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.

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How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects

You might have seen photos in nature magazines or websites with silky-smooth water effects cascading over rocks, branches, and trees. Have you also wondered how in the world the photographer was able to capture such beautiful images?

For years I thought these types of images were the purview of professional photographers armed with an arsenal of digital tricks and camera tweaks that I would never be able to learn. But in reality, it’s quite simple to make images like these.

You don’t need any computational wizardry or mystical skills, and once you pick up a few basics you can start creating beautiful smooth-water photographs in no time at all.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - waterfall over a brook

Limiting the Light

To start with, the goal here is somewhat counterintuitive compared to a lot of other types of photography. Instead of letting in as much light as possible, the goal with smooth-water pictures is to let in the smallest amount of light in order to allow your shutter to remain open as long as it can. This requires a couple of settings on your camera as well as, in most cases, a very inexpensive piece of gear.

When you take a picture at a high shutter speed of 1/125th or 1/500th of a second it’s fast enough to freeze motion and allow you to get a blur-free picture of your subject. This is usually a good thing except when cascading water is involved, as freezing the motion is the opposite of what you are trying to do. Limiting the light allows the water to create motion trails and also adds an entirely different tone to the image, often one of peace and tranquility.

The following two images illustrate what I mean. This first one was taken at 1/60th of a second.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - moving water, partially frozen

1/60th of a second. Some motion trails are present but the image doesn’t feel calm, and also lacks a focal point.

The next one was taken with a much slower shutter speed and feels like an entirely different picture.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - slower shutter speed and blurred water

What you need to do

In order to cut down on the incoming light and also make sure you are getting the best images you will need to do the following:

  • Shoot in Manual Mode so you can force your camera to do what you want, not what it thinks you want. Using Auto or semi-auto modes (P, Av, Tv, A, or S) will usually not work for these types of shots.
  • Shoot in RAW so you can tweak your image afterward. It’s difficult to get smooth-water photos just right straight out of the camera and it’s nice to be able to tweak things to your liking.
  • Use a small aperture. Not necessarily the smallest aperture your lens allows, because this can sometimes cause image quality to deteriorate due to light diffraction, but a value of around f/11 or f/16 should be fine.
  • Use the lowest native ISO value for your camera. This will let you use slower shutter speeds while also giving you the cleanest, sharpest image possible.
  • Use the slowest shutter speed possible without overexposing the image too much. If you’re using RAW you can probably overexpose by one stop and recover things in post-production. But much more than that and you’re going to blow out all your highlights.
  • Put your camera on a tripod to minimize any shake or wobble from your hands. My favorite is the Joby Gorillapod since it lets me position my camera using just about any available surface, and allows me to get nice and close to the water as well.

Neutral Density Filters

Even with all this, it’s difficult to get a slow enough shutter speed to really create some good smoothing effects, and the solution is to use a Neutral Density filter. This is an inexpensive attachment that screws on to the front of your lens and cuts down the incoming light.

I like to think of it as putting sunglasses on your camera. This is the secret to getting the type of silky smooth water effects you have always admired but never knew how to create on your own.

shot of a fountain - How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects

Here, a long exposure of 1-second not only smoothed the water in the fountain but evened out the surface of the pond as well.

There are many different kinds of ND filters that block varying levels of light, but my recommendation for smooth-water images is one that blocks 3 or 6 stops of light. Others are available but they block so much light that it’s difficult to get your exposure settings right.

You can find ND filters at any camera retailer but the key is to get one that fits your lens. Look on your lens cap to find the thread size. It will usually be the Greek letter phi followed by a number, such as 53mm or 58mm.

ND filters often come in packs of two or three. While these cheaper ones aren’t going to produce the absolutely highest-quality results they are a fantastic and inexpensive way to get started.

Getting the Shot

I enjoy creating silky smooth water images on cloudy days since it means even more light is blocked – almost like nature’s own ND filter. Morning and evening are good times to shoot as well. But any time of day will work as long as you can get slow shutter speeds using a small aperture, low ISO, and an ND filter.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - yellow leaf in flowing water

2 seconds. The long exposure time really helped create a sense of motion in the background while the leaf in the foreground serves as a focal point for the viewer.

Use Live View

I like to use Live View when preparing my shot since I can adjust the exposure parameters and see the image lighten or darken in real-time. But if you are using an optical viewfinder just pay attention to your light meter and you should be fine.

When your camera is ready and you have your shot composed, use your camera’s self-timer so you don’t add any shakiness to the image with your fingers when you press the shutter.

This method can also be used for adding a layer of gloss to moving waters, which is a fun way to add a bit of a creative element to pictures taken at the beach. The difference is that instead of trying to get pictures that show the motion of water, you are trying to make the water as smooth as possible.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - lake shot

At 1/90th of a second, the water is full of ripples and small waves.

Limiting the amount of incoming light by using the techniques above (small aperture, low ISO, and ND filters) I was able to virtually eliminate the appearance of imperfections on the surface of the water.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - long exposure on a lake

6 seconds. In addition to the surface being smooth, a host of large and small rocks are now visible which creates an additional almost otherworldly feeling.


Creating these types of images can be addicting! Once you get the hang of it, you may want to spend all day seeing what you can create with your camera. It doesn’t take much, but it opens up a whole new photography frontier that can be extraordinarily enjoyable and highly rewarding.

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Why You Need to Manage Expectations – Both Yours and Your Client’s

As you prepare for a photo session with clients you probably run through a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. Cameras? Check. Lenses? Check. Lighting modifiers? Good to go. Props, stepstools, spare batteries? Got ’em.

But one thing that often gets left behind, so to speak, is a set of expectations that you and your client might have for the photo session. You might have something in mind for the session based on your experience, your work with previous clients, or the particular set of gear you are bringing along. But if your clients have a different set of expectations it can spell big trouble and will require a lot more than a few batteries and extra memory cards to fix.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - maternity photo

These clients hired me for a maternity session and it went smoothly thanks to a very clear set of expectations that we discussed beforehand.

Expectations are important

Think of the many ways in which your expectations influence your perception of the services and products you buy. When you go out to eat you will expect a certain level of service based on previous visits. If you go on vacation you will probably look for reviews online and base your satisfaction of the accommodations on how well those expectations were met.

If you hire a contractor to remodel your kitchen you will make sure to have lengthy discussions with them to make sure the work they perform is precisely what you want. It’s fair to say that as a consumer you probably base many of your buying decisions on expectations that have been set for you.

And yet, as a photographer, how often have you worked to set expectations for potential clients? Your website might proudly proclaim that you do weddings and formal events, but there are probably two dozen other photographers in your area who offer similar services. The same goes for most types of photography: families, youth sports, products, high school seniors, or even aerial drone images.

You’re good at what you do but what makes you stand out from the rest, and what can your clients expect when you show up to take pictures?

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - baby in a basket

What can clients expect from you?

One of the first things I learned when I started doing portraits for clients was that the things which I thought were the most important were not at the top of my clients’ priority lists. I spent so much time thinking about pricing and choosing a template for my website that I neglected to properly craft a message letting clients know what they could really expect out of me.

A few dozen sample images of portraits in parks along with a testimonial or two are a great way to market yourself. But these don’t really tell clients much about your approach to a photo session or what you will do to get the shots they are looking for.

Set expectations early

Think about the many ways in which you can set expectations in advance to let clients know how things will go. This goes well beyond simply telling your clients how much you charge, how many prints or images you will deliver, and whether you take checks or credit cards.

