Thursday, August 15, 2019

3 Tips for Choosing Photographs for your Wedding Photography Portfolio



When it comes to being a wedding photographer, it’s important to make sure that you have the right photographs in your online portfolio. It can seem quite demanding - in fact, some photographers find that having an accurate portfolio is more challenging than shooting weddings in the first place.

Before you panic and use your portfolio as a depository for every photograph that you’ve ever taken, take a deep breath. Taking a little bit of time now to make sure that you’re showcasing your best work is important, but it’s really not so tricky.

Here are some ideas to help you work out which photographs you should include in your online wedding photography portfolio.

Why Your Wedding Portfolio Matters In The First Place


Okay, you know you need a portfolio, but do you understand why?

In the day and age of easy to create online portfolios and simple to edit templates, there really is no excuse for not using this powerful marketing tool. Combined with your Instagram, it’s the best way that you can show people what you’re about. After all, not all wedding photography is created equal, and you aren’t necessarily going to be the right person for every job.

In many cases, your online portfolio will be the first example of your photography. It will also be a great way for people to see what you’re like as a photographer - remember that you’re shooting people on the most special, but tense and highly fraught day of their lives. So take the opportunity to show prospective clients what you can do, who you’ve worked with, and essentially, why they’d be crazy not to go with you.

Keep Your Target Audience In Mind


The essence of a good portfolio is that it understands who is going to be looking at it.

Before you start trying to upload every single one of your photographs, it’s time to sit and work out who you want to market your photography to, and what you want to offer them.

If your answer is “duh, the brides!” then you have your audience. The difference is that a bride may have a very different opinion to the mother of the bride. An art director or somebody looking to use you to shoot their wedding dresses will have a fundamentally different set of needs than a wedding planner.

This also applies to the type of photograph that you want to shoot more of. If you have a specific genre or style of photography - such as black and white photography, or location weddings - then make sure that you hero your major components. It helps to be able to present yourself as the best in your specific niche, so it helps to have your ideal client worked out.

It’s also important to ensure that your photographs all look like they were taken by you. While you may have different styles, it’s important to show that your work is consistent and your skill is reliable, rather than leaving the impression that your good shots are somehow accidental.

Only Show Your Best


While it might seem advantageous to you to put a huge amount of different photographs, it’s important to exercise your editorial eye. Why? Because in spite of what you’ve heard, your portfolio as a whole is more likely to be judged on your weakest photograph than your strongest.

More is not better. You want to highlight that you are consistent and impressive. Instead of trying to showcase everything you’ve ever done, your portfolio should only really showcase 15-20 images.

But, you might think, what if I want to change it up?! Absolutely do that, but be judicious. If you want to add in new work, then it’s time to remove the weakest of the old photographs.

Show What You Do


It’s vital to make sure that you are not overpromising on something that you cannot deliver on. For instance, if you take stunning black and white photography on film, but have never really delved into much by way of digital photography, make sure you don’t promise a bright color digital experience.

It might seem like you’re casting a wider net, but it sets you up for

Also, be mindful and critical of the photographs that you choose to show. If you know in your heart of hearts that a wonderful photograph involved a particularly special combination of things which you are unlikely to be able to repeat, don’t use this to advertise your services. No matter how good the photograph might be.

This may feel a little like tough love, but your clients are looking to use your services for their needs. They don’t care the photograph was good if you’re unable to replicate the magic for them.

Bonus: Your Portfolio Isn't Just Your Portfolio


When it comes to the social-media-driven world that we live in, it’s important to realize that your portfolio might not be the only way that a prospective client comes across your portfolio. While it’s great to make sure that on various sites that you link to your portfolio, it’s also important to use social media to your benefit.

Instagram is a great way to entice people to visit your portfolio and, ultimately, hire you to be their wedding photographer. It’s a great way to give people a little taste of what they can expect, as well as to show off your personality in a casual, relaxed way.

So pick your photographs carefully, and be sure to curate your Instagram with the same kind of thought and attention that you use to create your portfolio. It’s also a great way to show your other shots, which may not have been your ultimate favorites, but which show your taste and skill.

Conclusion


They say that you never get a second chance at a first impression, so it’s important to recognize that your portfolio goes a long way to introducing you to prospective clients. Rather than showing a weak, unconsidered portfolio, make sure you elevate your work and give it the respect that it deserves. Give people the chance to love what you do as much as you do!

