8 Great Reasons To Use Lightroom

If you’re not convinced – which you should be – that Lightroom is a powerful and efficient editing tool, here are eight good reasons to hopefully persuade you! We think you’ll come away thinking that it’s not just a powerful software, it’s the best one on the market for photographers, whether they’re beginners or experts.

1. Lightroom is a powerful photo editing program explicitly created with the needs of photographers in mind. Other well-known editing programs were not designed for photographers. For example, Photoshop, terrific as it is, was created for web developers, graphic designers, digital artists, and other creatives. Photographers have been able to benefit from what it offers, but they were not the primary intended users when the software was designed. That means that for all its worth, it’s not necessarily the best software for photographers.
On the other hand, Lightroom was designed with photographers as the primary users. Everything it offers, every module and tool, was added with photographers’ needs in mind. Once you know how to use it (it doesn’t take long, although there’s a bit of learning curve), you’ll find it fairly intuitive to use.

2. You can shoot in RAW file format (which you should always do) because you will make most of your edits in RAW. There aren’t the extra steps you’d have to take to edit RAW images in Photoshop. Editing your image files in RAW in Lightroom allows you to fix everything you need – the more you edit in RAW, the better. You save time compared to wanting to edit in Photoshop. To edit these, you’d have first to edit the RAW images in Lightroom, then move them to Photoshop to make final edits. Starting and staying in Lightroom saves valuable steps and time.

3. Unlike other editing software, Lightroom is chock-block full of extra features to save you time by simplifying your workflow. This includes being able to organize your images to find them easily later on. You can back them up and print them, share on social media, or use in photo books or slideshows straight from Lightroom.

4. Because it was created with photographers and their work in mind, it easy to organize images, so you don’t waste time later looking for them. It offers one of the best systems for organizing and managing your photos all in one place.

5. Lightroom never edits the original image, so your originals are protected, making this software pretty non-destructive to your photos. Why? Because when you import an image in Lightroom, it stores your image safely on your hard drive. You’ll be making changes to a virtual copy of the original. This leaves the original safe and untouched. If you need the original, you’ll know just where to find it.

6. Lightroom also keeps a full history of your edits or actions on an image. This means you can access any of the previously stored actions, even after you close the program and return to it! This is another terrific feature not available in Photoshop, which resets your history when you close the program.

7. Lightroom is faster and more efficient to use. Unlike other programs, it allows you to work across multiple images efficiently and quickly using a battery of tools. Better yet? You can use presets to make edits or enhancements across various photos! It’s a huge time saver.

8. Presets are one of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s most powerful features. A Lightroom Preset is a configuration of settings, designed to achieve a particular look or style of your photo. With just one click, your photo can be altered to have a totally different look or to obtain the tones you desired. The beauty of Lightroom Presets is the consistency, time-management, and simplicity they bring to your editing sessions.

If you want to work across various images doing the majority of your edits and enhancements efficiently and quickly with loads of tools available, Lightroom is for you. If you only want to edit one photo, and time isn’t a consideration, you can use different software. However, most photographers are all about saving time in their workflow – that’s why Lightroom is their best option.

The best online tools to run your small business

As the owner of a small business, you find yourself juggling with many responsibilities every day. Without the right tools, it can get overwhelming. Over the years, I have zeroed down on a bunch of tools that can help small business owners (especially the ones who have an online business) stay on top of their work. I have tried to keep this list small and smart, with several tools exiting and new ones entering every year. This list is meant to help you get on with the job of managing your day-to-day job of growing your business rather than wasting time on finding the right tools to manage the laundry list. So let’s get on with it.

Customers’ Management

Intercom – Customer Success and Support

Intercom has transformed the way we engage with our customers. From on-boarding trial users, re-engaging inactive users, and supporting active users – Intercom has become the backbone of our customer communications, support, and CRM processes. We shifted to Intercom just a couple of months back from Zendesk which we used for over 3 years and the impact has been felt big-time. With Intercom’s emphasis on conversations rather than tickets, the way we support our customers has underwent a complete transformation. With in-app visibility, customer-metrics and an almost-chat-like experience, our average support response and resolution time is down to 10 minutes! Intercom also enables us to run targeted campaigns based on several customer metrics. Its the absolute-must-have tool for any SAAS product and I sometimes wonder how we were living without it.

