Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apparently, May is National Photo Month

When there's a month or day for everything under the sun, you tend to ignore them. Need I remind you of National Velociraptor Awareness Day or the upcoming Cheer up Keanu Day? Seeing how this is a photography blog, I'd feel remiss if I didn't post something about National Photo Month. I found this list of 100 Tips from a Professional Photographer and thought I'd share and add my insight. Photos are all mine, the tips come from Eric Kimp. My thoughts are added in bold under them.

1. Just because someone has an expensive camera doesn't mean that they're a good photographer.
My own camera is 5 years old. I tend to invest my money on lenses.
2. Always shoot in RAW. Always.
3. Prime lenses help you learn to be a better photographer.
They force you to recompose your shot and move yourself instead of zooming.
4. Photo editing is an art in itself

 Knowing how to use programs to improve your images is key.

5. The rule of thirds works 99% of the time.
6. Macro photography isn't for everybody.

But it sure is for me!

7. UV filters work just as well as lens caps.
Always, always, ALWAYS have some kind of filter on your lens. It's much cheaper to replace a cracked filter than a busted lens.
8. Go outside & shoot photos rather than spending hours a day on photography forums.
9. Capture the beauty in the mundane and you have a winning photograph.
10. Film isn't better than digital.
11. Digital isn't better than film.
12. There is no "magic" camera or lens.
13. Better lenses don't give you better photos.
Not automatically, but after you've been taking photos for a while and know your gear, more expensive lenses will give you sharper images.
14. Spend less time looking at other people's work and more time shooting your own.
15. Don't take your DSLR to parties.

 But do take your point and shoot! Party pictures always crack me up.

16. Girls dig photographers.
I hope guys dig them too!
17. Making your photos b/w doesn't automatically make them "artsy"
18. People will always discredit your work if you tell them you "photoshop" your images. Rather, tell them that you process them in the "digital darkroom".
I worked as a specialty lab tech at a camera shop. When you brought your film to a good lab, we would enhance your photos. Photoshop to a point is the same thing.
19. You don't need to take a photo of everything.
20. Have at least 2 backups of all your images. Like they say in war, two is one, one is none.
Right now I have 3, but I've been traumatized because I lost thousands of files from not backing them up.
21. Ditch the neck strap and get a handstrap.
I prefer my Black Rapid strap. My camera hangs at my hip when I'm not using it and it saves your neck and back when shooting a long day.
22. Get closer when taking your photos, they often turn out better.
23. Be a part of a scene while taking a photo; not a voyeur.
24. Taking a photo crouched often make your photos look more interesting.
And getting low gives you a whole new perspective.
25. Worry less about technical aspects and focus more on compositional aspects of photography.
When I started getting serious about photography, my coworkers always told me I had a great eye. You have to make people want to look at your work. (Thanks for all the encouragement, guys!)
26. Tape up any logos on your camera with black gaffers tape- it brings a lot less attention to you.
I've never had this problem, but I know other people that do this.
27. Always underexpose by 2/3rds of a stop when shooting in broad daylight.
Your camera meter will often lie. Know your gear and know what result you'll get without thinking.
28. The more photos you take, the better you get.

The top image is from 2005, the bottom from 2010, same subject. I've been shooting and learning for many years. You really will improve over time. Stick with it. Ask questions when you don't get the result you're looking for.

29. Don't be afraid to take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures.
30. Only show your best photos.
31. A point-and-shoot is still a camera.

And when you know how to use it, what a camera it can be! Yes, this photo was taken with a point and shoot camera.

32. Join an online photography forum.
33. Critique the works of others.
34. Think before you shoot.
I've learned to like to shoot on the fly, but going in with an idea of images you want to get before hand is always good. I'm a planner; it's the Virgo in me.
35. A good photo shouldn't require explanation (although background information often adds to an image).
I just said this in a recent post!
36. Alcohol and photography do not mix well.


37. Draw inspiration from other photographers but never worship them.
38. Grain is beautiful.

I often used to push process my black and white film to INCREASE the grain.

39. Ditch the photo backpack and get a messenger bag. It makes getting your lenses and camera a whole lot easier.

 I love my Think Tank messenger!

40. Simplicity is key.
41. The definition of photography is: "painting with light." Use light in your favor.
Learn to see light and you will become a great photographer. I'm still working on this. I don't think I'll ever stop.
42. Find your style of photography and stick with it.
Shoot what you love as much as you can. It doesn't matter what that is. If you love taking pictures of garbage cans, do it. Become the best garbage can photographer you can be!
43. Having a second monitor is the best thing ever for photo processing.
LCD screens lie! Process on a CRT monitor!
44. Silver EFEX pro is the best b/w converter.
45. Carry your camera with you everywhere. Everywhere.

