Posted on January 27, 2017 by under
Whether you’re a practised homeworker or still thinking about setting up an online bubble-tea shop from your front room, here are some secrets to help you succeed…
1) Commute to work
Zero commute time might seem like a benefit to homeworking but that journey has the advantage of getting you into ‘work-mode’, something that can be a struggle when your home is your office.
Start your day by leaving the house and walking a mile. Turn around, walk back, and let yourself in to your ‘office’. You’ll immediately be more efficient. At the end of the day, ‘commute’ home, which will help you switch-off from work.
2) Get a door
Even if yours is a ‘kitchen table firm’, create a dedicated office space, with a door that you open after your commute and close behind you at the end of the day. This physical barrier to your laptop acts as a psychological barrier to your ‘business brain’ and makes it easier to bring your focus to your family / friends / television.
If you are cohabiting with attention-demanding others, that door indicates the start of a professional space to be treated with respect. This is important if they – and you – are to believe that despite being a homeworker you are doing a ‘proper’ job.
Tricia Dixon, Director of consultancy firm JB Medical says: “just because you’re working from home, your work and your workspace are as valid as those of people working in a more traditional office. You have to really believe this.”
3) Love your alarm clock
As a homeworker, you’ll find it easy to work long hours without taking a break. (Stopping to put another load of washing on doesn’t count.)
We know this is bad for productivity so set an alarm clock to go-off every two hours in the room farthest from your desk. When that bell rings, get up, switch-off the alarm and take a break.
4) Break down your tasks
Ben Blomerley, Co-Founder of AskHerFriends feels that “working at home can be really undermining of your focus.
“You don’t have colleagues and bosses around to see whether you’re cruising Facebook or Netflix all day. And you’re often aiming for a large and indeterminate goal (‘I want to make this business succeed’) rather than a specific target (‘make 50 calls today’).”
In ensuring he focuses on what matters, Ben “breaks tasks down into really narrow and clear portions”, a strategy also employed by Karolina Sieler, Founder/Owner at FBIZZ Women Entrepreneurs Hub. The best way to do this, advises Karolina, is to “prepare your own job description and divide the tasks into administrative ones and the more creative ones.
“You then have to identify a way of monitoring them to make sure that you stay on the right track… I use tailor-made spreadsheets, as well as a combination of online tools such as Asana and Toggl.”
5) Dress for success
To avoid the twin homeworking pitfalls of wearing pyjamas all day and barely moving, Suzie Godfrey, Director of The Sweet Reason Company puts her gym kit on every morning: “Once it is on, I have to do some kind of exercise that day, even if it is only one short workout.”
Suzie squeezes exercise into her day whenever she can. “I run home from the school drop-off, for two reasons: for fitness, and also because it is quicker than walking, so I have more time to work. Even if it is only a win of seven minutes a day, in a week that is over half an hour. When you are running your own business, every minute counts.”
6) Follow the tax rules
Tax… yaaaaawwwwwwwn. Yes, I know, but Jon Beer, Chief Technology Officer of start-up software firm Zapnito stresses that the homeworking tax rules will save you money, yet many of us don’t follow them to our full advantage. In the UK, you could even claim for a share of your council tax. Visit gov.uk or your local equivalent for details.
7) Get geeky
Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer famously claimed that being present in the same place as your co-workers is critical to collaboration, and it is indeed easy to became less collaborative when homeworking.
One solution is to embrace online collaboration tools like GitHub, Slack and Trello, to share your ideas and work with colleagues and customers.
What’s more, as a homeworker you are your own IT support. Nobody is coming to help you install your printer, so take an IT class and get geeky!
Working at home can be the greatest thing that ever happened to your career or can make you feel trapped in an inescapable office. How do you make homeworking work for you? I’d love to hear your tips!
Posted on January 11, 2017 by under
Four Weeks & Six Days
Have you ever thought what would be the best gift to give yourself and/or your better half this Valentine’s Day? The answer without any doubt is some beautiful pictures of you that can be enjoyed and cherished by both of you forever.
At DWM Photography Studio we can make this easily happen with lots of fun if you visit our studio or in your own home if you prefer.
Once you reserve your spot, we will mail you a confirmation of the reservation. The earlier your reserve, the better chance you will get the date and time of your choice.
The confirmation email will also include our exclusive guide on how to prepare for a boudoir shoot.
Have you ever dreamt about standing in front the camera with lights pointing at you wearing sexy lingerie or nothing at all and having sensual professional photographs taking of you for Valentine’s Day.
