How to Get Kids Interested in Photography

Kids are fickle creatures. One day they’re into painting and drawing, the next day they want to learn to play guitar, and pretty soon they’ve moved on to something else entirely like soccer or basket-weaving. For parents who want to get kids interested in photography, it can seem like a losing battle. They are competing with all the other hobbies and activities occupying their kids’ time and energy, and when they finally show some interest, it can be fleeting at best. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that you can use to build a child’s interest in taking photos, and perhaps help you form a stronger bond with them in the process.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 1

Get Them a Camera

The first step in getting kids interested in photography is to get them a camera! If you’re comfortable with them using yours, then by all means, hand over your DSLR, mobile phone, or even an old point-and-shoot. Another option is to let them use their mobile phone or tablet. I found that the best solution for me and my kids was to get them each an old point-and-shoot camera from eBay. These old cameras still pack a big punch and can go a long way towards igniting a child’s interest in photography.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 2

Old point-and-shoot cameras, like this Canon A70, can’t stack up to their modern counterparts, but they are very inexpensive and often have features like optical zooms and creative filter modes. Perfect for getting kids interested in photography.

Give Your Kids Some Photographic Parameters

I used to be the computer teacher for a K-12 school, and I remember helping kindergarteners and first-graders explore creative apps. These apps allowed them to draw, create music, and express themselves in various ways while learning more about the digital devices they were using. One valuable lesson I learned soon after my first semester began was that children almost always produced better results when given a framework in which to work.

Allowing total freedom usually meant a classroom full of blank stares and nervous confusion, but giving a few parameters like ‘draw a family of elves’ or ‘create music that makes you think of summer’ was like watering the parched earth, and all sorts of creative results soon sprang forth. The same principle holds true for adults who want to help children explore photography. Giving some structure or rules goes a long way towards helping them explore.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 3

This concept seems counter-intuitive, but it works more often than you might think. Instead of giving a camera to a child and telling him or her to ‘take pictures of something’ try offering some guidance or rules. Say things like…

  • Take five photos of something that makes you happy
  • Go outside and take 15 pictures of bugs
  • Find photos that represent every color of the rainbow
  • Take a piece of silverware from the kitchen and photograph it in ten different, unusual settings
  • Find a friend and take pictures of as many emotions as you can think of
  • Go to the park and take photos of 13 different flowers

Scenarios and parameters like these give children enough direction to be creative and explore photography while also producing results they can be proud of.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 4

The rule here was ‘take pictures of things that move.’

Let Your Kids Break the Rules

One of the fun, or frustrating, parts about giving kids some rules is watching how quickly they want to break them. Sometimes that’s not okay, especially when breaking the rules would put them in danger or cause harm to other people. When embarking on creative endeavors, it never hurts to experiment and push the boundaries. Some might say you have to learn the rules first to know how to break them, and I understand that. However, if your only goal is to get kids excited about taking pictures, don’t worry so much about technicalities such as understanding the ‘Rule of Thirds’ or the ‘Brenizer Method.’ Instead, just let them push some simple rules you set forth.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 5

My kids and I went out to find pictures of animals, but one of them wanted to take pictures of flags instead. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and he got some pictures like this one that he loves as a result.

For example, if you start with the first tip and tell your child to take five photos of something that makes them happy, it won’t be long before they ask you if they can take ten photos of something that makes them nervous. They might want to take photos of grass instead of flowers, or want to play with the video feature instead of taking still images. It’s all about process over product, and if children learn and have fun by trying what they want to do, then there’s no reason to stop them.

Go on a Photo Walk With Them

When you think of the term Photo Walk you might conjure images of rain-soaked neon lights in Hong Kong, or impossibly tall skyscrapers of New York, or perhaps pedestrians perambulating past patisseries in a small French villa. Photo walks can be simpler than that, and you can do them right in your neighborhood, whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or on a tropical island. The best part about photo walks is that they’re a fantastic activity that you can do with kids to help them get excited about photography.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography - spider eating grasshopper

My son took this photo of a spider eating a grasshopper while we were on a photo walk. It’s a little out of focus, and the composition isn’t great, but he had fun exploring nature with his camera. That was far more important to me than the technical details.

The first time I took my boys on a photo walk we spent about 40 minutes going a few blocks down the sidewalk they take on their way to school. The territory was very familiar to all of us, but re-framing our little jaunt as a photo-taking exercise put everything in an entirely different perspective. The kids paused every few minutes to snap pictures of flowers, leaves, insects, yard decorations, old cars, and all sorts of other objects they see every day but never really considered as photo subjects.

It was fun to see their eyes light up during the exercise and it was a nice way for us to spend some time together out of the house all doing the same thing. I had my camera too, and my kids were eager to have me take pictures as well. They helped me see familiar things in a brand new way.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 6

Kids find even the most mundane things interesting, such as this baseball sitting in a patch of grass.

Be Present With Your Children

One of the more esoteric techniques to employ when finding ways to get kids interested in photography is to make sure you are a part of the experience. If you hand your child a camera and let them play while you do something else, they miss out on your help, encouragement, and excitement as they take pictures and learn about photography. You, in turn, miss out on spending some valuable time with your child that could help build and strengthen the relationship.

Being present with your children when they learn and explore is great for almost any type of activity, not just photography. Learning and exploring with them helps children feel safe and secure. It gives them a sense of belonging and allows them the freedom to create and explore without the fear of judgment or other adverse consequences—essentially meeting all the needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy. You learn together, share moments and create memories, and end up with some beautiful pictures as a result. You create pictures that tell a story of not just a plant or a bird or a lamp post, but a story of a parent putting everything else aside to share an hour learning, exploring and growing with their child.

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After my son shot some photos of red flowers, the two of us looked through his images together commenting on which ones were our favorite.

Print the Pictures!

As DPS writer Bryan Caporicci once wrote, prints are one of the most meaningful ways that you can enjoy photography and this sentiment applies double when kids are concerned. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with children knows how eager they are to share stories about their lives, impress you with their accomplishments, and show you talents they have or skills they have learned.

With that in mind, make sure that you find a way to get your child’s pictures off the camera, phone, tablet, or other such digital device and into a frame on the wall or a book on the shelf. Printing photos are easy and relatively inexpensive these days, and it is for your exciting your kids to have physical versions of their pictures to show and share. You could even take it a step further and get some larger prints framed and hung on their bedroom wall to help instill a love for the medium that could last for the rest of their lives.

How to Get Kids Interested in Photography 8

My son asked if he could get this photo printed and framed. I’m not exactly sure what he liked so much about it, but it was a very inexpensive way to encourage his interest in photography.

Things Not to Do

Along with all these ways to help children learn and get excited about taking pictures, it’s also worth mentioning a couple of things not to do. Lest you inadvertently snuff out the photographic flame when it’s in such a fragile state of infancy.

Don’t criticize or over-analyze the photos they take. Focus on the positive aspects of their photos and be encouraging. It’s more about the process of learning than the end product, especially at such a young age.

Don’t give children a camera they don’t understand. An old mobile phone or point-and-shoot camera works well, but a DSLR could easily backfire despite your best intentions. Plenty of adults are confused and befuddled by the buttons and menus on DSLRs, and while kids might have fun experimenting with this type of camera, they could easily get overwhelmed and lose interest.

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DSLRs can take better pictures than point-and-shoots, but they’re probably going to confuse most young kids.

Don’t make it about you. If you’re taking pictures with your child, let them be the star of the show and not you. Your pictures might be brighter, more colorful, or better from a technical standpoint, but that’s not the point right now. Your child could easily become discouraged if you compare their work to that of a seasoned adult. So, put your ego aside and focus on the child and helping nurture her newfound interest instead of showing off your pictures.

Don’t continually push them to improve. Let your children grow and develop at their own pace—encourage them, validate their work, and let the journey be the reward. Their interest could wax and wane over time, and they may show an intense interest in photography for a week, followed by two months of not using their camera at all. That’s normal, and if you try to force the issue, you’ll likely see your best intentions wither on the vine.

Sharing your own ideas

Sharing your photography passion with your kids can be incredibly rewarding and exciting. Perhaps some of these ideas give you a starting point if you aren’t quite sure how to begin turning the gears. I’m curious to find out what has worked for you and your kids, and I would love to learn from your experiences as well. Share your ideas, tips, and suggestions in the comments below!

The post How to Get Kids Interested in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to pick the perfect camera for kids

As a parent, one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography for me is sharing my love of photo-taking with my two kids. My wife and I enjoy taking pictures of our two boys, looking through old family photos with them, and involving them as much as we can when we are using our cameras.

However, when our oldest was about five years old he started wanting to get in on the action as well, and that’s when we hit a bit of a road block. We wanted to get him and his younger brother a camera, but with so many options we didn’t even know where to start. Fortunately we found a solution that has worked wonders for us and could be great for you too.

The Options

When we started looking more seriously into cameras for our kids we realized we had several options, all of which we ended up discarding for the following reasons.

Let them use our cameras. As much as we wanted them to get a real hands-on experience with photography, the cameras and lenses we use for formal photo sessions are much too expensive to hand over to our little boys. When they’re older we will certainly let them use our camera gear, but not at such a young age.

Invest in rugged point-and-shoot cameras. Some cameras made by Olympus and Panasonic are designed to take a bit of punishment and seem ideal for kids, but we didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a camera that our kids might enjoy for a few days and then put aside in lieu of something else. (As parents we have learned that our kids’ enjoyment of a particular toy or object is rarely correlated with the amount it costs, and just because something is expensive by no means ensures they will like it or use it more than once!)