Even if it isn't your DSLR, have something on you or you will miss out on some amazing moments.

46. Never let photography get in the way of enjoying life.
47. Don't pamper your camera. Use and abuse it.
But if you're about to take a fall, protect your camera! At all costs!
48. Take straight photos.
I actually have a problem with leaving too much space on the right side of my frame. I don't know why and I don't see it when I'm shooting unless I tell myself to slow down and really look. I blame my special eyes.
49. Shoot with confidence.
This used to be a big problem for me. When I first started at the paper, I used to get really worried and stressed over every shoot. It takes time, but you'll get over it the more you shoot.
50. Photography and juxtaposition are best friends.
51. Print out your photos big. They will make you happy.
52. Give your photos to friends.
53. Give them to strangers.
I'm not that weird...
54. Don't forget to frame them.
55. Costco prints are cheap and look great.
When in a pinch, I don't mind Walgreens, but real photo labs are worth it.
56. Go out and take photos with (a) friend(s).

Even if their style of photography isn't yours. You might end up taking an amazing picture. (Thanks for dragging me along, Dennis!)

57. Join a photo club or start one for yourself.
58. Photos make great presents.
Moms love photos of kids and grandkids. 
59. Taking photos of strangers is thrilling.
60. Candid>Posed.
Let your subjects be natural. I'm horrible at posing people.
61. Natural light is the best light.
I hate using my flash.
62. 35mm (on full frame) is the best "walk-around" focal length.
63. Don't be afraid to bump up your ISO when necessary.
64. You don't need to always bring a tripod with you everywhere you go (hell, I don't even own one).

I do own a tripod, but in this shot, I actually left it in my car. You can always improvise. I used a rock wall to brace the camera and in the past I've utilized chairs, tables, even stacked books. Just make sure your camera isn't going to plummet.

65. It is always better to underexpose than overexpose.
66. Shooting photos of homeless people in an attempt to be "artsy" is exploitation.
67. You will find the best photo opportunities in the least likely situations.
68. Photos are always more interesting with the human element included.

Kids enjoying a sunset on the beach > a sunset on the beach

69. You can't "photoshop" bad images into good ones.
70. Nowadays everybody is a photographer.
71. You don't need to fly to Paris to get good photos; the best photo opportunities are in your backyard.
72. People with DSLRS who shoot portraits with their grip pointed downwards look like morons.
73. Cameras as tools, not toys.
74. In terms of composition, photography and painting aren't much different.
75. Photography isn't a hobby- it's a lifestyle.
76. Make photos, not excuses.
77. Be original in your photography. Don't try to copy the style of others.

Even if that makes you look weird. I love my shoe shots!

78. The best photographs tell stories that begs the viewer for more.
79. Any cameras but black ones draw too much attention.
80. The more gear you carry around with you the less you will enjoy photography.

I went hiking in Montana and had a huge camera backpack. Not only did it add a good 30 pounds and make me exhausted, I hardly took any pictures because I was in such a foul mood. After that I learned to carry 1-2 lenses at a time on vacation. I try to change them up every day so I'm not always using a telephoto.

81. Good self-portraits are harder to take than they seem.

And they don't have to be taken in a mirror.

82. Laughter always draws out peoples' true character in a photograph.

Always be prepared for these moments. I think above all else, I have an incredible sense of timing. That comes from lots of people watching.

83. Don't look suspicious when taking photos- blend in with the environment.
84. Landscape photography can become dull after a while.
85. Have fun while taking photos.
86. Never delete any of your photos.

They might not be what you wanted, but end up being really cool.

87. Be respectful when taking photos of people or places.
88. When taking candid photos of people in the street, it is easier to use a wide-angle than a telephoto lens.
89. Travel and photography are the perfect pair.

Taken in Hawaii. Add compositional elements to frame your subject. It adds depth.

90. Learn how to read a histogram.
91. A noisy photo is better than a blurry one.
92. Don't be afraid to take photos in the rain.

But always keep a plastic bag and rubber bands in your camera bag to protect your camera. 

93. Learn how to enjoy the moment, rather than relentlessly trying to capture the perfect picture of it.
94. Never take photos on an empty stomach.
95. You will discover a lot about yourself through your photography.
96. Never hoard your photographic insight- share it with the world.
97. Never stop taking photos

And never stop experimenting. This was taken at a parade with a slow shutter speed while I panned. I'd never done it before myself and wanted to prove that I could.

98. Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life
99. Capture the decisive moment

Take chances. I hate when I'm surrounded by other photographers, especially at sporting events. Even though the ball was a good 30 yards from the end zone, I stood behind it and was ready for the diving touch down. I was the only photographer in this position, so I was the only one who got this shot.

100. Write your own list.
Yeah, I'll get on that for next year.

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