25% off Valentines Day photo-shoot if booked before 17th January 2017
Posted on December 2, 2016 by under
A short slide show from a boudoir shoot with the fantastic model Sharon Janney.
Posted on October 13, 2016 by under
“A camera doesn’t take a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” ~ Peter Adams
Why are Professional Photographers expensive?
In this digital age where everyone has cameras, scanners, and home “photo printers,” we hear this all the time: How do professional photographers charge £20 for an 8×10 when they cost just much less online? Simply put, the customer is not just paying for the actual photograph; they’re paying for time, expertise and investment that photographer has put into their business to create a successful business.
The average one-hour portrait session. First, let’s look at the actual work involved:
– Travel to the session
– Setup, preparation, talking to the client, etc.
– Shoot the photos
– Travel from the session
– Load images onto a computer
– Back up the files on an external drive
– 2 – 4 hours of Adobe® Photoshop® time, including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, and backing up edited photographs. Proof photos are also ordered.
– 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client to create session plans, answer questions, receive order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule deliveries, and post.
– Possibly meet clients at the studio to review photos and place order. Meeting and travel time average 2 hours.
– You can see how a one-hour session easily turns into an eight-hour day or more from start to finish. So when you see a personal photographer charging a £150 session fee for a one-hour photo shoot, the client is not paying them £150 per hour.
Offering a professional photography service is a skill acquired through years of experience. Even though a DSLR now costs under £500, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.
Most professional on-location photographers take years to go from buying their first camera to making money with photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera, there is a mountain of other equipment and software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website, etc. And don’t forget backdrops, props, training / personal development, rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
In addition to the financial investment, photographers actually have to have people skills to make subjects comfortable in front of the camera. Posing people to look their best is a skill by itself. You could argue that posing is a more important skill than actually knowing how to use the camera. A poorly exposed photo can be saved, but a badly posed photo cannot.
Chain stores do have their place. For a very cheap price you can run in, shoot some quick photos, and be done with it. But you get what you pay for.
Consider the time and effort that a professional on-location photographer puts into photographs, compared to a chain store. Store sessions last just a few minutes, while a personal photographer takes the time to get to know the people, makes them comfortable, makes them laugh. If a baby is crying at a chain store, they often don’t have the time (or the patience) to wait because everyone is in a hurry.
Professional Photographers are just that— professional. A personal photographer often becomes a friend, someone who documents a family for generations with professional, personal photographs of cherished memories.
Maybe we need to help clients look at it this way: A pair of scissors costs £1.50 at the supermarket. Still, most people will gladly pay a lot more to hire a professional hair dresser to cut their hair. The added attention and quality that a personal photographer gives is worth every penny.
Posted on January 6, 2016 by under
CELEBRATE THIS YEARS VALENTINES DAY WITH A UNIQUE PHOTO SHOOT EXPERIENCE!
As the biggest day in the LOVE calendar is fast approaching, I thought I would celebrate with a fantastic offer for those of you who would like to surprise your partner with a photo shoot to remember. How many of you actually have photographs of the two of you together that you are really proud of? Who needs chocolates or flowers when you could have a beautiful framed image on your wall or an album on your coffee table that captures a time in your life when you are so obviously in love with each other? These are things that you will keep forever and make you smile every time you look at them!
It would be my pleasure to join you both for a morning or afternoon as you stroll along the beach, take the dogs for a walk, go horse riding, sailing, have a pub lunch….. Whatever you desire! My approach is relaxed and laid back and you will hardly notice me snapping away as you had your partner have a lovely time together.
THE OFFER…. To ensure we have enough time together, I will allow an extra hour for FREE on this shoot which would give us 2 hours together instead of the usual 1 hour shoot (which costs £80 which is payable on booking the shoot to secure the date). I will also provide a complimentary 12 x 8 inch print. In addition, I will offer a massive one off 25% discount off a framed print which depending on what size you go for, could be an additional saving of £150 and a total saving of £230!!!!
If you are interested and to qualify for this one off special offer, make your booking by 14th February and your shoot can take place any time at the location of your choice between now and 30th April 2016. Other terms and conditions apply. Availability is not guaranteed so please book early to avoid disappointment. Please check out my website for ideas and you can contact me via Facebook or my website. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Posted on October 3, 2015 by under
So how can you get back on the health and fitness wagon? Well, here are my tips to help get you back to your healthy self again!