I have no idea why, but my six-year-old is obsessed with taking pictures of ceiling fans. This has led to some good discussions about shutter speeds and also the effect of flash when freezing motion.

Purchase a kid-oriented camera. If you search online you can find dozens of kid-oriented cameras that have big buttons and bright colors, but all the ones I have used have been quite unimpressive. Tiny low-quality LCD screens, slow response times, horrible image quality, and awful sound effects all seem like they are designed specifically to suck the enjoyment out of photography altogether.

Let them use an old mobile phone camera. This seems to make a lot of sense given the prevalence of tablets, phones, and other devices with cameras and touch-screen technologies, but we ultimately decided against it. We didn’t want the hassle of dealing with internet restrictions and app downloading, especially when our kids are so young. In the future we might open this door, but for now we’re more comfortable giving our kids an actual camera instead of a device that has many functions, including a camera.

The more we looked at choices available to us the more we seemed to hit dead ends, until we came up with a solution that seemed to check many boxes all at once: we would buy each of our kids a used point-and-shoot camera.

Old point-and-shoots can’t match modern cameras, but they’re not too shabby either. And when a kid can snap a picture of a sunrise with their very own camera, it’s a fun moment to witness.

The solution

A used point-and-shoot camera hit every one of our criteria. And the more research we did, the more we realized that this plan had almost no drawbacks and a variety of benefits including…

Price. You can look on eBay or used gear sites like for used point-and-shoots and find plenty of options for $25 to $50. That’s well within the range that we are comfortable spending on a toy, and if our kids lose interest or break their cameras accidentally, we haven’t lost a lot of money.

Selection. The sky really is the limit when it comes to selecting a used point-and-shoot, and no matter your budget you can probably find one that suits your needs – especially if the goal is to give it to a child. As a starting point search for “Powershot”, “Coolpix”, or “Cyber-Shot” and sort by price to see plenty of low-cost point-and-shoot options.

A quick eBay search for Canon PowerShot digital cameras between $25 and $50 turns up dozens of results.

Features. I owned a few small pocket cameras way back in college and over the years I had forgotten how many features these old things had! Most of the ones we looked at included things like optical viewfinders, video recording, optical zoom lenses, self-timers, limited manual controls, white balance options, various metering modes, macro/portrait modes, custom scene settings, and instagram-style filters. Some of these require digging through menus, but it’s all there for children to explore and figure out, which is part of the fun of photography in the first place.

Image quality. Can a decade-old point-and-shoot match the quality and megapixels of a modern DSLR or smartphone? Of course not. Most of the cameras you are likely to find will be in the 3-megapixel range, which pales in comparison to any modern camera. And good luck taking pictures at high ISO values. But the point is to use this as a way to get kids interested in photography, and no child I know is going to balk at having only 3 megapixel images. That’s plenty big enough to crop and print. (Remember, a 4×6 photo at 300dpi is only 2 megapixels.)

Image quality on a used point-and-shoot can’t rival a DSLR, but it can be easily and cheaply replaced if dropped in water when taking pictures of turtles. And that’s almost what happened when this photo was taken.

After all our investigating we ended up getting our boys each a Canon PowerShot DS450 Digital ELPH from eBay. We paid $27 for one and $29 for the other, including shipping. Our kids (age 6 and 3 when they received them) were so thrilled they could hardly put them down. They called them their “Professional Cameras” and quickly started taking pictures, experimenting with different options, and figuring things out in the menu screens while teaching each other what they had learned.

Over time our kids have learned a lot more about photography and how to use their cameras to get the images they want. And they really enjoy experimenting with the self timer and taking short videos too. We made albums for each of them within our Apple Photos app. Over the past year they have built their libraries up with thousands of pictures which they like looking through and sharing with others.

This picture of grandma and grandpa’s dog isn’t going to win any awards, but my son had fun taking it and it helps him remember this visit.

At times their interest has waxed and waned, and sometimes a month will go by without them picking up their cameras. But that’s how kids are with most toys, and I don’t think the situation would be any different had we spent $200 on a brand-new kid-friendly point-and-shoot. The situation isn’t all sunshine and roses though, and there have been some drawbacks and risks that any parent would need to take into account when buying a used camera.

The risks

Purchasing anything used, whether it’s a camera or a car, carries with it its own set of risks and parents should be aware of what they are getting into.

Gear condition. If you get a new camera, whether it’s a brightly-colored toy camera or an advanced drop-resistant point-and-shoot, you can be fairly certain that the product you pay for is the same as the product you receive. It will also likely come with a warranty, but neither of these is the case with used cameras. Reputable sites like KEH, B&H, and Adorama rate their items with a scale that gives you a pretty good expectation of their condition, but what you get in the mail might have scratches, dents, or other defects you might not expect.

Both of the cameras we got on eBay had dings and dents, but my kids didn’t mind at all and I would suspect most kids (especially very young ones) wouldn’t even notice.

Beware of auction sites. If you have never used eBay or other auction sites before, navigating their options can seem like a bit of a digital minefield. Look closely at seller ratings, return policies, and buyer-protection options before making a purchase. And if you come across a camera deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. The same goes for cameras you might find on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the seller.

Accessories not included. Depending on where you get your camera it may or may not come with niceties like a wrist strap, a memory card, or even a charger or working battery. The cameras we got for our kids had batteries that barely held a charge, so we got a pair of third-party batteries for about $15. It wasn’t too big of a deal but it served as a good reminder of the difference between buying used vs. buying new. Things like this aren’t deal-breakers and your pocketbook will be still be much happier, even if you do have to buy some of these additional items.

On a recent trip to the local botanic gardens my kids finally got to be the ones taking pictures of daddy, not the other way around. Simple wrist straps definitely helped them keep track of their cameras in the process.

The lesson here is one that has rung true for ages, ever since humans began trading for goods and services: caveat emptor—let the buyer beware. If you do a little bit of research, ask questions, and trust your instincts you will probably end up with a perfectly good camera that will be great for kids.

It’s been well over a year since my wife and I got used point-and-shoot cameras for our boys, and despite a few hiccups, the experiment has been a resounding success. It has not ignited some latent passion for photography, but our boys have had fun experimenting and exploring and creating – and thus far they haven’t broken their cameras either.

My three-year-old took this with the pocket camera we bought him for under $30. I asked him why, and he told me he just liked the colors of the bike.

Meanwhile my wife and I rest easy knowing that they can’t access harmful internet sites or download strange apps onto their 2005-era digital cameras. And if our kids do end up breaking or damaging their point-and-shoots it will be a very cheap problem to solve. (As a bonus, if they do break their cameras we plan to use it as a financial lesson and make them save up for replacements.)

If you or someone you know has kids who are interested in photography, I highly recommend checking out the many used cameras available to you before shelling out hundreds of dollars on a brand-new model or buying a cheap kid-friendly camera with actual bells and whistles, but limited capacity for photography. The risk is fairly minimal, the results can be quite rewarding, and you might even find yourself renewing your own excitement for photography simply by helping teach the younger generation what makes the art form so special to you.

The post How to pick the perfect camera for kids appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Peak Design Travel Backpack

Back in 2015, when my wife and I were looking for a bag she could carry her laptop and other work-related items in, we stumbled across a Kickstarter project for the Everyday Messenger from Peak Design. It wasn’t the cheapest option, but it looked like it would stand up to the wear and tear of daily use. And it looked like the company had put a lot of thought into making a solid bag that would meet her needs.

After a bit of research, and comparing it with other bags, we bought one. It was our first experience with Peak Design products. But it certainly wasn’t our last.

Photo of Peak Design's Travel Backpack

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

My wife, who is not a photographer, still uses it every day. In fact, we were so impressed with it that I bought their follow-up product – the Everyday Backpack – for myself.

I take it on my bicycle commute to work every day. I also use it to carry my camera gear when I shoot photos for clients. Its quality, usefulness, and thoughtful design touches are impressive, and illustrate how Peak Design made these products to suit photographers as well as everyday people.

When I found out Peak Design was expanding its offerings from everyday-style bags to a line of products that focus on travel, I was intrigued. The Messenger and Backpack bags have served my wife and I well over the years, and I was eager to see whether the Travel Backpack could live up to the legacy created by their other products.

Travel Backpack filled with camera gear.

The Travel Backpack isn’t specifically focused on photographers, but Peak Design has clearly kept photographers in mind with this bag.

Testing the Traveler

To thoroughly test the Travel Backpack I used it to carry everything I needed for a five-day, 1800-mile road trip up and down the midwest United States to see friends and family. I stuffed it to the brim with:

  • my camera
  • shorts, socks, shirts, and pants
  • my personal care items
  • a Nintendo 2DS XL
  • a host of chargers
  • an iPad for watching Netflix in hotel rooms.

It was tossed around in my car, loaded and unloaded multiple times, and hoisted up and down so many flights of stairs that I lost count.

It performed flawlessly.

I was immediately impressed at the level of design and consideration that went into the Travel Backpack. They’ve made dozens of tweaks and flourishes to every aspect of this bag that separate it from most run-of-the-mill carrying companions. It’s the attention to detail you’d expect with a bag of this caliber and price. The fabric is thick, the fasteners and clips are sturdy, and the zippers are easily accessible. It’s got pretty much everything I wanted in a travel container, as well as some things I didn’t even realize I was looking for.

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

When I returned my wife, who’d recently attended a work conference on the East Coast, said she wished she’d had the Travel Backpack instead of her usual carry-on suitcase. And I’d say the same would hold true for just about anyone. We have a nice set of luggage that works just fine, but having used the Travel Backpack I’d rather take it over our other travel gear.

