Category: Opinion

Competing with cheap photographers

Competing with cheap photographers

“They aren’t your clients”, “Set yourself apart”, “Why do you care what others charge”, “Everyone starts somewhere”.

We have heard all these and more when the discussion appears talking about cheap, lowball photographers who do full sessions for almost nothing, give all them images from the session (often 50 or more).  So many photographers talk about how they don’t compete with those people because they have clientele who understand the value of their “art”.

Let’s actually think about this and analyze markets a bit.

Here is the latest victim of the cheap, lowballer markets; Bowens International Ltd, the manufacturers of studio flash and lighting for 94 years.  The reason?  Cheap products from other manufacturers.  Read the story here.  I must admit that I have bought a flash from one of the manufacturers listed.  Low price, good quality, full of features.  I bought the flash mostly out of curiosity but the quality of the product makes it difficult to justify 3 or 4 times the cost (in some cases nearly 10 times the cost).  This has led to closures in the steel, oil, and auto industries.  When Walmart comes to town its presence often has a dramatic effect on small business .

We can stick our heads in the proverbial sand and keep telling ourselves that we don’t compete with the cheap lowball photographers but in reality you do.  We all do.  Look at the recent developments in photojournalism when entire photography departments have been closed and laid off depending on reporter supplied or reader supplied photographs. Some larger magazines and newspapers still buy photographs from freelance photojournalists but at a much lower price than a few years ago.

I don’t intend to make it sound like a doomsday scenario but unless we recognize the problem and work to address it, eventually your clients will be the clients of cheap lowball photographers.

So how do we compete?  Good question.  The first step is admitting there is a problem.  The whole thought of “educating” the clients is ridiculous to me.  They don’t care about your expenses.  We need to educate the cheap lowball photographers, those that don’t follow the laws and good business practices of having insurance, paying taxes, obtaining necessary business licenses, etcetera should be noted and if necessary reported just as we would report anyone who violates the law.  Those who fail to follow this good business practice will also have an effect on professional photography in the number of lawsuits, lost respect for the profession and more.

 

 

 

Trade for sessions aren’t free

Trade for sessions aren’t free

I am a huge proponent of getting paid for your work.  I also love photography and often do trade for time sessions.  The photograph above was a trade for session for a local modeling group.  This session was a vintage pinup theme. Even though it was nearly 100 degrees outside and midday this was a fun session.

This “free” session was worth my time and effort for a couple of reasons;

  • It got me out of the house and a reason to shoot portraits, which I love.
  • It helped inspire me for additional sessions.

I don’t work for free, but I will do trade for sessions.  These are win-win trades.  I get to photograph people, often with a particular theme in mind or for practice with lighting, poses, and locations. The models get to use the images for their portfolios to help them along getting other paid modeling jobs as well.

Often the problem I see with some of the trade for sessions is that they become very one sided, usually favoring the photographer.  Why do I say this?  It is often because the models end up with some crappy photographs.  I have seen some horrible editing, horribly blurry or out of focus photographs where models are “tagged” on social media or where they share the photos themselves.

While it is true that new photographers need practice the trade for is more like each side is paying for their service themselves.  Instead of hiring a model, a photographer can trade his time for a model and provide copies of the photographs for the model to use in their portfolio.  Likewise, the model wants to keep their portfolio fresh and up to date with new photographs so instead of hiring a photographer they can trade their time by modeling for a photographer who needs to work on a new technique, themed shoots, or to keep their skills honed.  We are both waving our normal fees to be able to work with each other.

 

 

Thoughts of an experienced photographer in social media groups

Thoughts of an experienced photographer in social media groups

This is a commentary I have wanted to write for some time now.  I have included some quotes from questions or posts I have seen in “professional” photography forums on social media.  The first bullet point is the question.  The comment below the post is what I really want to tell them as an answer as do many experienced, skill amateur and professional photographers.  My photography friends and I talk about these question in photography. It isn’t that we are being jerks about it but we see these so many times in groups where these people are “starting their business” or photographing important life events, so when you see a comment that is less harsh than this, it was probably scaled back from what they REALLY wanted to say.