When motivation disappears, the first question you need to ask yourself is this: “Why?”
Identifying what went wrong gives you insight into what you need to change. For example, there is little point in trying to follow the same gym program if the reason your motivation plummeted is because you were bored, or not enjoying your exercise. Likewise, trying to follow a bland and boring eating plan is a sure way of ensuring that you will “slip up” and either over eat, or make unhealthy choices.
So instead of resurrecting the same old eating plan or fitness routine, shake things up a little and try something new and enjoyable!
Are you really going to get out of bed at 5.30am in winter to do boot camp? You need to be realistic, which may mean starting from scratch. Resuming an unrealistic health and fitness routine may work for a little while, but it ends up being exhausting and impossible to sustain. Remember, if you can’t maintain your routine long term then you can guarantee that “falling off the wagon” will become a regular thing!
Instead, think about setting up a routine that takes into account your lifestyle, and preferences. For example if you tend to work late during the week, plan ahead by having a “food prep” afternoon on the weekend. If you hate early mornings, schedule your workouts in the afternoon or lunchtime, and always make sure you schedule in 2 rest days per week.
Turn down your inner critic
While that little voice in your head that yells “I can’t” and “I’m a failure” may not be going anywhere soon, you can choose how much attention you give it. Turning down the volume means acknowledging your inner critic, but not giving it your attention. In most cases the inner critic represents a fear. Usually fear of failure, and of not meeting expectations. Remember, just because you fear something may happen, doesn’t mean it will happen (even if it HAS happened in the past).
So if you are confronted by a screaming inner critic each time you think of going back to the gym, try making it your friend – by acknowledging it, reassuring it, and then moving past it. Or, pick a phrase like “just do it”, and don’t give that inner critic a chance to change your mind
Set yourself up for success
If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, you may find that sticking to a health and fitness routine falls to the bottom of the priority list.
This is where planning comes in. To start, you need to decide that your health is a priority. Only then can you schedule it in to your diary and set boundaries around the time that you allocate. Put your workouts and meal pre time (even grocery shopping) in your diary, and practice saying “no”. Having a big night of drinking the night before a morning work out is a sure way of setting yourself up to fail. Remind yourself of what your priorities are – and if that night out is more important, then change your workout the following day to the afternoon. Just don’t throw in the towel all together! You will regret it!
Reward reward reward
There is no better way to stay motivated (or get back on track again), than to set goals and then reward yourself when you achieve them.
If you’ve been off the wagon for a while, or if you are starting a health and fitness routine for the first time, it’s important to start small. Signing up for a 10km run might sound like the perfect goal – however if you can’t run more than 2km without feeling like you are about to pass out, then that “goal” can quickly turn into an excuse to give up.
Start by making 1-2 small changes/goals each week. Remember it takes several weeks for behavior change to become a habit, and roughly 6-8 weeks to change the preferences of your taste buds. This is the critical zone, where motivation is poor and the urge to give up is at it’s strongest. This is why setting small achievable goals is so important. By rewarding your success, you feel more confident in your ability to keep going.
Always remember: There is no such thing as perfect!
Research suggests that it takes several weeks of repetitious activity for a new behavior to become a habit. However, the same research also suggests that missing the odd day does not have a negative impact at all.
In other words, it’s ok to stuff up. In fact, it’s completely normal. The most important thing is what you decide to do next.
It’s common for a “slip up” to turn up the volume of your inner critic. “See, I knew you would fail again”. Sound familiar? This is an extremely common trigger for falling off the wagon.
So instead of listening to that inner critic again, recognize that the “slip up” has simply awakened your fear. By acknowledging this, and accepting that slip-ups are normal, you will be able to get back on the wagon the next day. It’s also important NOT to be overly restrictive or hard on yourself – this kind of self-punishment only serves to lower your self-esteem and increase guilt.
Finally, if slip-ups become regular, remember that it’s not you who have failed – it’s the diet/fitness routine that’s failed.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding what works for you. This may take some time, and trial and error – however by reflecting on why something may not be working, you will increase the likelihood of finding what will work. No more falling off the wagon!
Posted on September 29, 2015 by under
It’s a vicious cycle leading to feelings of failure and guilt.
So why does this happen? Here are a few of the main reasons:
- Our expectations and goals are too big. In a nutshell, we are impatient!
- We are way too hard on ourselves (see point 1!!)