Pockets, Pockets Everywhere

The Travel Backpack is big enough to hold everything from cameras and clothes to shoes and shower items, yet small enough to fit in an airplane carry-on cargo hold. Pockets abound in the Travel Backpack, with every nook, cranny, corner and flap having a cavity or pouch tucked away for all manner of trinkets, tchotchkes, memory cards and power cables.

The well-padded shoulder straps can be tucked away beneath thick flaps that snap shut with a satisfying magnetic click. When the bag is zipped up and read to be tossed into a trunk or overhead airplane bin, additional pockets on the sides let you get to your essentials at a moment’s notice.

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

Of course, all those extra are useless if you can’t get to them easily. Thankfully the Travel Backpack gives you plenty of ways to get to your cargo. The back of the unit (the part that you actually carry on your shoulders) unzips and folds back to reveal the entire contents of the pack, leaving nothing hidden or tucked away behind recessed side panels. In a nod to the Everyday Backpack, the sides unzip so can grab something quickly without having to open up the entire bag. And the front zipper lets you access a separate portion of the bag, which can be useful for stowing laptops, tablets, notebooks and other thin items.

One of the hallmarks of the Travel Backpack is how you can tweak and change it to suit your needs. Want more space? Gussets on the front unzip so you can stow significantly more cargo. Need less space? You can squeeze the bag down to a more manageable size by collapsing the top with two convenient snaps. Don’t need  the shoulder straps? Tuck them away behind the magnetic flaps to keep them out of your way.

A tall thin pocket runs from top to bottom on the inner back flap for stowing super thin items, with another pocket inside it. Or you can keep the pockets closed with the Velcro attachments and ignore them altogether.

Whatever you want to bring, there’s probably a pocket to hold it. Photo courtesy of Peak Design.

If you simply want a massive, cavernous, well-designed duffel bag, unzip the divider separating the small front portion from the spacious main portion to create a single massive chamber that can hold just about anything.

This illustrates the many ways the Travel Backpack would be great for just about anyone on the go.

Sweating the Details

Peak Design has incorporated a number of small details in this bag that make it ideal for travelers. Interlocking external zipper straps discourage unscrupulous tourists from swiping your gear. Attachment points on the inside give you convenient locations to strap down your items so they don’t move around. Handles on the top, bottom, sides and back let you carry the Travel Backpack in whatever way suits your needs. And the entire product is just the right size to fit neatly into an airplane overhead bin.

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

The all-round build quality is astounding, just as I’d expect after owning two other Peak Design bags for several years. And no, I’m not being paid to say this. I was a K-12 teacher for five years, and completely wore out several bags inthat time. Let’s just say I can tell a cheaply made bag when I see one, and the Travel Backpack is anything but.

The outer shell is made from thick Kodra fabric, which feels tough and sturdy while still having a degree of flexibility that lets the bag squish and stretch as needed. The main zipper is thick and chunky, and all zippers are hidden beneath long thin flaps that, presumably, providing a degree of weatherproofing and  a sense of security. A casual observer probably wouldn’t even see them.

Even though I wasn’t exactly gentle with the Travel Backpack on my road trip, five days isn’t nearly enough time to assess long-term durability. For that I look to my Everyday Backpack and Everyday Messenger which, after years of near-daily use, barely show any signs of wear and tear. I’d expect no less from the Travel Backpack. Admittedly some of the inner pouches and flaps don’t have the same degree of thickness, but it’s nothing I’m worried about. Peak Design products have a lifetime warranty, so if anything did fail it would be taken care of by the manufacturer. It’s nice to see a company willing to stand behind their products like this.

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

While the Travel Backpack itself is highly useful, customizable and durable, it really excels when paired with accessories such as the Tech Pouch, Wash Pouch, Camera Cube and Packing Cubes. These are optional, but highly recommended if you have specific use-case scenarios in mind, such as carrying cameras and lenses with your clothes and toothbrushes. These accessories are designed to fit inside the Travel Backpack and, in the case of the Camera Cube, include mounting points and special hardware to ensure minimal movement and shuffling around.

If you want to use the Travel Backpack for carrying camera gear, you will definitely want to get the optional Camera Cube. Photo courtesy of Peak Design

The Camera Cube is specifically designed to fit the needs of people who carry cameras and lenses. It comes in three sizes – small, medium and large – with each one using Velcro dividers to create spaces to hold your gear. While other bags use similar systems, the flex-fold dividers used by Peak Design can be folded and reconfigured to a greater degree than I’m used to seeing.

Apart from the Camera Cube, my favorite packing accessory was the Tech Pouch. It help every electronic item I brought with me (other than my iPad), and neatly stowed all my cables, chargers and game cartridges too. It stands upright when open, revealing the entire contents and giving you instant access to anything inside. The Wash Pouch is fine for holding toiletries for a single person, but if you’re traveling with a companion don’t expect everything to fit in a single pouch.

The Camera Cube is secured in place by sturdy anchors you can detach. But they’re a bit tricky to operate, and constantly inserting and removing the Camera Cube can be frustrating, especially if you have larger fingers.

More of a curiosity are the Packing Cubes, which hold clean and dirty clothes. They do a good job, but I’m not sure they’re worth the price when you can do essentially the same thing with a plastic bag. But to be fair, plastic bags aren’t made of lightweight breathable fabric, nor do they have zippers to close them up tight.

Travelers, Photographers, and Photographers Who Travel

At this point you might be asking what all of this has to do with photography. After all, Peak Design has been designing straps and clips and cases and bags for photographers since the company was founded.

But the Travel Backpack is unique in their lineup. While it’s certainly useful for photographers, particularly with the Camera Cube, it’s designed to fit the needs of anyone who finds themselves on the road and need a durable, versatile, customizable solution to carry their stuff.

The 45L Travel Backpack compared to my 35L Everyday Backpack, with a DSLR and 70-200 lens for scale.

If this sounds like you, and you regularly carry cameras, lenses, filters, spare batteries, small tripods and other items, you’ll be pleased with the Travel Backpack providing you also buy the Camera Cube. But if you need a bag specifically designed to carry camera gear to gigs, or just a versatile all-in-one carrying solution, the Travel Backpack may not be for you. For those situations you might want something smaller, such as the Everyday Backpack or another bag that isn’t quite so bulky.

And therein lies the rub. While the Travel Backpack is an outstanding product, it’s hard to unequivocally recommend this bag because its usefulness depends on your expectations and how you use its many features. If you’re frequently on the move and need to transport a lot of camera gear, clothes, electronics, or even everyday items then the Peak Design Travel Backpack will definitely suit your needs. It surpasses almost every other small suitcase, backpack and carry-on luggage – and then some. I can’t think of a scenario where the Travel Backpack wouldn’t be ideal if your goal  involves traveling.

Photo courtesy of Peak Design

As a daily multipurpose bag for schlepping cameras, lenses, lighting, clothes, documents, laptops or anything else of that nature, another product would more likely suit your needs. It’s sheer size precludes it from being a solid solution for students. And even though the top snaps to reduce its overall size, it’s still too big for photographers who need to transport a few cameras and lenses around town. But if you have a lot of camera gear the Travel Backpack, combined with a large-sized Camera Cube (which almost takes up the backpack’s entire available packing space), could be the solution you need.

Another issue is the price, and I’d be the first to admit the Travel Backpack isn’t the cheapest option on the market. The MSRP for the backpack alone is $300, and that doesn’t include any pouches, camera cubes or even a rain fly, all of which can drive up the cost significantly. If you’re used to carrying your clothes and camera items around in a $30 duffel bag, you might balk at the idea of spending ten times as much for something that, in some ways, isn’t much different.

Snaps at the top allow the bag to shrink in size, but it’s still pretty large and cumbersome for everyday usage.

But when you see how the Travel Backpack is so much more than a duffel bag, along with the quality of the materials, the care and attention to detail, and the way it’s designed specifically to meet the needs of busy people on the go, you might think twice. When I think about the ways my Everyday Backpack and my wife’s Everyday Messenger have come through for us over the years while showing hardly any signs of wear, and compare it to our many bags that have disintegrated, broken or fallen apart, the price of a Peak Design product starts to make more sense.

I’m a big fan of the Travel Backpack, and I hope you can see why. If you’re frequently on the road or in the air, this bag will suit your needs impeccably, especially when used in tandem with the Camera Cube, Tech Pouch, Wash Pouch and Packing Cubes. I have a closet full of duffels and suitcases to carry things on trips. But if I had to pick one bag for my travel needs, it would certainly be this one.

Durability: 5/5

Flexibility: 5/5

Cost: 4/5

Overall Rating: 5/5


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Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

When Adobe announced that they were transitioning their apps to a subscription model of the Adobe Creative Cloud in 2013, I almost fell out of my chair while clutching the cardboard box for my copy of Lightroom 4. It seemed absolutely crazy to me that Adobe would ask photographers and other creative professionals to spend money every month subscribing for software that they could simply buy once and use forever.

In the years that followed I resisted moving to Creative Cloud and continued to buy new versions of Lightroom one by one until a few months ago when I finally bit the bullet and subscribed. I was one of Adobe’s harshest critics in those intervening years and staunchly refused to buy into Creative Cloud for several reasons until I realized five important things that finally got me to switch over.

Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud - couple portrait

Much of my hesitation to switch was due to the fact that I didn’t really understand the service Adobe was offering with their Creative Cloud Photography plan. That’s the one that lets you have Lightroom and Photoshop for $10/month.

What I failed to recognize was that Lightroom and Photoshop are just the tips of the iceberg, and there’s a whole slew of additional Adobe services that users have access to with a CC subscription. None of these by themselves are worth the price but when you examine all the ancillary benefits you get alongside great software it makes the idea of renting the software I used to own a lot more palatable.

