Welcome to Happening Photos' Blog

Here you'll find examples of our recent work as well as short articles about tools and tips related to photography in general and event photography in particular. We hope you find it useful and inspiring. Please feel free to share comments, pose questions, and suggest topics for discussion. Thanks for visiting!

How to Help Your Photographer Make a Great Portrait

January 23, 2019  •  Leave a Comment


WBC New You -130WBC New You -130

This seems like a pretty dry topic, and I’ll provide some basic tips in a bit, but I’d like to start with a suggestion that might not seem so obvious: Prepare to have fun.

What? Fun? Headshots? Isn’t there a formula or something? Well, sort of, but as much as lighting and clothing matter, what really makes a portrait is active involvement on the part of the subject, and if it’s not there, the photographer can’t Photoshop it in. Even when the goal is a business-like demeanor, if you’re having fun doing it, it shows up in your eyes and the relaxed appearance of your face in a way that presents you as someone who’s accessible, self-assured, and interesting to talk to.

Think of your portrait session not as a trip to the dentist, but as play time where you can invent, like an actor, the character you want to present. That character may or may not be who you feel you really are. You might be a party animal who wants to look “respectable”. Or, you might be a shy person who wants to look like a leader. It’s up to you. The key thing is to realize that your mental image of yourself doesn’t encompass all the versions of you who actually show up in all the various moments of your life and that you can choose whichever version you want to show. Have fun with it, and your portraits will really look alive.

As for the rest, here are a few practical nuts & bolts tips.

Clothing -

Choose clothing that matches the character you’re playing. A bit of color can help, even if your character is conservative. For clothing that is close to your face or next to your skin, choose tones that are somewhat, but not radically, lighter or darker than your skin tone. No white shirts on anybody, and no black shirts on light-skinned folks. Avoid wearing white as an outer garment, as this will vanish against a white background and glare against a black one. Keep patterns simple and subtle unless you’re going for a “wild” look. Avoid clothing with large blocks of text on it. Wear shoes in which you can stand and move comfortably - tippy stilettos may make it hard to relax, especially if you’re on soft carpet.

Makeup -

Makeup looks different to a camera than to the naked eye. Bright colors may appear stronger in a photo, so if you wear makeup, tone it down just a bit compared to your target look. If you’re using foundation or powder, keep it subtle and pay particular attention to taming bright spots on your nose, cheeks and forehead. Even without anything else, blotting paper and a little powder can make a huge difference. Your photographer will try to minimize bright spots by using soft lighting, but shiny skin is one of the biggest technical challenges.

Useful things to bring

  • Blotting paper and/or powder for last-minute shine reduction
  • Comb or brush for tidying hair
  • Lint brush or roller for clothing
  • Outer layers (e.g. sweaters, jackets, shawls)
  • Alternative neckties
  • Cloth to clean your glasses

That’s it. Let’s play!


My Computer Melted! - How to Avoid Digital Disaster on the Road

July 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Photographers, like event planners, often work on the road, and we rely on our computers to get our work done. Getting knocked out of action by a hardware or software failure is not an option. Now, because our computers are pretty reliable, it’s easy to just grab the laptop and head out the door without pondering the possible consequences if today is the day our tech goes south. However, as I was recently reminded, most of this stuff will one day bite us, and if we’re not ready, it could really hurt. So, I offer some simple steps you can take to keep damage and downtime to a bare minimum and get your work done.

What prompted me to write this article was a computer meltdown of my own while I was on a month-long trip. The prospect of being without my computer and all the information & photos therein for weeks was too terrible to contemplate. Now, many of you have probably lost the occasional document or photo or email, but in my case it was the entire drive in my laptop that just…stopped. No signs of life. No recovering the data with a utility. Silence. It was a 4-year-old SSD that decided it had done enough work, thank you very much, and was ready for The Long Sleep.

If it had held the only copy of my data, I’d have been toast. And, even though I had backups at home, they were thousands of miles away. Fortunately, I had created a digital doctor kit that had everything I needed to get back up and running as if nothing had happened. Here’s how you can create a digital doctor kit of your own that can stop Armageddon and fit in your pocket. I use a Mac, so I’ll describe the tools for Macs, but the concepts apply equally to Windows PCs.

