Common Photography Terms


Common Photography Terms


Photography can be confusing. The jargon just makes it worse. Following are common sense explanations of some photography terms:

Ambient Light - Existing light within a room. This can be from the windows, lamps, or any items that glow.

Aperture - The opening of the lens through which light passes. The size of the aperture is shown as f/2.0 up to f/22. The lower the number, the more open the hole becomes. If the number is higher, less light is passing through.

Aperture Priority Mode - Function of the camera that allows the user to set the aperture. The camera chooses the ISO and shutter speed.

Aspect Ratio - The relationship of the width to the height within an image. Used for cropping (examples: 2:3, 4:3).

Backlight - Illumination of subjects from behind. Blown: When a portion of the image is so bright that the area has turned to pure white and lost all detail.

Bokeh - The blur and out of focus area of an image.

Burn - A term that derives from film. Burning refers to darkening a portion of an image.

Catchlights - The reflection of light in a subject’s eyes.

Clipped - An area of an image that is extra dark or saturated to the point of losing detail.

Chromatic Aberration - Color fringing of blues and purples that is usually found around the edges of items within an image.

Composition - The arrangement of visual elements in an image. Contrast - The difference between an image's lightest and darkest tones.

Conversion - Changing an image from color to black and white. Depth of Field - The portion of an image that appears sharply in focus.

Digital Zoom - A zooming effect that is not true zooming, but instead enlarging pixels within an image (typically seen with Point and Shoot cameras and mobile cameras).

Diptych - Two images intended to be displayed together. DNG - Digital negative. A lossless file format created by Adobe with the intent of long-term storage and archiving of digital photos.

Dodge - A term that derives from film. Dodging refers to lightening portions of the image.

DSLR digital single-lens reflex camera - A digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and a pentaprism to direct light from the lens to a viewfinder on the back of the camera. Utilizes interchangeable lenses.

Exposure - The amount of light used to create an image. External flash - An external mount strobe flash attachment for a DSLR.

EXIF - The data information stored within your image file. Holds information such as, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, lens, etc.

F-Stop - A measurement that expresses the diameter of an aperture. Focal Length - The length of the lens, such as 50mm, 85mm, 105mm.

Grain- Also referred to as ‘noise’ is sand-like dots on an image due to the sensitivity of the ISO setting used. The higher the ISO setting, the more grain is introduced.

Gray Card - A gray card that, when used with a reflective light meter, can help produce consistent image exposure. It is also helpful when setting the white balance manually.

ISO - A setting that determines how sensitive the image sensor is to light. It is the digital equivalent to film speed. Raising your ISO will allow you let more light in, but will also being to introduce grain.

JPEG - A compressed image file format, standard for photographs. It is a lossy format, meaning when adjustments are made to the image (typically in post processing) part of the image quality is lost.

Kelvin - Color temperature of an image. The photographer can set their Kelvin temperature, in camera, to choose their preferred white balance.

Lens flare - A visual effect that is created when very bright light (typically the sun) enters the lens and hits the camera's digital sensor.

Macro - An extremely close up image.

Manual Mode - A camera mode that allows the user to choose the aperture, shutter speed and ISO when shooting.

Metering - Using a light meter (modern day digital cameras have them within) to determine the amount of light within a scene.

Monochrome - Shades of black and white.

Negative space - The space around and between the subject of an image.

Optical Zoom - Found with a zoom lens, optical zoom gives a true zoom effect, moving closer to the object in the image.

Overexposure - An image that receives too much light often resulting in portions of the image losing detail in bright areas.

Perspective - The way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes.

Photographic triangle - The mathematical relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Point and Shoot- Simple automatic cameras that require the user to press only one button to take an image.

Prime Lens - A fixed focal length lens that does not zoom. Prime lenses are typically clearer, sharper and have a larger maximum aperture.

Processing - A method of editing and printing digital images.