Syncing between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC

When you subscribe to the Photography plan you get two versions of Lightroom, each with unique features and benefits designed to cater to specific types of photography workflows.

Lightroom Classic CC is the name of the traditional desktop app that has been around since 2007, now available only through a Creative Cloud subscription. This is for desktop-centric workflows where all your photos reside on a single computer.

Lightroom CC is a new different version of Lightroom designed for a cloud-centric workflow where all your photos reside in the cloud and can be edited anywhere – in a browser, on a tablet, on a phone, or even using Lightroom CC on a desktop computer.

What you might not realize is that you can use both of these programs together, with the key difference being the location where your original pictures actually reside. If you are accustomed to a traditional desktop-centric workflow you can use Lightroom Classic CC to sync specific albums in the Cloud.

This basically uploads low-resolution preview files of your photos to your Creative Cloud account. These previews, then, can be edited anywhere using Lightroom CC and the next time you load Lightroom Classic CC on your desktop all your edits are automatically synced to your original photos and catalog file.

photo editing in Lightroom CC - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

I started editing this photo on my computer in Lightroom Classic CC. Then I pulled it up in my browser and made additional changes which were synced back to my desktop.

The key difference between both types of workflows is that when using albums published to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC, your originals remain on your desktop which means you can’t export high-resolution images from Lightroom CC. However, for photographers who want to edit their pictures on the go and then return to their desktop for any final tweaking and exporting, this is an outstanding solution and one that could make the difference to those on the fence about subscribing.

One final note about this: The $9.99 Photography Plan includes 20GB of cloud storage, but the albums that you publish to the cloud from Lightroom Classic do not count against that 20GB. This is because they use low-resolution previews instead of your actual images which is fine for flagging, cropping, keywording, color correcting, and most of the other adjustments you would want to make on a mobile device.

family photo in Lightroom - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Having access to my photos on mobile has sped up my culling process enormously. It’s much faster for me to flag, reject, and rate photos on my iPad and the results are synced right back to my iMac in Lightroom Classic CC.

Photoshop is Included

I’ll be the first to admit that even though I call myself a photographer I rarely use Adobe Photoshop and instead do most of my post-processing in Lightroom. I do, however, have an old copy of Photoshop CS5 that I bought about eight years ago which I use when I really need to do some heavy processing.

But it’s slow, lacks a lot of modern features, and has an interface and layout that is confusing, to say the least. It also crashes on me a lot which doesn’t exactly help matters whenever I do need to use it.

Despite these issues, the fact that Photoshop is included did not do much to initially sway my barometer when it came to shelling out $9.99 each month for the Creative Cloud Photography plan. I forced myself to get by with what I had even though it was not really suiting my needs anymore.

image in Photoshop - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

But the more I thought about subscribing to Creative Cloud the more I realized how nice it would be to have the full version of Photoshop ready when I needed it.

No need to think about buying, upgrading, or figuring out whether the version I had would really be current with the latest online tutorials. It just started to make sense for a small-time photographer like me to pay what really is a modest monthly fee to have the latest and greatest tools at my disposal for when I needed them.

Since I don’t use Photoshop all that often it would not be worth the price of a Creative Cloud plan by itself, but combined with everything else it sure did make a lot of sense.

Share albums publicly

I take a lot of photos of family, friends, and events just for personal use and like most people, I enjoy sharing these images with others. Until subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud my workflow for this type of sharing was somewhat convoluted and involved exporting small-sized images from Lightroom, saving them to a Dropbox shared folder, generating a public link, and sending that out to others.

I couldn’t do much in the way of limiting access privileges either, and meanwhile, the images were taking up space in my Dropbox account that is perpetually near its limit anyway.

Now my process is much simpler, a lot more efficient, and results in a greater degree of control over what I can actually let other people do with my images. After publishing an album to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC you can log in to Lightroom on the web, on mobile, or just load up Lightroom CC and generate a public link for any synced album.

Moreover, you can get an embed code, choose to allow downloads and show metadata, and even let people filter the photos according to Flag status.

album sharing - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

While the images that are publicly viewable using this method are the low-resolution previews and not full-size images for printing, they are more than enough for most people.

The tradeoff in terms of overall simplicity and ease of use is more than worth it for me, and I’m not taking up valuable space in my Dropbox account or other file-sharing services.

Adobe portfolio

This might not be useful for some photographers but I have found Adobe Portfolio to be an incredible asset as a Creative Cloud subscriber and it really was one of the primary reasons I eventually chose to upgrade. Previously I was paying a service nearly $100/year for my photography website. But when I realized that Adobe Portfolio could do everything I need and was included with a Creative Cloud subscription I canceled my other hosting service and moved everything over to Adobe.

adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Portfolio won’t give you the fanciest website in the world, but it could very well get the job done for you at not much more than what you are paying for a website now.

All Creative Cloud subscribers have access to Adobe Portfolio which, though not as full-featured as some of the other hosting providers, is more than enough for my needs and possibly yours as well. As an added bonus it syncs with Lightroom so I can create albums on my computer and have them synced automatically with my website. Something that was not possible at all with my previous hosting company.

If you are at all interested in Creative Cloud but unsure about the $9.99 monthly fee, I recommend looking at your current website hosting solution and comparing it to Adobe Portfolio. It is quite likely that the latter could suit your needs just fine and end up only costing you a bit more than what you are already paying for a website.

adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Portfolio doesn’t have the breadth of features offered by other website platforms, but it does have a decent selection of themes and some solid options for photographers who want a simple, effective way to showcase their work online.

The price was right

As I looked at all the features offered by Adobe Creative Cloud I kept on coming back to the monthly fee, and for years I just couldn’t reconcile the idea of being locked into a perpetual contract just to use software that I could go out and buy once but use forever. However, I kept coming back to other software I had purchased like Aperture, Final Cut Express, and even other Adobe apps like Fireworks that simply wouldn’t run on my computer anymore.

Sure I had bought these apps but as time went on the only way to use them was to purchase new versions anyway. In the meantime by not upgrading I was losing out on the bug fixes, added features, and overall speed improvements offered by their newer counterparts. In some cases, like Final Cut Express, apps were simply deprecated by their developers leaving me with no choice but to upgrade anyway.

software - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

I’ve paid hundreds of dollars over the years for software that I can’t use anymore, or won’t be able to use in the near future because it has been deprecated by its developers.

I still don’t like the idea of being locked into a monthly fee for software but when I considered all the benefits that came with what really was a modest price (only about $30 more than I was paying just for my website) the choice became clear. I’m not saying that Creative Cloud is right for everybody but it was definitely the right choice for me and, depending on your needs, it could be right for you too.

The post Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

When you strive to get your images right in-camera at the moment you take them you’re going to reap many benefits that you might not even realize.

“Just Photoshop it” has become a recurring theme in photography when it comes to fixing image errors. Depending on who you talk to it can seem like Photoshop is a magic pill that will solve all manner of photographic problems. While it’s true that image-editing applications can help deal with a variety of issues, from correcting exposure to removing objects to swapping a cloudy sky for a sunny one, there’s a lot to be said for the philosophy of using as little editing as possible.

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera - butterfly on a red flower

I didn’t need Photoshop to get this image. Instead, I needed to get up early, know where the light was coming from, and understand how to use my camera equipment.

This is a tricky subject to tackle because there is so much wiggle room when it comes to defining what the term in-camera really means. To some, it means allowing for no post-production at all, even simple cropping. Others define it as getting things mostly correct at the time you press the shutter button, even though some basic adjustments such as straightening or exposure correction might be needed later.

There are photographers for whom getting it right in-camera means looking out for background obstacles, stray hairs, or wayward arms and legs that might otherwise ruin a good picture.

I don’t like to get caught up in the minutia of what in-camera means. But I will say that if you can strive to have more aspects of a picture correct at the time you make the image, the end result will be that much better.

This holds true for most types of photography save for the outlier examples like extreme focus stacking in macro photography or the types of artistic creations and collages that require post-processing.

two kids with arms around each other - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

An ounce of prevention

There’s an old bit of wisdom you might have heard that goes like this:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

It applies to many areas of life and the same holds true for photography as well. If you can take a few seconds to fix problematic areas at the time you take a picture it will save you untold minutes or even hours back at your computer. This took me a while to learn when I first got started with portrait photography. But the more I operate by this philosophy the more efficient my workflow becomes.

portrait of 3 ladies - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

Do you see the green recycle bin on the left side of the photo? It might not look like much, but if this is printed on a large canvas it would stick out like a sore thumb. Background distractions like that are much easier to fix by adjusting things during the session instead of spending time Photoshopping each image later.

Years ago the only things I knew to look for when taking pictures of clients were things like smiling faces and good posing. As such, I often found myself banging my head against my keyboard while going through my Lightroom catalog afterwards because of unwanted distractions in my photos.

Automobiles, pedestrians, trash cans, litter, animals, street lights, and a host of other imperfections can all be fixed in Photoshop but it’s so much easier to just make sure they don’t even show up in your photos in the first place.

portrait 3 ladies in trees - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

Eventually, I did see the recycle bin so I altered my point of view just slightly, which took a few seconds but saved me a lot of post-processing time.

This works for other things too like stray hairs, bits of dirt and debris that can get blown around and land on clients, or unwieldy shirts that like to get un-tucked. These problems can all be solved to some degree or another using computer software but it’s never going to be as fast or simple as just dealing with them when they occur.