For a session to go smoothly think about the more esoteric expectations and do your best to manage them before a single click of your camera shutter. Some items to ponder would be…

  • Your shooting style: Are you easygoing, flexible, and open to improvisation or do you have a more strict and pre-planned approach to photo sessions?
  • Accepting input: Do you incorporate input from clients in terms of poses, locations, or picture ideas?
  • Who can attend the session: Will you let clients bring friends, family, or even pets to a photo session? (Not to get their pictures taken, but just for help, encouragement, or comfort.)
  • Where you draw the line: Are you willing to engage in illegal or semi-legal activity to get photos? Some clients might want to shoot in areas that prohibit trespassing or are otherwise off-limits which might be beyond the scope of your services. “But my friend got photos taken at this abandoned warehouse last year.” they might say, in which case you might advise your client to solicit the help of another photographer.
  • What types of pictures are off limits? Your clients might want to do pictures on train tracks or recreate some risqué images they saw on Instagram. If that’s not your cup of tea, your clients need to know about it. And in the case of train tracks, the answer should always be NO!
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo of hands

This picture was not my idea; my clients suggested it on the day of the shoot, and we made it happen. I told them that I was open to their ideas so they offered some, and the results were great.

More expectation examples

  • Posing: Are you the type of photographer who likes to use specific formal poses or do you take a more casual hands-off approach? This is especially important if you are doing wedding and other types of events that are not easy to replicate.
  • What’s your approach to social media? Will you share pictures of the session online, talk about the session before or afterward, or snap behind-the-scenes photos to ingratiate yourself to other potential clients? Some people might be fine with this but other clients may prefer more privacy. If so you would need to adjust your approach for those clients, or let them know so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to use your services.
  • Photography locations: Do your clients want to shoot in locations that just won’t work (or the wrong time of day), or you simply can’t get to with your gear? Discuss what your clients expect beforehand so you won’t be caught off guard during the session if they ask you to shoot in a dimly-lit alley, behind a waterfall, or in the middle of a crowded mall.
  • Photography assistant: Do you use a second shooter and if so, what will his or her role be during the session?
  • Turn-around times: How long will your clients have to wait to get prints or digital files after the session?
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - cards from a funeral

I was asked by some friends to take pictures at a funeral for their loved one. The key to the whole experience was a crystal-clear understanding of what the clients wanted and what my role was as the photographer.

This is just a starting point. You are going to have other things that are unique to yourself and your photography. And even though some of these might be clearly spelled out in your contract, it’s a good idea to set and manage expectations clearly and without room for misinterpretation. A contract may cover you in legal terms, but don’t assume your clients have meticulously read and understand every single word.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - graduation photo PhD

Open communication is key

In my experience, one of the best ways to set these expectations is to have some kind of real-time back-and-forth dialog with your clients. Exchanging information over email and social media is fine, but when it comes to hashing out the details of a photo session nothing beats a phone call or in-person meeting.

If the latter isn’t all that practical, then, by all means, talk with your clients on the phone or via video chat. This can help you set a positive tone for the session, ease their minds about any concerns they might have, and give you a chance to explain what they can expect. Reassure them that you have their best interests in mind.

What do you expect from your clients?

There’s a flip side to setting expectations and it’s one that sometimes gets overlooked when planning or executing a photo session. You might have bent over backward to let your clients know what to expect from you, but what have you done to let your clients know what you expect from them?

Just as every photographer is different, each client is also unique. They have an attitude and approach that separates them from everyone else. In order to make sure things run smoothly, think about ways to communicate your expectations of them with your clients. Otherwise you, and they could end up knee-deep in frustration with no easy way out.

  • Punctuality: Do you value punctuality and expect your clients to be on time for a photo shoot? This might seem obvious but not all clients take the same disciplined approach as you might when it comes to arriving when they are supposed to.
  • Cell phone usage during a session: Will you ask your clients to put their phones away during the session? For some photographers, this isn’t an issue, but others get irked if clients are constantly snapping, tweeting, and texting during a photo session. If you expect them to be focused and attentive, let them know in advance.
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo of people walking

When this family arrived I spent a few minutes explaining how I was going to conduct the session and listened to their ideas as well. It set a positive tone that resulted in some images that they really liked.

More examples of your potential expectations:

  • Transportation on-site: Do you expect your clients to be able to walk around or transport themselves to different locations? If you are doing high school senior photos do you plan on taking them to different locations in your vehicle? If so, do the seniors and their parents know that this might be a possibility? Iron out these details beforehand or you could find yourself in an uncomfortable situation the day of the shoot.
  • Other photographers at the session: If you are doing a wedding, will you be the only photographer or will the groom’s uncle (who just got a new DSLR for his birthday) be hanging out taking photos also? Some photographers don’t mind this sort of thing, but most would rather the clients tell Uncle Bob to leave his camera at home and let you do your job. Communicate your expectations well in advance to avoid hurt feelings the day of the ceremony.
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - 2 kids

When working with kids, especially infants, things are never going to go how you expect! But discussing things with the parents beforehand is a good way to help deal with issues as they crop up.

As before, these are only some of the things to consider when setting client expectations and the best way to go about doing that is with a phone call or other type of back-and-forth conversation. This information might be on your website, but it’s incumbent on you as the photographer to do everything you can to make sure your clients know what you expect of them. Don’t simply just assume they have read through every page of your site.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo

This family was a joy to work with, largely because of clear expectations from both parties (the family and myself).


Finally, one tip that might be useful to you is to make a checklist of these items so you have it handy during conversations with the client. This way you can update it over time as new issues come to light, and you can make sure to properly address all the most pressing expectation issues that could come into play before, during, and after a session.

The goal here is to make every session a positive experience for your clients as well as yourself, and the more work you do to manage expectations for all parties involved, the happier everyone will be.

The post Why You Need to Manage Expectations – Both Yours and Your Client’s appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom’s suite of editing tools is not as comprehensive as its big brother Photoshop But the program does offer a host of options for fixing photos that cover most of the corrections you are likely to need on a daily basis. You can, of course, use Lightroom for basic operations like adjusting white balance, changing exposure, and converting images to black and white. But there are much more advanced features as well, such as the Spot Removal Tool.

This tool is a quick and easy way to remove blemishes and imperfections. It doesn’t have the same level of depth and customization as similar options in Photoshop, but with a little practice, it should suffice for most situations in which you are likely to need it.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - sunset photo

Fixing Imperfections

To access the Spot Removal tool, first, click on the Develop module and then press the Q button (the keyboard shortcut). Or you can click on the circle icon with a small arrow pointing to the right just below the histogram at the top of the panel on the right-hand side.

how to open the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Once you are in the Spot Removal panel it might be tempting to start clicking away at every spot and blemish on your images. But understanding some of the options available to you will help you use the tool more effectively and result in better edits.

The Spot Removal tool has two main options, Clone and Heal. Each of these has three sliders that you can change: Size, Feather, and Opacity. Before getting into the differences between cloning and healing, let’s take a look at the three options they have in common.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - sliders


This changes, as you might have guessed, how big the edit is going to be. Larger sizes are suited for bigger edits, while pinpoint accuracy can be obtained by making the tool as small as you need it to be.

You might be tempted to slide left and right to change these values, and that certainly works just fine. But you can also type precise numbers between 0-100 or just scroll up and down using the mouse wheel to see the brush automatically grow and shrink until you get it to where you want. You can also use the square brackets [ and ] on the keyboard to adjust the brush size.