Zendesk – Customer Support

The trusted old-friend Zendesk still continues to play a role albeit a supporting one in our customer communications. We now use Zendesk primarily for billing related communications as billing issues many-a-times take a much longer time to resolve and email as a medium works fine for this use-case.

Sendy with AmazonSES – Bulk Emailing

As our subscriber base grew, so did the cost per email campaign. It was becoming way too expensive for us to communicate with our customers and subscribers with most hosted email platforms being way more expensive than they should be. I searched around for a self-hosted platform that would enable us to send out email campaigns without worrying about cost or deliverability, and that is when I found Sendy.  Sendy is a self hosted email newsletter application that lets you send trackable emails via Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). This has made it possible for us to send authenticated emails to tens-of-thousand of our subscribers at an insanely low price (Amazon SES rocks!) without sacrificing deliverability.

Skype – VOIP

I use Skype to connect with our customers around the world and it continues to be my tried and tested app for voice calls. Skypeout also makes it easier for me to have country based phone numbers that our customers can call into and have the calls forwarded to my mobile.

Wild Apricot – Member Management

If your business entails managing memberships, then Wild Apricot provides you with all the tools to do that in one place. You can manage all your members, take online payments, create events and take registrations and do much more easily with this tool.

Billing and Accounts

Chargify – Recurring Subscriptions

One of the most critical functions in running a SAAS product is managing recurring billing. Its not easy to get customers to continue to pay you month-after-month. We started with the idea of writing our own code for managing the billing but soon (thankfully!) realised the futility of it. We chose Chargify and it has served us reasonably well over the last 3 years, but the platform hasn’t really grown in features or finesse and I am looking at making a shift now. ChargeBee looks very promising and we are in the very initial stages of playing with it. It is cumbersome to migrate customers to a new platform, so choose your billing platform very carefully.

Authorize.net – Payment Gateway

We use Authorize.net as our payment gateway connected with Chargify. Does its job well but is a little complex to manage and needs a separate merchant account. I am looking at shifting to Stripe because of its full-stack service, simplicity and transparent pricing. Credit card data portability is much better with Stripe and that’s important to me.

Quickbooks Online – Accounting

I use Quickbooks Online for accounting and while its never fun, its pretty easy to get the job done with it. Syncs with our bank accounts, is cloud-based and hence I can manage our accounts from anywhere.  


BuzzSumo – Influencer Marketing

BuzzSumo has been our tool of choice for finding influencers, identifying content that works well and researching for our SEO campaigns. If influencer marketing is your focus, I would recommend having BuzzSumo in your arsenal. It saves us a ton of time and lets us take informed decisions pretty quickly.

Ahrefs – SEO

Content marketing and SEO are our main sources of organic traffic and Ahrefs lets us track backlinks, keywords, brand mentions and know what our competitors are doing. Its a pretty nifty tool that combines several functions into one – the paid versions are a tad expensive but you can get going (to some extent) with the free version as well.
Also, checkout some alternatives to Afrefs.

Google Analytics – Web Analytics

We need to keep a constant tab on our website traffic and track sources, campaigns, page views, bounce rates and funnels. Google Analytics is pretty powerful when it comes to tracking and analysing traffic. I have tried some of the paid products to track traffic but have still not found any other compelling product to make a shift. 



Google Docs and Drive – Collaboration

I don’t remember the last time I used Microsoft Word / Excel. Google Docs has been the default document and spreadsheets processor for me for ages now and all my documents are stored in Google Drive. The fact that I can access and work on them from anywhere and share them easily from my mobile devices make it a no-brainer for me.

Gmail – Email

I have tried Apple Mail, Thunderbird and Outlook earlier, but the web interface of Gmail has been my default choice for several years now. With a few add-ons like Streak (for email tracking and scheduling), Gmail’s native interface more than suffices for my needs. 

Slack – Team Communications

We use Slack for team communications. Slack lets us form small groups and keep conversing on any idea or task.  Its a simple and effective platform to keep the team on the same page and keep the communication flows open and active.

Asana – Tasks

Our product road map is recorded and evolves everyday in Asana’s simple task-based interface. Asana lets me create projects, assign tasks, set timelines and sequence tasks visually. Its the one tool that keeps our team and the product road map on track.