The trick to doing this is to be looking out for such things at the time of the photo shoot. That is what took me so long to really learn, and to be honest I’m still learning even now! There are so many things to look out for when taking pictures. That background flotsam or bits of rubbish on the ground might be the last thing on your mind, but they can easily ruin a photo or at the very least cause you to spend much more time eliminating them afterwards than you would like.

My best advice to you in this regard is to simply train yourself to be aware. Look at your surroundings in addition to your subjects, and work on seeing background elements and other distractions that might normally escape your eye.

When you see things, take corrective action and even let your clients in on what’s going on. I have paused many photo sessions to say things like, “Oh no, there’s a street sign in the way behind you. Let’s all take a few steps this way…” and every time it has been appreciated by the people who are paying me to do a good job. It sends a message that you know what you are doing and care enough to get the shots right.

portrait of tweens - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

A more extreme version of this, but one that’s just as important, is to take note of problematic points that cannot be altered in Photoshop and deal with them at the time of the photo session.

Issues like sign posts sticking out of heads, heads turned in the wrong direction, hands in awkward places, or having people with complementary outfits in close proximity to one another can easily ruin an otherwise outstanding photo session and are all but impossible to fix in post-production. The more you look for these problems and fix them on the spot, the better your photography will be.

Lighting and exposure

Years ago with early digital cameras, it was crucial to get the exposure just right at the time you took a photo. But today’s digital cameras have such incredible dynamic range that you can clean up a great deal of exposure issues in post-production. However, this should be used as a last resort and not relied on as a general rule, almost like a safety net below a trapeze artist.

When shooting in RAW you can lower highlights, raise shadows, and adjust color all day long to get just the right look you are aiming for. This is a huge benefit if you are doing work for clients. It’s even useful if you just want to squeeze the most out of your shots as a casual photographer. This type of exposure correction has saved my bacon more times than I can count when doing work for clients.

expecting couple in silhouette - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

This couple was severely backlit which made for a very challenging photo situation.

Despite the flexibility of the RAW format and the editing possibilities offered by many photography applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and Luminar – you will find that it’s best to mitigate potential exposure and lighting issues at the time you take the photo instead of on your computer.

It’s not that you can’t fix exposure issues in post-production later, but that if simple exposure adjustments can make them disappear before you even take a picture then why would you want to spend time fixing it later?

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

It took a lot of editing to wrangle a good result from the RAW file, but I could have just adjusted my exposure settings on the spot and saved myself a lot of time afterwards.

Your time is valuable

The more time I spend as a photographer the more valuable I realize my time really is. Even if you are a working professional who makes 100% of your income from photography, the less time you have to spend editing your images to fix exposure issues means more time doing other things that would help you hone your craft or grow your business. Or time you can spend with your family!

Even though you can fix a host of photographic issues ex post facto there’s no substitute for doing what you can to get it right in-camera and make sure those issues never even happen in the first place. Aside from saving yourself untold hours of time fiddling with sliders and layers on your computer, you will also be growing your skills as a photographer.

It will take some practice as you learn to reduce unwanted distractions and get accurate exposure settings when you press the shutter button. But you will reap rewards in terms of knowledge, confidence, and sheer experience. In the end, the result will be better photos taken by a better photographer, and that’s the kind of benefit you just can’t get by moving sliders around in Lightroom.

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Adobe Portfolio – This Unsung Hero of Creative Cloud Could Save You Money

I have used Adobe Lightroom since version 4 in 2012. After upgrading to version 5 and 6 in the following years, have really grown to appreciate its workflow, comprehensive suite of editing tools and the digital asset management.

When Adobe switched to a subscription model for Lightroom and announced they would no longer offer the product as a standalone license, I started looking at other options because I didn’t want to be locked into a perpetual pricing model. I was already paying nearly $100/year for a website and as a hobbyist photographer with a family and a full-time job, the thought of paying another $120/year for Lightroom seemed crazy.

That is until I discovered Adobe Portfolio and had a complete change of heart.

Adobe Portfolio website landing page

A bit of background

In 2015 I got serious about doing photography work for clients. At that time, I recognized the need to have a professional easy-to-use website to attract clients and showcase my work. I tried a number of options before settling on Squarespace.

Their $96/year fee was entirely reasonable to me because it provided access to dozens of templates as well as a worry-free website I did not have to update or maintain like a self-hosted WordPress installation requires. I appreciated how easy Squarespace was to use as well as its rich set of features including blogging, podcasting, and even tools for buying and selling goods and services.

A few years later as I was investigating software options to replace Lightroom, I stumbled across Adobe Portfolio entirely by accident. I certainly never intended this barely-mentioned service to be the fulcrum on which my decision to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan would rest!

The more I examined what Portfolio had to offer the more I realized that the subscription which includes Portfolio along with Lightroom and Photoshop would be ideal for my needs as a part-time photographer.

This is the homepage for my own Adobe Portfolio site. When users hover over one of the sections with their cursor it shows the name of that particular photo gallery.


While Squarespace handled all my website needs with aplomb, it also offered many things I did not use at all. Portfolio, on the other hand, is almost anemic by comparison but uniquely suited to fit the basic needs of most photographers.

It does not have all the options, tools, integrations, and flexibility of other platforms including Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress. But as a photographer who just wanted a simple way to showcase my work, it fit the bill perfectly.

For me the choice was clear. I could sign up for the Creative Cloud Photography plan for only a few dollars more than what I was paying for my Squarespace website and get Lightroom, Photoshop, and a beautiful website that did everything I needed. I canceled my Squarespace account, signed up for Creative Cloud, and couldn’t be any more pleased with how things have worked out.

Start with a theme

If you have a Creative Cloud plan you already have access to Portfolio and you can get started by visiting and entering your Adobe ID. After that, you begin the process of building your website by selecting a theme. Right away you may notice one of the significant shortcomings of Portfolio compared to other website services. There are only eight themes from which to choose. This dearth of options can be a source of frustration if you’re used to a myriad of themes on other platforms.

Adobe Portfolio themes

Some photographers might balk in horror at the idea of only having eight template options but I saw it as a way of streamlining my design approach. I couldn’t spend hours poring over different templates if I only had eight to choose from, so it only took me a few minutes to select one that suited my tastes just fine.

The templates do allow for some editing and customization but you are limited to the basic look and feel of how they are laid out. This approach is similar to how many mainstream website platforms operate and is well suited to photographers who would rather spend their time taking and editing pictures instead of poring over lines of HTML code.

It’s also worth noting that you can change templates at any time. So if you are not sure where to start you can just pick one that you like and begin editing with the freedom to change it later. I settled on the Mathias template but any of the eight options would work well for photographers who want a simple, pleasing, and functional website.

Lightroom Integration

The ace in the hole for Portfolio and a standout feature that allows it to really shine despite its lean feature set is the way that it integrates seamlessly with Lightroom. This is a huge boon for photographers who rely on Lightroom for their editing and digital asset management, and one of the big reasons it makes sense to consider Portfolio as a worthwhile website platform.

On the editing screen, there is a giant blue Add Content button which gives you access to four different options: Page, Lightroom Album, Gallery, and Link. Any photo collections in Lightroom CC, or those you have synced with Lightroom CC from Lightroom Classic CC, will show up as options when you click Lightroom Album. There is no need to export images and upload them individually. Choose Lightroom Album and the full Lightroom Web interface will load which will let you select any of the albums to be automatically displayed on your website.

You can also manually upload pictures via drag-and-drop interface but I found it much easier to manage images by loading them from Lightroom.

add content Adobe Portfolio

Editing Website Content

In addition to loading images directly from Lightroom, you can create content right from within Portfolio. This is useful if you want a few image galleries to showcase your work while also having elements like an About Me and pricing pages. Individual pages can contain blocks of text and images with captions, and elements can be re-ordered using a simple drag-and-drop interface. There’s even an option for inserting a Contact page which can contain many different fields that you are free to customize.

After creating a Page, Lightroom Album, or Gallery the ever-present floating menu lets you edit the unique characteristics of the element you just created. This floating menu took me a little while to get used to but now I don’t mind it at all.

My contact page using Portfolio.

It never really goes away but you can expand and collapse the panes and use the three horizontal lines at the top to move it around so it’s not in your way. While you can’t go so far as editing the actual CSS code you can make changes to things like background color, page header, and fonts.

editing options Adobe Portfolio

It won’t take you long to get the hang of this workflow but you also may get frustrated at what initially feels like a criminal lack of options. As you poke around with the tools available you will likely hit some brick walls, just as I did, when you find out you can’t insert pull-quote text boxes, customize the appearance of individual blocks of text, or embed elements such as a blog feed. Slideshow options are limited as well, and this is where some people might hang their head in frustration and run back to WordPress with open arms.

However, keep in mind that the purpose of Adobe Portfolio is to offer a simple way for photographers to showcase their work. It’s not supposed to be a comprehensive all-in-one web publishing platform, and within the context of that framework, the limitations in terms of choices and options make a little more sense. You can add a custom logo, change the appearance of your pages, embed dozens of web elements, and even password-protect your site if you so choose.

site options box - Adobe Portfolio

Portfolio lets you use a custom domain name as well, and though this process is fairly straightforward it does add a little extra to the cost of the service. Portfolio nor Adobe cannot actually register your domain so you will need to go to a third-party site like Dreamhost, Hover, or Register to set it up. Most domain names cost about $15/year which isn’t much but it does bring the total cost to around $135/year when you add that to a Creative Cloud subscription.

setting up your page in Adobe Portfolio

The Happy Middle Ground

The entire idea of a website might seem like somewhat of an anachronism in today’s social media-saturated internet. Many photographers have elected to forego a traditional web presence entirely in favor of building a brand and following on social media.