And don't forget to protect your photos before you post them online using Water Marquee.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

7 Tips to Make Your Home Photos Stand Out

Among the many critical tasks realtors are expected to perform during the sale of a home, some consider the process of taking home photos to be both the most challenging but also the most rewarding.



Photos are the first contact that most clients will have with any particular home, and initial impressions can make or break an eventual sale. As a result, realtors should never underestimate the importance of snapping truly incredible photos of each home they’re listing for sale.

However, realtors are not expected to become home staging experts in order to make their listings stand out against any competitive real estate market. To take some exceptional photos and attract hordes of interested clients, you only need to learn and implement a few key tips. Success is right around the corner!

1. Hire a professional home stager.


Pictures of empty rooms won’t do much to draw a potential client in for more (though some would argue that you should also photograph these “blank canvases” and keep them available for clients who want to better envision how their own furniture might appear in each room). Having even simple furnishings placed prior to shooting for a real estate listing will create a much better atmosphere than photographing a series of rooms indistinguishable from one another and characterized only by bare walls.

A home staging expert can help you prepare any home for a stellar photoshoot.

2. Be careful with angles and perspective.


A fine balance exists between utilizing exciting perspective shots and photographing from odd angles that will only leave potential clients confused about the home’s interior. While experimentation is encouraged (and often necessary to find the perfect shot), make sure that you are shooting straight-on while exploring different angles throughout each room. Accidentally tipping your camera slightly up or down will warp the vertical lines of walls and doorways, creating a perspective that’s little more than dizzying or off-putting.

3. Make sure your colors pop.


Even the best of soft, natural lighting may not always do justice to a funky fresh wallpaper or the rich tones of a hardwood floor. Luckily, a multitude of digital tools allow for quick and easy photo editing—adjusting brightness, contrast, and color intensity can ensure that your photos’ colors display as vividly as they do in person. Beware of over-editing, though!

If there’s not much color to work with, don’t be afraid to add your own. Tamela Ekstrom from Detroit’s HAVEN Real Estate + Design suggests adding a touch of color with a couple of throw pillows or vibrant artwork.

4. Atmosphere is everything.


Selling a home in the mountains? Capture the aspects of the residence that mountaineers will love. Near a beach? Keep the photos bright and open. Often, your clients will consider purchasing a home due to the appeal of the surrounding area, so use this to your advantage! You may consider consulting with your home stager about this, too—it’s likely that they’ll have plenty of ideas for d├ęcor accessories and other personal touches which can further add to a home’s local personality.

5. Pay attention to details.


Future homeowners are going to be critical of every detail when it comes to their potential home, so get on the same page. Include that gorgeous crown molding in the frame, capture unique aspects of the home that contribute to its personality, and don’t forget to tidy up. Remember, you’re aiming to photograph the home’s best features, not details of the current owners’ living style.

Put toilet lids down, remove appliances from counters, and keep personal touches like knick-knacks or family photographs out of your shots.

6. Feature the outdoors, too.


Realtors don’t need to be reminded that a house is more than its interior. Clients will want to know what lies outside their potential home, whether it’s a porch, a yard, or a few acres of woods. The bottom line? Don’t forget the view. Grab a panorama while standing on the porch, or try some distance shots to capture the house in the context of its surroundings.

7. Watermark your photos for a professional finish.


Once you’ve got the perfect photo, don’t forget this final step. Adding a watermark is a quick and easy way to include a final touch of professionalism to your home photoset. Not only will it help potential clients to connect a home to your name, but a watermark will deter photography thieves and can improve your marketing impact, too.

Not convinced? Trust us when we say that more clients will take notice of carefully-staged and professional photos. Unlike bland, cluttered, or dull home photos that soon-to-be homeowners will only glaze over during their search, following these tips will ensure that their eyes linger when browsing your listings.

Taking the time to perform a few extra steps when snapping and editing your photos is absolutely worth the additional effort, and with practice, shooting great photos every time will become second nature.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

10 Photography Trends to Watch in 2019


The accessibility of modern photography equipment has opened the door for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals alike to pursue new niches and capture captivating images. As photographers experiment with new techniques, some exciting trends are emerging and producing beautiful results. Here are ten of the latest photography trends to explore in 2019.