Evernote – Archives

I dump everything in Evernote. Notes, favourite links, images, references, quick task lists and much more. Its searchable and syncs across devices and makes my life easier.  

Alfred – Productivity App for Macs

Alfred is my favourite productive app for my Macbook. It helps me be more efficient everyday with search, hotkeys, keywords, text expansion, calculator (I need one) and more.


Pen and Paper – Ideation

There are times when I just need to doodle and visualise things using a pen and paper. It feels organic and more real and lets me play freely with design ideas. I use notebooks and sketchbooks from LetterNote and always carry one with me.
You can also go for a budget tablet, PARBLO is a professional brand specializing in digital painting tools such as pen displays and drawing tablets.

Recordit – Animated GIFs

Its always easier to explain concepts and workflows with moving GIFs and Recordit is a dead, simple tool for making just that. Its simple, bare interface and no-nonsense, limited functionality makes it my choice for creating GIFs quickly whenever I need to explain something quickly to customers. Saves a tonne of writing and screenshots.

Skitch – Annotated Screenshots

Well, you do have to take screenshots and annotate them many a times and Skitch works well with several simple annotation features and a timed-snapshot feature as well. Plus it lets me crop and resize images quickly. The only limitation is that it only lets you capture what’s on the screen. I use Awesome Screenshot (Chrome extension) to capture full web pages whenever needed.

Unsplash – CCO Images

Unsplash is an awesome repository of CC0 high-resolution images that are free to use for any purpose. The collection on Unsplash just feels more real and organic than stock photo websites. I use Unsplash whenever I am putting together a new theme for Pixpa.

Photography Tricks and Hacks You Need To Know in 2018

We live in a visually driven society. Not only does the art of photography impact our daily lives, it has promising implications for the future of our world. Historically speaking, photos were reserved for the wealthy and taking a picture was deeply involved.

Now, we have a camera with us wherever we go. Drone technology has allowed the average user to take stunning photos from new, incredible angles. Police use photography to create graphic renderings of accident scenes to solve mysteries ( read to Discover Photogrammetry Software – PhotoModeler).

Embrace the photographic future with these hacks you need in 2018.

Create Your Own Lightbox

How do Instagram influencers get incredible photos using an iPhone? They work the lighting. You can create your own light box with sheets of paper in front of a window, or white bristol board taped together with an overhead light. Both pro and amateurs know, that there’s nothing like natural, grey skies for taking a photo, but what if you don’t have that option?

Create Your Own Flash Diffuser

If you must use the flash for a photo, create your own diffuser using a piece of white paper over the light. This simple hack has the same effect as your personal lightbox project, except you can take it with you wherever you go. While this method of diffusion will never have the same quality as using a proper diffuser stand, it can take the starkness out of flash photos.

Create a Laptop Backdrop

If your lightbox isn’t cutting it or you’re in a rush, you can take incredible product photos using your laptop as a backdrop. Google an image you want in the background and expand to fullscreen. Place a reflective surface on your keyboard and position the product so that it is close to the mousepad. Take your photo with a focus on the product. The background will become unfocused enough to look natural, depending on the image you choose.

Get a Selfie Light Phone Case

With social media dominating our methods of communication, selfies have become the norm. There is no indication that anything will change in the future, with social media use becoming the go-to form of marketing and communication. If selfies are your favorite type of photography, invest in a phone case with a ring light. These phone cases disperse light evenly and make for stunning photos regardless of your surroundings.

Get a Beanbag Tripod

Tripods can be bulky and annoying to carry around. They can also be expensive and lack versatility if you work in various settings with different cameras. DIY bean bag tripods work for both phones and cameras, and can easily be thrown in a bag or purse for travel purposes. If you have the budget, go for sturdy options which have been tried and tested by professionals.

Go Vintage

While DSLR cameras are still the king when it comes to photography, the methods will change as technology evolves. Someday, we will likely have camera contact lenses. However, even as we move toward highly advanced photographic tools, the vintage look is coming back with a vengeance. Fortunately, you can capture the vintage vibe without sacrificing camera quality.

Rub Vaseline on a sheet of glass for a blurry effect. Place a pair of pantyhose over the lens for a soft, vintage glow. Soften your edges with a plastic sandwich bag over the lens. The options for adding a vintage feel without using editing software is endless.