- We let our negative emotions sabotage our attempts at being healthy (e.g., emotional over eating)
- We get bored
- We focus way too much on what we “should” be doing, and not enough on what we “are” doing.
So how do you get motivated and stay motivated, especially during winter? Here are my top tips to help you kick start your inner health mojo and keep it going!
Find a virtual soul sister. This is all about selecting a role model. Someone who inspires you, not someone who you compare yourself with. Becoming part of an online #fitspiration community can provide awesome inspiration and motivation, as long you always bring it back to what’s realistic and achievable for you. Unless you are a professional athlete, chef, or some other type of health or fitness guru, it’s unlikely that you would be able to sustain a lifestyle (and body!) that mirrors those who have made a career out of health and fitness. Your aim should always be about being the best version of yourself you can be, not to be a carbon copy of Michelle Bridges or Cameron Diaz.
Get Real. Who wouldn’t love a six-pack right? To stay motivated you really need to keep checking your expectations. Are they realistic? If you aren’t sure, do your research or ask an expert. There is little point striving to achieve something that is out of reach. That’s a motivation killer! By setting realistic and achievable goals your self-esteem will thank you and the confidence you gain will drive you forward.
Keep Score. Visit the online app store. There are some fabulous apps around which can help you set realistic goals, and then track your progress. Not measuring your progress is like having a competition without a scoreboard! So for all you runners out there take a look at Couch to 10km (or half marathon), RunKeeper, Nike running. For all round fitness and nutrition look at My FitnessPal, 7-min workout, Fitness Buddy, Lorna Jane App and FitBit.
Get comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. A recent study in Obesity by Teixeira, Silva and colleagues, showed that one of the predictors of sustained health and weight loss is lowering emotional eating. Understanding the emotions and feelings that trigger overeating, or the tendency to stay in bed rather than exercise, is really important, if you want to keep on track with your health and fitness goals. Learn to sit with these feelings rather than react to them. All emotions are transient, so remember that even the most distressing emotions don’t stick around.
Be flexible. To be perfectly healthy you don’t have to be perfect. There is real power in embracing imperfection. You will make a mistake at some point. Whether it be missing a few training sessions, or over eating at a buffet. Accept it and move on. Don’t get stuck beating yourself up, this is another big motivation killer! Learn from it and move on. Simple. Now lets move on…..
Mix it up. When you start skipping too many boot camp sessions, or sneaking in too many unhealthy snacks (and it becomes a pattern as opposed to an occasional boo boo), think about whether you may be getting bored with your routine. You also need to adapt your routine according to the weather. For example, in the cooler months consider trading outdoor bootcamp to the warmth of a gym class, and swap salads for soups and veges. Once boredom begins to set in, motivation has a tendency to slide at the same time, so get to know the early warning signs. Sometimes, something as simple as changing your playlist, or buying some new training gear can give you another boost of motivation just when you need it.
Be Patient! Change takes time, doing too much too soon is not sustainable for long-term change. In fact research has shown that big changes over short periods of time might give you quick results, but they don’t tend to stick around for long. Keep your focus on what you have achieved, rather than what you want to achieve, and always remember to reward your achievements!
Be Present. It’s great to have goals, but they should guide you and not become your sole focus. The only way you will get to where you want to go is by focussing on the here and now. Stop saying “I should”, as this immediately assumes “you won’t” and replace it with “I will”. Adopting a mantra is one way to keeping you focussed. It’s also a way of balancing out that little negative voice that sits in your head waiting for you to fail. Imagine something like “I’m strong” or “just do it” in the voice of Commando. Now if that doesn’t motivate you nothing will! (note: steer clear of negative self deprecating mantra’s…they may work for US Marines or Special Forces recruits but generally not for everyone else ;-))
Remember your body has a wonderful way of giving you vital information, which can help you stay on track. Learn to listen to your body. If you are unwell or injured, focus on healing your body. Respecting your body is an important part of having a positive body image and healthy self-esteem. A recent study by Miriam Eisenberg from The George Washington University found that a positive body image leads to positive changes in exercise frequency and habit. In other words, learn to respect your body now by listening to it and giving it what it needs. Don’t wait until you have lost those extra kilos.
Accept that motivation will always come and go. However if you have a range of tools and strategies to kick-start it again, you can stop being a passenger on that familiar motivation roller coaster and start being the driver!
