Matt Sweadner Photography | Blog

The Importance of Quality Photography for Interior Designers in Tampa Bay

August 14, 2015  •  1 Comment


Good designs and furnishings compliment a space whether it be a home or a commercial environment.

Good photography does the same. Snapshots and poor photography do not qualify. Anyone can take those, even someone with a “fancy camera.” I'm speaking about high end images. Architectural photography (Interiors, exteriors, design elements, etc) is a skilled art and requires specialized knowledge. As with any other field, there are varying levels of expertise.

A $100,000 design effort doesn't look much better than a $1999 one if the image is horrible. Impeccable design loses a lot of it's impact and appeal when walls are tilted, glare spots are everywhere, lighting is bad, or when it just doesn't look so good because of the poor composition of an image.

Cove - Living room & pool view A-9 revision 1 -smallCove - Living room & pool view A-9 revision 1 -small

There are numerous factors involved to create images that rise above subpar photographs. Key elements that differentiate high end images from second rate photos are:

A) Straight walls – As easy as it sounds, there are many photographers delivering images with crooked walls. Slanted, leaning, or bowed walls are not professional and do not look good at all. The only exception is an overhead from another level of the space.


B) Proper exposure – This means that light areas aren't too bright and darks aren't too dark. Photographers call it “blown out highlights” and “crushed shadows.” Interiors typically contain the extremes of lights and darks which require advanced techniques to compensate. The true architectural photographer has the skills and knowledge to overcome those challenges. For views of the outside, blue skies are always more pleasant and inviting than white skies.


C) Lack of reflections – Have you ever seen images that have reflections in wall prints or in glass shower doors? It doesn't look very good does it? The reflections are present because the photographer either didn't eliminate them while shooting or didn't remove them after the shoot during post processing. It's common to see bathroom lights, fixtures, towels, and even windows look like they actually exist in the shower. That's just crazy! This is another area where skilled architectural photographers shine. Your images work harder for you when the eye isn't distracted with all those ridiculous looking reflections everywhere.


D) Strength of composition – There are numerous principles that increase compositional value. The first has to do with where radiuses and lines travel through and also intersect certain sections of an image, including the edge. The second involves where elements are located within the image itself. The application of these principles along with the total number used in any given image means the difference between a great image and a poor one.


E) Sharp images – Cameras have come a long way since the digital age. Even cell phones have remarkably good cameras built in. In no way though are they able to compete with the sophisticated electronics, and more importantly, superior quality lenses found in professional equipment. It doesn't mean an amateur is guaranteed good results from a pro level camera because that would mean that we could all be great writers by simply purchasing an expensive keyboard. It does mean though that the superior optics found in higher end cameras produce images with greater clarity and sharpness over lower end equipment.


E) Superior editing – No matter how good an image is, it's simply not as good as it can be with proper editing. Editing is like seasoning. Just like a fine chef will season foods to perfection, delivering a treat for the taste buds, the skilled photographer will delivery exquisite images that are a treat for your eyes. Gifted photographers can produce images that actually look better than seeing something in person.

A talented photographer will incorporate all of these and more, creating beautifully engaging images which attract more clients as well as allowing you to properly show off your design work. They can even make the mundane look so good it generates interest.


Todays clients are online, which means quality images are more essential than ever before. Potential clients will either be grabbed by your images or they will grabbed by your competitors images. Which do you prefer?


If it's the latter then Matt Sweadner Photography is here for you. We provide outstanding images to showcase quality designs in the Tampa Bay Area and beyond. Consultations are provided at no cost or obligation. It's part of the service we offer and our clients appreciate our desire to understand what sets them apart. Our goal is to make our clients look their absolute best. Call us today at 727-697-7903 or simply email us here: You can view more of our work at:



The Benefits of Professional Business Portraits

August 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I'm always amazed how many people do not have professional business portraits or "head shots."  Most everyone will make themselves presentable before walking out the door for work and the higher someones position or aspiration, the more professional and polished they make their appearance.

Forbes' Lisa Quast says, “How you look in a picture with your professional business profile and contact information is sometimes the first time a person will actually see you.”  Not only that, the way you present yourself is how you are perceived and treated, at least to some degree.  Princeton University says definitively that: “The images we post online can affect us in unexpected, and undesired, ways, subtly biasing other people’s decisions.”


The two big questions are: 

Why is it that we show more care for how we look when we leave our home for 8 hours or so than we do for our professional business profiles such as LinkedIn or our company websites which are viewable 24/7, 365 days a year?

If you are a professional person is there any reason you don't want to be perceived as professional?