The downside of this approach is that your audience experience can be tainted by design decisions and embedded advertising entirely beyond your control, and there are always going to be a subset of potential clients who choose not to engage on social media at all and will, therefore, miss out on the chance to view your work.

My family portrait gallery.

Websites might not have the shine and excitement that they once did but there are still plenty of good reasons to build and maintain your own presence on the internet. To that end, Adobe Portfolio offers a compelling set of features for literally no cost at all if you already subscribe to any of Adobe’s Creative Cloud plans.

If you don’t currently subscribe to Creative Cloud but do pay a third-party provider to host your website you might want to give Portfolio a second look. Think of it as paying about the same as you are now for a website, but with the added bonus of world-class photography software like Lightroom and Photoshop thrown in at no extra charge.

Adobe Portfolio options

Your opinion of Adobe Portfolio will likely depend on your needs for a website and your expectations of what Portfolio can offer. If you want an extensive do-everything website solution, Portfolio is going to fall short in many respects and you’d be better off with something like Squarespace.

But if you want a simple platform that lets you display your work for the world to see, in a manner that you choose, without any intrusive third-party advertising or corporate mining of your personal data, I can’t recommend Portfolio highly enough.

Rating: 5/5

The post Adobe Portfolio – This Unsung Hero of Creative Cloud Could Save You Money appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Lightroom is anything but intuitive for new photographers. Its multitude of panels, sliders, menus, and buttons are enough to make your head spin. But fortunately, there’s hope for even the most beleaguered beginner.

Amid all the options and icons is a single panel in the Develop module that can handle most of the basic editing tasks you are likely to need on any given image. Appropriately titled “Basic,” this one panel contains a plethora of sliders each with its own unique effect.

Once you get the hang of these you’ll start to feel right at home with the way Lightroom works. The first step in becoming familiar with the Basic panel is understanding what each of the sliders does, so let’s examine each of them in detail.

maternity photo - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

You and Lightroom: A match made in heaven

The Lightroom Basic Panel

The Basic panel is broken into three general areas; WB (or White Balance), Tone, and Presence.

Each has a few sliders that control specific types of edits and it’s not uncommon for 95% of your editing to be done right within this one panel.

Despite its meek-sounding name, the Basic panel is a powerful and highly effective tool that you can use to give your images the type of punch visual appeal you need.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

These sliders are in the Basic panel, but they can do quite a lot.

The Temp Slider

Lightroom’s nomenclature can seem somewhat daunting, especially if you don’t have a background in photography or image manipulation. Temp is the abbreviated form of Temperature, though a true beginner would be forgiven for thinking it simply meant Temporary (Lightroom is not good at helping people learn these sorts of things.)

The temperature of an image, broadly speaking, is how warm or cool it appears. If you really want to dig deeper with White Balance this article is a good place to start.

Move the slider to the left and it will give your image a blue tint, but move it to the right and it will appear to have a yellow cast. If you are editing a JPG image this slider will let you change the value to ± 100, whereas shooting in RAW lets you go from 2,000 to 50,000.

The reason it’s called Temp is that you are adjusting the degrees Kelvin temperature of the white level of the photo. But you don’t need to know all the technical terminology to get good results. If a picture feels too cold or too warm, adjusting this one slider can go a long way towards fixing your photo.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom - white balance temp slider

The Tint Slider

This slider works in tandem with Temp to give your image just the right color cast. As you slide Temp back and forth, your White Balance will get closer to where you want it, but it might result in an image that looks somewhat green or red. You can then use the Tint slider to fix that, giving your image just the right look and feel.

If you prefer Lightroom to do a bit of the heavy lifting for you, you can use the large eyedropper icon in the top-left corner of the Basic panel to get your image most of the way towards a proper White Balance and Tint.

Click the eyedropper and then click on a light gray (not pure white) area of your image. Lightroom will adjust the Temp and Tint sliders to what it thinks are the best values for your image. It’s a good starting point and will often get you pretty close to the look you want.

tint slider magenta to green - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Exposure Slider

Move this slider and you’ll quickly get an idea of what it does. It simply makes your picture brighter or darker. This is a global adjustment that affects all areas of the image including the light parts, mid-tones, and dark portions all get brighter or darker when you move the slider left or right. (Note: The Exposure slider mostly affects mid-tones although other tones are also affected.)

You can see this reflected in the histogram above the Basic panel. Move the slider to the left or right and the entire graph moves to the left or right.

Exposure is often used to compensate for when a picture doesn’t come out right from the camera. This usually happens if the camera wasn’t metering the scene properly or exposure compensation was enabled by mistake.

Exposure is like a blunt instrument that goes a long way towards making dark images lighter or light images darker. Then you can use additional sliders in the Tone section to fine-tune your picture.

exposure slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Contrast Slider

You might have seen a slider like this on your TV. If you have ever adjusted the values, you probably noticed that as contrast increases, the picture also gets more vivid and punchier. That’s because higher contrast results in a greater degree of variance between light and dark areas.

The same holds true for the Contrast slider in the Lightroom Basic panel. Move the Contrast slider to the right and the bright areas will get brighter while simultaneously making the dark areas darker.

Contrast can also have a negative value which makes your image seem almost hazy since the farther you move the slider to the left the less difference there is between light and dark areas.

Most photographers don’t find negative contrast values particularly useful. But it can come in handy depending on the type of style you are going for in your image editing.

contrast slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Highlights Slider

This slider, in conjunction with Shadows, works especially well if you shoot in RAW format. That is because much of your image data that might be discarded in a JPG file is still available to you when editing RAW files.

When you move the Highlights slider to the left it makes only the bright parts of your image darker. Conversely, when you move it to the right the bright parts get even brighter.

This works wonders on images where some parts are properly exposed but other parts are blown out and you want to decrease the exposure of just the bright parts.

Highlights slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Shadows Slider

Whereas the Highlights slider only affects the bright portions of an image, the Shadows slider lets you adjust the degree to which the dark areas get lightened.

Many photographers begin their editing by moving the Highlights and Shadows sliders, often by moving Highlights to the left just a bit and Shadows to the right. This will make dark portions of the image brighter while simultaneously making bright portions darker.

Some image editing programs only allow you to bring the highlights down and shadows up, but Lightroom takes a slightly different approach. You can, if you so choose, make the bright areas even brighter and the dark areas even darker by moving the sliders to the right and left, respectively.

Most photographers don’t take this approach but it’s nice to know you have it available if you want to use it.

Shadows slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Whites Slider

While the Whites slider might seem somewhat similar to Highlights, it doesn’t actually adjust the brightness of lighter portions of an image. Rather, it makes the whiter areas more white. The effect might seem subtle, but careful adjustment of the Whites and Blacks sliders can have a similar effect to the Contrast slider but it offers you more fine-grain control over the outcome.

I often begin with a +25 adjustment on the Whites slider just to give my images a bit more punch and brightness and then adjust it as needed.

It’s easy to overdo it when adjusting the Whites slider. You might find that going much past 50 will give your images a strange and unnatural look so take care when editing that you don’t overdo it.

You can also get good results by moving the Whites slider to the right while also moving the Highlights to the left. This tends to result in a bit more even-handed editing while giving your images the added spark you might be looking for.

whites slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Blacks Slider

The Blacks slider works just like the Whites slider but in reverse. It makes the dark portions of an image more pure black which can give a nice sense of contrast and tone to a photo.

When you first adjust this slider it might seem like it has the same effect as the Shadows slider, but careful examination reveals a subtle difference in that it is not actually making the dark portions brighter or darker, but adjusting the intensity how black the darkest portions are.

Similar to the Whites slider you might get good results by lowering the black levels and then increasing shadow detail just a bit.

blacks slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Clarity Slider

Of all the sliders in the Basic panel, Clarity is probably the one that is the least understood and depending on who you talk to, the most abused. Clarity does not adjust the overall contrast of an image but instead, it adjusts what’s known as edge contrast.

Whenever there are harsh lines or edges, adjusting the clarity slider to the right will make them stand out and have a little more pop or visual punch than they otherwise might. Moving it too far to the right will result in images that look artificial and unnatural, but it can be useful to use high values if they get you the result you want.

Conversely, you can move Clarity to the left to make your images appear softer and almost a bit ethereal.

Keen image editors will note that the Adjustment Brush tool contains an option called Skin Smoothing which is merely a -40 Clarity adjustment that you can paint in wherever you want. Using this on a person’s face has the effect of removing the appearance of pores and even small hairs that can, if overused, lend an unnaturally smooth look that you might see in magazines or other media.

Clarity slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Dehaze Slider

Arriving a few years ago for Lightroom Creative Cloud users, the Dehaze slider does pretty much what its name suggests, although the results are not always as good as what users might want.

The idea of the Dehaze slider is that by moving it to the right on images with a bit of a foggy or hazy appearance, you can mitigate some of the issues causes lens imperfections or atmospheric intrusions.

It’s not a perfect solution, but if used in the right conditions it can go a long way towards fixing an image that might have otherwise ended up in the rejected pile.

dehaze slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Vibrance Slider

Have you ever taken a picture that you thought would look awesome, but after importing it into Lightroom, just seemed kind of dull and boring? As if the lifeblood had somehow been sucked out of its colors? Vibrance aims to fix that and it works especially well on images of nature and landscapes.

Whereas saturation adjusts the overall color intensity of an entire image, Vibrance works by making duller colors more vivid. It’s also smart enough to leave skin tones alone which means you can make a scene look a little more interesting and colorful without resulting in portraits that are unnatural or oversaturated.

Vibrance slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Saturation Slider

This option can take even the dullest and most boring image and add a massive punch of color. Or it can be used to turn vibrant pictures into faded black-and-white versions.