Posted on July 18, 2015 by under
Although there has been a lot of resistance within the action sports community to the new boy on the scene there is no question now that freestyle scootering is here to stay for the foreseeable future. This trend has been seen played out before a number of times within the community. This is why I foresee a future where those core scooter riders who stick with the sport no matter what will be a part of the community judging the legitimacy of the next new sport to come up. Like all booming sports they are judged upon what most people see which is small children snaking everyone blindly at their local park. Not many people outside of the sport are privy to how rapidly the sport has progressed and just how insane some of the stuff being accomplished is. As the brand photographer for Grit, Crisp and Lucky scooters as well as one of the go to guys for the vast majority of events within the UK I’ve seen some crazy things done on scooters and also had the pleasure of capturing them. I’ve learnt a lot over my years in the role and hope these top ten tips for shooting freestyle scooting can help you achieve great results when out attempting to take photos of this sport
– What’s in ya Bag?
First things first and before you have even got to your shoot, what equipment are you taking? If the answer is all of your gear then think again! Shooting freestyle scootering is a lot like other extreme sports in that it is location based meaning you can spend a lot of time on your feet moving from one place to another. Only take what you need and make sure that bag you have is a reputable brand of bag so that it is both comfortable and supportive.
– Dress Sense
Bring location based means you can be out shooting in the elements or even a cold damp skatepark. These places are made for people who are exerting themselves for hours on end so don’t expect there to be central heating. Make sure you wrap up enough for the location and if possible bring an extra layer. You’ll be thanking yourself when you’re not so cold that you’re struggling to fire the shutter.
– Talk Talk talk
Communication is key when shooting any action sport and talking to your subject can help you and your subject in a number of ways. Having them talk you through the trick and how they personally tweak it can help you get the best possible angle while telling them your plans saves you from placing light stands or other gear right in their way.
– Clean up
Although you should be pretty hot on keeping your equipment clean it never hurts to have a Lens pen or lens cloth in your pocket at all times. Skateparks and street locations can be pretty grotty places where lots of dust can get kicked up into the air. One quick wipe before you start prepping the shot ensures that every pixel shall have it chance to shine as it should in your final image.
– Pre Focus
Once you have an idea of how and where you want to shoot the trick from prefocus your shot. This is the key to getting the shot as quickly as possible without having your subject to perform the stunt over and over again. Getting them to stand where they shall be doing the trick and firing a few test shots is a sure way to check you’re all focused in on the right area.
Freestyle scootering alike any other extreme sport it quite a dangerous activity and those that decide to do it are fully aware of the risks, but that’s not where it ends. As you are now documenting it you became apart of that risk and with the highly technical nature of the sport its well worthy being aware of both your surroundings and what your subject is doing. Nobody wants to take a scooter deck to the face.
I can’t say enough about off camera flashes, if you are not already using them then change that right now. There are always great chances in which off camera flashes are not needed but the majority of the time I would say they are. Not only do they freeze the action well they also if used well can add more depth to your images making the action seem more explosive. They also open up the opportunity to shooting in low or even no light situations.
– Too close for comfort
Something that is almost a necessity within action sports is with a wide angle or fisheye lens. These lenses allow you to get so much closer to the action which can provide some very striking results. They communicate the extreme nature of the sport really well. If not already in your kit bag then it’s one for the Christmas list.
– Go long
Don’t be afraid to get the long lens out and go for something more scenic. If the scene is worthy of capturing and the trick dynamic enough it will work. A good variation is always needed so don’t hide behind that Fisheye for fear of the trick not looking “extreme” enough.
Last but no means least remember this is only a set of tips to help you achieve the basics of shooting freestyle scooting. They are not a list of rules that are never to be broken. Switch things up; try something that is unconventional from the normal practice because you might just discover a new and amazing way of documenting the sport.
Posted on July 16, 2015 by under
Here’s a fun list of what not to do on a photo shoot, this in no way includes everything you shouldn’t do. Please comment below with more things that you shouldn’t do on a shoot, and we will add those with a name credit and a link to your website.
- Forget vital gear (Camera, Lenses)
- Forget secondary gear (Flashes, Batteries, etc.)
- Stand in a dangerous place
- Step too close to a propeller or athlete with a fisheye lens….
- Talk about how everyone is a pro photographer now since the iPhone camera is soo good… Ugh
- Blame a bad photo on your gear.
- Steal another photographer’s angle without thanking them in advance.
- Leave your pack unattended in a crowd.
- Leave the lens cap on as you go to take your first shot.
- Act superior to other photographers at an event.