 

I know that some if not many, of those who read this, will think I’m just a jerk or an a$$, but I really do want to help others learn.  Yes, we all start somewhere but please learn before taking on important photography jobs.  Read about photography, the public library is full of books if you can’t afford to buy them.  Learn basics of photography which hasn’t changed in the last 100+ years.

 

(NOTE: Typos in the original questions were not corrected and are as they appeared).

 

 

  1. Why would there be a green tint or glare on glasses? I did a wedding recently, and so many outdoor pics have that. Also anyone have a way to get rid of it? Any comments appreciated!!

 

    1. Are you kidding me?!  Even if you don’t know about eyeglasses, have you even looked at your camera lens with any light shining on it.  It is called a lens coating.   If you see this in the eyeglasses of your subject you AREN’T lighting them properly.  I would suggest reading and studying lighting and glare reduction.

 

 

 

  1. So… I’ve never photographed a wedding in the rain.  I’d LOVE some inspiration for shots of an outdoor wedding in the rain.

 

I have several ideas involving an umbrella. I had a TON of ideas when I visited the location (venue is a gorgeous mountain park here in Colorado, but no structures involved in the actual ceremony, and reception is at a barn I’ve shot at before) but now I’m not sure how rain is going to effect them. I’m kind of nervous!

 

This is only wedding #9 for us.

 

  1. Hey, there is this neat thing you can use called an “I N T E R N E T S E A R C H” it has been around a few years now so you may be familiar.  If not you can go to a website called “GOOGLE.COM” and type in “photographs of an outdoor wedding in the rain”.  That being said, if you need us or even Google to help you with “inspiration” stop!  Don’t do any more weddings or life events for people until you know about posing, lighting, dealing with inclement weather and photography.  These events are too important to leave to chance.  You will ruin a, hopefully, once in a lifetime event for these people.

 

 

  1. So my computer took a crap and i lost all my photo editing software…plus I’m pregnant and my brain isn’t functioning so i don’t know what I had.

It took 10 minutes to remember this group name.lame. Anyway right now I just need to edit out a time date stamp….anything free that will do that? I don’t really want to get one that costs because at some point my brain will function again and I’ll remember what i had and be able to download them again..

 

  1. First of all I am not really sure just what to say here except, if your “brain” isn’t functioning because you are pregnant stop, call 911 immediately and go to the hospital. You may be experiencing a medical emergency!

 

  1. I’m really annoyed with my camera.

 

My sons photo shoot came out not focused. Like they look focused until you zoom in… 😑 “soft focus” ?

 

Not motion blur

Not because of high ISO

Not because of low SS

The lens is clean

No scratches, smudges, smears, etc..

I use back button focus

Focused on subject – where I wanted it to focus

 

But it’s not calibrated so maybe that’s the issue

 

Canon t5i with a 50mm 1.8 and UV lens on top

 

What am I doing wrong? Could it be how old my camera is?! My lens is only months old…

 

  1. I tried explaining to the police officer when I got stopped for speeding that I was annoyed with my car, because it “knew” the speed limit as it showed on the built-in GPS but it went too fast anyway. He wrote me a ticket anyway.  Clearly it MUST be the fault of the camera and not the photographer.   I suspect that you are shooting at f/1.8 because you want that “beautiful bokeh” because that is why you bought this entry level lens was you heard SO MUCH about what a GREAT portrait lens it is and how it has the most AWESOME bokeh.  Just because a lens can open up to f/1.8 doesn’t mean you have to shoot it there.  Learn about depth of field and distance to the subject background BEFORE you go chasing advanced concepts such as “bokeh” which, by the way, is more than just an “out of focus” background.  Next, TAKE THE UV “lens” off the “top”.