Proper exposure - When an image has the correct amount of light with no areas at the extreme edges of the light spectrum (either blown out or too dark).

RAW- Often referred to as a “digital negative”, a RAW file holds the most possible data and is unprocessed.

Rule of Thirds - A means of composing an image with your subjects or important pieces on the lines created when breaking an image into thirds.

Resolution - Refers to the pixels per inch within an image that determines the size. Saturation - The intensity of color.

Shutter speed - The amount of time the shutter is open. A fast shutter speed will let less light in but freeze motion. A slow shutter speed will let more light in but can create blur or out of focus images.

Shutter Priority Mode - Function of the camera that allows the user to set the shutter speed. The camera chooses the ISO and aperture.

Speedlight - An external flash that attaches to the camera.

Telephoto Lens - A longer focal length that magnifies an image bringing the subject closer than they appear to the naked eye.

Tonal contrast - The difference between the light and dark areas in an image. The greater the difference, the more the area attracts.

Viewfinder - The part of the camera the photographer looks through to compose the image.

Vignette - A visual effect showing darkening around the outer edges of an image. This can be caused by the lens used, obstruction, or purposefully created in post processing.

White balance- The camera’s attempt to make the white areas of an image, ‘white’; based on the temperature of light (see Kelvin). The camera will often have multiple settings or can choose automatically.

Wide Angle Lens - A shorter focal length that is wider than the naked eye and can create distortion or a fish eye effect. Typically used in landscape photography.

Underexposure - An image that receives too little light often resulting in portions of the image being too dark to be seen.

Zoom Lens - A lens with a changing focal length, sometimes with a small range and others with larger ranges.

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10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile


10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile Are you interested in learning more about how Lightroom Mobile can streamline your photo workflow? In this article I will explain in detail how I use Lightroom Mobile as part of my photography workflow. A phone and tablet app, Lightroom Mobile has revolutionized how I get photos from my phone onto my computer, as well as allowed me to work with my photos while on the go.

File structure

Before we get started, we need to address where the photos are going to live on the computer. Lightroom does not hold or make copies of the files, it merely references them wherever you have them on the hard drive. The hard drive file structure provides the foundation in Lightroom. My photos are maintained in date order on a dedicated hard drive within my computer, denoted as the D drive. I have a folder for each year, with subfolders by month. Each month contains three subfolders: RAW, Selected, and JPEG. You'll see how I use these folders in the coming steps. Before opening Lightroom, I import the photos directly from my camera onto the hard drive into the RAW folder for the appropriate month.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Import photos to Lightroom

Depending on the source of the photos, this step will vary. Photos from my DSLR are imported from the hard drive by Adding. Since I've already imported from my camera to the hard drive, I simply need to add to Lightroom, not move or copy. On the right side, under File Handling, build previews at 1:1 and check the box for building smart previews. Having the program perform this function on import is a whole lot quicker than waiting for each photo to load once in Lightroom.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile Photos from my phone are already in Lightroom because it syncs with Lightroom Mobile. Phone photos are found in a folder called "Lightroom Mobile." When setting up Lightroom Mobile, I designated where on the hard drive of the computer these photos should be placed. As you can see from the hover over, I have my mobile photos added to the D drive into a folder called Lightroom Mobile. This folder is designed to be a temporary holding place. As long as the computer is turned on and Lightroom is open, the photos will sync in real time to the computer, automatically creating a backup. At this stage I move the phone photos to the appropriate month folder, inside RAW. This also moves the photo on the hard drive. Once I know they are safe on the hard drive of the computer, I delete all photos from my phone and from the iPhone imports collection. I don't need them there because I can access them again if I want to after Step 3.