- Use words that make your athletes feel uncomfortable…
- Act too artsy and walk around framing the shot with your hands
- Ignore what your athletes ask you to shoot.
- Forget to change your ISO when the last shoot was at a ridiculously high number.
- Only shoot with your telephoto or fisheye and claim that they are all you need.
- Miss the shot because you got distracted
- Miss the shot for any reason other than equipment failure
- Show up with a Leica and explain how much better the images are than modern DSLRS
- Let your athletes order you around.
- Place your flash too close to the action thus allowing it to be damaged or ruined.
- Center the athlete in every photo.
- Guy in the sky (You know why!)
- Offer a lady “2 Tickets to the gun show” and pull out your two biggest camera lenses. (It could work, but the odds are heavily against you…)
- Steal another photographer’s flashes by “poaching” his radio channel with your radio.
- Stick to the rules of photographer like rule of thirds, breaking rules is fun, makes you appear cooler than you are, and will also achieve great images that aren’t the same thing everyone else is shooting
- Keep the “What not to do on a photo shoot” article a secret from photographer’s who are breaking rules, they need to know too!
- Your rule here (plus a link to your website) Submit via comments.
Posted on July 9, 2015 by under
- Shoot every day Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you can get. The best camera you have is the one in your hand, so if you aren’t out with your full DSLR kit, don’t be afraid to take great photos with your cell phone camera or a point-and-shoot. Photography is photography, make pictures with a camera. Any camera.
- Always have your camera near Pull up a chair and I can describe two amazing scenes that have been indelibly embedded in my mind. Unfortunately, for the first, my camera was broken (I was at sea, far from a camera store). For the second, it was out of reach (I was flying). I have considered learning to draw or paint so I can make a “picture” of these two moments. The moral of these stories: have a camera within reach. You never know what will happen or what you will see.
- Read your manual Camera manuals aren’t engaging reading, but they do tell you a lot about how to use your camera. Spend a night or two with your manual and get intimate with your camera. This will help you every time you photograph. Most manuals are now available electronically, so know where to find it, or save it on your mobile device for reference in the field.
- Check your settings / know your gear I have often been tempted to put the following note on a sticker and affix it to my LCD screen: “Check your ISO, dummy.” If I had a nickel for each time I went out in the sunlight with my ISO at 800 or higher after shooting the previous evening in a dark restaurant, I would own a newer camera. Know what your settings are and how to change them quickly.
- Change perspective / angle We see the world from eye level, and most people’s eyes are, generally, at roughly the same height. Should your photographs constantly record the world from the same altitude as your eyes? You will be amazed at how shooting from your knees, or a high ground, will change your image. Watch a documentary film about a documentary photographer and see how they move and silently wonder how many pairs of pants they wear out by constantly kneeling to shoot from low angles.
- Know your meter Know your camera’s metering modes and use them to your advantage. When you frame an image, see the light and then meter for how you want your scene to be exposed. Is the lighting flat? Is a ray of light illuminating your subject? Do you want the background to melt into darkness? Your camera will help you achieve your goal; you just have to tell it how to do it. Practice metering and setting exposure.
- Know your shooting/exposure modes Similar to the last tip, your camera is smart, but it needs help from you from time to time. Some will tell you to always shoot manual. I disagree. Know how to shoot manual, but also know when other shooting/exposure modes will be advantageous for your particular photographic goal(s).
- Know your focus modes If you use autofocus, and you likely do, the camera’s autofocus is either going to make the picture or ruin it. Know what the autofocus modes do and how to adjust focus if the camera suddenly decides it thinks it knows better than you what part of the frame you want in focus.
- Study photos—but not too much Study the photographs of others. What do you like? What do you dislike? What would you improve? Is it perfect? Why, then, is it perfect? Look. Enjoy. Remember. Soak it in. But, don’t forget to go out and make your own images!
- Read photo books Books and websites have helpful tips (I hope this counts). But, not all are created equal. Find writers who you connect with through their writing and find writers who give good advice. I am a big fan of “basic photography” books and, to this day, even with a Masters degree in the topic, I populate my bookshelf with inspirational books written for beginner photographers.
- Learn/Workshops The only substitute for learning through reading (or watching videos) is to make images yourself. Take a class. Attend a workshop. Similar to books and websites, these are not all created equal, but, the one thing they should do is immerse you in photography for a night or a weekend, or more. Being immersed in the art and craft is as important as anything else.