1. Macro


Macro photography is a style of photography that zooms in closely on an object (or on a specific part of it) to capture its intricate detail. Think of a butterfly’s wings or the pollen on a flower, for example. It takes a common object and presents it in a way that we’ve never seen or thought about before.

To get the proper level of detail, macro photographers must use a special macro lens. The lenses are relatively inexpensive, however, and there are even versions available for smartphone cameras. As this unique photography style gains popularity, many photographers are finding great success in selling prints.

2. Film


While the general population enjoys the freedom of digital photography instead of using film, photographers are falling in love with film photography again. It requires a certain thoughtfulness and intention before taking a photo to make sure that the lighting and angles capture the best possible shot. Many photographers consider film photography an elite art and use it to hone their skills and creativity. While digital photography is here to stay, film photography is regaining popularity with professional photographers and hobbyists all over the world.

3. Light painting


Light painting is one of the most versatile photography techniques. The same image can be captured in a number of unique ways by experimenting with natural and artificial light, exposure time, and reflections.

It’s a lucrative trend for photographers because of its limitless potential for creativity. Everyday images become mesmerizing works of art with a few simple adjustments in lighting. It doesn’t require any special equipment or lenses and isn’t limited to a studio setting. For photographers that enjoy experimenting with light and shadow,  it’s an excellent niche to highlight their artistry and skill.

4. HDR


High dynamic range, or HDR photography, is a technique that uses the range of brightness between the lightest and darkest areas of the subject being photographed. It doesn’t require any special equipment but does take a bit more time to edit to get the desired result. HDR images are perfect for landscape and portrait photography because of their ability to pick up on differences between the light and shadows in an image and create a balance between the two.

Many modern cameras have an HDR setting that adjusts the contrast modes directly in the shot and saves time in the editing process. Some photographers prefer to take three images at different shutter speeds and then combine them to create the final image.

5. Panoramic


Panoramic photography, also known as panotography, uses wide format and 360-degree shots to capture broader images like landscapes and skylines. It is designed to capture an image in the same way the human eye sees it.

If you don’t have a wide format lens, but want to experient with panotography, most smartphone cameras offer a panoramic setting. It is also possible to edit individual images to create a single, panoramic shot.


6. Vintage-inspired


Vintage photography is trending as a modern take on an old-school photography style. With the popularity of filters on social media and photo-sharing sites, the vintage look is a favorite for amateurs and professionals alike.

To give your photos a retro feel, experiment with contrast, saturation, and brightness to get the feel of an old photo. While most people use vintage photography to capture “timeless” subjects like landscapes or people, it can be fun to take a modern-day subject, like Times Square in 2019, for example, and apply a vintage overlay for an ultra-unique result.

7. Aerial


Aerial photography used to be limited to those with access to planes or helicopters. Now, thanks to the proliferation of drones, nearly anyone can take beautiful images from the air. The clunky and expensive drones of the past have since evolved into a new breed of sleek photography drone that costs less than a mobile phone and takes high-quality photos with a wide range of options. While there are local and state regulations for when and where drone photography is acceptable, it’s quickly trending as a new outlet for landscape, architecture, and wildlife photographers to capture images that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

8. Candid


When the first camera equipment was invented, spontaneity was simply not a possibility for photographers. They had to carefully pose their subjects and keep them still to get a decent image. As cameras evolved, so did the flexibility for photographers to capture people and scenes in the moment, and candid photos were born.

Candid photography is gaining traction as a lucrative niche for professional photographers to capture raw, authentic photos and moments in time. In the wedding photography market, many couples request a “documentary-style” approach to their wedding photos instead of a list of canned shots. The result is a cohesive story that depicts the events of the day exactly as they unfolded, without the facade of staged poses.

9. Animals


Whether it’s a domesticated pet or wild jungle creatures, animal photography has a way of capturing our attention and keeping it. While it has always been a niche in the photography world, this style has spread to wedding and engagement photos, stock photos, and lucrative pet photo shoots.

10. Landscape


We’ve already discussed how aerial and panoramic photographers are using new techniques to capture beautiful landscapes. There is a growing trend for landscape images as standalone art--without a human or animal subject as the focal point. Photographers are experimenting with new ways to highlight unique characteristics of landscapes, whether it’s the unique textures of water against land or the contrast between shadow and sunlight.