This slider lets you control how gradually the Clone or Heal edits are implemented. Sliding all the way to 100 means your edits will gradually fade out near the edge of the tool. A value of zero indicates that there will be no feathering whatsoever.

This will result in a harsh edge around your edits that will be easy to spot so I don’t usually recommend it. Instead, try for a value of around 50 and adjust it to your taste. Similar to the Size parameter you can adjust this with the mouse by holding [shift] and scrolling up and down, which I find much easier to use than the slider.


The opacity is a way for you to specify how transparent your edits will be. A setting of 100 is totally opaque and nothing will show through, whereas lower values will lessen the overall impact of the tool.

There might be instances in which you don’t want to completely remove a spot or blemish but mask over or fade it just a little, and in that case, set an opacity of 25 or 50 (this works well for portrait retouching, lightening circles under eyes and wrinkles without completely removing them).

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool


Hearkening back to the earlier days of Photoshop, the Clone tool is one of the most often-utilized features for beginning or even more advanced photographers who want to tidy up their pictures. The basic function is pretty straightforward since all it does at a fundamental level is copy, or clone, one part of a picture and put it on top of another part. This is great for situations with textures, patterns, or colors that are highly similar or where duplicating one portion would not be easy to detect.

Using the Clone Tool

This picture of a squirrel (below) has a stick on the right-hand side that I would like to remove. The Clone tool is a good way to do it. To fix something like this you can either shrink the tool so it’s small and brush it over the imperfection or increase the size to be much larger and click just once.

Each situation is going to call for a different type of edit but in general, I like to use a larger brush and click once because it usually results in edits that aren’t as visible in the final result.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - image needing some cloning to remove a stick

This image is fine, but it would be great if that stick protruding up on the right side could be removed.

Lightroom tries its best to get your initial clone edit just right by taking what it thinks is a sample of a similar portion of your image. But as you can see below it doesn’t always work.

bad cloning job - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom’s initial attempt with the Clone tool was less than ideal. You can clearly see a circle of in-focus grass where the stick used to be.

Adjusting cloning results

You don’t have to be content with the initial results though, as Lightroom lets you refine and tweak the cloning options until you’re satisfied.

There is an Overlay setting for the Clone tool. It is a white circle indicating the location from which the Clone Tool is selecting to copy. As well there is another circle showing you where it is being pasted. In the lower-left portion of the Develop module is a tiny little option picker that says “Tool Overlay” with four choices: Auto, Always, Selected, and Never. My personal preference is to go with “Never” and use the “H” key to show and hide the Tool Overlay as I need it.

As you use the Spot Healing tool you will see little gray circles pop up all over your image, which shows you the places where you have edited your image. If you don’t see these tiny pins press “H” to show them, and then click on one to show the white circles showing you where the edits are being taken from and applied. You can see an example of this in the image below.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - cloning overlay

Press the H key to show and hide the Tool Overlay. Then grab the source that is being copied and drag it to another part of your image that blends in better with the surroundings of the blemish to be cloned out.

Once you see where Lightroom is grabbing the part of your image that it’s using to fix a blemish, it’s easy to fine-tune it to get the results you are looking for. Use your cursor to drag the bright circle around the image until you find a spot that would be better-suited for filling in the blemish. You can also adjust the sliders while you have your editing point selected to see in real-time what happens when you change things like size, feather, and opacity.

better cloning job - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to tell that this photo has been edited, but most casual viewers would likely never know.

Visualize spots

One issue that you might encounter when using the Spot Removal Tool is that it’s not always easy to see where the spots in your picture are actually located. Fortunately, Lightroom has an option that can help you in this regard.

If you click the “Visualize Spots” button in the lower-left corner of the Develop module (make sure the Spot Removal tool is selected), you will see a black-and-white version of your image with areas of high contrast highlighted. If you do not see this option, activate your toolbar by pressing T on the keyboard.

You can also simply press the A key to activate the Visualize Spots view. Use the slider to fine-tune the amount of contrast visible, and doing so will show you where some of the imperfections are located that you might have missed.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - silhouette with spots to remove

Some of the spots on the above image are easy to see, but others are visible only upon closer inspection. Snuffing out all the blemishes, which are really dust on the front of my camera lens, would be a time-consuming process without the Visualize Spots option enabled. Doing so makes it easy to see every mote and speck that I need to fix with the Spot Healing tool.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - visualize spots active

Visualize spots activated

The finished image, after some clicking and editing, is much improved. I even decided to leave in the streak of lens flare on the left side because I liked the effect, you could remove it if you wanted to by using the same tools.

image after cloning - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool


While similar to the Clone tool, the Healing brush operates in a slightly different way. It takes textures and tones from a source portion of your image and blends it with the area you want to fix. It’s not a direct 1:1 copy of the source, like the Clone tool, and as such it creates results that are often a little more refined and effective in terms of removing problems and blemishes.

The Heal tool has the same options as the Clone tool (Size, Feather, and Opacity) but because the nature of the tool is somewhat different. The Opacity doesn’t function in exactly the way you might expect. It still adjusts how much of the source spot is stamped onto the blemish you want to remove but because it’s blending textures, colors, and patterns even a 100 value of Opacity means that you won’t see quite the same results as the Clone tool.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

To fix a picture using the Heal tool, click on any spot you want to remove (or click and drag if it’s more than just a single spot) and Lightroom takes care of the rest. If the spot is not fixed to your liking, press H to show the Tool Overlays and edit as you see fit by dragging the source that is being copied and adjusting the Size, Feather, and Opacity.

Note: One other thing you can do with the Lightroom Spot Removal tool is to draw a line or shape. Your cloning area is not just limited to a circle anymore as it once was in LR.

The picture below shows the result of using the Heal tool to remove about a dozen blemishes and imperfections on a photo of some mushrooms. All this was done in under five minutes using only the Heal tool, and it illustrates how simple and effective this type of editing can be.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

The Photoshop Solution

I often use the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool to fix little things in my images, but for real in-depth editing, you might want to turn to Photoshop. There you can really dig in with layers and the advanced editing tools that program offers.

For most photographers, whether professional or casual, the options in Lightroom will usually suffice. That’s what I find myself using almost every time I need to tweak a picture. Give it a try and you might be surprised at what it can do for you too.

The post Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders: Which is Best for You?

In this article, we’ll take a look at optical versus electronic viewfinders so you can get a better understanding of the differences and strengths and weaknesses of each.

Coke versus Pepsi, Star Wars versus Star Trek, football versus futbol. The world is full of great rivalries, and photography is no exception. Aside from simple brand loyalty and lens preference, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other tools, features, and options that photographers to argue about. One of the most recent but most pronounced has to do with how you see the world in front of your lens.

Some cameras have optical viewfinders while others sport more technologically advanced versions called electronic viewfinders. Other cameras even have hybrid options that attempt to combine the best of both worlds. So which is better? Just like most rivalries, that question is impossible to answer, but it is worth exploring some of their individual strengths and weaknesses to help you know which one might be right for you.

Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - low angle sunset shot

Seeing the scene

A viewfinder is one of the most basic elements of any camera; it’s what you use to look at what you will be photographing. When you hold your camera up to your eye, whether you’re shooting DSLR or mirrorless, the tiny little hole you look through is what’s known as the viewfinder. This is what you use to compose your shots.