How we take photos is always changing and the future is still uncertain. What remains timeless is the need for avid photographers to freeze time.

In the Spotlight: Minneapolis based Photographer Brandon Lepasti

Brandon Lepasti is a Minneapolis based Portrait photographer. He completed his BFA from The Art Institutes International Minnesota. Brandon finds himself particularly attached to snowboarding since childhood, and in turn, snowboard photography. He has been the recipient of the FY 2013 Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board along with many other awards and titles.

View complete portfolio at brandonlepasti.com.

1. Tell us about the initiation of your career in photography? Did you always want to be a photographer?

I was a sponsored snowboarder back in high school. I used to enter regional competitions in Minnesota and Wisconsin and I filmed for a local snowboard production company based out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. I was snowboarding 4-5 days out of the week, if not more, and all of my close friends loved snowboarding just as much as I did. Snowboarding was my life and I still attribute a good portion of who I am today to snowboarding. Unfortunately, not everyone can make a living off snowboarding and so eventually I found myself thinking about college. I was trying to think of a way to remain in the snowboard industry and found myself debating between going to school for photography and videography, since both play a strong role in the industry. I knew nothing about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or white balance settings. All I knew was that I wanted to be creative and I felt I had an eye for good composition. In the summer of 2009, I began attending The Art Institutes International Minnesota for my BFA in Photography. I would never see life with the same eyes again.


Brandon Lepasti Photography

2. What according to you are the strengths and weaknesses in your photography?

I believe my strengths are also what I enjoy most about photography – arranging my composition and using/manipulating light to compliment my scene. I see everyday objects as graphic elements that can create balance, movement and repetition in a photograph. I see the world in lines and shapes and I enjoy exploring the numerous ways they work with one another to create visually pleasing imagery. Similarly, I have an appreciation for light and shadow and how the two can have an affect on one’s emotions. I enjoy the challenge in being plopped in a given environment and having to study the quality of light and how I can add to or manipulate it. These aspects of photography have helped me to see life in such a unique way and I am grateful for that.

I have many weaknesses, but there is one that stands out in my mind most. Like many photographers and other creatives, I have the tendency to fixate myself on one idea – usually my first idea. I often pre-visualize what my photographs will look like, so it can be pretty frustrating when things don’t go as I had imagined. I tend to waste so much time trying to solve the problem and later, while  observing my photographs on a computer, I realize there were plenty of other avenues I could have ventured down. Although I have made progress on this narrow mindedness, I have nearly drove myself insane with this in the past while creating numerous photographs.


3. On your portfolio, you’ve named one of your photo galleries “3 sec. clip”. Please share with us the reason behind it.

3 Sec. Clip is the name of a photographic essay book I made while in college – documenting the action and lifestyle behind the scenes of what it takes to make a snowboard movie. There are numerous snowboard production companies that release a film once every year. Depending on company budgets, these movies are distributed locally, nationally, and even internationally. The films consist of an introduction, roughly seven to twelve rider sections, and the credits. Countless hours, days, weeks, and months of hard work are crammed into a two to three minute video part. I am intrigued by the effort it takes to achieve a three second clip, hence the reasoning behind the book/album title.

As a side note, the book consists of far more images than I included on my website. The book goes more in depth. I chose a select few of my favorite images to be included on my website with the idea that I will add to it over the years.



Brandon Lepasti Photography

4. For you, what makes an image worthy of being in a portfolio?

Every image in a portfolio should be strong technically and aesthetically. That is a given. The images as a whole should also reflect the photographer’s unique vision and style, which is developed over time and can be ever-changing. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the images should speak to the viewer – evoke some kind of emotion, feeling or response.


5. Which genre of photography do you find yourself most attached to and why?

Of course I enjoy snowboard photography because that is where my roots are. However, while in college, I grew a strong interest in portraiture, especially while on location. If I have to pick one, I would say environmental portraiture is my favorite genre of photography. I thoroughly enjoy the creative process of figuring out how to best portray a person in a given scene. Each and every portrait shoot presents its own challenges, which in return open the doors to so many creative solutions. My inspiration to make a portrait of someone is based on their unique physical environment, human characteristics, and the role they play in our society.