Delete or remove poor quality photos

Deleting removes the photo from the hard drive. Removing keeps the photo on the hard drive, but removes it from Lightroom. This cull is only for the really bad ones. I do not review multiple photos from the same session to determine which I like better. That happens in Step 4. Whether I delete permanently or remove depends on the photo and is completely subjective with the rules changing constantly. Generally, a photo that is so blurry, eyes closed, or over/under exposed beyond repair get deleted. The rest I keep because storage is cheap.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Create collection that syncs with Mobile

A collection is a grouping of selected photos. It does not create a copy. Any changes made to a photo in a collection also changes the original photo. For demonstration purposes, I created one called August to Triage. Check the box that says "sync with Lightroom Mobile". You'll know that it syncs because there will be a back and forth arrow to the left of the folder.  Go back up to the navigator and select the photos you want to include in the new collection and drag them to the collection folder. You can create a collection for any photos that you want to access from your mobile device. You'll see I also have a collections for Jan - July to triage and a collection called "Portfolio". This collection contains all the photos that I've posted in the Gallery here on the website.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Cull photos by setting pick flags and star ratings

Now that the photos are in Lightroom Mobile the magic begins! I can access them from my phone or tablet. Open up the app and you'll see all the collections you've set to sync. Choose a collection, then tap any photo to see it larger and perform edits.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Once a photo is selected, the navigation is accessed through the three dots on the bottom right of the screen. The choices are flag & star rate or editing with crop, presets, and a full edit panel including white balance, temperature, toning and exposure. The minimum I do here is flag. To flag a photo, swipe up. To reject, swipe down. I'll star rate the best of the best. The photo that makes me pause. Otherwise, I leave the star rating blank and revisit it when on the computer and I can see the photo better. Sometimes I'll do edits that do not include exposure or color adjustments. This is a personal preference because I don't trust my eyes evaluating the scene correctly on the backlit phone/tablet screen. I'd rather save that step for when I'm on a large calibrated monitor. I will auto straighten, especially when the horizon line is so out of wack like in these plane photos. All changes made to the photo in Lightroom Mobile sync with the original file on the desktop version. Automatically.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Share photos with the world!

One of my favorite features of Lightroom Mobile is sharing. It is so easy to share your favorite photos with friends and loved ones. From within the Lightroom Mobile app you can share via email, message, and even print. Another option is to open the photo in another app such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or 500px! Simply click the up arrow in the top right corner of the screen to bring up the dialog box. I also use the share button to share to another app, Day One, for memory keeping purposes.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Sort by picks and move to Selects Folder

Back on the computer, I sort the photos by picks. Giving them one last look over on the large screen, I'll refine my selection by removing photos that I thought were ok on the phone/tablet, but now on the larger screen, I don't want them. I then move the picked photos to the Selected folder. This also moves the photo on the hard drive. You can see this by looking at the number of photos in each folder in the navigation section.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Edit and Tag

Working in the Selected folder, preview each photo in the Develop Module and edit as necessary. I also assign tags such as names and places or special projects.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lighroom Mobile

Export to JPEG Folder

We've selected all our favorite photos, and edited them. They are now ready to leave Lightroom. Export to a specific folder. Click "choose" and navigate to the JPEG folder within the appropriate month. I do not choose to rename; set the image format as JPEG with highest quality and sRGB color space; I don't resize or sharpen; and in the metadata section I remove location information for privacy.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile

Remove RAW Folder

The RAW folder now contains only those photos that we didn't like so much. To keep things clean, at this point I remove the RAW folder from Lightroom (not delete!). This removes all the photos that I thought were sub-par from the library. If I need to go back to those photos, I can do that in Windows Explorer. I also delete the August to Triage synced catalog because I no longer need to access those photos on my mobile device. When I look through my photo library, I am seeing only those photos that are the best.

10 Step Photography Workflow with Lightroom Mobile


At this point the photos are on your hard drive in a format easily uploaded to your printer service of choice, or print at home if you have the ability.

A quick note on another way Lightroom Mobile can simplify your life and help you to back up your photos:  While away on vacation I took photos with my DSLR. With a handy converter cable, I was able to upload my RAW DSLR photos from the SD card directly into my phone's photo library. Having left my computer on at home and Lightroom open, Lightroom Mobile sucked up the photos, sent them up to the adobe cloud and back down to my computer at home. Instantly backed up and safe!