 

 

 

  1. I have a photoshoot today HELP!!!

So it was suppose to be pretty sunny and it’s overcast with clouds how do I get good pictures with such a dull color pallet setting

How do you change your format to RAW in the camera for NIKON D3100 ? Also how do you change the shutter and appature in manual mode ? i havent figured out how to customize in mannual mode yet

This is my 3rd photoshoot ever

Update finished the shoot got a hand full of good ones but going to try again Tuesday going to look at what I got after work and edit some 🙂 will post in comments soon some of what I got

 

  1. GAH!!! Are you kidding?  Clouds equal nature’s giant softbox, sunny cloudless sky equals onboard flash pointed straight at a subject.  “Dull color pallet”?, seriously?  Some of the most vibrant colors happen during a light steady rainfall or just shortly afterward.  Before you will get “good pictures”  it is important to understand lighting, exposure, composition, and basic camera operations.  Clearly, by your question, you don’t understand any of those concepts.

 

 

  1. For those of you who use Nikon. What settings do you use for the af area mode? I’ve been shooting in auto-area af and I feel like I miss focus on a lot of shots.

 

    1. We don’t because you will miss focus, A LOT.

 

  1. Can i see your work using the kelsey freeman presets !? And what one is your favorite?  Looking at buying and wondering which ones to go for 😋

 

    1. I bet if you go to the website where you can buy/download them they have examples.  I don’t use presets, it is a waste of time unless I have created them.  Also, another person’s “favorite” may not be your favorite.

 

  1. Can anyone post some Images taken with a Nikon d810? Thanks 😊

 

    1. Nikon.com has a lot of them.  Keep in mind, your results may vary based upon your knowledge and skill level.

 

  1. anyone want to throw inspiration for family photos at me

theyll be at a local lake/beach and i honestly dont do a ton of families because i struggle with posing ideas

 

  1. This is called portrait photography. If you don’t have “inspiration” and/or know about poses, stop and learn about these concepts BEFORE taking on a “job”.  Posing, lighting, and portrait photography isn’t something you can “just learn” by seeing “examples” of someone else’s work.

 

 

So you just bought your first real camera and want to be a pro

So you just bought your first real camera and want to be a pro

So you just bought your first camera or did so in the past year.  Now you want to become a professional photographer but where do you start?

First, let me tell you it isn’t all peaches and cream being a professional photographer.  You have clients to deal with, and some of them can be daunting and exhausting.  You have deadlines to meet.  You have to be your own boss, which is both bad and good because no one is going to give you your work assignments.  You have to be a self-starter.  Sure, you can work from home, which is also good and bad.  I can do a lot of work in my pajamas, but it is also bad.  You have all the distractions of home.  If you have children, they will come in and want everything children could want or need.   You have the television, you have all the comforts of home.  Quitting time isn’t always locked in either.  Back to the clients, it becomes all about business.  Your family and friends will invite you to all their events and celebrations but ask you, “can you bring your camera.”  You have taxes, licensing, equipment, insurance, telephones, business cards, do you take checks?  What happens when the check bounces?  The competition, oh the competition, there are hundreds of new professional photographers just in your area every year.

All that being said, being a professional photographer isn’t bad, but the photography part is the least amount of time you spend doing.  Eighty (80%) percent, or more, of your time, is spent on other tasks.   Oh and weekends, forget about it.  You’ll be working.

When I started my venture into full-time photography I spent 7 days a week working.  Often 10-12 hour days by the time you count the photographing, the records keeping, the photo editing, the location scouting.

Discouraged yet?  Don’t be, it isn’t all bad and this article isn’t intended to discourage anyone but rather to give you my experiences and some aspects to consider.

What I have learned

One of the hardest lessons I learned is that it is now a business.  As such it is all about getting paid and making a profit.  It is vitally important to calculate your expenses.  This includes stuff that you may already own, such as your camera.  This stuff will need to be replaced.   Would you work 50-60 hours a week for less than minimum wage?  Probably not.  I see it all the time.  New photographers, in order, start out price themselves too low.

