asking if she needed to buy a new one because no matter what she did, all of her images were coming out “noisy”.  We took a look at it and realized she had somehow changed her ISO to 4000, and her camera was set there, regardless of where she was shooting and what time of day.  Knowing your ISO is important for just that reason!

…Now…I hinted at it a bit on Facebook this week….

Announcing the Photography101 Challenge Giveaway’s!

photography101 giveaway

On select weeks, I will be giving away these prizes to those of you who do your homework!!  Posts that are eligible for the giveaway prizes will be announced at the top of the post, as well as the coinciding prize!  The Photojojo DIY book, iPhone Holga lens, vintage film pack and Bloom Theory camera strap are just among a few of the sweet prizes available!

Now, I’m not officially saying that next week’s challenge will definitely be eligible for a prize….but…I will say….get your cameras ready for some homework…..  🙂

photography101: delicious depth of field


Welcome back!

This week’s topic was 100% the MOST requested topic thus far.  Depth of field…aperture…”BOKEH”!  “How do I make my pictures blurry in the background?”  Yep.  It’s all the same thing.

For those of you with point-and-shoot cameras, this might be difficult – if not impossible – to achieve.  Many PAS cameras don’t give you the option to choose aperture priority or set your desired aperture.  But, for those of you with the slightly upgraded PAS cameras, or those with DSLRs, the way you “make your pictures blurry in the background” is by adjusting your aperture setting.  Each camera is different, so the way you adjust your aperture will vary – just check your camera’s manual to see how to change this setting!  (What?!  You threw out your manual!?  That’s ok.  You can find camera manuals online here!)

To demonstrate how changing your aperture setting effects your images, I forced my dear friend to model for me in a lovely pink strapless dress on a freezing cold spring morning.  This is one of many dangers involved in being my friend.

aperture priority(aperture setting: f1.8)

aperture priority(aperture setting: f2.8)

aperture priority(aperture setting: f5.6)

aperture priority(aperture setting: f8)

aperture priority(aperture setting: f16)

So, you can see that as the numbers get bigger – from 1.8 to 16 – you’re able to see more and more of the background in the image.  The more open your lens is (f1.8), the more light you’re letting in and the softer the background will be.  The smaller the lens opening (f16), the less light you’re letting in and the sharper the background will be.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m totally a visual person… So for those of you who are in the same boat as me, here’s a chart showing what changing the aperture looks like for your lens:



How you choose to set your aperture is equal parts technical and personal aesthetic.  The latter usually comes with time.  Personally, I always always always shoot wide open.  I usually shoot between f1.2 and f1.8 for portraits because I love flooding my subjects in that beautiful, creamy light.  If I’m photographing a wedding and there are larger groups in front of me, I will close down to maybe f5.6 or 8…but I can honestly say that the last time I photographed anything beyond f8 was at least nine years ago.

For those of you who like shooting landscapes or cityscapes, you’ll likely find that you prefer to shoot closer to f11 and f16 because so much more of the image will be sharp.

Now, go on!  Grab your cameras and soak up this tropical 55 degree weather that is spring in New England, and try adjusting your aperture until you find the look that works for you!

If you take the photography101 challenge, post your pictures in the comments!  Instagram and twitter users, post with the hashtag: #photography101 !  There just may be some giveaways in store for those of you who do your homework….. 🙂

photography101 : what’s in my camera bag?

photography101Happy April!

Today we’re kicking off with the first post in the new blog series: photography101!  This is a year-long, weekly series where we’ll be discussing YOUR hot topics in photography.  We’ll be talking about things like how to get the most out of your camera, step by step lessons on how to “graduate” from the “P” to the “M” settings, what lenses are the best for your projects, how to achieve shallow depth of field and so much more.   The topics are submitted by YOU!  So after each photography101 post, feel free to leave your questions and ideas in the comments!

Today’s topic: WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG?

First, I have to start by giving a nod to my camera bag itself.  I use Kelly Moore 2 Sue’s – I’m obsessed.  Let me tell you why.

Kelly Moore Bag Two Sue's(image from Kelly Moore website)

1) THERE ARE SO MANY POCKETS.  And all my “stuff” fits.  This is probably the most important feature of all…since I like to be super prepared for any situation.  There is even a zip-pouch with compartments specifically sized for memory cards.  LOTS of memory cards.

2) There are two straps!!!  This is exciting.  Trust me.  I can carry it over my shoulder, cutesy purse-style – which I do for my portrait sessions like families and newborns.  OR I can carry it cross-body – which I do for weddings because, hello! hands free!

3) On the topic of purses – THE GEAR DIVIDER IS REMOVABLE.  Yes.  You heard me right.  Have a break from shooting and need a cute bag to go to lunch with?  Good.  Done.  I just have to take out the “bucket” divider and throw my wallet in.  Voila!

4) It’s purple inside.  End of story.

But seriously.  If you are even casually daydreaming of a new bag, check out Kelly Moore Bags!

Now.  What’s inside?




Camera Bodies: Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon AE-1 35mm

Lenses: 50mm 1.2L, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, 17-85mm 4.0, 28-200 5.6, 50mm 1.4D, 28mm 1.8D

Flash: Nissin Di622

Each camera is loaded with two batteries in the grip, and I carry four extras with two chargers in my main bag, in addition to carrying extra AA batteries for the flash.

That incredible beautiful lace camera strap on the Mark II is by Bloom Theory.  Obsessed.

And yeah, that’s Revlon’s Bitten lip stain in there, too.  Touch ups happen.

Also, not pictured, a slew of memory cards 8G – 32G.

And there you have it!  My camera bag in all its messy glory.

Keep checking back for more from the photography101 series – and don’t forget to submit your topics!!