Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Photography Help: Improve Your Photos Today

We were at a neighborhood Easter egg hunt. All of the kids were hungry for candy. All of the moms were hungry for good pictures. We chased our kids, clicking away.

After all the eggs had been found, another mom sidled up to me and asked me if I knew a lot about cameras. I laughed and told her that the person she wanted to talk to was the professional photographer parent standing across the lawn.

But here's the thing, photography can be intimidating and just trying to find a starting point can be overwhelming.

I do know a little about taking photos but certainly not enough to be dangerous, which actually makes me the perfect person to help. I've found that whenever I'm learning a new skill set, even though I want the best possible information, I also want to learn from someone who's still in the trenches. I don't need a licensed and bonded expert, I need someone who is far enough ahead of me that they know what they're doing but not so advanced that they've forgotten what it feels like to be at my level.  

If that's you, read my Photography 101 primer.

If you're looking for more easy-to-understand resources who will inspire and educate you, look no further:

Photography Blogs

  • Ashley Ann Photography - This is blog is a daily dose of fresh air. Ashley offers classes on her site, but she also frequently posts photography tips and gives camera's settings for pictures she posts. Compare her settings to yours as a way to gauge how to better shoot. 
  • Click It Up A Notch - A photography How To site. Learn about composition, lighting and camera settings. 
  • The Pioneer Woman - She's known for her cookbooks and Food Network show but she has much to say about photography on her blog too. 
  • Jasmine Star - She's a wedding photographer but even if wedding photography isn't your thing, there's much to be learned about photography as an art and a business on this site. 
  • I Heart Faces - Is a dedicated photography site. They have photo challenges and tons of free tutorials. 
Photography Classes
  • Lizzy Rose Photography - I took two online classes a few years apart and learned a tremendous amount. The "Get Out of the Auto Zone" taught me how to really understand my camera. I used to be confused by histogram and Kelvin white balancing, but Lisa patiently walked me and the other students through our cameras.
  • Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy Nine - I haven't taken any of Nancy's classes, but I have followed her blog forever and last year I had the pleasure of meeting her in person. I can assure you that she is the real deal, and she takes a killer photograph. But for the fact I admire her, she's the kind of woman I love to hate.  

Photoshop Actions/Lightroom Presets

For an embarrassingly long time, I didn't realize that photographers weren't just taking amazingly vibrant photos straight out of the camera (SOOC). Finally, I figured out they were fine-tuning their pics in programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.

These days you'd have to be living under a rock not to know about Photoshop, but you still might not know which actions to purchase or even how to install and use them. Both of these sites explain how.

  • Florabella Actions are simultaneously ethereal and yet brightening. I have the Classic Workflow set. It was pricey but I use these actions often. (She does an annual Black Friday sale but if that's too far off for you, check her Facebook page for occasional additional discounts.) The videos on her site are free and exceptionally helpful.
  • The CoffeeShop Blog has freebies for photographers including free Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets actions. In particular, I like the Creamy Chocolate B&W Action
  • This isn't a preset, but it's a handy cheat to make whites actually look white in Photoshop
PS - If you need more photography inspiration/ideas, check out my Pinterest boards

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