I hope this article was helpful to you in setting up a photography workflow using Lightroom Mobile. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

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With gratitude, always.

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How to Remove Spots with Lightroom


How to remove spots with lightroom No matter how well you care for your camera and lenses, chances are good that you have spots on your sensor or lens that become visible on your image. Nothing is more frustrating than editing your image to perfection, only to notice a spot after printing. If you use Lightroom for your photographic organization and editing needs (which I highly recommend) there is a feature that was introduced in LR 5 that will make removing spots in your photos uber easy. The days of squinting and increasing the screen to 100% and scrolling methodically through the entire image to look for spots are over! My friends, meet the Visualize Spots Feature!

Following is an image I took of Cinderella's castle with lots and lots of white space. Because white space makes me happy. With all that blue sky, there is no room for error, or spots. As you can see, there is one spot upon close inspection. I know, you're thinking I'm some kind of nut. The spot is barely visible. However, this photo is my desktop background. The spot annoys the living daylights out of me! The visualize spots feature is going to show us this spot and three more.

How to Remove Spots with Lightroom

Open the Develop Module:How to Remove Spots in Lightroom

Click on the spot removal tool:

How to Remove Spots with Lightroom

Check the "Visualize spots" box down on the bottom left of the screen:

How to Remove Spots with Lightroom

The photo is now shown in a high contrast black and white, similar to infrared. In this mode, it's clear to see all the spots left on the image by dust, dirt or grime.

How to Remove Spots with Lighroom

Simply click the spot removal over each area and it will select a location nearby to replace the spot with. Easy as pie!

How to Remove Spots with Lightroom

This my friends, is a game changer. Incorporate the Visualize Spots Feature into your editing workflow today!

How to Remove Spots with Lightroom

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How to Use Back Button Focus


Have you ever wanted to set the exposure (meter) for one area of the photo and focus on another area? The solution is to use back button focusing. A common application perfect for back button focusing is creating silhouette photos. If you use just the shutter button to focus on and meter for the subject in your scene at the same time, the camera will increase the exposure on the subject so it can be clearly seen. This results in two things --  subjects that are not in shadow and a blown out sky. When using back button focus, each of these functions (focus and exposure) are determined separately. Once you've set a button on the back of your camera to act for focus, the shutter release is used only for metering. Step by Step: Assess your scene, point your camera at the area you want to meter for. In the case of a silhouette, point it at the most vibrant part of the sky. Set your exposure by holding the shutter release halfway and adjusting the settings accordingly until your meter indicates a proper exposure. Continue to hold the shutter halfway down. Compose your image, focusing on your subject using the back button. Press the shutter release completely to take the photo.

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Eliminate Eyeglass Glare

Do you have trouble capturing photos of family and friends with eyeglasses? Click through to read how to eliminate glare in camera. When you photograph someone who wears eyeglasses, you need to be aware of the potential for eyeglass glare. When present, it can completely block out the individuals eyes. Depending on the severity of the glare, it can potentially ruin the photo.

Glare is caused by a reflection of light in the eyeglass lens. The large flat surface area of the eyeglasses catches the light and bounces it back to the camera. Imagine, if you will, using a mirror to reflect the sunlight onto a pile of leaves. In this case, the mirror acts as the eyeglasses and the leaves act as the camera. If the angle is right, the leaves will heat up and catch fire. If the angle is wrong, the light does not reflect into the leaves and nothing happens.

The most effective way to eliminate glare is to change the angle of the light as it hits the glasses. This can be achieved by photographing the individual with side light as in the photograph above (changing the angle of the light source), or simply by asking them to tilt their head slightly up or down (changing the angle of the eyeglass lens). Once the angle of light is different from the angle of the eyeglasses, the glare will disappear!