Some cameras forego the viewfinder altogether and just have a giant LCD screen on the back, which is how all mobile phones work. But it’s not uncommon for many cameras to include a viewfinder along with the rear screen.

It’s not just a holdover from days gone by, and even in today’s fast-paced tech-centric world, there is a myriad of reasons why many photographers prefer to compose their shots with the viewfinder instead of the rear LCD screen.

  • The scene appears much larger when held up to your eye which gives you a better sense of how your picture will look.
  • Holding your camera up to your face also has the rather practical benefit of making things more stabilized.
  • Viewfinders in DSLR (and more mirrorless) cameras often contain a row of numbers and indicators at the bottom showing you things like your aperture, shutter speed, metering mode, shots remaining, and more.
Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - inside the camera view

Optical viewfinders have a row of exposure and photo information at the bottom to help you as you shoot pictures.

Optical Viewfinders

Despite being decades-old technology, optical viewfinders still have many staunch supporters in photography today, with good reason. Their most important benefit, and the reason many photographers prefer them, is that they present an unfiltered and unaltered view of the scene in front of you as you are composing your shot.

Looking through an optical viewfinder, or OVF, is no different than looking through a window: nothing is changed in any way, shape, or form. This lets you see exactly what your shot will look like, and the view is not dependent on any type of fancy technology in order to function.

Optical viewfinders work even if your camera is turned off, in much the same way that looking through binoculars, a telescope, or even a paper towel roll does not require a battery. OVFs have no issue with accurate color rendition or screen refresh rates, and they work the same in bright light as they do in low light.

Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - crowd watching a speech outdoors

Most optical viewfinders also have indicators to show things like focus points and framing guides. When you half-press the shutter button to focus your camera, a small dot or square will show up in your camera’s OVF to let you know where the point of focus will be, and you can use a dial or knob on your camera to change this if you prefer.

Limitations of OVFs

However, not everything is sunshine and roses in the land of optical viewfinders. They do have some significant limitations that could be a factor depending on the type of photographs you take.

One of the most important is that you can’t see your image when you take a picture – a phenomenon known as viewfinder blackout. When you press the shutter button the mirror in a DSLR camera flips up and out of the way to let light pass through to the image sensor, which means the OVF goes completely dark.

dog with a frisbee - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

This is not very noticeable when using fast shutter speeds but if you are shooting at about 1/30th of second or slower you will see a big blank box of nothing for a brief moment whenever you take a picture. In most situations, this blackout period is not going to make or break the photograph but it can cause issues if you are shooting fast-moving subjects. In those cases, the short amount of time that the OVF is blank is enough for the object you are photographing to move around quite a bit and it can take some practice to get used to this type of shooting.


Another disadvantage of optical viewfinders is that they show you the world around you as it really is, not as it will appear in your digital photograph. The OVF sees what your eyes see, which is not necessarily the same as what your camera’s image sensor sees.

Unless you have a solid grasp on metering modes and how they affect your exposure, you might end up with pictures that are too bright or too dark, especially if there is a great deal of light and shadow in the scene itself. Looking through the OVF you might think your pictures are going to be just fine only to realize later that they are under or overexposed. Unless you shoot in RAW there might not be much you can do about it.

flowers with shallow DoF - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

Electronic Viewfinders

A few years ago, this discussion about optical versus electronic viewfinders would have been more of an academic exercise without a whole lot of practical value because EVFs simply couldn’t compete with their analog counterparts in practical terms. Their list of downsides was as long as a 70-200mm lens, and aside from a few key benefits, there wasn’t much reason to use an EVF compared to an OVF.

However as time marches on and technology gets better and better, electronic viewfinders have now just about reached parity with optical viewfinders. They are not just a viable option, but in some cases are a superior one for some photographers.

Main difference

The most obvious difference with electronic viewfinders is that just like looking at the LCD screen on the back of your camera, you see a digital representation of the world in front of your camera instead of the actual world that your eye sees. An EVF is a tiny high-resolution screen that you hold less than an inch from your eye. Because it is entirely digital, it can show you a wealth of information and data that you simply can’t get with an optical viewfinder.

bike panning shot - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

Benefits and bonuses of EVFs

While optical viewfinders have static overlays with framing guides and focus points splayed across your field of view, electronic viewfinders can show all kinds of information that is highly useful when taking photographs. You can see things like a live histogram and digital level along with the usual collection of exposure and metering information. But the ace up the sleeve of any OVF is its ability to show you exactly what your photograph will look like, not what the world in front of the lens looks like.

Electronic viewfinders will let you see instantly, in real-time, whether your shot is exposed correctly. This allows you to quickly made adjustments not based on a light meter (though you certainly can) but on the final image and how you want it to appear.

Things OVF can’t provide

If you’re shooting in a black and white mode, then that’s precisely what you will see as you look through the EVF to compose your image. You will also see the depth of field reflected exactly as the final image will appear, and you can watch it change in real-time as you adjust your focus point or aperture.

To put it simply, EVFs remove much of the guesswork inherent in OVFs. In many cases, this makes the act of taking pictures much easier, especially for new photographers.

pink flowers - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

Getting the exposure right on this shot was easier thanks to the electronic viewfinder in my Fuji X100F.

Due to their electronic nature, EVFs gives you options that an OVF is simply incapable of doing. Many cameras with EVFs allow you to check focus by enlarging a portion of your image so it fills the screen, and you can often get visual aids like focus peaking in the EVF as well. You can use an EVF to go through menus, review pictures, and even record and review movie footage you have captured with your camera–all things that are impossible with an OVF.

Drawbacks of EVFs

There are, as you might expect, some important downsides to EVFs not the least of which is power consumption. Optical viewfinders work without any batteries at all, whereas electronic viewfinders require constant power to operate. It’s not uncommon for cameras that rely on electronic viewfinders to have much shorter battery lives than their optical counterparts, and many photographers who use these cameras are in the habit of carrying spare batteries for a day of shooting.

Electronic viewfinders also suffer from screen refresh rate issues, which means that they can be difficult to use in situations with a lot of fast-moving action. Some EVFs have a great deal of lag which means the image you see is just slightly behind what is actually happening. While they have certainly gotten much better in recent years, they are still not quite on par with optical viewfinders in this regard (in my opinion).

Finally, even though electronic viewfinders show you a good representation of what your final image will look like they don’t quite have the same color range and resolution as what you will see in your photographs. Even the best EVFs top out at 3 megapixels with most hovering around 1-2, which means you’re looking at a much lower-resolution version of what you will see in your pictures.

low camera angle of a long passage way - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

So which is better?

Like many aspects of photography, this issue isn’t about whether an optical versus electronic viewfinder is better, but which one will suit you and your needs as a photographer. Some people prefer the analog precision of an optical viewfinder, while others like the high-tech features offered by electronic viewfinders. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you have the right tool for the job. So if you tend to prefer one of these over the other then, by all means, go ahead and use it.

I would like to add one caveat to all this, which is if you have not used an EVF in a few years you might want to give it a try. The shortcomings of EVFs are rapidly being addressed by many camera manufacturers today, and EVFs from days gone by have been eclipsed many times over by their modern counterparts. It might be worth your time to go to your local camera store and check out one of the newer models with a built-in EVF and see what you think, just so you can make an informed decision when choosing your next camera.

Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - pink flower

What about you? Do you prefer optical or electronic viewfinders? Leave your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from the dPS community about all of this, and I’m sure other readers would like having your thoughts as a way of learning more about this whole issue.