There are nearly limitless ways for photographers to create timeless works of art through these and other trends and by using old equipment and techniques in new ways. It’s an art form that is always changing and opening new doors for creative photographers to showcase their talent.

Friday, May 17, 2019

10 Unusual Types of Photography to Consider for Your Career

One of the most exciting things about photography is the vast potential to express your creativity and artistic strengths in a niche that best suits your talents. While you can experiment with several different styles, most professional photographers choose a particular niche and center their business and customer base around it. Here are ten unusual types of photography to explore.


1. Food


Have you ever snapped a photo of a great meal and posted it on social media? Most of us have. In today’s digital generation, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. As more restaurants and food producers turn to social media for their marketing efforts, food photographers will benefit with more work and greater creative license.

Lighting is one of the biggest skills to master when it comes to photographing food. Whether you are trying to capture the ambiance of a local restaurant or the brightness of a basket of produce, experiment with filters, diffusers, and reflectors to see what paints your subject in the most delectable light.

2. Landscape


If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, you’ve probably snapped your fair share of landscape photos. Photographers in this niche have great success selling their work to travel companies, tourism websites, and directly to consumers as framed art.

Landscape photography used to be limited to wide-angle, horizontal shots, but as technology has changed, so have the possibilities for artistic techniques. Some photographers use drones to capture a unique angle of a well-known landscape. Others experiment with vertical shots or full panoramic views. A good way to see what works best is to photograph the same landscape with several different lenses.


3. Sports


Sports photography is an exciting niche that requires the ability to shoot at high-speeds to capture actions as they happen. With so many photographers crowding professional sporting events, it might seem challenging to break into this niche. As a first step, contact your local little leagues, sports clubs, or high school athletic departments and offer to photograph games and events at no charge. As you get more experience, you will quickly build your reference pool and portfolio.

4. Macro


Macro photography is one of the most specialized and unique niches. It is the art of making objects look much larger than they are in real life while capturing tiny details that would be missed by the naked eye. Macro photography can be done with a wide variety of equipment, from a DSLR camera with a macro lens to a simple smartphone camera and clip-on macro attachment. While it can be difficult to find a regular client base for this niche, many photographers sell their macro photographs as prints or framed art.

5. Wildlife


Wildlife photography is a unique niche that poses some interesting challenges. Depending on the subject, wildlife photographers often operate in dangerous conditions and remote locations. Because they need to capture crystal-clear photos without making the animal aware of their presence, these photographers need top-notch lenses and equipment and must also take precautions to stay safe from both the animals and the environment they shoot in. Despite these challenges, wildlife photography is a popular niche for adventurers and assignments pay well.


6. Pets


For the less-adventurous animal lover, pet photography is an increasingly popular niche to explore. While the subjects can be unpredictable, they are also highly coachable with treats and praise. Just like wildlife photography, pets require lots of high-speed images to catch a few exceptional shots. To get started in the pet photography market, take photos of your own pets and those of your friends and family in exchange for testimonials. Don’t limit yourself to just dogs and cats--showcase your talents by adding prints of some unusual pets to your portfolio, too.

7. Photojournalism


Some of society’s most compelling and memorable stories were captured by photojournalists. This specialized type of photography covers news stories and world events, including natural disasters and wars, as well as historic moments in time like rallies and celebrations. Because these photos are in high demand with newspapers, magazines, and online publishers, photojournalists tend to be paid well and receive a great deal of notoriety for their work. Photojournalists are skilled at capturing the essence of a historic event and not necessarily a perfect shot.

8. Stock photos


There is a large market for stock photos, and it’s growing by the day. Organizations of all types and sizes use stock photography for marketing purposes and to accompany content, both printed and online. While it may be difficult for some to sell their “art” to someone for commercial gain, stock photography is a lucrative niche for photographers who are just starting their professional careers. Unlike many other types of photography, stock photos can provide passive income to the photographer through repeat sales of the same photo to different buyers.

9. Weather


Weather photography is one of the most unusual types of photography that also delivers truly beautiful images. It features various types of wild weather, including snowstorms, thunderstorms, and even sandstorms. While there is certainly an element of danger that goes along with weather photography, the resulting images are often sold at a high price and can even win awards.