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Benefits of Semi-Manual Modes


Not quite ready to make the leap to full manual mode? Try one of the semi-manual modes! Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes give you creative control over the aspect of the photo that matters most to you. In a semi manual mode, you can set the aperture and ISO and the camera will choose the shutter speed that is appropriate for the conditions. Or if you choose the shutter speed and ISO, the camera will choose the aperture. Before you capture a photo, think about what you want your photo to look like. Say to yourself "I want a blurry background" or "I want to freeze my daughter jumping." Once you've determined your intention, you can pick the mode that is best suited for your photo. For example, is your subject moving? Choose shutter priority. Are you looking for a nice blurry background? Choose aperture priority. By concentrating on one aspect of the exposure triangle (shutter speed or aperture) you will become a master in that area, bringing you one step closer to manual mode! Thanks so much for stopping by. If you liked this post, please use the share buttons below.

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Live With Your Photos aka: Reasons to Print


The longer you live with your photos live and in person, not on a computer screen, the stronger your photography becomes. You notice that an area of focus is too soft, or there is a sensor spot that didn't get removed during post processing. With each passing, you see something great. Your work. Live. You get new ideas for changes in settings you can use or another photo that you can take next time. You notice patterns and develop a grouping of photos into a collection. You begin to see yourself as the artist you are. You question, asking the 'what ifs' which enables you to continue to grow and learn. I have a gallery of my photos hanging above my dining room table. At each meal I gaze up at the photos. Every time I look at the photos, I see something new. My gallery is super inexpensive, made with some nails, jute and mini clothespins. Other options available are to have photos framed, or put up a picture ledge from Ikea and print off some photos at Artifact Uprising. Print your photos. Live with them. You'll be glad you did!


Straighten the Horizon for Better Photos Instantly!


One simple change you can make to your photos that will have the greatest impact is to ensure that your lines are straight. Examples include a horizon, a building, trees or a fence. Getting it right in camera is ideal. Several camera models include an internal level. Canon cameras that have the internal level allow you to overlay the level on the LCD while using live view. If you don't have an internal level, you can purchase an after market level that attaches to the hot shoe on Amazon for less than $15. Alternatively, you can adjust the photo in post processing. All post processing software, including cellphones, have the capability to straighten. Often it's coupled with the crop tool. Keep in mind that if you are straightening in post processing, the photo will be cropped and the detail on the outer edges of the photo will be lost. Once you see how easy it is, you'll never post a photo with a crooked horizon line again! Thanks so much for stopping by. If you liked this post, please use the share buttons below.

With gratitude, always.

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Is Everything Blurry? Check Your Diopter


Does the scene as viewed through your viewfinder appear slightly blurry, even after you've had the camera auto focus? Do you cross your fingers and hope the photo is in focus, trusting the camera rather than your own eyes? Your diopter may need adjustment.

The diopter adjusts what you see through the viewfinder -- it does not affect the focal function of the camera or the resulting images. The diopter will provide slight changes in focus for the photographer.

To the right of the viewfinder is a small dial. While looking through the viewfinder, after composing a scene and pressing the shutter halfway down to focus, slowly adjust this dial. If nothing appears to happen, turn it the other direction. As you do, the scene should become more or less clear, depending on the direction you move the dial. Continue to adjust until what you see is clear and in focus. If you wear glasses, you may be able to shoot without them, depending on the strength of your prescription. Try adjusting the diopter with and without your glasses on to see what works best for you!

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Stop It!


A Guide to Understanding Camera Stops

To create a correct exposure, three factors come into play -- aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Collectively, they are referred to as the exposure triangle. Each setting has specific creative applications. They work together, mathematically, to create an exposure. When adjusting any one setting, you are changing the amount of light entering the sensor. To maintain the balance, another setting must be adjusted proportionately.