The post Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders: Which is Best for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The Importance of Learning From Failure to Help You Grow as a Photographer

There’s a scene in the 1995 movie Apollo 13 when Gene Kranz, flight commander of the ill-fated moon mission, tells his team that, “Failure is not an option” as they struggle to find a way to bring three astronauts home from the depths of space. While that moment certainly makes for dramatic storytelling, it’s often far from the case when photography is concerned.

I would even go so far as to say failure is not only an option but necessary for you to grow as a photographer. There will be times in your photographic journey that things just don’t go as you had hoped despite how much you plan ahead. While some of these instances might slow you down the important part is learning from failure, growing from your mistakes, and becoming a better photographer as a result.

This picture turned out great, but there have been plenty over the years that didn’t.

I would like to share some things I’ve learned over the years from times that I have failed. Hopefully, this will help you benefit from my experiences.

Know your gear well

On some of my first sessions with clients, I had a very difficult time getting my camera to do what I wanted it to do, and many of my images were ruined because of it. A few were too bright, others were too dark, and some weren’t even in focus.

Luckily I shot in RAW so I could fix some of the issues in Lightroom. But things would have gone a lot smoother if I had just taken the time to understand my camera, learned how to use it, and knew what to do when shooting instead of spending hours adjusting images afterward.

The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer - DLSR camera

Your camera is loaded with buttons, dials, menus, and options. Do you know what they all do?


To illustrate what I mean by this, take a look at the following image I shot almost five years ago. Thankfully I did this session as a favor for some friends of our family because looking back on it I would feel terrible if I charged them money for these pictures!

dark family photo (underexposed) - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

I remember being frustrated at seeing the LCD screen of my Nikon D7100 as I took these pictures because they were all coming out so dark! I didn’t know what was wrong, and I didn’t know what to change on my camera to fix the problem.

Looking back there was any number of remedies for this overly-dark photograph that I could have used. Had I only known how to actually work the knobs and dials on my camera, simple things like the follow could have solved it:

Thankfully I used RAW and not JPG so the image wasn’t a total loss, but the skin tones are washed out and the picture is not nearly as vibrant and dynamic as if I had just gotten it right at the time of the shoot.

family portrait in the park - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

Clearly, I had a lot to learn about lighting, composition, and why having clients sit on a canvas drop-cloth with their feet out is not a good idea.

This advice is not just for newbies

This advice isn’t just for professional sessions with clients either. Something happens when you get new gear and want to put it through its paces. I attended a wedding recently as a guest, not as the official photographer, but I had my shiny new Fuji X100F with me and even though I thought I knew how to operate it, I made a crucial mistake that cost me a lot of good shots throughout the evening.

For a good 20 minutes I couldn’t figure out why my camera wasn’t focusing right and all my shots were coming out poorly exposed. Finally, I realized that I had accidentally activated the built-in ND filter. There was even an icon on the LCD screen indicating the ND filter was turned on, but I didn’t see it because I just wasn’t as familiar with the camera as I should have been.

people dancing at a party - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

Suffice it to say I felt like a complete amateur when I realized that a mistake I made had ruined so many good photo opportunities, but I quickly learned from it and hopefully now you can too!

Familiarize yourself with the location beforehand

Years ago, not too long after I got my Nikon D200 and 50mm lens, I thought I was a pretty big deal and knew everything there was to know about pictures. After all, I had a prime lens! What else was there to understand? (Spoiler alert: A lot. A whole lot!)

One of the biggest mistakes I made during this early period was to show up for photo sessions without ever having been to the location beforehand. This made it impossible, as any seasoned photographer would know, to plan out some of the basic essentials of a photo shoot and look for things like lighting, foreground and background elements, and even where to have my clients sit, stand, or walk.

Hard lesson to learn

The worst offender of the bunch was a session I did for a high school senior where most of the pictures turned out –  well, let’s just say less than ideal because I failed to plan ahead in terms of the physical location. We agreed to meet at a cross-country track, with almost no natural shade, at 5 pm. This is what happened:

portrait in the shade - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

From one of my first high school senior sessions, and one I wish I could erase from existence altogether.

After searching for something, anything, to block the sun so he wasn’t squinting – I finally found this set of metal bleachers behind a tree. But because I didn’t understand how to operate my camera to get the exposure right (see failure tip #1) I got shots that were lit like some kind of circus act and were far too over or underexposed.

If I had taken some time to visit the location first I could have at least mentioned some alternative places at the track, or even suggested a different location entirely. Instead, I got out of my car and met the client and his mom with the kind of overconfident swagger that only a new wet-behind-the-ears photographer has, and ended up biffing most of the shots.

I did scrape by with enough competent shots to make it worth their while, but nonetheless, I walked away having learned something I will never forget.

senior portrait - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

This was from one of my more recent high school senior sessions. I think it’s just a bit better, don’t you?

A few more for good measure

There are a host of other times I have failed as a photographer but each time I have tried to engage in some self-reflection and understand where I went wrong, As well, I tried to talk with other photographer friends, so I don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

My work has grown, and so have I, as a result of these failures. I would almost go so far as to say that failure is downright essential if you want to refine your craft as a photographer.

dogwood flower - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

It took years of poor decisions and overlooking the obvious for me to learn enough about photography to take this simple picture of a dogwood flower.

Without going into too much detail, here are just a couple of other times I have swung and missed, photographically speaking, over the years along with a bit of caution for others thrown in for good measure.

When in doubt, take more photos

I was born in 1980 and grew up in the era of physical film, so when I got my first digital camera I carried that mentality with me. As a result, I missed out on a lot of good shots, especially with clients, because I thought I already had enough and didn’t want to fill up my memory card.

With the price of memory cards being so astronomically low, there is no excuse for not taking enough pictures, and you can just delete them later if you need to.

Control your depth of field

After I got my 85mm f/1.8 lens I took it out to a photo session with clients before thoroughly using and understanding it, which is always a big mistake. I also thought that I could shoot everything at f/1.8 because it gave me such a cool background blur!

What I didn’t realize at the time was the extra-large aperture was also causing half the people to be out of focus due to the insanely shallow depth of field. Just because your lens has a super wide aperture doesn’t mean you should always use it. When in doubt, stop it down a bit.

family portrait outdoors - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

I focused on the mother, front and center, and shot this with my 85mm lens at f/1.8 to get a blurry background. What I didn’t realize was that also meant the husband was out of focus as a result.

Know when enough is enough

This one is going to vary depending on the type of photography you do. But as someone who takes a lot of family and child photos, it’s important to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.

Kids, and even parents, can be fickle and there were times early on when I would drag out photo sessions long after I should have called it quits. “Hey let’s get some more shots over there!” I would say. My clients would begrudgingly oblige while I scampered off ahead of them in a vain effort to capture authentic smiles and emotions.

Dragging out a photo session won’t help you get better pictures. But it will make your clients roll their eyes and think about booking someone else next time. Someone who will take a hint and pay attention to their needs!

family photo - The Importance of Learning From Failure and Your Growth as a Photographer

I learned over the years that kids just don’t last long at family photo sessions, so I took a ton of pictures and tried to keep things interesting by switching up the poses. 20 minutes later these kids were ready to be done, and I could have tried to stretch things out further but it would have only led to frustration.


These are just a few of the many lessons I have learned over the years that, while painful at the time, have served me well in the long run.