10. Architecture


Architecture photography is in high demand. It is not only used by design companies and architecture firms but also coveted by consumers for its clean, sleek styling and crisp images. It takes practice to capture the right angles and avoid sun glare and reflections, but this niche is the perfect fit for photographers who like to blur the lines between artistic and technical photos.

Whatever type of photographer you want to be, practice will make perfect. Try several different types of photography to get a feel for your strengths and investigate the market before you invest in special equipment. Above all, choose a niche that you enjoy, and your work will reflect your enthusiasm.

Thinking of putting your photos online? Make sure you protect your photos with a watermark.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Turning Your Drone Hobby into a Professional Photography Career



Have you ever wanted to make a professional business taking stunning pictures from hundreds of feet in the air? Drone hobbyists have begun taking their skills piloting the small aircraft into the world of professional photography, creating stunning art pieces. Drone piloting has become one of the swiftest growing hobbies, with hundreds of thousands registered and more to come. As the trends grow, let’s take a glance at what you need to take your drone hobby to a professional photography business.

Why Drone Photography?


Drone photography is an incredibly dynamic method of photography that differs immensely from traditional photography. The rules of lighting and focus change when the lens is dozens, maybe hundreds of feet in the air. This advanced method of photography allows budding professional photographers to achieve unique shots that may not be achievable through the use of traditional photography. The mobile nature of drones also lends itself well to videography, for photographers that may wish to dip their toes into that pool.

What You’ll Need


It goes without saying that you’ll need a drone with camera capabilities, but how do you pick the best gear? The best thing that you can do is lay out a budget that you feel comfortable allocating to your professional efforts and act accordingly. There’s a great number of high-quality drones that come equipped with cameras, so do enough research to determine which fits your needs.

Depending on your experience piloting drones, budding professionals may find it useful to purchase a cheaper drone to practice their skills on. This can help lower the chance of accidents while piloting the camera drone that you intend to base your photography business around.

Past ensuring you have the proper drone for your uses, much of the gear needed is the same as for traditional photography. You may not need a tripod, but photographers make use of multiple different lenses, cameras, lighting, and photo editing software. Make sure that you account for these in your budget as well, as they’re just as necessary to your photography career as the drone itself.


Ensure You’re Licensed


Depending on where you are and what gear you’re using, there’s a good chance you’ll need to license your drone. In all likelihood, you may have already done this as a drone hobbyist, but you may have had to make a new investment to have the best camera for your needs. Over the last few years, the United States Federal Aviation Administration began to add to the rules and regulations that drone operators must follow. It’s vital to make sure that your equipment and usage complies by these regulations, or your photography business won’t be able to make it off the ground.

Practice Aerial Photography Techniques


There are some techniques that apply to traditional photography that fly right out the window once the camera is airborne. For example, utilizing a camera’s zoom is a swift way to ruin a photo taken with a drone. The vibration of the propellers is exponentially magnified the more zoomed the camera is, rendering zooming useless.

There’s a stunning number of differences between traditional and drone photography, so work towards practicing what new techniques work and what old ones won’t. If you don’t have enough practice piloting a drone, use this training period to practice some simple maneuvers until you’re comfortable. It’s strongly suggested that you don’t attach cameras until you know how to pilot the drone alone to help prevent accidents.


Work Towards a Portfolio


The most important part of any creative freelance adventure like photography is to have a compelling and interesting portfolio. If you intend to base your photography around a specific genre, like wedding or newborn photographers, fill your portfolio with your favorite pictures you’ve taken that show your ability in that topic. Similarly, if you intend to be a general photographer with no specific specialty, make your portfolio as diverse as possible.

There’s a fine line when it comes to building your portfolio. It's useful to have a sizable portfolio, but not one so massive that possible clients find it a chore to look through hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. Photographers also must take special care to make sure that each photo in the portfolio serves as a powerful representation of their abilities and skills, so avoid putting in any photograph that isn’t high quality. Many experts recommend having no more than a dozen photos, so pick and choose your absolute best for your portfolio.

Build Your Platform


Once you’ve built a portfolio for drone photography, you can utilize it to begin to build a platform. In the information age, social media is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build an audience. About 77% of businesses use social media to market and platform their services, and your budding professional photography will be best served by following the same plan.