A stop is the doubling or halving of an exposure setting. One full stop up means doubled, one full stop down means halved. Two stops means quadrupled from your original setting (doubled then doubled again). To move one stop, you click the adjustment wheel on your camera left or right three times. You will become a master of counting to three! When you "stop down" the aperture, you move from for example, f/4 to f/5.6.  To "stop up" the ISO, you would move from 100 to 200.

Each setting has its own set of numbers to memorize:

  • The Aperture is the size of the opening that lets the light into the camera. The full stops are f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22
  • The Shutter Speed is how fast the shutter opens and closes. The full stops are 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000
  • The ISO is the measure of light sensitivity. The full stops are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12,800

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The photo above is recorded at a proper exposure with the following settings:  f/4 1/4000 ISO 100

If I wanted the edges of the flower to be more in focus, I would adjust the aperture by stopping down one stop to f/5.6. If I did that, I would also have to adjust one of the other two settings by one stop to maintain exposure. I could either adjust the ISO to 200 or adjust the shutter speed to 1/2000.

Here's a graphic to visually show how the settings are related. Let's make up some numbers as further examples to see the relationship in action.

  • A photo has a correct exposure at f/11 1/60 and ISO 100. If you stop up the ISO one stop to 200, you would have to change either the shutter speed to 1/125 or the aperture to f/16 accommodate.
  • A photo has a correct exposure at f/4.0 1/250 and ISO 400. Let's say you're photographing a waterfall and you want the water to be smooth and silky, blurring motion. You adjust the shutter speed to 1/60. You now need to change the ISO to 100, or change the aperture to f/8. OR change the ISO to 200 and the aperture to f/5.6.
  • A photo has a correct exposure at f/8, 1/250 and ISO 400. You are photographing a runner, using a 300mm lens. You want to isolate the runner from his surroundings. To do that the aperture needs to move two stops to f/16. To compensate for this change, you want to adjust the shutter speed, but you're not using a tripod so you can't adjust it to lower than the length of the lens, otherwise you'll get camera shake. (The closest shutter speed equivalent to a 300mm lens is 1/250). Your only choice is to adjust the ISO to 1600.


There are at least six possible combinations that will result in a proper or correct exposure for any one photo. The freedom we have as the photographer is to determine what is most important to us to convey our message, and make a creative exposure. The camera is pretty smart in auto mode. But it can't know what your intentions are when photographing a scene. Photographing in manual mode and understanding the exposure triangle will allow you to create the images you envision!

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The One Reason Why You Should Print Your Photos

IMG_1779 rszThere was a time when we were forced to have our photos printed. We would capture good times with friends and family with our pocket cameras or 35mm slr's and then send the film off to a lab for developing. Often, we'd get doubles to share.

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That time I celebrated a birthday and my neighbor Kathy couldn't stop giggling. 

We would gather around when the envelopes were opened to see how the pictures came out, laughing or expressing disappointment in a particular photo. Those photos would be placed in the envelopes they came in, boxes, fabric decorated albums or scrapbooks to look back on for years to come.

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That time I got a Mickey ride-on toy and became a total terror in the house, crashing into everything.

So many of my early childhood memories are connected to printed photos. Printing helps us to remember and relive moments. If your photos capture happy memories, you're helping to burn those memories in, to be later retrieved in times of crises or at family reunions; thereby creating more memories of love and laughter.

You see where I'm going with this, right?

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That time we went to Disney World and I fell in love.

Our children should have the same positive reinforcement we had to help build them up. Their happy memories need to be burned into their brains. They need to feel that they belong and they are loved. That happens when they see us show off a great photo of them, exclaiming how cute they are. We can't do that if the photos are on the computer. Sure, we share on social media like Facebook and Instagram, which is great. Physical prints tacked onto the fridge is better.


That time at the end of a long day at Epcot when Eric held Makenna in his lap during the fireworks show.

Am I saying that if you don't print your photos that your kids will be maladjusted derelicts destined to get in trouble? Of course not. That's just silly. But during a penny print sale, wouldn't you agree that it would be great to stack the deck in their favor? Everyone benefits from a boost in confidence from those they love. It's the simple, everyday moments that matter.