What are some of the ways in which you have failed, fell down, or otherwise came up short and what did you learn from it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Hopefully, we can all learn from each other’s mistakes.

The post The Importance of Learning From Failure to Help You Grow as a Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom

Lightroom is one of the most widely-used programs for photographers today, with good reason. In addition to extensive editing options in the Develop module, Lightroom also contains a bevy of tools to help you organize your photos as well.

It can make the process of managing thousands (or tens of thousands) of pictures much more seamless and intuitive. Getting started with Lightroom’s organization functionality can be a bit intimidating, but there are four simple ways in which you can easily and quickly use the program to get a handle on your photos.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - sunset and flowers

Understanding the Lightroom Method

Before you begin using Lightroom’s organizational options it’s important to know one thing about how the program works. It never, and I mean never, does anything to the original images on your computer. All the organization tips covered here deal solely with how Lightroom sorts and displays images within its own internal Catalog, which is kind of like its own database for keeping track of your pictures.

Lightroom will never move your pictures to a different location on your computer, nor will it change the filename or any other property of your pictures. Basically, no matter what you do in Lightroom, your original pictures will always be safe and unchanged, so you never have to worry about making a mistake.

Feel free to try things, click on buttons, and play around with the features in Lightroom as much as you want because you’ll always have your original files safe and sound.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - thumbnail images

Lightroom contains a variety of tools to help you organize and manage your images.

1 – Smart Collections

If Lightroom didn’t have Smart Collections I’d probably fall out of my chair and start crying like a baby. Smart Collections are the bedrock upon which my entire Lightroom organizational methodology is built. They are simple enough that anyone can learn how to use them but powerful enough to meet the needs of the most demanding photographers.

Imagine taking a hamper full of laundry out of the dryer, dumping it on your floor, and as the clothes fall out they are immediately sorted and folded into individual piles: pants, shirts, lights, darks, and even socks. Pure bliss, right? That’s kind of how Smart Collections work, and they are so useful it’s almost magical.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - abstract image

Smart Collections can help you make sense of the chaos that is your photo library.

Smart Collections automatically sort your images into folders depending on criteria that you specify, and you can even have Smart Collections within other folders called Collection Sets. (Again, this all happens ONLY within the Lightroom Catalog database.

Lightroom will never move your photos around on your computer or change the folders they are actually stored in!). You can set up Smart Collections to automatically sort your photos into virtual folders such as…

  • All images that were taken in the month of January 2018  (see screenshot below).
  • Include all the images that were taken with either your Nikon or Canon camera.
  • Any images that have not yet been edited in the Develop module.
  • All images that were taken at a specific geographic location and have a five-star rating.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - smart collection criteria

One of the easiest ways to use Smart Collections is to just create one for each month of the year. I do this at the beginning of each year so my pictures are automatically sorted by month and I never have to think about it again until next January rolls around.

It’s a simple way to get started with Smart Collections and will help you see how useful they are for your entire photography workflow. You can create Smart Collections that fit almost any criteria you can think of, which can dramatically decrease the amount of time you spent managing your pictures.

2 – Flagging and Rejecting

This might sound simple to veteran photographers, but for someone who is just starting out or otherwise unfamiliar with Lightroom, the Flag/Reject technique can have a huge impact on how you organize your pictures.

On its face, the technique is simple. As you scroll through your photo library, press the P key to mark a photo as a Flagged (or Picked), press the X key to mark a photo as rejected, or press the U key to remove either of those demarkations from a given image.

This simple act can be incredibly useful as a way to organize your photos, especially when used in conjunction with Smart Collections. As you flip through your pictures it’s easy to press P, X, or U so later on you know which pictures are your favorites and which are not worth keeping.

You can then have the Flagged images automatically displayed in a Smart Collection without doing any extra work on your part. Additionally, you can click the filter icons at the bottom-right of both the Library and Develop modules to quickly show or hide the photos you have marked as Flagged, Rejected, Unflagged, or a combination of all three.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - flagging in LR

The white flag indicates that image is marked P or as a Pick. Notice there is also a white line around the thumbnail so you can easily find the flagged images.

3 – Keywords

One of the most useful features that Lightroom has to offer as it relates to photo organization is that of keywording, though it also requires some degree of effort on your part to make it truly worthwhile. In the Library module, you can activate the Keyword panel on the right-hand side of your screen and type in descriptive words that identify a given photograph, such as Soccer, Nature, or Macro.

To use multiple keywords for a given picture just use a comma to separate them, and you can assign as many keywords to a picture as you like.

Lightroom even has banks of keywords you can use to select common descriptors for categories like Outdoor Photography, Wedding Photography, and Portrait Photography. These make the process of adding keywords even easier because you can just click on the ones you want to use, and they are automatically assigned to the photo or a group of photos that you have selected.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - keywords

Lightroom makes it easy to assign keywords to photos in the Library module. You can also assign keywords to a group of photos during the import process as well.

To use keywording for photo organization you can create Smart Collections that specify certain keywords or, in contrast, do not contain specific keywords.

For example, you could have a Smart Collection of photos that include the keywords Wedding and Ceremony and another Smart Collection that requires the keywords Wedding and Reception. You can also use the Filter Bar (View > Show Filter Bar) to sort photos in real-time by adding specific keywords to your sorting criteria.

4 – Face Detection

Some people decried the inclusion of face detection when Adobe added it to Lightroom in 2015 because it’s generally not seen as a feature that true professionals use very often. While I can’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment, I do find facial recognition to be a fantastic way to organize your photos for beginners, casual shooters, and even sometimes for working pros.

Nestled at the bottom-left corner of the Library module is a small little Face icon which will activate Face Detection when you click on it. If you have never used this feature it will take Lightroom quite some time to analyze all the photos in your catalog for faces.

This also illustrates one of the biggest weaknesses with this feature: speed, or lack thereof. Face Detection is, and this is putting it mildly, as slow as molasses even on some of the latest computer hardware. But it still can be highly useful and, when properly trained, a great way to keep your images organized.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - facial detection

The initial facial analysis will take a long, long time. Better go get yourself a cup of coffee while you wait. Or two cups.

Click the question mark below each photo to add a name, and the more photos you name the better Lightroom’s analytical engine will be at figuring out which images contain which people. It will also group photos together that are nearly identical so when you give a name to one face it will add that name to all the faces in the group.

After you start the identification process you can click on a single face at the top of the screen under “Named People” to show all the pictures that include that person.

The most difficult part of the Face Detection process is detecting and naming faces. If you’ve got tens of thousands of images in your Catalog this can take a really long time. So I recommend starting with people who are most important to you and working out from there over time. Begin with your family, closest friends, or repeat clients, and then branch out to other people as you progress.

I find Face Detection to be in roughly the same category as the shop-vac out in my garage: I don’t use it every day, but when I do need it, it’s extraordinarily handy. Your mileage may vary, but you just might find that it’s worth your time to try out.

4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom - face detection and naming

You can enter names for everyone in a single photo, and unnamed people will have a “?” above them.


These four tips are just some of the ways in which Lightroom can help you manage your ever-growing collection of photos. If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber you will continue to see improvements over time, especially with regard to overall speed for things like Face Detection.

But even if you use a standalone version like I do, you may find that these features are often indispensable. Each also has their own set of nuances and additional settings that can help you tweak things even further.