What's in the digital doctor kit

A portable drive containing:

  1. An up-to-date mirror-image copy (“clone”) of your “boot” drive (the one your computer uses to start up),
  2. An incremental backup of changes to your data over time,
  3. Software utilities for repairing damaged data on a drive, and
  4. Installers for your operating system and mission-critical applications.

How I used the kit to get back to work

First, I plugged it into the laptop, started up while holding down the “option” key (this is specific to Macs), and selected Clone as the drive I wanted the laptop to boot from. I wanted to try to repair the original boot drive, and you can’t do that while booted from it. Next, I tried some disk utilities to see if they could repair the damage, but they couldn’t even see the drive - it was well and truly expired. OK, so, for the time being I could continue to use my Mac booted from Clone, and it was exactly as if I were working from the main boot drive at the time the Clone had last been updated (which had I set up to happen automatically every evening). If I were on deadline, I would just continue working.

How I used the kit to restore my computer

But, this was a temporary solution. I wanted my main boot drive back. And, some of the data on Clone was corrupted, as it had been copied from the failing boot drive. So, I needed a new drive to replace the expired boot drive. Now, if Clone were in perfect health, I’d just clone Clone back onto the new drive, but it wasn’t, so I needed both a fresh installation of the operating system (OS) as well as a restoration of all my personal data onto it. I bought a new drive and followed video instructions at MacSales.com to physically install it into my laptop, using a tiny screwdriver and a plastic card. Next, I started the computer from Clone, used Disk Utility to format the new drive, and used the Mac OS X installer to put a fresh copy of the OS on the drive. Once that was done, I restarted the computer from the new boot drive and used the kit to restore my applications and personal data from it onto the new boot drive. And that’s basically it. Several hours later, I was back in business and had lost nothing.

How to make your own digital doctor kit

So, how to create such a wondrous device? First, the drive. It needs to have storage capacity equal to at least 300% of your boot drive ’s capacity. So, if your boot drive holds 500GB, your doctor kit will hold about 1.5TB. More is better. Using a disk utility, divide the drive into three volumes (“partitions”), each of which appears on your desktop as a separate drive. The first volume (I name it "Clone”) should have the same capacity as your boot drive so that it can hold an exact duplicate of it. The second volume (“Time Machine”) should have at least 200% of the capacity of your boot drive, so that it can hold all that data plus copies of the various versions of documents as they are deleted or changed over time. The bigger this volume is, the more historical data it can hold, allowing you to go back in time further to retrieve earlier copies of things. The third volume (“Installers”) is where you can keep OS and app installers that you might not want clogging up your boot drive. I keep an installer for the latest version of OS X and for the main applications I rely on frequently. 50GB should be plenty.

Second, the “Clone” mirror-image copy of your boot drive. In the event that your boot drive croaks, you can use Clone as an alternate boot drive to start your computer and either repair or restore the original boot drive. On Macs, you can clone your boot drive using a third-party utility such as Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper! or Déjà Vu. Note that you cannot create a bootable clone by simply dragging the contents of the boot drive onto the Clone volume, as the OS will not recognize this as a bootable volume and you won’t be able to start up from it. You must use a cloning utility.

Third, the Time Machine backup. On a Mac, when a new empty volume appears on your Mac for the first time, a message pops up asking if you want this to be used as a Time Machine volume. Just say yes. From then on, as long at the volume is mounted on the desktop, Time Machine will back up the latest changes to your data every hour, without you having to do a thing or even think about it. Now, Time Machine is a Mac OS X feature, but I’m sure there are Windows backup utilities that will similarly keep what's known as an “incremental" backup.

Final thoughts

It’s worth having both a clone backup and an incremental backup. You can boot from the former but not the latter. You can recover older versions of documents from the latter but not the former (which has only the latest version). And, if one gets damaged (as happened to my Clone), you can recover your data from the other.

I won’t bore you here with the many pages of tedious step-by-step procedures involved in using these tools, but you can find instructions on Mac- and Windows-related sites. My goal here was to give you an overview of the possible issues and solutions and the basics of creating your own doctor kit to take with you when you travel so you can keep working when digital disaster strikes. Or better yet, to win eternal friendship by rescuing your colleagues when digital disaster strikes them. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask questions via email or the comments section at the bottom of this page.