That time Makenna and Melissa carved pumpkins with Grandma Reilley.

We take so many more photos now than ever before. I'm not saying they all need to be printed; that would be mayhem.


That time we went to Canada and Eric held a stick bug that was bigger than his hand.


This weekend, sit down with your phone and select your best photos from the past year and tag them as favorites. Do the same with the photos on your computer, copying them into a favorites folder. Don't get lost trying to organize your photos. Now is not the time. Quick and fast, going on instinct. "I LOVE this photo!!" Favorite it. You can do this in less than an hour.


That time Chris and Jesse did a mud run. 

Upload them to a photo lab for printing. Have doubles printed for sharing. There are so many great options for printing your photos. Snapfish and Shutterfly often have penny print sales. You can upload photos directly from your phone to Persnickety Prints. They'll print standard size photos, as well as Instagram and 3x4's.

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That time I printed all my favorite photos from 2015.

When your photos arrive, tack them to the wall, magnet them to the fridge, put the great ones in frames. Exclaim how cute your kids are.

Repeat monthly.


How To Find Your Photographic Style

IMG_4245 blog header  

Photographic style is a consistent characteristic that differentiates your photo from someone else's. When presented with several photos of the same subject, a viewer can easily pick which one you took based on how it looks and feels. A classic example is Ansel Adams. His photos are not merely black and white photos of landscapes. His specific style is seen through his choices in contrast and composure, making them immediately recognizable.



So how do you develop a style of your own? One method is to shoot a ton of photos. That takes a lot of time. I'm going to hazard a guess that you may already have thousands of photos on your hard drive. What I want you to do is print your favorites. Don't filter the subject matter, or pick your partner's, or mother's favorites. Simply print the photos that make you pause, look at them longer, and say "I LOVE that photo". Go on first impressions and don't over think the process.


Once you have the photos in your hands, study them, sort them. Are they dark and moody, or light and carefree? Do they have a shallow depth of field with dreamy bokeh, or are they sharp and in focus all the way through? Are they black and white or full of color? Is the color saturated, processed in HDR or more indicative of the colors you saw on site? What are the lighting characteristics - natural or artificial, front, side or back lit? Maybe your favorites are all of the same theme or subject, such as nature, lifestyle, or cityscapes. Study them further and find the similarities, the linking thread.


Another method is to study the prints of others. Create a Pinterest board of photos you love. Analyze them in the same manner you reviewed your own photos. Drill down to the individual photographer's website and review more of their photos to determine their style. It will become apparent when looking at a collection from just one photographer.


Two photographers I follow, with vastly different styles, are Karen Walrond and Tom Bricker. Karen's flower photos are colorful, but always with a black background. Her portraits are full of light capturing the soul of the person. The individual is almost always looking directly into the camera with a genuine, heartfelt smile. Notice that Karens style is different depending on her subject. Don't feel obligated to have photos across genres share the same style. Tom's Disney photos are colorful, bright and full of life. Which is strange to say about a photo that may have no people in it, perhaps taken at night, but that's the description that best fits his style, in my opinion. I always know when scrolling through my Instagram feed when I come across one of their photos.


Something to keep in mind that I learned from scrapbooking -- What you like to look at might not be the same as what you like to create. Which takes us back to #1. Shoot tons of photos. I absolutely adore Karen's flower photography, but for the life of me, I just can't do it. When I'm behind the camera or culling through the day's shoot on the computer, I'll reject the dark photos or try to lighten them up. It's just not my style.


My style? As seen throughout this post my photos are color, with a shallow depth of field, full of light and as true to the natural state in which I took them as possible. Light is the most important thing for me in a photo and I strive to capture it in every one.

As you make your way through this process, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I'm happy to review your photos with you and help you determine the linking threads that comprise your style.

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