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How to be a Sharp Shooter
Remember the old days of family photography, when you finished a roll of film, ran it down to the drugstore, and crossed your fingers that a few shots turned out? Thankfully, the digital age has changed the process of taking pictures. No more excuses for not taking great shots and
lots of them – we are living in a photo age, Moms!
There is no end to the resources that amateur (and professional) shutterbugs can find online—from equipment and accessories to filters and tutorials. It can be overwhelming, so we broke it down into
10 easy steps, each filled with helpful clicks that will have you clicking away in no time. If you’re starting out, these resources offer step-by-step instruction. If you’re seasoned, you’ll find plenty of inspiration and tools to help you hone your skills.
How to be a Sharp Shooter
Step 1: The Overview
If you are just beginning to dabble with photography, start with an easy-to-understand overview of what you’ll need. Too many techno terms and pricey pieces of equipment can be intimidating. One of the best starter summaries is on the popular DIY site, A
Beautiful Mess. The blog is run by two talented, young crafter/photographers and they give a great rundown of equipment, effects, and apps. Start here to get the lay of the land.
Photo Credit: KellyMooreBag.com
Step 2: The Equipment
Unless you are planning to become a pro, you don’t need to splurge at a high-end specialty shop for basic gear.
Amazon has competitive prices, tons of consumer reviews, and well-priced packages from popular names like Canon for under $500. Look for special packages around the holidays —it’s a good time to find deals. For unique, handmade camera straps, Etsy is the place —two of our favorite shops are Viveo and iMo. For bags, Kelly Moore makes stylish camera totes specifically for women—starting at $149 and up. For those who are ready to jump into more professional photography, Kiki Creates gives a detailed list of must-haves —everything from memory sticks to extra lens caps.
Photo Credit: iMo Shop on Etsy
Step 3: The Home Studio
. If you spend any amount of time surfing around the advice pages of photo-bloggers, you know they all tout the benefits of shooting in natural light. Many set up their at-home “studios” on the kitchen table, near a window. If you are planning to do a lot of product or food shots, you may want to set up something a bit more sophisticated. Two photo bloggers reveal their personal studio spaces
here and here.
Photo Credit: FunkyJunkInteriors.net
Step 4: The Shooting
What on earth did we do before
YouTube? Whatever you’re looking to learn, the popular online video channel has the tutorial to show you how. Some are better than others, so search around. Our favorite website for photo tutorials is Digital Photography School where you can access over 3000 tips and tutorials, plus get free tips sent to your inbox daily. You can even participate in their weekly photo challenges. Lynda.com is another valuable resource, offering online courses and tutorials taught by professionals. There is a monthly subscription fee (starting as low as $25) to access the video library which covers topics from Wedding and Travel Photography to Photoshop techniques. Last but not least, Clickin’ Moms is a fantastic resource for photo-minded mamas (started by a group of moms). The site is comprehensive and accessible with topics ranging from Creative Moon Photography and Shooting in Tight Spaces, to how to photograph Seniors, Newborns and Families. They also offer paid online seminars through CMUniversity—these run several hundred dollars but for those looking to practice specific shooting or post skills, it is a good option. Image: M8 The Shooting (a stock image would probably work better)
Photo Credit: ClickinMoms
Step 5: The Editing
To do things right, you need
Adobe Photoshop and (optionally) Adobe Lightroom; these products are pricey and can easily put you out $300 - $500. Fortunately, Adobe now has monthly subscription options to make it more cost-effective. You may also want to invest in some “actions.” For those who aren’t familiar with the term, actions are shortcuts that string together a series of post effects into a single process so you can achieve a look in one step rather several. Actions allow you to retouch, enhance, stylize, texturize—you can have hours of fun playing around. To purchase actions, check out Totally Rad, a favorite of bloggers. Packages start at around $79. Editing is where the magic often happens—create a vintage look, transform colors, play with exposure, even write on images with a Wacom Pen Tablet. For more editing ideas and tutorials, browse through Digital Photography School.
Photo Credit: ABeautifulMess.com
Step 6: The Apps
The world of apps is ever-growing and utterly overwhelming—generally it is best to keep things simple.
Instagram is the one essential: a great photo app and sharing/social media app in one. For iPhone, consider Afterglow and VSCO as well. If you are an Android user, check out this list of cool apps including Pixlr-o-Matic, Vignette, Magic Hour, and Labelbox.
Photo Credit: Afterglow
Step 7: The Printing
For basic snapshots, you can print right at home. Color printers have gotten much more affordable and you can pick one up for around $100. For specialized and high-quality prints,
Lifehacker has a rundown of the 5 best photo printing sites. Snapfish is generally considered to be a standout with reliable quality and lots of options—you can print everything from deco paper prints and books to canvas art prints.
Photo Credit: Snapfish
Step 8: The Display
Every family home should be filled with photos. Bring kids, relatives, friends, vacation snapshots, and favorite moments to life on your walls, pillows, even on dinnerware! Create an art wall, oversized photo mural, or find unexpected places to display photos like the dining room, bathroom, or even mudroom.
Photo Credit: Breathe Happiness
Step 9: The Sharing
If you have not jumped on the
Instagram train yet, it’s time. Follow your favorite bloggers and photographers, find oodles of inspiration, and share your own work. It’s addictive in the best possible way! For newbies, check out these 10 Tips for Instagram Beginners.
Photo Credit: Dave Yoder, NatGeo Photographer
Step 10: The Art
Turn your Instagrams into art, gifts, magnets, mini-books, even mosaic iPhone cases. This is one of our favorite parts of the whole Instagram phenom – time to get your craft on! Check out a fun assortment of Instagram projects and products
Photo Credit: Printstagram
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