AIDS Memorial Day in Almaty, Kazakhstan

March 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

AIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan AIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan AIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, KazakhstanAIDS Memorial Day 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Jacques documented for USAID its supported Dialogue on HIV and TB Project commemoration of International Memorial Day of People Who Died from AIDS in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The challenge was to capture the spirit of the event without photographing any of the attendees, as privacy around the issue of HIV remains very sensitive.

You can see USAID's article here.

Copyright and Usage Rights - a Primer

September 02, 2015  •  1 Comment

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen at a First Move chess event - event photography in New York City by Happening PhotosWord Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen congratulates a challenger at a First Move chess event held by America's Foundation for Chess, an organization that promotes chess in schools as a way of developing critical thinking skills.


[updated 2015-09-08]

Let’s face it - copyrights are not what you think about on weekends. It’s an obscure topic that most people, even some photographers, don’t consider until it’s time to draft a contract. In this article, I’ll briefly outline the basic issues and options so that you, as a photo buyer, can be sure that you’re getting what you need and not paying for things you don’t.

When you hire a photographer, one of the things you’re paying for - along with production expenses, shoot fees, postproduction time, and sometimes equipment rental - is a set of rights to use the photos. There are two basic approaches here: buy the images outright (a “buyout”) or pay just for rights to use the images in specific ways (“licensing”).

Buyout vs. Licensing
When you buy images outright, the photographer transfers to you the ownership of the copyright. You then have exclusive control over how and where the images are used. A buyout generally costs more than licensing because it includes all rights, including many you may not need, like the ability to print images on keychains and sell them at shopping mall kiosks (no, we’ve never done this, either). Also, in surrendering copyright, a photographer is giving up the ability to use the images to promote his business, so it’s normal to charge a buyout fee to make up for this loss of value. Still, there are situations in which a buyout might make sense. Say you or your client are holding a private event where trade secrets or other confidential information might be presented. Exclusive ownership of the images gives you total control over when, where and how the images are used.
For 99% of our event clients, licensing usage rights is the practical and cost-effective way to go. A typical agreement grants the rights to use the images in all media forever for purposes of promoting their events and business and for sharing with attendees for personal enjoyment. That usually covers all the bases. And, of course, we can tailor agreements to meet different needs. The advantage is that we can charge less by licensing because we get value out of being able to use our work to promote our business. As you might guess, photographers who can’t show any of their work face a, um, unique challenge when it comes to marketing their service.
Why Is This Even A Thing?
The topic came to mind recently after we encountered some misunderstandings among the general public and news stories about photos being appropriated from the internet and used commercially without permission. Our clients are pretty well informed, but many regular folks make two faulty assumptions related to copyright:
“I’m in the photo, so it’s my photo.”
I heard this one from an attendee several days after an event. Now, normally, if someone declines to be photographed, I respectfully move on. And, if an attendee requests a keepsake copy, I'm always happy to oblige, provided the client approves. The solution in this case was for the client not to use the photo, out of respect for the attendee's wishes.
The misunderstanding got me thinking, though, and it can be cleared up by the question, “Does the Mona Lisa belong to Leonardo da Vinci, who painted it, or to Lisa Gherardini, whose likeness it is thought to represent?” Yeah, it’s Leo’s painting. No controversy there. Well, photography is no different from painting, songwriting, or literature in this regard. A photo belongs to the person who made it, and US copyright law automatically assigns ownership of works of art, including photos, to their creators at the moment of creation.
“It’s on the internet, so I can do whatever I want with it.”
I think everyone can understand that if you see an online display, or if you're lucky enough to buy a print, of Ansel Adams’ stunning and world-famous “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” you are entitled to view it and enjoy it, but not to make and sell postcard-size copies on the street or use it in a national ad campaign.
Bottom Line
At Happening Photos, we offer both licensing and buyout terms in order to best serve various clients with diverse needs. When you contact us with an RFP, let us know which approach seems the best fit for you. We’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons and will tailor a proposal that meets all your needs at the lowest possible cost.

Photo Tips for Public Speakers - How to give a great presentation and look good doing it.