When you slide the Saturation slider to the right it increases the value of all the colors in an image, whereas moving it to the left has the opposite effect and can eliminate all color entirely.

Similar to the clarity slider, saturation is powerful but easy to overuse and I find that it’s best when adjusted in relatively small amounts.

saturation on a portrait - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom


If you are new to Lightroom and unsure of where to even begin, the Basic panel is a great way to get you where you might be trying to go.

Even though the goal of this guide was to give you a good understanding of the sliders in this panel the best way to learn is to try it out for yourself. Open up some images and start using the sliders and see what you can do with them. You might be surprised at your results!

Remember that Lightroom is non-destructive so you can always undo your changes which makes it even easier to edit or just experiment for fun.

The post Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies

I often find myself knee-deep into editing a photo when an idea hits me to try something totally different. Maybe it’s exploring different cropping options, creating a black-and-white version, or getting crazy with the adjustment brush. One useful feature of a Lightroom editing workshop is that it gives you the flexibility to explore as many different paths as you want for a picture. While always giving you the freedom to jump back to different editing points or start over entirely.

Three of the best ways to do that are with the History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copy options. Let’s dig deeper into each one separately.

butterfly on a red flower - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Lightroom History

Decades ago in the early days of personal computers, you were lucky if you could click undo more than once. Even the first version of Photoshop did not allow more than one undo!

This meant that you had to be extraordinarily careful when creating or editing digital images because any changes were basically permanent. Whereas today most programs allow virtually limitless error-correction when it comes to undoing your work. Lightroom is no different and if you want to fix a mistake just choose Edit > Undo and any errors or changes will be immediately wiped away.

Better than undo

History in Lightroom is sort of like undo but it is infinitely more flexible. It’s a veritable time machine that gives you the freedom to revert back to any aspect of your editing even if you have made dozens and dozens of changes to an image.

Whereas Undo lets you go back to earlier versions of your image one step at a time, the History panel actually lists all the changes made since you imported an image into your Catalog including the numerical values of each edit. If you make a change that involves a numerical value those will show up in the History panel as well, including the amount of the change and the resulting value.

For example, if you adjust the Exposure by +0.5, the History panel will show you Exposure +0.50 and then the resulting exposure value of +0.50. If you make another exposure adjustment of 0.2, you will see that in the History panel along with a final value of +0.70. This helps you see a written description of all the edits you have made to an image as they were applied.

lightroom history - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The complete history of all my edits to the butterfly image at the top of this article. Clicking on any of the edits listed will instantly let me jump back in time to that particular step of the editing process.

History is saved within your catalog

Every image’s complete editing history is saved in your Lightroom Catalog so you can revisit changes you made to photos years ago just as you can with photos you take today.

Using the History panel is fairly straightforward. Click on any edit and your image will instantly revert back to when that change was made.

However, if you then make any subsequent edits at that point, the changes will be reflected at the top of the History panel and therefore will not take into account all the additional edits you already made. This is where the Snapshot tool comes in handy.

Lightroom Snapshots

You can use Snapshots in combination with the History panel or all by themselves. Either way, it opens up a great deal of editing flexibility that is light years beyond what the Undo/Redo commands have to offer.

As you work through your edits on a photo you might find yourself wanting to save the current state of your image so you can make additional changes but still have the option of reverting back to a specific point in time or a specific set of edits later.

Snapshots let you do that easily with one click. They are extremely useful for trying new things or even just saving various versions of a single image.

countryside weather vane - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The above image was taken on a recent trip through the state of Kansas. I got it printed as a canvas for my wife to hang on the wall.

Creating and naming a snapshot

After creating this version of the picture I wanted to make some additional changes and even try a black and white version. But I did not want to lose the original image in case I ever want to get it re-printed. Lightroom makes this a simple one-click step. All I had to do was click the + button under the Snapshot panel. Lightroom then created a version of the image frozen in time at that exact point in the editing process.

name your Snapshot in LR - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

After creating the Canvas Print Snapshot I did a black-and-white conversion, changed the Blue color slider to adjust the brightness of the sky, and re-cropped it to be a 3:2 aspect ratio.

black and white version - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I was happy with the result, so I saved a new Snapshot which I titled according to the edits made.

black and white snapshot named - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies


This process lets me switch between two versions of the same image with the click of my mouse. I can also create as many Snapshots as I want while also re-naming or deleting them by right-clicking on any given Snapshot name. In addition, I can use the History panel to create Snapshots by hovering over any of the edits listed in the History, right-clicking, and choosing the “Create Snapshot” option.

Finally, one nice but an often-unnoticed benefit of Snapshots is that you can move the mouse over your list of Snapshots and see a preview of each one in the small window in the top-left corner of Lightroom. It’s a handy way to see what each snapshot looks like without clicking and loading them one by one.

snapshot version of windmill - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Three renditions of the windmill photo now exist, each with its own Snapshot that I can click on at any time to load that particular version.

Virtual Copies

One limitation of the Snapshots is that you have to manually click through your Snapshots one by one by one if you want to export them as individual photos. This is fine if you have one or two snapshots of a single image, but if you need to export multiple snapshots from multiple photos the process can become cumbersome right away.

This is where Virtual Copies really shine. While they are similar to Snapshots there are some key differences that make them highly useful in certain situations.

maternity portrait - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I cropped this image into a square and while the client loved it, she asked if I could send her a vertical version. I used Lightroom to make a Virtual Copy and re-cropped that so I would always have my original crop.

How they work

Virtual Copies function in a manner almost identical to Snapshots in that you can create what is basically a saved state of your edits at any point in the editing process. After that, you can add more changes to each saved state without impacting the other Virtual Copies.

To create one, right-click on any image in the Library or Develop module and choose “Create Virtual Copy” or choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the Photo menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+’). This essentially duplicates the photo in your library (as a new thumbnail) but does not actually create a copy of the original file.

Virtual Copies are duplicate versions of images that can be edited like any other photo in your library, and function almost identically. A Virtual Copy has its own unique editing history, can be cropped and adjusted like any other image, and can utilize editing presets as well.

The only way to distinguish Virtual Copies from other photos is that they have a small triangle icon (like a page turning) in the lower left corner of their thumbnail.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies - virtual copy in thumbnail strip

The small triangle icon in the lower left corner of an image thumbnail indicates that it is a Virtual Copy.

Snapshot or Virtual Copy?

Snapshots are fine when I’m experimenting with different editing techniques, but I prefer Virtual Copies on client work, particularly when I want to give them multiple versions of a single image.

For example, when processing a recent session I was able to edit an image for white balance, sharpness, tonality, etc., and then create a virtual copy with those same edits that I cropped much closer. When I exported my images from Lightroom both versions got rendered and saved to my computer, which is not the case when working with Snapshots.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I had two different crops of this image that I wanted to send to the clients. I used Virtual Copies instead of Snapshots so both would be exported when I created the final batch of images to send to them.


Lightroom has a host of small but powerful features like this that, once learned, can greatly streamline and enhance your workflow.

Do you use History, Snapshots, or Virtual Copies? If so what are some of your favorite tips and tricks that help you get your work done more efficiently? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Don’t make these 5 crucial mistakes when photographing clients!

Over the years I have read dozens of articles explaining tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind for successful photo sessions. As I was wrapping up a family shoot recently I started to think about the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. Kind of as a way of giving some advice to my younger self or other photographers who might still be honing their craft.

So instead of five tips to try here, are five things you should never do if you want your photo sessions with clients to run smoothly.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients - family photo

Mistake #1 – Not showing up on time

This one is a bit of a carryover from my childhood and is based on a lesson my dad taught me at a very young age. Whether my siblings and I were going to church, to school, or even just to a friend’s house he would repeatedly stress that we ought to arrive at our destination at least 10 minutes early. If we show up on time, he reminded us over and over again, we’re already late.

That might have been a bit of an oversimplification but the lesson still sticks with me to this day. It’s also one that is especially true when it comes to photographing clients.

If you are to meet at a certain location at a certain time, do not arrive when you have agreed to. Instead, make sure to get there at least 10 minutes early, and that’s the bare minimum. The earlier you arrive the more you can prepare, especially if the session is outdoors or in another type of uncontrolled environment.

fossil watch - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

As my dad would say – if you get there on time you’re already late.

Arriving early allows you to assess the situation, get your cameras and lenses in order, double-check your settings (did you remember to turn on Image Stabilization? Are you still shooting at ISO 3200 from last night’s star-trail experiment?) and mentally prepare yourself for the photo session.

It also sends a message to your clients that you’re responsible and you care about the job. If you show up on time you might end up arriving after your clients. If they’re like my father and got there early they may be wondering where their photographer is. It doesn’t take much effort to arrive well in advance but it can pay huge dividends and set a positive tone for the rest of the photo session.

Mistake #2 – Don’t dress casually

portrait of a couple in a garden - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Your clients go out of their way to dress for the session. You should too.

This one is a big deal for me because I’m perpetually wearing the same clothes I wore in college: jeans and a t-shirt. It’s my go-to outfit for just about any situation and there were a few times early in my photography work with clients that I treated sessions as just another day out when I could dress casually. However, doing that sends an unfortunate message to your clients that you can easily avoid with very little effort.

Jeans and a t-shirt might seem fine to you but your clients might take this as a sign that you are a bit of a slacker or that you don’t care enough about your work (or them) to look the part. Clients are more likely to see your work as high-quality if you take the time to dress up a bit.