A quick perusing of LinkedIn shows very quickly that nearly half the people have fair to terrible images they present to the world of themselves.  Unflattering and just plain poor images have, at the very least, a negative subconscious affect on the viewer or, as Princeton calls it, “undesired.”  This in no way is even remotely beneficial.


Business portraits usually feature plain or textured backgrounds in a color which compliments your attire and/or your companies color scheme.  Another type of business portrait is known as the environmental portrait.  This class of portrait includes and element of your profession in the background.  This could be a conference room, airplane, office, kitchen, or even a facility.  It's usually a good idea to have both made so you have some flexibility and can change things up from time to time.  You don't wear the same thing every day all year long so why use the same image 365 days a year every year?

Of utmost importance is the photographic artisan who is skilled in flattering lighting and posing to capture the expressions that convey your desired look.  This is exactly what we do at Matt Sweadner Photography serving Tampa Bay and beyond.  We bring the studio to your home or office to make it easy for busy people on the go to get powerful professional images of themselves.  Call us today at 727-697-7903 to schedule a 100% guaranteed portrait session. 

The importance of using fill flash for outdoor photography

July 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment



Fill flash for outdoor photography


While recently taking some portrait shots at the beach, I was asked why I was using a flash even though there was plenty light.  It was actually a very good question and one that even some "photographers" probably can't answer because they themselves don't even do it.


The simple answer is that it helps sharpen the subject.  On the left is a shot with no flash.  As you can see, there is plenty of light and the subject (Rebekah) can be clearly seen.  The problem is that Rebekah is just sort of muddled and not very crisp.  Also, her eyes are dark and lifeless.  


The image to the right was shot seconds later but with "fill flash."  Notice I said fill flash and not just flash.  If I would have used a flash at full power, like people normally do when they select their flash or the camera does because it's in auto mode, Rebekah would be way too bright.  By dialing down the flash, I was able to give just enough light to make Rebekah stand out crisply, without washing her out.  Another benefit to using the flash is that it creates "catch lights" in the eyes which brings them to life, as well as to help brighten the whites of the eyes.  I should point out that the image to the right was also edited.  However, editing is not able to make a fuzzy subject suddenly sharp.  The editing performed here were standard finishing touches and would be pointless on the image to the left.


You may wonder why I didn't just have Rebekah face the sun?  It's true that facing the sun would lighten her face, but by doing so, it may have caused her to squint.  Squinting is unacceptable for pro portraits.  I would have also lost the beautiful setting sun in the background.


If you've had portraits done outside in decent light but the eyes are dark and the subjects are not nicely defined, chances are good that the photographer was not using fill flash.  This is why it's important to choose a photographer that does the types of shots you want done.  Every photographer has, or should have, a portfolio, highlighting their work.  If you don't see your preferred types of shots, or the ones you see aren't very good, be very cautious in moving forward because yours will most likely not be any better.


Fill flash is just one example of how a Pro Photographer differs from the beginner.  Simply buying a "nice camera" isn't enough.  Even very expensive "pro level" rigs are worthless if not used properly.  It's the person behind the lens that makes things happen :)


One of our specialties here at Matt Sweadner Photography is on location portrait shoots in various locations around our beautiful city and beaches.  Popular portrait themes are:  Newborn, children, family, engagement, maternity, individual, senior, business, etc. 




Choosing a Wedding Photographer in Tampa Bay

February 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment


Choosing a Wedding Photographer


Hafeez & Khan dual wedding 6-12-580-2


Weddings are a stressful time leading up to one of the most important days of one’s life.  In this post, we will attempt to help smooth the way concerning The Wedding Photographer.  Below are 5 things to consider when choosing a Wedding Photographer.

1.   The Decision to Use a Friend or Relative with a Nice Camera – Before you make this crucial decision about the lifetime memories you will be documenting, ask yourself these questions:

A.  Is saving a little money worth having horrible and disappointing photos that you will live with the rest of your life?

B.    Is saving a little money worth the risk of damaging your relationship?

C.    What are the things that are most important about my wedding?  What will last and what won’t really matter in 10 years or even a year or a month?  What will we look back on for the rest of our lives?

The fact that someone has purchased an expensive camera does not mean they will be able to capture your once in a lifetime moments.  The camera is only a tool and merely does what the Photographer directs it to do.  A good Wedding Photographer will be able to take substandard equipment and get better results than someone who has no idea what they are doing using extremely expensive equipment, because a professional photographer has spent years training and educating themselves about not only the technical aspects of the camera, but also about framing, composition, lighting and editing among other skills.  A professional photographer will have the hundreds of hours of experience and study to do what an amateur cannot even fathom.