April 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

If you’re making a presentation at a large event such as a conference or fundraiser, there’s a good chance the event organizers will have a professional photographer there. The photos will be used to publicize the event, and you may want some for personal or professional use. There are a few simple things you can do when making your presentation to help the photographer portray you in the best possible light and make captivating images. These tips apply to effective public speaking generally, and they can greatly improve not only your audience engagement but also the quality of your photos.

Make eye contact with the audience -
Looking at your audience creates the impression that you care about your message and they should, too. It engages them. And, it shows you connecting with the world. If you make a point of looking around the room - left, right and center - you'll also get photos showing your face from a variety of angles.
Show enthusiasm for the subject matter -
Enthusiasm is contagious, and when you show it with your words, facial expression and body language, it captivates your audience and lights up a photo.
Pause for impact -
If you pause briefly once it a while, it gives the audience a moment to absorb your words, and it gives the photographer a chance to catch you when you’re looking out at the crowd with your eyes open and your mouth still.
Move -
Feel free to move a little, shifting your weight, standing straight, leaning forward, and using (even subtle) hand gestures. You’ll appear as a speaker rather than a reader, and in photos you’ll get a variety of moments showing dynamism and engagement.
Dress to stand out -
In this case, stand out from the background. Colors that contrast with the background, rather than blend in, will help make attractive photos. A black suit against a black background will disappear, leaving just a head and two hands floating in space.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speech at New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting. Event photography in New York. Photo by Happening Photos.New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a podiumNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gives a speech at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting Press briefing at New York City Mayor's Office. Event photography in New York. Photo by Happening Photos.2012-06-21@15-42-54 (1) Speaker presentation at MPI educational event. Event photography in New York. Photo by Happening Photos.Speakers - 020

Lawyers' Portraits

April 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

We've posted a new gallery of lawyers' portraits in the "recent work" section of our site. In addition to some conventional headshots, we also got to make a series of more personality-driven portraits for the New York State Bar Association's membership marketing materials. This was great fun, and our subjects seemed to have a good time. Having done this for several years in a row, we adopted a lively new approach to lighting that gives the portraits a bright, sunny feeling. You can view more of our photos from this event in our recent work gallery.

NYC Compete to Win Press Briefing

January 07, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Another new client, Sacks Communications has hired us for a number of projects recently, beginning with coverage of a press briefing at City Hall to publicize New York City's Compete to Win initiative. Sacks Communications is working with the City to publicize the program, which is designed to create more opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses to compete, connect and grow their business with the City. The briefing was attended by reporters from a wide range of the New York's community press organizations and featured presentations by City officials and staff as well as in-depth discussion among all the attendees. You can view more of our photos from this event in our recent work gallery.



MPI Westfield Chapter's 2012 Awards Dinner

December 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Meeting Professionals International Westfield Chapter joined our roster of repeat clients this year when they invited us to photograph their June 2012 Awards Dinner at the Larchmont Country Club. A number of the Chapter's past presidents were on hand to celebrate, and everyone seemed to have a good time. The staff were gracious and thorough, and I felt genuinely welcomed as an equal participant. You can view more of our photos from this event in our  gallery.

I look forward to working with them again at their upcoming "Naked Negotiating" event on September 13 at the Hilton Stamford Hotel.


4A's PR Conference

December 12, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Following hot on the heels of our coverage of Transformation LA, our friends at the 4A's called us back to photograph their 4A's Pr Conference and reception in New York City. The conference drew a crowd of 200 marketing journalists, marketers and PR practitioners who gathered to discuss best practices for reputation management through internal and external marketing programs, social media, sponsorship, cause marketing, and brand journalism, among many other topics. Presenters included top names from a broad range of industries, including press, advertising, television, airline, and political messaging. You can view more of our photos from this event in our recent work gallery.

2012-04-25@17-43-21 CMOs Speak Out - 005

Brooklyn Heights Montessori School

December 03, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

The Brooklyn Heights Montessori School recently hired me to make a book of photographs of their Two's program for a school fundraiser. I love making photographs of children and was happy to help out a local school. Needless to say, we all had fun and the book was a tremendous success. Here are some of the photographs. You can view more of our photos from this event in our recent work gallery.

- Steve


Brooklyn Heights Montessori School2012-03-15 @ 10-55-52

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