Some “Make Your Life Easier” Tips

This is a bit of a hodgepodge of, I guess you could call them workflow avoidance problems. One of the things that years of experience gives you, usually after stumbling into the pothole, is things you do to avoid problems, make things run smoother. After a few bumps they become habits, self-preservation.

These are the practical tips pros share with each other; the little things that crop up in conversations or you spot someone doing along side you in a fun shoot.

  1. The first thing I do when I get a new camera is to find the menu command that turns off the option of shooting with out a memory card. The default is it turned on so the guy at the camera store does not have to find a card to show you how the camera works. It’s a safety net, you don’t want to pickup your camera in a rush to get the shot then find out after the moment is gone, and there was no card.
  2. You probably don’t need the highest speed largest memory card. The expensive high-speed cards are overkill for most photographers. Unless you are a using a pro camera designed for shoot high-speed shutter for action like sports or wildlife. You don’t need it. High Speed cards get the image out of the camera’s buffer and onto the card fast enough to keep up with the shutter speed. Most buffers can hold several images in memory while transferring is taking place so even short bursts can be handled easily. The way you can tell if you need one is that while taking your rapid speed images the camera suddenly stops taking image. The buffer is full and the card transfer rate cannot keep up the flow. If that does not happen to you, you don’t need the high-speed card. Saves you big bucks; the regular card is about 10% to 50% of the high-speed card cost.
  3. You don’t need and should not get the large memory cards. I work with 8gig-sized cards. They can hold about 200 images when I take both raw and large jpg. If I am shooting a big project I don’t want more than that on one card. If the card becomes damaged or lost, I lose the whole gig. Some photographers will change cards half way through a setup, they keep  rotating cards so all cards hold a full range of the session.
  4. LCD lighting adjustment. The LCD viewfinder is not a great way to determine how your image is doing but it does help. You can adjust the brightness of the LCD screen though, which will help. Usually it’s to bright, fooling you about exposure. Take some exposures; load them into your computer. Adjust brightness on the camera to match your monitor.  Now it’s a little more useful. Remember though that the image you see have been processed by the camera by the scene option for the jpg.
  5. Don’t erase or delete the images on the card. Especially don’t do that from your computer. Once you have pulled the images off the card and have made a duplicate backup copy then format the card in the camera. This will save you from all sorts of image damage problems.
  6. Do a random test shot. Do it before you pack up your camera for a location shoot, or before you start your studio session. Take a random shot, connected to flash if you are going use flash. Check out the image with histogram. Any problems will show up, wrong camera settings like color temp, ISO speed, dead battery, auto focus turned off. Stuff you might not notice once the session starts.
  7. Update your firmware. Most of the SLR cameras, even many of the pocket cameras are able to update the firmware. These fix bugs, add improvements, sometimes even new features. They are free and don’t happen very often. Your instruction manual will give you the steps to do this. Your camera will have a menu that shows the firmware version you have. Check the maker’s website to see if a higher number is out. It may happen a few times in the life cycle of your camera. Usually shortly after the camera release as they fix bugs.
  8. Quality checks the focus of your killer shot. Your small LCD screen is like a contact sheet from the film days. Nearly everything looks sharp small, especially with the LCD screen enhancements. On location when you can fix the shot, zoom in randomly on your mages to look at the critical focus point. Its easier to fix it with a on the spot reshoot rather than a redo shoot.

There are lots more but this is a good base start for you. When you take courses or are watching live webinars, watch the background and the photographer working his gear. There is a real education there.


Mark Laurie map, spa, FellowPPOC
Mark is a photographer, instructor and writer. His 35 yr old Calgary based studio specializes in photographing women. Mark has had his own TV show, written 3 books plus 4 limited edition books. His Revealing Venus experience workshops run out of Italy.