Here is a list of the lessons I have learned.

  1. Prices.   You can’t just pull a number out of your head or thin air.  You have to know your costs.  You need to calculate how much time you spend getting ready for a session.  You need to calculate how much time to get to the session, shoot the session and get back home.  Now comes the time to sit down and cull and edit photos.  Would you do all your paperwork and miscellaneous tasks at your previous 9-5 job for free?  Probably not.  Calculate your expenses such as insurance, yes you will need insurance even if this is a “home-based” weekend warrior job.  You can get sued for “failure to perform or deliver”, someone can trip over a stick while on a photo session and break their arm.  What if your client knocks over your camera since it is a business your renters or homeowners insurance won’t pay.
  2. Equipment.  I know, you already have a camera.  You need more than one.  What if your camera stops working even though it is a wonderful piece of equipment a technological wonder they do malfunction and wear out.  If you have scheduled sessions with only one now you have no gear.  Remember the failure to perform or deliver?  Now is where you can get sued.  EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T GET PAID YET!
  3. Websites.  Yeah, there are those free places but like everything you get what you pay for.   Setting up a website can be time-consuming.  Look for a good provider that will allow you to use your own domain name, xyzphotography.com as an example.  This gives you a professional look.   I can tell you from running this blog site if you have to maintain all the background stuff and the spam/hacker attempts for your website it can take a lot of time and energy.
  4. Get educated.  When I first wanted to start a photography business I had no formal training outside of a couple of workshops.  My photography was not great.  It was okay, at best.  I decided to get a photography education.  It was expensive but in the end, I found it to be quite rewarding and my photography improved 10 fold.
  5. Lighting.  This somewhat goes with getting educated, but this is a specialized area.  Learning about lighting allowed me to not be a slave to what nature provided.  It has allowed me more latitude in when and where I can shoot.  I have learned to use light modifiers, diffusers, reflectors, flash/strobes.  I even take these things when shooting on location outside.  It has cut down my digital workflow because my images are much closer to what I envisioned.

These five areas will really help you gain a better foothold on starting a real business.  It will also save you a lot of time, frustration, and money.  It will build your confidence in your products.

The struggle of a freelance photographer

The struggle of a freelance photographer

Let me take a moment of your time and talk about the struggles of a freelance photographer.  I know that some of you can relate to many of the issues freelance photographers face.

Motivation

In the beginning our my freelance photography venture I was driven by my passion for photography.  I don’t mean the passion that many talks about, I mean a PASSION.  I mean the type of passion where you talk about something all the time to anyone who will give you 10 seconds of time.  The type of passion where you read anything and everything on the topic.  The type of passion where you practice it EVERY DAY for hours and hours until your significant other comes and says, “Are you about finished?”

At some point, you begin to question your motivation because “business” is slow.  You have had some successes but your cash flow out still far exceeds your cash flow in.  This question about your motivation begins to question your skill and your purpose.

Then suddenly, something comes up and the motivation level is high again.  This roller coaster of up and down motivation.

A way I have found to keep going was to rekindle my blog site.  I started fresh with a new name.  Much of the content is similar to that first site, the difference is that I now know writing blog content, be it tutorials or information such as this article keeps me motivated to move onward.

Pricing and clients

Ah, this.  The never ending questions.  Am I too expensive?  Am I too inexpensive?  Who would hire me?  Why would they hire me, am I too inexpensive?   Do I bill afterward or before?  Do I take partial payments?  Along with this also comes the questions of being a business person knowing that you need to be paid but question whether or not you sound too pushy when it comes to talking with the potential client about payment.

As a freelance photographer family and friends have seen the examples of your work.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  They recognize your ability to provide high quality and want to invite you to their gathering and add, “can you bring your camera?”.  So now are you a guest or working.  You then get the questions about “family and friends discounts” or “I want to hire you but why is that so much? (what they don’t add is your only taking photos?”