Brandon Lepasti Photography

6. If you could pick any photographer as your mentor, who would you pick and why?

Although he is no longer alive, I would choose Arnold Newman as my mentor without a doubt.  He was one of the most innovative and influential photographers of the 20th and 21st century. He is most known for being the “Father of Environmental Portraiture.” Newman often mentioned the use of graphic elements in his photographs, but he not only unitized these elements for the sake of visual pleasure, he also had a purpose behind the way he arranged his compositions to better reflect his subject and who they were. I would like to have followed him on some assignments to see exactly how he approached his subjects and to hear him speak out loud what he was thinking while composing his photographs.

7. How did you come across Pixpa and how has been the experience for you so far?

Unfortunately, I do not have the patience to learn code. I am overwhelmed with a cluster of symbols, numbers and letters. Fortunately, there are a handful of companies out there providing photographers with sleek website templates. I chose Pixpa because their website templates are tastefully designed and they are very affordable. Also, their drag-and-drop style editor is very user-friendly. Building my website was fairly painless. Overall, I am very pleased with Pixpa and what they have to offer. I would recommend them to a friend.


Brandon Lepasti Photography

I am planning to make some drastic updates to my portfolio website in the near future, so please visit frequently.

In the Spotlight: High End Celebrity Photographer Avantika Meattle

This month, the spotlight is on Avantika Meattle. In this interview, she talks about her seven year long stint in Bollywood, her travels across the world, and her return to Delhi as a wedding photographer. Pixpa finds out more about her love and passion for creating meaningful memories.

Visit Avantika’s website

You have captured moments of what seem to be the two greatest Indian loves – weddings and movies. Tell us about your experience as a spectator/participant in these two spectacular slices of Indian life.

We, Indians, love our weddings, and we love our movies. Indian weddings and movies embody the splendour, and the richness of our society, not to mention the grand culture, heritage, traditions, attire, dreams, and aspirations of the people. Indeed, weddings are like movies nowadays.

I have been associated with both aspects closely. To me, the level of involvement and the emotional connect weddings and movies have with society is simply extra-ordinary, and unique.

In a wedding, the entire family is together – friends, colleagues, relatives celebrate. This is the day that the couple, the bride especially, has dreamt of, for so long. There is a plethora of things going through her mind – excitement, anticipation, nervousness, anxiety, happiness – it is a cocktail of emotions. As a photographer (and someone who has been in that place), I can connect very well with these emotions. I love capturing these nuances on camera, in fact, these are the pictures bring back fond memories every time you look at them.

The same applies for movies where we celebrate the Indian dreams and aspirations. It is very fulfilling to be able to get that one shot which will connect with the common Indian.

What part of your job excites you the most?

I love capturing moments. In this profession, the highest accolade is when the person you have photographed feels that your picture has conveyed everything he/she was going through in that moment. It could be an actor or a bride. My real excitement comes from the knowledge that these pictures will remain long after everything is over, and they will invoke all those wonderful memories.

For instance, my pictures of Priyanka and John Abraham in Dostana, Aishwarya Rai in Umrao Jaan are ingrained in the public memory. Till this day, whenever I see brides use the photographs shot by me, I can’t help feeling super excited.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Anyone can click a picture – cameras are good and technical details are easy to learn. However, establishing an emotional connection and timing the picture with the right framing, lighting, etc are the finer details that make it more enjoyable.

My inspiration is the emotional connection. I search for that unique emotion which captures the essence of the event. My camera is the tool – but the entire focus is to bring out and capture the emotion.

From Italy to Udaipur, marriage seems to have taken you around the world. Which, in your opinion, is the most special moment of a wedding? Tell us about some such moments that you have captured on film

In my opinion, the best moment is when the bride is getting ready for the wedding. At this juncture, brides, across nations and cultures, are overwhelmed with emotions. The rest of the ceremonies and rituals allow you to capture vibrant and colourful shots, but nothing comes close to the beautiful image of a bride getting ready for the wedding. Also, I feel it really helps that I can connect with the bride on a very personal level, calm her, and capture the excitement and anticipation.

How would you describe your experience of working with children? Are they challenging subjects?

Babies are very challenging, but they are great to work with. The challenge is obvious – they have their moods and they will not comply with any request if they don’t want to. So, one has to be very patient and play with the baby till she/he is active enough to click.

However, the best part about babies is that they don’t know what is going on, so they don’t freeze like adults do. Their expressions are natural and real, it’s a pleasure to go crazy taking pictures of a happy baby.