Another thing to keep in mind: If your friend or relative is busy trying to photograph the wedding, they will be unable to enjoy the celebration and will also not be in any of the photos.  This is not fair to them and could possibly cause resentment at some point.  Don’t be another statistic of a failed friendship or family relationship.

I would like to share a personal experience with wedding photography.  Before I became a photographer, a friend stated he had been a “photographer since he was a kid” and offered to shoot my wedding.  I thought, “Wow, how could I refuse such a great offer?”.  The wedding was during the day, a beautiful day, with plenty of light and natural shading from trees, the type of light for wonderful wedding photographs.  Instead of amazing photos, we ended up with dark and out of focus prints.  The disappointment was great and the memories we hoped to document and cherish for the rest of our lives were ruined.  It was definitely not worth it to save a buck.  If I could go back, I would have spent the money to guarantee beautiful memories of our event.  Needless to say, I learned the hard way.

2. Price - Let’s assume at this point that you’ve decided that the pitfalls of having a friend or relative photograph your wedding is just not worth it.  Just as the most expensive car doesn't necessarily mean it is the best choice for our transportation needs, the highest priced Wedding Photographer is not always an option for everyone.  That doesn't mean the least expensive Wedding Photographer is your only option.  There is a happy medium.  Be cautious of shopping by price alone.  It has been said that the excitement of a low price is quickly replaced by the agony of a poor product/and or service.  Do you really want to trust your special day to the Wedding Photographer just because they have the lowest price or even the highest price?  This is not like shopping for a TV.  Your best bet is to find a balance of skill and value.

In my next blog, I will address the questions you should ask every Wedding Photographer before you make the decision to hire them.  There are many things to keep in mind when choosing the person to be responsible for your wedding photography.  The work involved in wedding photography is not limited to showing up at the wedding and taking photos.  The initial consultation, wedding schedule review and planning, venue evaluation, equipment considerations and planning, equipment procurement and/or rental, preparing for some wedding schedule changes to reorganize, assistant(s) to schedule and/or hire, the actual wedding shoot, sorting uploaded photos, choosing photos (culling), editing photos (a very tedious process), presenting photos to the client, re-editing photos, ordering photos and/or photo books, phone, text and email communication with the client, among other things are all important steps in the Wedding Photography process.  If a prospective “photographer” is not familiar or willing to put in the work necessary for your wedding, he/she is not someone you should consider to document this very important moment in your lives.

3. Comparing the Work of Photographers - When comparing the portfolios of Wedding Photographers it can be helpful to not only look at wedding shots they are featuring, but also their Event Photography, since more and more weddings are comprised of "candid" photos.  It's not enough for someone to simply hold down the shutter button and fire away like a machine gun.  The skill involved in that type of photography is zero and an expensive camera will not increase that skill.  Quality candids take a good sense of timing, awareness and attention to detail to capture the feeling of a moment, which is lost on the photographer whose attention is simply focused on  holding down the shutter.

Take a look at the photographer's editing technique.  Non-staged events can be challenging, and while a photographer may have had good timing on a particular shot, the lighting and/or composition may be lacking and will need to be adjusted.  Too many people who call themselves photographers pay zero attention to or know nothing about editing and present appalling photos of great moments.


Bobby & Jackie Hunt 3-25-12-518


4. Offering Food in Exchange for a Discount - Do not insult your photographer, or any other artist for that matter, by offering food and/or drinks to lower the cost of Wedding Photography.  Food is customary and you will sound deficient in class by offering $15 in food in exchange for a discount.  This is similar to your employer offering to buy you lunch instead of giving you a full paycheck.  The reality is that most Wedding Photographers will be too busy working and will have no time to relax and eat.

5. Communication of your desired outcome - Communicating with your Wedding Photographer is paramount so they will best understand and appreciate your individuality.  It is important to communicate the types of shots you prefer (Candid shots, Pre-wedding photos, Group Shots, Family Shots, Individual Shots, Creative Shots, etc.) as well as a complete schedule and hours needed for the pre-wedding, wedding and reception.  Communication is key to ensure you and your Wedding Photographer are on the same page and everything turns out to your satisfaction.

At Matt Sweadner Photography, we strive to provide a terrific value combined with quality and professional photos that you can cherish for a lifetime.  Our Wedding Photography rates start at only $395 and include fully edited prints as well as digital images which can be enjoyed for generations to come.


Hafeez & Khan dual wedding 6-12-484-2



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