Expenses

I quickly realized that there was some gear that I needed that wasn’t necessary when I was just taking photographs as a hobby.  As a “freelance” photographer if a piece of equipment breaks, or malfunctions while you are working if you don’t have a replacement you are out of business until it gets fixed.  This can be costly, especially when you have contracts signed and have taken some payment.  Even though I work out of my home, I have an entire room with equipment.  Lights, cameras, lenses, props, reflectors, holders, backdrops, and I constantly find that I really need a few more pieces, just in case.  This all adds up really fast.

In addition to the gear needed you have the costs of websites, domain names, insurance, telephones, computers, software.  Oh, and did we talk about slow business?

The competition

As a business, you now have to know the competition.  With the advances in technology, it has become easier than ever to get good photographs without knowing anything about photography.  put the camera in the “green automatic” position point in the direction and push the button.  Now everyone wants to be “in the business” offering the same products at much lower prices.  (I don’t want to sound pretentious and hateful to those just starting out, far from it.  I want to support those people totally, which is why I run this site and offer classes and mentoring).  The problem with this is manyfold, however, I will just focus on one quality.   Many times those who are brand new having little to no training or experience can do a decent job and get a quality that the average consumer believes is good.  The difference is that those who are experienced and trained can get a product that is high quality on a regular and consistent basis under a variety of conditions because we have learned that Murphy’s law is alive and well.

I’ll use a recent example.  I went on a photo session recently for a local band.  The day was going to be a bit cool otherwise no significant lighting issues, or so we may have thought.  Being trained and experienced, I brought reflectors/diffusers, light stands, lights, umbrellas, light meters, and an assistant.  Two other photographers showed up with just their cameras.  The area was highly shaded with open areas with harsh sunlight.  During the session, I employed the use of diffusers and my assistant and was quickly followed by the other two photographers to take advantage of the extra gear.  The result was one of my photographs was selected for publication with none from the others.  Even though this worked out for me that day, often it comes down to a missed opportunity because the “business” went elsewhere in many instances.

As a result, I have reconfigured my prices, which before I wanted to be affordable for the working middle class, to now not worry about competing with the low end.

Again, I don’t intend to make this sound like a rant, but rather a struggle to consider.

Where do we go now

Even though these struggles, and more, are real  we move forward.  We determine a course  of action to overcome these struggles, or, at very least, to contend with them and remember why we went freelance in the first place.  To fulfill our passion.

 

Things you need to know before starting a photography business

Things you need to know before starting a photography business

I will warn you ahead of time, this is a rant about some new photography business people.  Some of the content is going to be harsh.

Questions I often see multiple times a day, day in day out are similar to, “I have a client who wants to do a lifestyle portrait session, what lens should I use?”, “I have a bride who is having an outdoor wedding but it looks like it may rain any suggestions?”, “I’m doing an [insert type of session] spam me with your ideas.”, “I’m a natural light photographer but the light was awful for this session how can I save these?”, and more.

If you have to ask these types of questions you are not ready to be in the photography business.  If you are doing “free” sessions you don’t have clients.

None of this means you can’t do this type of photography but that you should not call yourself a business.  You can do this stuff as a hobby, or find an established photographer to work with as an assistant.

Dispite what many articles will tell you here is a list of what I consider to be necessary to know BEFORE you start a photography business.  I don’t intend to discourage you but if this article does just that, then maybe you were not ready to be a business owner.

Understand your cameras

Technique before Photoshop.  Notice it is plural? You must have a good understanding of your camera.  You should know what the major controls are and how to use them.  You need to know how to take a proper exposure in manual mode.  Yes, I know there are those “auto” modes.  You can’t always depend on the camera to “know” what you want and how you want it.  While cameras have become more sophisticated and have some great programming to adjust exposure, focus, aperture, etc. YOU are the photographer.  A camera is a tool.