What about you? What are some of your favorite ways to organize your photos in Lightroom? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post 4 Tips to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions – What it’s NOT All About

There are a host of things which are important when doing photo sessions for clients. But if you’re not careful you could end up falling into the trap of assuming that photo sessions are about something that they really are not. The list of things to keep in mind covers topics such as lighting, exposure, location, posing, and even practical elements like what to charge and what to recommend they wear.

I’ve personally made some mistakes in my development as a photographer when I got caught in the trap of focusing on the wrong things. An understanding of what client sessions are not about can be just as impactful as knowing what they are all about.

With that, here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you set out to take pictures for people.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About - family portrait

It’s not about your gear

I know how fun and exciting it is to get new photography equipment. While I don’t have an entire room full of cameras and lenses, I do have enough to fill a pretty large backpack, and I once chased down a UPS driver just to get my new 70-200mm f/2.8 lens one day early. I always enjoy showing my latest camera purchase to friends and family. While none of this is necessarily a bad thing, an obsession with photo gear can actually become a hindrance when working with clients.

I can remember some photo sessions from a few years ago that I’m almost embarrassed to recall because of the way I showed up and starting flaunting my cameras, lenses, and accessories for my clients. There were times when I would make it a point to explain that my lenses had super wide apertures which meant that they were so much better than a kit lens.

Or when visiting with potential clients I would make sure to point out that I was shooting with the latest, greatest, and costliest full-frame camera on the market. Shamefully, I have even gone so far as to literally pull out speedlights, tripods, and other accessories that I had no intention of using just so the clients could see that I had them.

mom and baby photo - Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About

Clients want results and to feel important

In hindsight, not a single client I have ever worked with was impressed with my camera gear. They wanted results, not grandstanding, and it was the pictures that mattered to them rather than the gear I used to make the images. For all my clients care, I might as well be using an old Canon Rebel T3 and the on-camera flash! (Truth be told I know some photographers who do great work with a basic setup like that.)

If you try to dazzle your clients with how cool your camera stuff is, it could actually make things worse by setting unrealistic expectations in their mind of what you can actually do. Or worse yet, you could come across seeming like an arrogant show-off even if that’s not your intention at all.

When you work with clients I recommend leaving gear out of the equation entirely. Don’t talk about your cameras, your lenses, your super cool equipment bag with dozens of folding pockets, or the camera you don’t have but hope to buy someday.

Discuss your goals for the photo session, explain your plan for getting the kids to smile, or take a few minutes and just get to know your clients on a personal level. Don’t make the session about your expensive fancy camera stuff. Instead, make it about your clients and let them be impressed with your pictures, not your camera.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About - photo of a little girl

It’s not about your last gig

Have you ever been to a holiday gathering and had the unfortunate luck of sitting by a particular relative who just wouldn’t stop talking about all the things he or she has done, the places they have visited, or the new stuff in their house?

Every time you bring up something from your own life, they counter with a swift rebuttal, “Oh you went to the Grand Canyon for a day? That’s nice. But it’s nothing compared to the week I spent backpacking in the Swiss Alps!” 

All you want is to share some of your life experiences, but all this unfortunate friend or family member wants to do is play an endless game of one-upmanship until you finally excuse yourself to go get some pie. And you don’t even like pie.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About - family photo

Think about those uncomfortable situations the next time you are at a photo session with clients and you feel tempted to regale the people with tales of fun, excitement, and adventure from previous sessions. You might have some fun stories to share of how you barely got the shot before a thunderstorm rolled in, or you might want to pull out your phone and show off some amazing images of that time you photographed a destination wedding at a national park.

Focus on the people in front of you right now

The best course of action in those situations is to say nothing at all and keep the focus squarely on your clients and the job you are currently doing. You know, the one you are getting paid for.

Regaling clients with tales of your previous sessions can make them feel inadequate by comparison, and often sends them messages that you don’t intend. It can make your clients feel inferior, outclassed, or even jealous when pitted against the fantastic tales being spun of your other work.

Save your stories for your friends and instead talk with your clients about how great they look, how much fun you are having, and how you plan to address the questions and concerns they might have.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About - family photo siblings

Rest assured your clients already have a high opinion of you and your work based on what they saw on your website or heard from others. Otherwise, they would not have asked you to take their pictures. So put away the stories of past gigs you’ve had and make the session about the only people who matter at the moment – the ones in front of your camera.

It’s not about how awesome you are

Look, I get it. As a photographer, you’ve done some pretty cool things, seen some great places, made some incredible images, burned the midnight oil into the wee hours of the morning to make sure your RAW files were edited to absolute metaphysical perfection.

You’ve got some stories to tell and you might have even earned an award or two along the way. Perhaps one of your pictures ended up in a print publication, or you teach photography classes at your local vocational/technical school. As Ron Burgundy might say, you’re kind of a big deal.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About

All this may sound harsh, but I bring it up because I’m ashamed to admit it used to be my attitude. There were times when visiting with clients that I would make it a point to describe, in painful detail, how hard I worked on other sessions. Or I’d brag about the number of images on my memory card the last time I did a similar shoot. And I would talk about this as if it had any bearing at all on the quality of my work when all it did was alienate people and send them the wrong message about me as a photographer.

The most important people in the room

Your clients don’t care about the stories you might want to tell them demonstrating how great you are. What they care about is the job you are doing for them and the pictures they are paying you for, not your stories, your adventures, or your portfolio.

They hired you for a reason, and they are probably already familiar with your work after seeing samples on your website or talking with friends, family, or other client referrals. They already think highly of you or they wouldn’t have hired you, so you don’t need to keep reminding them of your greatness.

Tips for Client Photo Sessions - What it's NOT All About


When it’s time to do the photo session just show up, do the work, and rest easy in the confidence of knowing you are an awesome photographer. You consistently produce great results, and people like your work enough to pay you for it! Let your work speak for itself, pay attention to your clients and their needs, and you’ll get some phenomenal photos that will keep your clients returning and sending others your way as well.

What about you? Do you have any lessons you have learned from doing client photo sessions over the years, or mistakes you feel comfortable sharing with others so they can avoid the same pitfalls? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post Tips for Client Photo Sessions – What it’s NOT All About appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Understand Your Camera’s Exposure Compensation Feature

In this article, learn about the Exposure Compensation feature on your camera to get the best exposures.

Whether you’re shooting sports, animals, portraits, toys, snowflakes, rocks, fish, weddings, or pretty much anything else you almost always have one goal in mind. You want your pictures to be properly exposed. Of course, you can fix an image in Photoshop if it’s too light or too dark, and shooting RAW definitely helps with that. But over the years I’ve found that the best solution is to just get your exposure right in camera.

This means finding the right combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get your image to look the way you want. But there’s another option you have at your disposal as well – your camera’s Exposure Compensation feature. Understanding what this does and how it works can help you get your pictures looking pixel-perfect in camera without having to adjust anything afterward.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature - photo of a goose

What is Exposure Compensation?

Buried deep in the computational brain of your camera is something called a light meter whose job it is to measure the amount of light entering the lens. This lets your camera adjust some of the exposure settings automatically or gives you enough information for you to make adjustments yourself.

The problem with metering and the camera choosing the exposure

Depending on how you have your metering mode set up it might look at all the light coming in through lens, just the part in the center, or sometimes only the light where you have your focus point set.

As your camera takes measurements of the incoming light and adjusts exposure settings it tries as hard as it can to get a picture that is properly exposed. It might make the aperture larger or smaller, adjust the shutter speed, change the ISO or use a combination of all three of those techniques just to make sure the photo comes out right.