What would be your dream project?

My dream project is to do a wedding or couple shoot in a place like Alaska, Antarctica or even deep sea diving!! I just love these spaces! Frankly, would love to work in settings where the nature provides the perfect backdrop – snow capped mountains, beautiful beaches, perhaps, in the middle of nowhere.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I have been using Canon set up from the last 4 years. I am currently using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body). I keep on building my equipment with all kind of lenses, lights, flashes, slaves. The list is endless.

One thing you’d advise fellow photographers to avoid.

I can only tell what I try and avoid – try not to push any agenda. You may have a great concept or a pose in mind, but if your client is not naturally comfortable in that, you should try something else. Essentially, your concept needs to align with the client, and not the other way.

Also, sometimes the best pictures can be shot with the simplest of cameras. Know your art well. Read a lot. Practice even more.

Any advice you would like to give to the Pixpa community.

We should always keep trying to learn. There is so much to learn, and a picture can, indeed, say a thousand words. Every photograph has the potential to teach something – sometimes, it may be a great new insight or sometimes it would be just to learn what not to do. Be a student always, and keep trying to sharpen your skills.

The goal is to let your picture convey the entire story without words.

Tell us about your experience of building your website on Pixpa.

It was super easy! I am really happy that I could design it according to my taste and get it going so soon. The customer service of Pixpa is also fantastic. They are very helpful people. I am really happy to have built a complete portfolio website in the most convenient manner possible.


In The Spotlight: Marian Hammond

This week, Pixpa had the pleasure to interview Marian Hammond, an extremely versatile photographer and filmmaker, in our interview segment. Marian is the co-founder of a communication and marketing firm, Brink Communication and manages to follow her passion for photography in her free time. Her work captures varied genres and reflects the passion with which she pursues photography. Here’s knowing her in greater detail.

(View her portfolio at Marianhammond.com)

1.  How has your love for photography assisted you in your work at Brink Communications?

I co-founded Brink three years ago to help clients create change for good. With communications moving ever-more visual and audiences preferring to view rather than read, having a background and love for photography helps me lead the team here in designing communications strategies and marketing campaigns that quickly create impact and change hearts and minds.



2. You have attained formal education in both photography and filmmaking. Which one do you feel more connected to and why?

Photography will always be my first love. Although I shoot digital now, the hours I spent in a darkroom learning the art and craft are still with me, and the smell of those chemicals takes me instantly back to my college years. When I was 19, I received a Stanford grant to spend the summer creating a photo essay on women’s bodies in front of (and behind) the lens, which was a trans-formative and deeply healing experience for me. Through that project, I gained a deep appreciation for what it means to capture someone’s image and essence on film, both to the viewer and the subject. And photographing my daughters over the past 6 years has given me so much joy – being able to capture and share their personalities, changes and discoveries has been a gift as a mom and an artist.

 3. Who are some of your favorite photographers? How do they inspire you?

I love Diane Arbus for pushing the boundaries of portraiture. Dorothea Lange, for pioneering photojournalism and creating social and political change through photography.

And of course, Annie Leibovitz for her sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, always lovely images that make us reconsider the way we look at familiar faces.



4. As a marketing professional what would be your marketing advice to upcoming photographers?  Which of the two Instagram or Pinterest would serve to benefit photographers more?

My advice is to pick one channel and do it well. If you love Pinterest, great. If you prefer Instagram for Photography, go with that. The best way to create impact is to convey your personality and range and to build relationships with other artists and potential clients.

5. You are quite the multi-tasker – a marketing professional, a keyboardist, a photographer and a homemaker. How do you manage it all?

Only just barely! I am happiest when I am busy and learning and pushing my own boundaries – and that often means shoving 10 pounds of crap into a 5-pound bag (as my mother would say). Trying to maintain balance and focus/connection with my family while also exploring my creative and professional self is an ongoing challenge for me. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.



6. What is the one question nobody has ever asked you – that you wished they did?

I can’t think of anything. I’m a pretty direct person so if I have something to share, I do. No shrinking violet here!

7. Finally, tell us about your experience with Pixpa.

I love Pixpa! It meets the (high) standards for web functionality, aesthetics and audience experience that I bring from my marketing background, while also making it easy to keep up-to-date. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have a portfolio website without it.