- Use your histogram In digital photography, the histogram is the best way to evaluate your exposure for accuracy. The LCD screen can be misleading. Knowing how to read your histogram might be the difference between thinking you have a great photo and truly having a great photo.
- Shoot RAW, highest-resolution JPEG, or film Shooting RAW gives you the best performance from your sensor. That is a fact. However, RAW shooting isn’t practical for every photographer (or camera). So, if you aren’t going to shoot RAW, shoot the highest-resolution JPEG that your camera allows. This way, even if you think you are just taking snapshots, you will have the ability to make a large print if you find that you captured an image you really like. Or, forget the digital RAW vs. JPEG debate and shoot film. Case closed!
- Compose meticulously There is a nature/nurture argument about composition. However, study the “rules” and observe composition in other images to help you “feel” what works best. Then, try to use that knowledge to your advantage. Be deliberate about your composition, if time allows.
- Symmetry Along the same lines, if you are going for symmetry, make sure you nail it. A few inches in one direction can upset the image’s symmetry, and your audience (and you) will know you were going for symmetry and missed. Photography can be a game of inches.
- Pay attention to the frame edges The image is more than the subject (usually). Scrutinize the corners and the sides and top and bottom of your frame. Is everything working together well, or is something completely out of place? Can you adjust to remove the “noise” of a busy scene? Look at the whole so the whole does not detract from your subject.
- Pay attention to the background Evaluate your scene, especially in portraiture. Is that a tree growing out of the subject’s head, or just a funky new hat? Isolate your subjects from the background by adjusting depth of field, moving the camera, or moving the subject—unless the subject is the background.
- Get closer Robert Capa famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” He was 100% right. Fill your frame with the subject, if you can. This is one of the most difficult things to do in photography, as we sometimes worry about being invasive to a stranger, or lazily reach for a telephoto lens to “cheat” and pretend we got close. Get closer and see your imagery improve.
- Slow down Of course, there are times when you need a quick draw, but there is something to be said for planning and being deliberate. Think about the shot. Visualize the results and calculate what you need to do to try to achieve it. Put your plan into action. Wait for elements to come together, if needed, and then make a photograph.
- Use a tripod Nothing slows you down like a tripod. This is a good thing. Did you just breeze over #19? The tripod won’t let you do that. Also, as an added bonus, the tripod will hold your camera steady and help you get a sharper image!
- Practice good technique The way you hold your camera can make a big difference. The way you stand while shooting can make a big difference. The way you breathe when you release the shutter can make a big difference. It all adds up and can make or break your photograph. Learn and practice these fundamentals.
- Look for light Light is everything in photography. Spend your time looking for light, even if you aren’t taking photos. Look for sun beams and breaks, reflections, shadows, natural light, artificial light. See how light interacts with the environment. See light.
- Embrace shade The wonderful side effect of light is shadow. Shadow is as valuable as light and gives depth and shape to objects. Use shadow in your images. Don’t run from shadow. Embrace it.
- Patience Is the light not right? Is the subject in the wrong spot? Sometimes the wrongs of a photo can become rights, if you have time to let the rights happen. Modern life is much faster than it was long ago. Use photography to slow it down and enjoy moments in time. Then, capture them with your camera.
- Know the rules, and break them Cliché, but true. An intentionally over- or underexposed image is usually much more compelling than one that was incorrectly exposed accidently. The only good blur is intentional blur. Photography is aesthetic and you can explore the fringes of what looks good and what doesn’t. But, have a reason to be at the fringe, because the “my camera settings were messed up” excuse is not a good reason for promoting soft focus or motion blur. The photo may be compelling, but intentionally compelling is the better way to go.
- Know your lenses Different lenses do different things to an image. Know how your telephotos compress and your wide-angles distort. Use the best lens for your photographic vision. Fisheye portraits are fun, but not great for professional headshots. Sometimes you only have your one lens. Know its strengths and weaknesses. For all your lenses, know which apertures are sharpest and know when you lose sharpness.
- Don’t overload your quiver A heavy camera bag is no fun, unless someone else is carrying it for you. Pack only what you need and hope you didn’t leave something important behind. Photography can become a chore when you are overloaded with gear. Minimize and travel light. Your shoulders and back will thank you. So will your spirit.
- Know your surroundings When you look through a viewfinder, you narrow your field of view of the world around you. Situational awareness is critical. Are you standing in the middle of a busy street? Are you blocking others from a great view? Are you in a bad section of town? Be aware of what is happening around you both for safety and courtesy and to see and capture more images.
