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Tag: photography tips

Time to Explore the Expanse of your Shrinking Space

You don’t always have to worry about the big picture. Here are eight ways I’ve expanded my view by focusing on the small.

If you’re feeling like your world continues to shrink around you after weeks of sheltering at home, you’re certainly not alone. 

Here’s one suggestion to help rebalance your equilibrium: 
Pay more attention to what’s right in front of you. There’s actually a lot to see. 

You might be pleasantly surprised!

Open your Eyes and See the Beauty
If it’s at all possible to spend a little more time with Mother Nature while also practicing social distancing, of course now is the perfect time to take a closer look. In fact, get really close and narrow your focus.

And you don’t necessarily have to travel far to explore the intensities of spring. It’s amazing what’s right in front of you when you zoom in your view a bit.

Here’s what I found…

Narrow your View to Find Relief
So, instead of yearning for what is currently unavailable, I say let’s take advantage of all of that beauty nature has provided.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to pay a little more attention to the smaller details.

How to Take Great Photos at Family Events While Still Enjoying the Party

Taking a DSLR Photo

If you’re often too focused taking photos and then forget to enjoy the activity, I can entirely relate. So I’ve got three ways to help you have your cake and eat it too.

So you’ve decided to take on the responsibility of documenting your family get-together with your camera. Well, that decision can really get in the way of your own enjoyment. If you’re like me, you usually show up with a predetermined ‘shot list’ that you absolutely have to get. And I’ve sometimes had to remind myself to be more mindful of the moment and actually pay attention to ‘experiencing’ my family affair as opposed to ‘covering’ it.

To do that, I feel it usually comes down to staying emotionally connected to the action.

Here are three ways to help ensure that happens:

1. Snap Your Shots Early
I find the longer you wait to begin taking photos, the less likely it is that you’ll get the shots you really want, and you’ll quickly begin to stress. So whenever you see a natural moment, you’ve got to go for it. You just can’t wait and hope that another opportunity will magically appear later on.

I used to feel that the appropriate time to ask folks to say “cheese,” or gather everyone together for a group family photo was towards the end of the party.

While that may make sense from a social etiquette perspective, you may find any number of variables that foil your plan. Some people may have already left. Others may be tired and a little cranky. And if you do actually get to take the shot, it had better be perfect with nobody’s eye mid-blink, because there will be no second chances for you.
(If you orchestrate the shot earlier, then there’s still time for a second attempt later on.)

2. Take Lots of Group Selfies
You’ve got to pick the right moment, because suggesting that a ‘conversation pod’ suddenly join you for a group selfie will likely halt things. But once you’ve successfully sold the idea, it can be a really fun group activity, especially if you’ve got to jam a bunch of people into the shot. Yes, it will be entirely imperfect, but the often absurd attempt to squeeze everyone together to fit in the frame is usually a whole lot of fun. I highly recommend trying it, and the resulting goofy shots will pleasantly surprise you.

3. Set a Time Limit
This is where you draw your own line in the sand to ensure that you also get to fully participate in the event. I like to spend 20-30 minutes or so walking about the room to get the shots I want. I quickly review what I’ve got, and then I put my camera or iPhone away.

If another photo opportunity spontaneously self generates, yes, of course you can still snap it. But the important point is you’re not putting any more pressure on yourself to continue on as the family photographer after your self-imposed time limit.

It’s a Balancing Act
Where’s the value in documenting your family event if you don’t really experience it yourself? Sure, you may be contributing to the greater good, but at what cost?

So, go get the photos you want, and don’t forget to add to the life of the party.

Find your balance and enjoy!
Thanksgiving Dinner

 

Two Reasons Why You’re Failing as the Family Photographer

It’s not difficult to snap a picture. In fact, it’s never been easier. But if you don’t follow a photo library management plan, you’ll quickly be in a world of hurt. I’ve got seven steps that should help make your day…

No matter how hard I try, I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle as the family photographer. Sound familiar? The good news is you’re probably doing just fine taking the pictures.
(I snap a few winners here and there.)

The problem is what comes after…

Sure, you can quickly flip a photo or two out to your world from your smartphone, but if you’re like me, I like to bring my photos home for review, grading and improvements.

I have a five-point numbering system when I go through my pictures in
Adobe Lightroom:

5 = Great
4 = Good
3 = Okay
2 = Not very good
1 = Terrible

I immediately throw the 1’s and 2’s into the trash, because they’re the stinkers. But then I hold onto everything else. But after years of following this practice, I’ve discovered a severe flaw.

Only Keep Your Best Photos
My plan has allowed me to retain pictures that I just don’t need. More importantly, the sheer mass of accumulating photos clogs up my computer’s hard drive, and they simply take too long to catalog.

The 5’s are the only ones I should be focusing on.
(Sometimes, I also highlight a few of the 5’s as ‘extra special’ by making them a ‘pick.’)

If I’ve nailed the shot as a 5, why would I need to save a version of it as a 3 or 4?

New rule:
When you’re done cataloging all of your 5’s, go through everything else with the intent of deleting them. All of them!

Question why you need to save your 3’s and 4’s.
(Really)

There are No Shortcuts
For me, the underlying problem in my faulty photo management process is committing enough time to do the job right.

That means taking the time to correctly ID your 5’s on the first round of review.

And at the back end, you’ve got to do the ‘clean up’ phase and not leave around a lot of useless 3’s and 4’s you’ll never use again.

Because years will go by, and you’ll realize you’re holding onto way too many pictures.
(Like thousands of them)

Sure, I know I’m a big supporter of taking ‘multiple’ shots of a particular moment to ensure you actually get what you want. But that means you need to choose the best one and then delete everything else!

You Must Find the Time
Second new rule:
This all takes discipline and a daily commitment of thirty minutes of digital photo management.

I know that can be hard to fit in to a busy schedule. So I try to carve out the time first thing after I wake up in the morning with my cup of Joe.
(Yes, you probably need to set your alarm earlier to generate these precious minutes. I do.)

Without this regimen, your system will break down in a number of ways:

  • If you don’t share your photos quickly, their value drops off over time.
    (Who wants to see last year’s photos? Your family and friends want yesterday’s pictures!)
  • Your computer’s hard drive will fill up. Or you’ll have to shell out for cloud storage.
  • You’re never going to create those photo books, as that’s usually the last step in a photo organization plan.

Keep It Simple
I just finished up a few days of ‘staycation’ expecting I would be able to catch up on all of this. Guess what?
Not possible.

If you’re months behind, the only solution is to chip away it.

Thirty minutes.
Every day.

Delete all of your 3’s and most of your 4’s.

Remember, you only need a handful of pictures to tell a story.
Less is more.

You’ve just got to take the time to figure out which ones they are…

Time.

Seven Steps to Success
So let’s review my updated rules for effective digital photo library management:

  1. Don’t let your pictures languish on your camera’s memory card or computer.
  2. Stop grading a group of photos on a five-point scale. Find your 5’s. And that’s it. Really everything else should be deleted.
  3. Proceed with the ‘tweaking phase’ to improve your remaining ‘best photos.’
    (Cropping, color balance, exposure)
  4. Then, go find the four or five best 5’s. Those are your ‘uber 5’s.’ Share those. Family and friends rarely want to see more.
  5. Email your photos to your family and friends within the week!
  6. Don’t forget to copy your 5’s into the appropriate ‘theme’ albums or collections you’ve set up.
  7. Commit half an hour every day to your life-long photo management project as the family photographer.

Thirty minutes.
Every day.
Promise me.

Now, promise yourself.

It’s not a snap, but it’s the answer.

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