I think it’s funny when photographers get really snobby about techniques or equipment. In a world where your grandma probably has a flickr account and a blog, everyone’s a photographer. Personally, I have no formal training and still love what I do. I happen to own a nice camera but some of my favorite pics came from a cheapo digital camera with no editing.
In my limited experience, the most important part to being a photographer is taking the damn pictures. Don’t worry about your aperature or f-stop or buying Photoshop or creating an online portfolio. Just go. Take. Pictures. Everything else can come later.
Tricks I love.
If you have a digital camera and a computer you should never stand at the Wal-Mar kiosk selecting prints. I gave up on that years ago because it never failed someone would be at the machine oooing and ahhhing over some chubby baby and 3 hours later, still selecting prints. Just do it at home.
A great tool is a digital card reader, especially if your computer does not have a port for reading memory cards. My camera uses an SD card:
and my card reader came from Wal-Mart for maybe $12. It is perfect for snapping a picture, inserting the card and copying the file. No time wasted searching for your camera cord or transferring files to a CD or memory drive.
Plus the card reader works with any USB port so you can use it on a laptop, your friend’s computer or at work. Niice.
Now once you’ve uploaded your picture you can take the time to be critical. Here’s a picture from my trip to Scotland:
This is a shot straight from the camera with no editing. It’s a nice building and all but I have a few problems with it. For one the fountain thingy is dark so you can’t tell where it stops and the palace begins. I’m also off to the side and it looks… unbalanced. Like I’d been drinking. The rest of the lighting is fine for me because it reminds me how blindingly bright it was at 9am and that even though there are blue skies, it had been raining just 20 minutes before we got into the palace.
If I want to fix these problems I need to do some photo editing. You do not need expensive editing software.
It’s a Google produce (I heart Google!) and absolutely free to download. There are a lot of tricks and I’m sure many other bloggers have covered them ad naseum. Using Picasa I can increase the fill light, crop the photo, auto contrast and straighten the shot.
There. I like this shot so much better.
The next trick has to do with organization. When I download files from a memory card I try to label them consistently:
So the picture above is labeled 2010_0319_Edinburgh. Consistent labeling, no matter how you do it, is really nice for sorting and searching by title. I prefer to organize my folders by year, then event.
When it comes to printing photos or posters or books, the first trick is to select a limited number of photos. It helps if you delete bad photos as soon as they hit your computer. Why save the terrible ones in the first place? When I upload photos I prefer to go through my folders first, pulling out the best shots, and copy them to a temporary folder.
Then sign in to your website (Walgreens, CVS, Costco, Wal-Mart, Shutterfly, flickr, Snapfish…) and select all the prints in the folder to upload.
Once the photos are uploaded you can select prints, gifts or posters relatively quickly.
Finally, share your photos with friends and family as you see fit. You can give others access to your online photos or download the files to a USB drive or CD and hand it over. Whatever you prefer, enjoy taking photos, finding and editing the best ones and sharing with others. Photography doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby or exceedingly complicated.