- Know the weather Keep a weather eye on the horizon. Weather can plan an important role in your image: wind, clouds, sun, rain, snow, lightning, etc. Weather can help make an image, or ruin your whole day. Use the weather to make better photos. Wear sunscreen. Wear a hat. Stay warm. Stay cool. Stay dry. Be prepared and be safe.
- Celestial awareness Long the purview of the night photographer, knowing when and where celestial bodies will rise and set can be critical to your imagery. Planning helps make better images at all times. Of course, you might just have to play the cards you are dealt, but, if you give a nod to studying the rotation of the Earth, you might stack the deck in your favor.
- Analyze your old images Be your harshest critic. Internalize it. Study your images and learn from your own mistakes. Or, if you find your images are perfect, quit before they are not!
- Try a prime lens Zoom lenses are convenient and optically very good, but there is not yet a substitute for a top-quality prime lens. A zoom can mask laziness in photography. The prime forces you to not only think, but to move, as well. This will open up more opportunities than it will close.
- Photo project / concept There is certainly a place for random snapshots in the world of photography but, a coherent photo project, especially when it is generated from an internal concept driven by passion can self-inspire you to create a solid body of work. Do you want to tell a story? Do you want to document social or physical change? Use your camera to illustrate your thoughts.
- Abstracts See the small parts of a scene. Look for the trees in the forest. The light or shadow may be creating an image inside your image. Find it. Capture it. Some photographers know nothing but the abstract. Some know no abstractions. Find your own balance. Explore the scene and create.
- Photographing pretty things Flowers, sunsets, mountains, and babies are already pretty. Your camera simply proves that point. There is nothing wrong with photographing pretty things—I do it all the time—but sometimes you can surprise yourself by using your camera to make something unattractive suddenly attractive, or, at least, visually interesting. The camera and photographer can combine to possess the power to capture what the eye might disregard.
- Editing It is likely that not every shot you took was great, so look hard, be critical, and discard images that do not make the cut. Granted, photography is subjective, and someone might love a shot that you do not love, but, you are the most important viewer of your work, so only show what you love.
- Critique Open yourself to critique after you have critiqued yourself. Put on your armor, but know that, again, photography is subjective, so listen respectfully to opinions and be open-minded so that you may learn and grow—especially if you agree with them. But remember, always, if you love an image that you have made, no one should be able to take that away from you. If you hang it on your wall or display it on your computer screen and enjoy looking at it, you have made a successful image.
- Develop a style If your photos look like everyone else’s, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want your personality to shine through your images, then experiment and find a style that suits your artistic vision. Be consistent with your style, but also realize that your style might not fit every shooting situation. Don’t force it. Always know the fundamentals so you can fall back on them when needed.
- Search yourself for improvement, not your gear A great photographer can make a great photograph with any camera. A poor photographer can make a poor photograph with the world’s most expensive camera. Photography is a technologically based art form, but the technology does not make the art, the human behind the camera does. Do not look for solutions in something that runs on batteries and arrives in a box.
- Study art Other forms of art can teach and inspire the photographer, especially painting. I prefer photographic art exhibits, but, when I am in the presence of paintings, I study them to see how the artist used color, light, shadow, line, composition, etc, to make the image successful—or not.
- Don’t lose the moment Those two moments I mentioned above, when I did not have a camera to capture them, I remember vividly because I was present and I was not looking through a viewfinder. I have thousands of images from a 10-day trip to Eastern Europe, but today I struggle to tell friends what city I was standing in when I took a particular photo. You can get lost in your camera’s viewfinder and the process of making photos. Remember to live first, experience the moment, be present, and only then try to capture it.
- Look for images Even if you are without a camera (Why didn’t you take #2 to heart?), look for photographs. Not every camera can capture every virtual photograph, but your eye and mind certainly can. Constantly see the world around you and look for photographs, even if they are impossible to capture with the gear you have in your bag or front pocket. Look for photographs. Look for photographs.
- Experiment Push yourself. Push your gear. Experiment with different settings, scenes, lights, darks, colors, everything. You will never know what you can capture until you capture it. The magic of digital photography is that each image is virtually free, so the only thing you may waste is a fraction of a second. Free your mind. Be creative with your camera.
- Have fun If you aren’t enjoying photography, #1 through #43 are not going to help. Smile behind the lens. Create art. Capture moments. Share images. Get outside. Explore inside. But, regardless of your results, have fun with photography. Nothing else really matters—not even the photograph.
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