Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Do You Need A Better Camera?

"I wish I could take better photos. I really just need to buy a better camera."

I hear that comment all the time.  I've even said it myself.  And I just happen to have a little story that goes along with it...

Back in 2010 when I was spending hours and hours trying to decide which camera to upgrade to, my hubby asked me a question that I thought was pretty funny.  It went something like this...

"Why do you need a better camera if all you do is mess up your pictures anyway?"

I've had to convince myself that question was asked in pure love:)
But I'm pretty sure he was talking about my photos like this one...

His question made me laugh but I also had to think of a pretty good answer of exactly why I needed a better camera.

It's been said a million times that "better equipment does not make you a better photographer", but a good photographer can absolutely do wonderful things when given better equipment.  

The camera and lenses I was using at the time were actually pretty decent considering they were non-pro models.  But I knew there was better and I was getting so frustrated with the slow focus on my lenses.  I felt that I was missing so many great expressions because my lens just wasn't fast enough to capture the exact moment.  And the color quality just wasn't as smooth as I was wanting.  I'm not trying to bash my pentax camera, just stating that even though I was using all my buttons and options to their fullest extent, I still wasn't getting the quality that I was wanting in my images.  

But why did I need better quality in my images if all I do is mess them up?  Because I wanted to start with the absolute best image so that my options are open to do whatever I want with it.  There's just no substitute for starting with the best image possible.  

So I needed wider apertures to get better bokeh and more creative control...I needed higher ISO options to get better exposure in low light...I needed faster focusing on my lenses so I wasn't wasting time.  

Here's an example of a 2 similar photos: the one on the left was a "behind the scenes" shot taken by my assistant using my old pentax.  The one on the right was taken by me within a few minutes using the camera I upgraded to, a Nikon d300s.  

These are both SOOC, no editing.  I set both the cameras before the shoot at as close to the same settings as I could.  The widest aperture on the lens for the left photo though was 3.5.  I was able to use an aperture of 2.8 for the photo on the right.  Can you tell the difference in detail, clarity and overall appeal of the 2 photos?  I used a 50mm 1.4 lens on the Nikon.  And when you're working with kiddos this young, a lens that can focus superfast is worth every penny!

So what's my answer to the age-old question of "Should I buy a better camera?"  

Yes and No.

My answer is NO if right now you're not using all the buttons, settings and options on your current camera.  If you haven't learned how to operate the one you have chances are you won't learn how to operate a new one with more intimidating options.  Plus if you do some more research about what you currently own, you may realize you just need to change some settings.  Maybe you just need to take a workshop and learn how to use it better? (I just happen to know where you can find a great one)  Or you may just need to buy a different lens?  Lenses have as much, or sometimes more, to do with your image quality than your camera.  And if you don't know why lenses are so important then I suggest you research and find out if you're using lenses that aren't a good match with your style of photography.  You could save money by upgrading your lenses rather than your camera body and then you'll thank me!

I would definitely answer YES to that question though if you've outgrown your current camera.  That means if you know what you're missing on your current camera, if you know what it can't do, then you're probably ready for an upgrade.  When you're shooting in manual and adjusting your lenses accordingly but you still aren't getting the quality you're wanting then you're probably ready to have some fun and go camera shopping! 

Keep in mind that there is a downside to improving your equipment...I can no longer blame bad photos on my camera!  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why I'm A Sucker For A Good Template

I mentioned in yesterday's mish-mash of a post that I'm a sucker for a good template.
I bought quite a few last fall whenever a designer I liked would have a sale or coupon code, but like any good sale, it still adds up.

But the longer I do this business thing the more I'm a believer that great templates are essential to me.  I've learned the complicated way over the past 2 years that the end result of the photographs, the products, are where I'm able to make money and please my clients.  And let me tell ya folks, there's no shortage of fantastic products available!

I really really really stink at graphic design but I know exactly the design and style I like to showcase my images.  This is where the templates come in....I can buy beautiful templates for albums, cards, frames and everything else to create a very unique and eye-catching product that my client will love.

Here's some examples for you...this is a 4x8 Accordion album which is one of my absolute favorite new products I just started offering.  I bought this template...

...and turned it into this beautiful accordion album...

Graduation cards are another thing that are so easy to customize and the templates I've chosen for grad cards just pretty much blow the school cards out of the water!  Look how gorgeous...

My true weakness though is album templates...I have to restrain myself from buying every album template by Crave Design.  Here's their French Script Ohh La La which I've made several times into albums for Children and High School Seniors...

Since I'm kinda decent at working in Photoshop Elements I can alter all the text, colors, frames and pretty much rig all these templates up to fit what I need.  That way they're truly unique to the images that I'm creating them for and each client gets the product thats perfect for them. 

Anyway, templates have become a slight obsession and I've shown ample proof as to why I love them. What about you...are you a template junkie?

And since I want everyone to have the guilty habit I do of splurging on great templates, here's a few of my favorite sites for designs....Enjoy~

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm Back

I'm baaaaaack!  And I'm better than ever.
{well, that last part remains to be seen, but haven't you always wanted to say that?}

In case you were wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth, I haven't.  Last fall I had the great fortune to actually start booking more clients...
which meant I spent more time shooting 
and editing
and meeting
and designing
and learning
and emailing
and facebooking
and and and

You get the picture.  Surprisingly enough I realized that with a short 24 hours in a day I am only capable of doing so much.  And with 4 children who want to eat every single day and demand clean underwear at least twice a week, something had to give.  So I stepped away from my beloved blogging to try and maintain a grasp on the chaos I still had left.  

But the blogging gal inside of me never shut down.  Every time I would learn something new or make an epic fail or try a fantastic new photo product I would be thinking in my brain about how I would love to share my thoughts with the world.  So here I am back in the blogging world with an overload of random thoughts spilling onto the page.  
I warn you, it may get messy.

I've experienced sooooo much since last fall in photography and business and everything in between and I just can't wait to share it with you.  Every experience is just swirling around in my brain and I can't quite seem to sort it all out yet.  You ever get like that?

For instance, a few things I've learned over the past months:

~ Facebook is an evil necessity to me.  Necessity because it's the only place I can reach tons of people with my photography for free.  Evil because it breeds insecurity and doubt when browsing other photography pages and comparing to my own work.  

~ Getting the shot right "in camera" beats fixing in photoshop any day.  

~ I'm a sucker for templates.  I stink at graphic design so I bought a ton of templates last year to have plenty of options for products.  I need to control myself. 

~ Even though I stink at design, I wish I could create new marketing products every day.  I love the creative outlet it provides and I really love showing off all the awesome people I get to photograph.  

~ Shooting with the end result in mind has completely changed my photography habits.

I'll talk more about all those things later.  I hope you stick around for it.  

One thing that hasn't changed...I still love textures.  Always and forever.

Here's a lovely B&A with 2 lovely sisters/singers, showing how I enhanced their photo with just a few lovely textures.  Aren't they lovely?

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