Understand your lenses

Along with the camera, you must understand your lenses.  Again notice it is plural?  Lenses not lens. If you have only one lens.  You are not ready for business, sorry no bones about it.  If that only lens breaks and you have “shoots” scheduled?  You need to know the limitations of your lenses, you need to understand the depth of field.  Just because you can shoot a f/2.8 or f/1.4 doesn’t mean you should.

If you have to ask what lens to use for a session, you are not ready.

Posing

If you want to photograph people in portraiture (weddings, graduation, seniors, babies, maternity, etc) you need to understand how to pose people.

Lighting

You have to understand light.  You have to be able to see light and it is more than just saying it is either light or dark.  It is okay to be a natural light photographer but you also have to understand there are limitations to that.  If you schedule sessions and the light isn’t what you need then you have to know how to add or subtract light.  You need to understand how to modify the light if needed.  You have to understand how to meter the light to get the exposure you want.

Business

You have to understand what you need to run a business.  It takes more than just some business cards and a FaceBook page.

 

Notice, this post didn’t talk about Photoshop or post processing.  You can hire retouchers if you need to do some post.  You can learn later.  Also notice, this post doesn’t teach you about those things either.  Those come in later articles, or better yet with a real instructor.

 

Why photographers don’t improve

Why photographers don’t improve

My last article was about “photography excuses“, where I talked about all the reasons I and others have for not doing photography.  In this article, I am going to give you my opinion why many photographers don’t improve.

Self-taught

Too many photographers are too hung up on the whole, “I’m self-taught”.  The problem with this is they are only teaching themselves half-way.  They watch YouTube, they read books, they follow groups on social media (another whole topic), and much more.  What they have not done is to learn to analyze their images to determine what they are doing wrong and right.  They only go on what they know.  There may be, and often there is, much they don’t know.  If you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know.  When reliant solely on feedback from social media groups it often becomes a proverbial, “the blind leading the blind”.   When someone who knows comments, it often turns into an “angry mob”, which I have personally experienced and is one of the reasons I am now, often, reluctant to offer comments on the work of others.  We don’t have to have the same “artistic” vision, but when mentioning the technical aspects, which are often quite apparent to the experienced and trained eye, we are often faced with “alternative facts”.

The problem with being solely “self-taught” is the lack of feedback from an experienced person.  (Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who claim some knowledge, which many times is based on myths or urban legends).

I can talk personally about the limitations of “self-teaching” as I was solely “self-taught” for years and, as I found out, stagnant in my growth.  I then took a photography course in 2011.  Since that time, I have learned how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  I also have found out just how inadequate my photography was before.  Does this mean you have to spend the money to take photography classes?  Not necessarily, but remember your lessons are only as good as your instructor.  So far, you can’t talk to online videos to ask questions, and believe me when I teach a class and give some instructions there are lots of questions.

How do you overcome this problem?  I suggest that before you buy more photography gear, invest in some in-person training.

Well I or the “client” likes it

Just because you or your client likes it doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve upon it.  If you do get an honest analysis of your work don’t be so quick to throw this, or a similar comment out there.  Start a dialog.  The discussion is where the real learning is accomplished.

Learn the light

Photography is all about light.  There is nothing wrong with just working with natural light but learn to understand and see the light.  Learn how you can modify the natural light.  Learn to see highlights and shadows.  I see so many photographs of people who have harsh shadows in what are intended to be portraits.  These shadows often do not enhance the subject, or set a mood but rather keep us from seeing the subject.

Two of the best tools I have ever purchased are a reflector and a light meter.  A simple reflector can do wonders to soften the light, enhance the light, direct light, open up shadows, create shade and more.  A light meter can give us the amount of light falling onto a subject rather than reflected by the subject (yes there is a difference).  A light meter can make it easier to determine lighting ratios for portraits, which can give our subject depth and shape rather than flat lighting.  Once you have these tools you will never want to be without them.

