Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Cleaning - 8 Tips for Photography

Well, it's April and I'm all about getting the yard ready for outdoor time, spring cleaning and getting my photo gear in order too. Are you excited about the spring and summer season coming up? There will be lots of picture taking opportunities so get your cameras ready for spring with these 8 tips:

1. Get inspired
Make a list of things you'd love to photograph this season. Plan dates for photo excursions such as shooting tulips at the Arboretum or a photo day at the zoo. Try to get out there and shoot something for fun at least once a week (even if you only have 30 min. to spare.)

2.  Review your goals and skills
What skills have you learned? What can you do to improve those skills? What new skills would you like to learn? Pick two or three goals and create a game plan. You might want to sign up for a class, buy a new book or new gear... make a list and make it happen!

3.  Get squeaky clean
Call your local camera store or send the camera off to the service center (like Canon or Nikon) to have your camera professionally cleaned. There are kits to do sensor cleaning yourself if you have a steady hand (and a quiet, clean place to do it.) Personally I prefer to have it cleaned so I don't have to stress about messing up the sensor.

4.  Backup your pictures
This is so important! Make sure you have backups of your pictures.  I always have at least 3 backups. Don't forget the images on your phone too. There's nothing worse than losing beloved memories. Use external hard drives, additional computers, data DVDs, etc. Just backup those photos. If you have severe thunderstorms, make sure a copy of photos is not plugged in.  We've had lightning take out all electronics before, which is why we shut down and unplug during bad storms - even with our surge protectors.

5.  Clean up your computer
Delete pictures you no longer want, such as photos that didn't make "the cut" etc.  Clean up old folders, organize your pictures to make them easier to find (I organize by year/month/event)  If you have a PC you'll want to defrag your computer too. Mac users can zero out (erase) free space. Doing so will help your computers have more kick!

6. Clean your camera bags
My camera bags get stupid dirty. I've found twigs, leaves and dirt in mine (hey, I crawl around on the ground a lot.)  Bags not in use are also great places for me to dump random gear. Take a moment to clean out those bags, organize them and even give the insides a little vacuum to pick up any dirt, pet hair, etc. that might get in the bag. When photo inspiration hits, your bag will be good to go!

7.  Sell unused gear
I must admit, I'm really bad about this.  I still have my kit lens that I've never used. That being said, one of my goals this spring is to clear out some unused gear. Just like digging through your clothes closet,  take the time to go through and consider selling gear you don't really like or never use. Then take that extra cash and get something else you really want!

8.  Update inventory.
When I shot weddings, I used to keep a list of all of our photo equipment, for insurance purposes.  If you don't have an inventory list yet, consider starting one. If you do have one, make sure it is up-to-date. Make a list with the make, model and serial number of each piece of equipment then keep it in a safe place (make a few copies too!)  The list also includes important phone #'s. You'll be glad to have it in the rare event you might need it.