It’s important not to limit yourself to one social media platform, so work towards a platform on everything from Facebook to LinkedIn. That said, Instagram is incredibly popular for professional freelance photographers due to the photo-heavy basis of the website. Those dipping their toes into videography would likely find expanding onto popular video platforms like YouTube to bring as much attention as possible to their efforts.


Be A Professional


Building a business takes a massive amount of effort and patience, so don’t expect to blossom into a huge following over a week. Treat the clients that come your way with respect and a professional decorum to help build a reputation that keeps clients returning and your business growing.

Above all, never give up! Creative pursuits can take a lot, and professional photography requires a lot of time and practice in shooting and editing. You’ll be adding in the skill needed to pilot a drone-operated camera as well, so expect to spend plenty of time practicing and honing your skills. With the proper work put in, you’ll be able to turn your recreational drone hobby into a professional photography business.

Friday, March 29, 2019

How to Choose a Font for Your Watermark

As a photographer, you know how important it is to watermark your photos. Watermarks can ensure that your creativity and business are protected, and they can help build your brand recognition. However, when it comes to choosing a font for your watermark, the decision can be overwhelming. Some estimate that there are approximately 300,000 fonts in the world, representing 60,000 font families. That’s a lot of options. Here are three steps for filtering through these options to find the font that is right for your watermark.

1. Choose a Style


Most of the fonts in the world can be broken into five main categories, each with their own feel, character and look. You can narrow down your options by first choosing a style.

  • Serif: These fonts can be identified by the “feet” or small brushstrokes at the top and bottom of the letters. They have a classic feel and have been around since the 15th century and are the default for many publications. These fonts are considered to be conservative and generally pleasing to eyes. Examples: Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Cambria.


  • Slab Serif: These fonts also have feet at the top and bottom of the letters, but they tend to have solid rectangular “shoes” at the end of the “feet”.  They are bold and contradictory. Depending on the context, they can evoke vintage or modern, urban or rural, bully or nerd feelings. Examples: Clarendon, Rockwell, Courier, Lubalin Graph, Archer.


  • Sans Serif: If you’re catching on to how font categories are named, then you’ve probably guessed that Sans Serif means the letters don’t have feet or shoes. They appeared in the mid-19th century but still convey a modern feel. They are efficient and clean and are increasingly used in websites and other publications. Examples: Arial, Impact, Lucinda Grande, Tahoma, Verdana, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Montserrat, Corbel.


  • Script/Handwriting: As the name suggests, these fonts look similar to handwriting or cursive script. These fancy scripts should be used minimally unless you’re going for a homespun, historical feel. Examples: Yellowtail, Edwardian Script, Lavanderia, Learning Curve Pro.


  • Decorative/Display: These fonts are designed to stand out and grab your attention. They work best for posters, homepages, logos – anything that needs to be bold. At times they can be difficult to read, especially the wilder they get, and should be use sparingly. Examples: New Rocker, Pinewood, Bebas Neue, Curlz, Betty Noir.

2. Stay on Brand


Of course, once you choose a style there are still more decisions to make. The font you choose should closely resemble your logo. This makes it easier for customers to associate the photos with your business. If your logo does not include text, then select a font that is similar to your website brand or other branded content. If you haven’t given much thought to branding, then consider the type of image you want to project. For example, if you take kids photos, you should go with a more casual font type. Or, if you take professional photos, then you should go with a more formal font.

3. Ensure it’s Visible


Once you have a handful of fonts that are appealing to you, test each one on a photo to see how well it appears. Visibility will depend on many factors such as the thickness of the letters, opacity, size and location. While you can adjust some of these features – for example, with many watermarking tools it’s easy to increase the opacity – some fonts may be too intricate or delicate for watermarks. Whatever selection you make, you want to make sure it’s visible enough, so you get the credit you deserve, and others know that the photo is yours.


Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Choose Your First Professional Camera


If you’re in the market for your first camera, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the possible options. A high-quality, professional camera is an investment--and not an inexpensive one. The good news is that most cameras on the market today are of good quality, so you’re not likely to select one that simply doesn’t work. The trick is finding precisely the right camera for your specific needs so that it will serve your photography business (or hobby) for years to come.