Too much emphasis on editing

So many people want to jump right into editing photographs rather than learning how to capture the image to meet their vision.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse the use of post production software and/or techniques.  I employ both on a regular basis.  I am also not one that is the hard-nosed “get it right in the camera”.  Learn to get the exposures and composition as close as is possible when taking the photograph.  Once you can do this on a regular basis then learn to “enhance” your images through post-production techniques.

Note: if you missed focus on your subject, i.e. it is out of focus, you can’t “fix” it.  It will always be out of focus.  You may be able to “help” a blurry image.  If you don’t know the difference do more reading.

Final thoughts

This list could go on a bit more, however, these are what I consider to be these most predominate reasons I have seen in my contacts both online and in person with photographers who want to learn and grow.

One way to avoid these issues is to invest in your education.  Most people don’t think twice about paying for a shiny new gadget or lens or camera but don’t want to spend any money on education.  Stop listening to the “YouTube” fanboys.  YouTube is a wonderful supplemental but it is not a replacement for a real class.

 

 

 

 

Photography excuses

Photography excuses

Recently, I began to reflect on why my productivity.  I realized that I, like many others, find all sorts of excuses for not getting the camera out to practice, experiment, or complete personal projects.  Here is a list of some of my excuses.  (there is no particular order.

  • It is too cold
  • It is too hot
  • I am not inspired
  • I have too many ideas going around in my mind
  • There is nothing exciting around here
  • It is too crowded
  • There are not enough people
  • I am too busy
  • I don’t have time
  • I am bored
  • I am not creative enough
  • No one wants to pose for me
  • No one wants to pay
  • I don’t have the right equipment
  • I don’t know what gear to take
  • I just want to have fun
  • My computer sucks
  • It is too wet
  • It is too dry

I am certain I have missed a few I have used personally.  My point is this, I need to stop making excuses for not getting it done.  Just like the famous tennis shoe manufacturer says, “Just Do It”, or my favorite “No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. – Yoda Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”

Just like exercise, it is easy to make an excuse.  Once the excuses start it becomes easier to continue to make excuses.  I used to get my camera out every day and do something.  It didn’t have to be outside, it didn’t have to be across town, state, or country.  It doesn’t take that much time.  When I compare the amount of time I spend watching television or reading FaceBook I have more than enough time to take a few quick photographs, even with a bit of planning and setup.  I used to sit and watch television with my camera nearby and snap photographs of my pets, my drink, or just how the light from the window or lamp shined on an object.

I need to break the cycle of excuses, do you?

In the beginning

In the beginning

In the beginning, as a newbie to photography, I took photographs of everything, every day.  I think that on many occasions I took photographs just to hear the sound of the shutter.  I would have my camera sitting next to me while watching television and sometimes I would take photographs of the television.  Ah, come on, admit it you’ve done that also.

Then at some point, I slowed down and didn’t take photographs every day.  I decided I needed to focus (pun intended) my efforts on specifics.  While this is true, there is no reason to not also have fun and just play around with snapping photographs.

I have finally decided that the new true step to learning and growing as a photographer is to not only focus and hone your skills with structured practice but also with experimentation and just plain ole taking photographs, every day.  These don’t have to be award winners or publish quality.  They just have to be fun and keep your mind working.  Even as a professional who shoots most every day, sometimes you just need to shoot photographs of randomness.

 

Ask better questions for better answers

Ask better questions for better answers

I see questions posted on social media every day, such as “best lens for”, “best camera”, “I lost my photos, what happened,” and so forth.  I also see those people asking these questions get defensive when others ask for more details or send a link to a $10,000 lens/camera.

To get better answers, we have to ask better questions.  Instead of asking what the “best lens” ask something like, “what is the best telephoto lens for under $1,000?” or “what is a good entry-level camera for under $xxx dollars”.

At the beginning of this year, I resolved myself to give better answers to questions, however, there isn’t enough information to give a proper or complete answer.  This, however, doesn’t keep others from attempting to answer the question, which leads to confusion and misinformation.