In the Spotlight: Matthew Pendergast

Meet Matthew Pendergast, producer, director, and above all, a man with a deep love for exploration. In this exclusive interview, the San Francisco-based Matthew Pendergast tells us more about his experiences with the camera, the world and himself.

Visit Matthew’s website

Pixpa: You have done spectacular work on a range of subjects, quite complex and diverse in their character. What motivated you to take this creative journey?

Matthew: I’ve been traveling ever since I was a little kid, so for a long time I’ve been inspired by places, people, and cultures. While writing for Reuters in Beijing, I told stories from a journalistic perspective. However, I had the chance to work with video and learnt more about visual storytelling. In college, I began to develop an interest in Asia’s development, and spent a lot of time there, traveling and working, especially in China. So, it has been very inspiring to chronicle the issues that these communities face, as the region’s economy skyrockets. And to this end, it has just been a process of expanding my visual repertoire over the years in the interest of telling a more compelling, succinct and dynamic story always.

Pixpa: How long have you been working as a producer and director?

Matthew: Five years.

Pixpa: From Bangladesh to Cambodia, Sri Lanka to Mongolia, you have travelled extensively. In your opinion, which has been the most rewarding experience of your journey and why?

Matthew: I’ve had some incredible experiences on the road, from rescuing a dying horse in a Mongolian blizzard to profiling river gypsies in Bangladesh who rarely ever stray from their boats.

While I’ve been able to capture some great images, I think that the most rewarding part was to meet the people who are fighting to give their communities and their neighbors a better life. These are the people who have let go of the opportunities in bigger cities or on foreign shores. They have chosen to stay behind to help kids in their community have an education, or make sure their environment isn’t destroyed by unchecked industry.

Working with these people and finding out what inspires them to put aside more immediate aspirations for something bigger than themselves – that’s definitely been the most rewarding part of the journey.

Pixpa: What type of films do you enjoy creating?

Matthew: I’d say, films that focus on a person’s story, and are driven by a powerful narrative, and give you freedom to experiment with new styles and shots.

Pixpa: What, in your opinion, sets you apart from the rest of the film-makers/photographers?

Matthew: I came to filmmaking in such a roundabout way that I bring a whole range of other experiences to the process. Working as a journalist, for instance, helped me learn how to focus on a story and be able to leave out the extraneous bits. Having spent nearly half my life abroad, I’ve become really attuned to the details of how people live, the finer nuances of culture etc. All this and more is what makes me different, but I think, above all, it is the fact that I’ve loved the way that I can use film/video to tell those stories.

Pixpa: What kind of equipment do you use?

Matthew: Canon DSLRs, primarily.

Pixpa: As a creative person, what are the challenges that you have faced? Tell us how you overcame them.

Matthew: Honestly, when I first started, I had no idea what I was doing. Someone put a camera in my hands and told me to come back with something. It was trial by fire, but I firmly believe that’s the best way to learn. I discovered an incredible wealth of knowledge out there, especially on the Internet – I learnt so much by just reading how others have grappled with the same issues. I taught myself how to shoot, light, edit, create motion graphics, and all of this with the help of a great online community willing to share their valuable knowledge.

Pixpa: What, according to you, will be an ideal project?

Matthew: Most of the projects I work on are under 10-minutes runtime. I would love the opportunity to spend a longer amount of time really digging into a story, its place and people, and to have the funding and time to create something feature-length that tells an important story.

Pixpa: What part of your job excites you the most?

Matthew: Traveling to a new place with a camera in hand!

Pixpa: You have many feathers in your cap. A journalist, film-maker, photographer, graphic designer- which one defines you best?

Matthew: As I mentioned above, I think we are an amalgamation of the things that we have done. Each experience adds to the process of being a creative professional, and I try to keep those lessons handy when I’m working. Sometimes, the most seemingly random experience can turn into the inspiration or answer you’re looking for.

Pixpa:How many projects do you do each year?

Matthew: On an average, I do about 8-10 projects each year.

Pixpa: Any advice you would like to give to the Pixpa community.

Matthew: Take some time to share your experiences! There’s a lot of noise on the Internet, for sure, but it can always use another voice, especially someone who can share valuable experiences. I’m sure that almost every person, who is reading this, has been online, at some point or the other, searching for tips to make their work better. Contribute to the community with your own knowledge!