Wear nice clothes as a way of projecting a professional image. It will help clients have a more positive view of you, your work, and the session as a whole.

family sitting on the grass - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Some clients prefer a more casual style for themselves, and that’s fine. But it never hurts for you to wear nicer clothes as a way of projecting an image of professionalism.

Mistake #3 – Don’t make fun of your clients to get a laugh

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re doing a photo session and it’s going reasonably well but your clients aren’t responding quite how you would like. You’re trying to get them to loosen up, relax, and smile but they still seem a bit reserved and hesitant. As a result, your pictures just aren’t quite as good as you know they could be.

So you decide to crack a joke at the expense of one of your clients who is balding, wearing mismatched socks, doesn’t realize his shirt is un-tucked, or maybe just not quite paying attention.

Oh no, the glare from Bob’s head is messing up my camera! Hang on a second, I’m being blinded over here!

Does that scenario ring a bell? I have almost done this on a couple of occasions but stopped each time, and I’m so glad I did. You might think your comments are benign and all in good fun, but the person might be sensitive about the very thing you are pointing out. You could easily cause some hurt feelings or even downright anger.

Your clients might respond to these quips with laughter but on the inside, they may feel something entirely different that could cost you referrals, repeat business, or in-person sales.

family walking on a pathway - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

This family was an absolute joy to work with. I would never want to sacrifice meaningful professional relationships with them or anyone else just for a quick laugh.

The damage that is done by what seems like benign comments could linger for a long time and have consequences well beyond the session itself. Instead of aiming for a cheap laugh, strive to maintain a level of professionalism when interacting with and photographing clients on a shoot.

If you get to know them a bit (another benefit to showing up early!) they will be more likely to loosen up, cooperate, and give you the type of pictures you are really striving for.

Mistake #4 – Don’t use your phone during the session

I know how tempting it can be to reach for your phone during a photo session, and there might even be a thousand good reasons to do so. What if it’s a text from your landlord? Maybe your cousin sent you a Snapchat message about his new job? What if your spouse is going to be home late and needs you to pick up the kids? Certainly, your clients would understand if you peeked at your phone for just a bit…right?

They might understand, but they might also wonder why you are getting distracted while they are paying you to do a job. One little peek at your phone often turns into two, then three, and pretty soon you find yourself missing shots or watching your clients roll their eyes in exasperation because you’re looking at your phone more than your camera.

portrait of teenagers - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

My advice is simple, just ignore your phone. Better yet, leave it in your car or put it on silent and stick it in your gear bag. If you think you might need to check it during a session, tell your clients in advance (yet another reason to arrive early) and ask their permission to take a minute at a certain pre-planned time to do so.

This might seem overly restrictive, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the alerts and messages on your phone that you might not even realize how much you are actually using it. Your clients will probably not notice if you are NOT using your phone, but they will certainly notice if you ARE using your phone and they might not want to hire you back as a result.

Mistake #5 – Don’t over-extend the session

Many photographers charge clients a certain amount based on the length of time that they offer for sessions. One-hour portraits, two-hour engagements, 15-minute minis, or 3 hours of wedding plus 2 hours of reception coverage, for example.

This usually works well and gives both the photographer and the clients a set of shared expectations, but it can backfire in some unexpected ways depending on the type of clients you are working with.

little girl in a blue dress - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

15 minutes in and this precious little girl was ready to be done. Extending the session would have made her fussy and stressed out her parents too.

Know when to fold

There’s a line in an old Kenny Rogers song that’s quite à propos for photographers, “You got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em”. As a photographer, you need to learn how to read the situation, watch your client’s body language, and get their input on how to proceed when you feel like the session needs to draw to a close.

Your clients might be paying you for a one-hour session but if the kids are fussy, the grandparents are tired, and the shirts are getting sweat marks after only 40 minutes then you really need to find a way to shut it down tactfully and gracefully.

The best way I have found to do this is to keep an open dialog with clients throughout the session. Talk with them as you take their pictures and let them know that you are willing to adjust as needed especially if kids are involved. Your clients expect you to be in charge and they often won’t speak up for fear of being rude or confrontational.

So read the situation closely and take the initiative if you think it’s time to put the camera away. Your clients will probably be glad you did.

couple portrait - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Talk to your clients and make the call

I have had parents thank me profusely for ending sessions early because their children were wilting after only 30 minutes. I once did an entire one-hour family session in 20 minutes on a single spot in a grove of trees because three generations were involved and the elders were exhausted and tired.

In both situations, I got input from the clients constantly and let them know that I was aware that people were ready to be done even though there was still time left on the clock.

The time might not be up, but if the session needs to be over then you have to bring it to a close. Extending it needlessly just to fill the time allotted could cause more headaches than it’s worth. Alternately, don’t go over your time unless you get permission from your clients. If they are expecting one hour and that time is up, don’t keep shooting unless you’re sure it’s fine with them. Doing otherwise could come across as rude or insensitive, no matter how good the pictures turn out.


I hope this gives you a few ideas to try or, more accurately, to avoid the next time you are photographing clients. If you have any tips on what to avoid I’d be glad to have your input in the comments below, and I’m sure other dPS readers would as well!

The post 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links System for Camera Straps

I’ve had all sorts of camera straps and carrying implements over the years. From traditional neck straps that come with most cameras to sling-style attachments to simple wrist straps and even, on occasion, daring to go out into the world with no camera strap at all.

My main issue with most camera straps is that while a lot of them are designed for specific situations such as portraits, sports, travel, or hanging out with friends I haven’t yet found one that works for every occasion. That’s where the Peak Design Anchor Links system comes into the picture and solves this problem once and for all.


Review: Peak Design Anchor Links

The issue with camera straps

Choosing a camera strap feels more like a marriage than a dating relationship. Most aren’t easy to attach and remove without twisting some screws, threading some nylon through impossibly small holes, or making your fingernails bleed while wrestling with a key ring-style securement device.

As a result, when I buy a camera strap it usually stays on my camera permanently but often gets in the way when I want to take pictures in a scenario that the strap just wasn’t meant for.

Peak Design Anchor Links System – the solution?

The Peak Design Anchor Links system helps remedy this issue but in a bit of an odd way. Anchor Links don’t really do much on their own, and they’re not even camera straps at all.

What they are is a way for you to add a huge degree of flexibility to whatever you are currently using to help carry your cameras. They give you a great deal of choice and freedom when it comes to picking a strap that’s right for any given occasion.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links - Fuji camera and a wrist strap

Sometimes I like to use wrist straps, and sometimes I prefer larger over-the-shoulder straps.

How it works

Using Peak’s Anchor Links is pretty simple and involves two basic parts: the strap loop and the connector. The strap loops are small red and black circular tabs with about an inch of cord sticking out. These are what you attach to things you want to carry. The most obvious items are cameras but you can use them on virtually anything that needs to be carted around from pouches to lens cases to accessory bags and more.

The anchors are small connectors that attach to your camera strap, wrist strap, shoulder handle, or anything that you use to actually carry around your gear. There is no special magic to these anchors. You just thread your existing camera strap through the slot on one end of an Anchor just like you would thread a strap through the attachment point on your camera.

It takes just about a minute to get up and running with the Anchor Link system and if you’re like me, you’ll soon wonder what you did without them.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links - camera with a neck strap

It took less than 9 seconds for me to switch from a wrist strap to a neck strap thanks to the Peak Design Anchor Link system.

So what’s the big deal?

When I first got the Anchor Link system I didn’t really see what the big deal was. How could a set of anchors and connectors really help me with my photography?

What I realized over months of using this system, is that simply having the ability to attach and detach camera straps at a moment’s notice has freed me to focus on other things that really matter. These won’t help you get better photos, and won’t teach you about composition and lighting. But you might find yourself bringing your camera more places than usual simply because you have so much more flexibility with how you carry it.

When I’m out with my family I can clip a traditional neck strap on in about three seconds flat. If I need to go handheld I can attach a wrist strap in no time. Then when I want to move a strap from one camera to another, it’s done in mere moments.

On a recent maternity session, I was able to pack my cameras and lenses securely and put all my various straps in a separate bag. Way better than trying to wrestle everything into a single container while dealing with unwieldy lengths of padded nylon.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links

Anchor Links can be attached to other items such as bags and pouches, or even key rings.

In the field

In terms of durability, I have had no issues whatsoever with the Anchor Link system and have trusted some very heavy camera/lens combinations to these tiny little cords without any problems. Peak Design claims each anchor link can support over 200lbs and while I don’t know if I would go that far personally, it is nice to know they’re rated for far more than my camera gear actually weighs.

It seems weird to trust a $20 attachment to hold a $4000 camera/lens combination, but it’s fair to say that the weakest link in the system would probably be whatever strap you are using and not these anchors.


There are a few drawbacks to the system, namely that the more you use them the more you end up with button-sized anchor disks hanging from your camera gear. Also for some wrist straps, the attachment that secures to the anchor disk can seem a bit large. But I use the system daily with a wrist strap on my Fuji X100F and it has never been a major issue.

These are minor quibbles though, are almost not worth mentioning for something that is so immensely practical.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links on a Fuji camera

The strap loops are small and don’t really get in the way, and Peak Design claims they are made out of a durable plastic that won’t scratch your cameras when hanging loose.


Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Peak Design has recently re-designed the system to be thinner and easier to use. I currently use the older system and they have never felt clunky or unwieldy, so I would imagine the revised version is just as good and probably even better.

Overall it’s hard not to recommend the Anchor Links to just about any photographer whether casual, professional or anywhere in between. A basic set with four anchor links and two attachments costs about $25 and can give you a huge amount of flexibility and freedom no matter what type of photography you do.

The post Review: Peak Design Anchor Links System for Camera Straps appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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