The trouble is, your camera doesn’t always have a good sense of how you want your picture to look.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature - photo of a young man

My camera tried to make this image much darker because of all the light behind this young man, so I used exposure compensation to make the background slightly overexposed which meant my subject was properly exposed.

Enter the solution

Sometimes you might want your picture to be slightly over (lighter) or underexposed (darker), and this is where the exposure compensation feature really starts to shine. If you notice that your images aren’t coming out quite as light or as dark as you want them, you can either change the aperture, shutter, or ISO yourself.

Or just tell your camera “Hey, brighten things up a bit will you?” and with a quick twist of the Exposure Compensation dial, voilà, your problems are solved.

Most people find Exposure Compensation to be particularly useful when shooting in a semi-manual mode such as Aperture or Shutter Priority, but you can use it in other modes as well like program auto or even full manual.

In order to dispel some of the mystery surrounding the exposure compensation feature, let’s take a look at what your camera is actually doing to the settings when you use it in any of those modes.

General Notes for Using Exposure Compensation

NOTE: Please make note that when you dial in any Exposure Compensation it does not get reset to zero automatically for your next shot. You need to change it yourself manually once you’re done using it.

PROBLEM: One of the biggest problems beginners have is not realizing their Exposure Compensation is active. If you have erratic exposures, or all your images are either too dark or too light – check to see if the Exposure Compensation dial has been moved and correct it to zero if necessary. 

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

“How does exposure compensation work? Please, tell us more!”

Aperture Priority Mode

Most photographers I know shoot primarily in Aperture Priority mode because of the way aperture affects depth of field and other critical elements of the composition. I use this mode almost exclusively, usually combined with auto-ISO to make sure my shutter speed never gets too slow, and it works like a charm.

I like adjusting my aperture and letting my camera take care of everything else because nine times out of ten it’s just easier for the way I prefer to shoot. If I notice my pictures are too bright or too dark I just adjust the Exposure Compensation to take care of it.

When shooting in Aperture Priority, adjusting the Exposure Compensation doesn’t ever change your aperture–doing so would defeat the whole purpose of using this mode! Instead, it changes the shutter speed by either speeding it up or slowing it down in order to make your picture brighter or darker.

How it works

In the image below, shot in Aperture Priority, you can see that the subject is way too dark while the background is properly exposed. This is partially a result of my camera’s metering mode but also because the scene itself contains a high degree of dynamic range and is therefore tricky to get just right.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

Aperture Priority, 200mm, 1/750th, f/4.0, ISO 100, no Exposure Compensation.

To fix the problem I could have changed my camera’s metering mode but instead, I chose to dial in an exposure compensation value of +2EV. The result left the background totally blown out while giving me a properly-exposed subject.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

Aperture Priority, 200mm, 1/180th, f/4.0, ISO 100, +2EV Exposure Compensation.

The key takeaway is that while the focal length, aperture, and ISO values did not change the shutter speed most certainly did. My camera dropped it all the way down to 1/180 second which let in much more light and therefore resulted in a two-stop overexposure from the original.

When using exposure compensation in Aperture Priority your camera will adjust the shutter speed to be faster or slower, which can make a big difference if you are shooting a moving subject. You might want a fast shutter speed but if you’re dialing in a few stops of exposure compensation you might end up with one that is too slow to capture the image you are going for.

It’s not a problem per se, but it is something to note and it could dramatically affect your images if you aren’t aware of what is happening. If you need a faster shutter speed you can increase the ISO a bit also.

Shutter Priority

In a similar vein, using Exposure Compensation when shooting in Shutter Priority will not change your shutter speed but will instead alter the aperture in order to make your image lighter or darker.

When I shot the image below of a duck on a frozen pond I wanted a fast shutter speed in case my avian friend started moving quickly. So I used Shutter Priority with a speed of 1/250th of a second.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

Shutter Priority, 200mm, 1/250th, f/8.0, ISO 100, no Exposure Compensation.

You can probably tell that something isn’t right with the photo. The duck is too dark! I had to lighten the composition quickly before it flew away, so I dialed in a value of +1.5EV on my Exposure Compensation.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

Shutter Priority, 200mm, 1/250, f/4.8, ISO 100, +1.5EV Exposure Compensation.

This image is a bit different from the static wood carving in the aperture priority example because you can clearly see the effect that exposure compensation has had on the composition. My camera kept the shutter speed unchanged but used a much wider aperture which gave me an image with far less depth of field. Notice how both the foreground and the background are much blurrier – a direct result of shooting with a wider aperture.

What about ISO

You might have noticed that a third exposure parameter has thus far remained unchanged, that of the ISO. While it’s standard for most cameras to alter the aperture and shutter speed when using Exposure Compensation, ISO is usually the last parameter to get changed unless you are using Auto ISO.

In that case, your camera will most definitely change the ISO if it needs to, especially if shooting in Aperture Priority and your minimum shutter speed (as set up in your settings) has been reached.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

I had to use a fast shutter speed on this image and didn’t care too much about aperture, so I shot in Shutter Priority and used Exposure Compensation to get the image to look how I wanted. I did not use Auto-ISO because I wanted a nice clean picture, so my camera adjusted only the aperture when I dialed in the Exposure Compensation.

Manual Mode

NOTE: This only applies to Nikon shooters! If you use Canon, Fuji or another brand Exposure Compensation does not have any effect in Manual Mode.

Exposure Compensation in Manual Mode works a bit differently because nothing changes at all when you dial in a value. Instead, it’s your camera’s light meter itself that changes so you can adjust the aperture, shutter, and ISO values manually in order to get your picture to look how you want.

It’s an interesting twist on things that might seem a little strange at first if you are used to having things automatically change when you adjust exposure compensation, but once you start using this method you may not ever want to go back.

It essentially gives you the best of all worlds by letting you adjust exposure settings to get the value you are looking for, you can then choose precisely the parameters you want to change.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

In Manual Mode, adjusting Exposure Compensation only changes how your light meter displays exposure. Notice how the vertical line indicating the point of proper exposure has shifted to the left when dialing in an Exposure Compensation value of +2EV.

The magic of mirrorless

I know the subject of mirrorless cameras versus DSLRs can be a bit of a thorny one for some photographers, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it here in an article about exposure compensation.

While the same logic applies regarding Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the big difference is how you can actually see your exposure settings change in real-time as you look at your camera.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

This rear screen of this mirrorless Fuji X100F shows me that the photo will be properly exposed.

This is one of the main strengths of shooting mirrorless, though it should be noted that DSLRs can also this in Live View–albeit usually with some tradeoffs such as slower autofocus that usually happens when utilizing Live View.

How to Understand Your Camera's Exposure Compensation Feature

I can see the result of a -1EV Exposure Compensation on the digital readouts (i.e. light meter, histogram, etc.) but most notably the image itself has decreased in brightness as well. This helps me get a very good idea of what effect this Exposure Compensation will have on the final image.


I used to be somewhat scared of using Exposure Compensation because I didn’t really understand what was happening when I changed its value. With a much better idea of what my camera is changing, and why, I am now much more comfortable using it on a daily basis to get my shots to look how I want.

In fact, I often won’t even change my metering modes anymore and instead just rely on Exposure Compensation because I know what it’s doing to my photos and I’m not scared of using it. If you have never used it much either, you might want to go ahead and give a try. You just might like it.

The post How to Understand Your Camera’s Exposure Compensation Feature by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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