Pixpa: Tell us about your experience on building your website with Pixpa.

Matthew: Well, I liked the templates and it seemed like a nice “plug-and-play” option for someone who didn’t want to deal with code. I had to deal with a bit of jargon and had to delete some of the pre-loaded content. However, once I got the hang of how the dashboard worked, it was fairly smooth and didn’t take too long to get my website up and running.

In The Spotlight: Photo Tantra

This week, we’re in conversation with Photo Tantra – a team of Indian wedding photographers. Photo Tantra was started by Vinayak and Snigdha in 2009. There’s been no looking back for them since. Today, they’re counted amongst India’s top five dream wedding photographers.

Being a wedded couple themselves, Vinayak and Snigdha understand the enormity and diversity of the emotions behind a wedding ceremony. Photo Tantra provides vividly customized and personalized deliverables with a contemporary touch. Widely traveled as well, they’ve covered about two hundred and fifty weddings in many different countries. With the wedding season round the corner, we got a chance a catch up with Photo Tantra and know more about their journey.

( Check out their profile at Phototantra.com)

1. When did you both plan to become professional wedding photographers? Was it already planned out when you both got married or was it a recent professional choice?

It all happened by chance. Vinayak was already into photography and I was still learning the art. One fine day someone just mailed asking us to photograph his wedding. We were reluctant initially because we had never shot a wedding before. But when we realized that this person had so much trust in us we decided to give it our best shot. We enjoyed the shoot and loved being a part someone’s celebration and happiness that we never looked back after that day.

2. Being wedded and wedding photographers, what are the things that you wish to alter in your own wedding?

If we can ever go back in time, we would hire a professional photographer rather than depend on our friends for photographs. Though we had lots of photographer friends who had come to attend our wedding but looks like they were more interested in the wedding food. One of our photographer friends was more interested in taking photos of Snigdha’s cousin.

3. We enjoy the candid approach you take and the natural feel of each series. How do you avoid going down the path of staging photos and continuously providing authentic looks?

In a wedding it is important to take staged photos also especially family portraits, couple portraits etc but we keep it to a minimum. We try to be as invisible, as unobtrusive as possible. We also try to make sure that the bride and the groom are very comfortable around us so that even if they see us around with cameras they don’t get too conscious. Timing is very important when it comes to taking natural moments. The ability to predict the next possible moment also comes with experience and involvement with the process.

4. If you could only use a few words to describe your style what would they be?

Spontaneous, unobtrusive, staying in sync with the flow, with the process and with the people involved.

5. You both seem to have mastered the new-emerging genre of Wedding Photojournalism. What is it about weddings and this particular genre that inspired you so much?

Weddings are a mixture of many genres. It involves documentary style, glamorous fashion genres, candid like street photography and one also needs to wait for the right moment like in nature or wild life photography. So weddings and wedding photojournalism lets you explore and use so many different styles of making a photograph.

6. Beginning 2009 and spanning about 250 weddings, what is the one wedding experience that stands out in your mind?

Each wedding comes with its own uniqueness because people involved in it are different and unique. It will be very unfair if we pick one. There are wedding though which are funnier, crazier than others and it is always these weddings which keep coming back to our memory. Be it a drunk bride dancing on the latest Hindi item song, or a bride driving her groom like a maniac to reach the venue on time, or the bride asking us to help her zip her gown or blouse. Most funny incidents happen in the makeup room or on the dance floor after a few pegs. Sometimes, the bride, bride’s mother and bride’s sister end up looking the same and we get confused who is who.

7. What would be the top 3 elements new photographers breaking into wedding photography should prioritize?

Practice, develop your own style, experiment.

8. What do you feel is the most challenging aspect about photographing weddings?

Indian weddings are very long and never start or finish on time. The biggest challenge is to keep your energy levels high all the time even at 3 am on a December night and off course manage to take photos in a crowded stage where everyone is jostling for space.

9. Finally, tell us about your experience with Pixpa.

Pixpa has been one of our best decisions. It’s simple yet elegant to look at and has been hassle free which is a great thing because it like your show window where potential clients come to stop by to take a look at your work. It’s the 1st point of contact for any client. So far our clients have only complimented us on how our website looks. The clarity is great, the display and speed is great and service is prompt.

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