With such a wide range of options when it comes to models and features and accessories, how do you narrow the field? It’s easier than you think if you understand what you want and need before you start shopping. You’ll be better able to zero in on the models with the features you need, without feeling distracted and overwhelmed by the many others that you don’t need. Here is what you need to know before you begin your search.

Know the different camera types


There are many different types of cameras, ranging from simple smartphone cameras to high-end digital versions. If you’re looking for your first professional camera, however, there are two major types you should investigate.

DSLR




DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex cameras, are what most people think of when they picture a professional photographer snapping away on a photo shoot. These cameras are composed of two distinct parts: the body of the camera and the lens. They also feature a mirror, or “viewfinder” of sorts, that allows you to preview the image before you shoot it.

When it comes to DSLR cameras, the right lens makes all the difference in image quality. The better the lens, the better the image. Since lenses are interchangeable, it’s easy to customize the image output and quality by experimenting with different lens types (more on lenses in a bit).

For most beginning professional photographers, a DSLR camera is a safe, simple choice with adequate functionality to meet their needs.

Mirrorless


Mirrorless cameras have entered the scene in the last few years, as an alternative to the DSLR. While they have most of the same internal components as their DSLR counterparts, as well as interchangeable lenses, they feature an electronic (or mirrorless) viewfinder, making the entire camera smaller and lighter.

A downside of mirrorless cameras is that their sensors are smaller than DSLRs. As a result, they aren’t as advanced when it comes to registering image depth or shooting in low light.

A note on brands


The bottom line is that the brand of camera you buy has very little impact on image quality. It all comes down to the quality of lenses and the artistry of the photographer behind the lens. While the two most well-known manufacturers are Canon and Nikon, one of the several other emerging brands may suit your needs at a lower price. Rather than getting hung up on a specific brand, try several models from each manufacturer to find the one that is most comfortable for you to use and that best suits your needs.

Set a budget


When it comes to professional cameras, “ballpark pricing” doesn’t really exist. DSLR cameras range from several hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The best course of action is to decide how much you want to spend and look for a camera within that range. You’ll find one. The key is to narrow down which features you can’t live without and which you can sacrifice to stay within budget.

Identify “must have” vs. “nice-to-have” features


The list of flashy features you could get as part of your new camera are nearly endless. Some are essential, while others you’ll probably never use. One feature that you’ll definitely need as a professional photographer is the ability to switch to manual mode. In automatic mode, the camera decides on shutter speed and light exposure for you. In manual mode, you control the settings yourself, giving you greater artistic freedom to take a variety of shots. Speaking of light, you’ll also want to double check the ISO, which is the camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO will ensure that you can shoot in low light conditions without a flash.

Other features, like megapixels, might seem like crucially important concerns at first glance, but you should be aware that a huge number of megapixels won’t add to your image quality. Past a certain number of megapixels (around 20), there isn’t a noticeable difference in quality. Don’t be distracted by the “noise” of features you don’t really need. Instead, focus on the features that best suit your needs and will help capture the types of images you want to shoot.

Decide which lenses and accessories you need


Whether it’s interchangeable or permanent, the right lens will make all the difference to your photos. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know about lenses.

First off: focal length. It determines the angle that your lens will capture. Wide angle lenses cover a larger view, while telephoto lenses capture a narrow view. Next up is the aperture, which is the hole inside the lens that controls the light that enters the camera. The larger the aperture, the more expensive the lens will be, but you’ll also be able to shoot in much darker conditions.

There are plenty of lens options to choose from-- all with unique impacts on focal length and aperture. If you have a particular niche or style in mind for your photographs, you may want to consider a specialty lens like a fisheye, macro, or tilt-shift lens.

Know where to shop


There are many different outlets to purchase your camera, including online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops. The best course of action is to start with your online research and once you’ve decided on your budget, type of camera, desired features, and required lenses, to start comparing prices.

Keep in mind that you can purchase a gently used camera or even rent a particular camera before you buy it to make sure it suits your needs. Many local shops offer used cameras and rental options.

As you search for your first professional camera, remember that the only “perfect” camera is the one that is perfect for you. Don’t be intimidated by the many choices available. Take the time to understand what you need before you ever start looking. The choice will become much clearer when you’re armed with the right information
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