Lets Get Digital

Not so long ago, digital photography was handy for point-and-shoot snapshots and easy loading on to a computer or the web, but the gold standard for image quality was still celluloid. That is starting to change. With the newest generation of digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, visible pixels and sub-par color quality are distant memories.Digital photography has clear advantages over film, including instant access to images, ease of image manipulation and correction, and less expense–especially since film is getting less popular and processing services are harder to find.If you want to land a job as a professional photographer, learning digital will prove to be a valuable investment. Your love of photography and your skill set can open doors in a number of niche fields, including wedding photography, celebrity photography, fashion and publicity photo shoots, and news photography.Digital photography tutorials allow you to get comfortable with digital photography and absorb professional photography tips. You can learn camera essentials and design and composition rules of thumb. Learn to get the right shots and use the right settings for the lighting and the particulars of the situation. A good photographer can become a great photographer by getting comfortable with the equipment. Get to know your camera and learn how to get the best results out of it.And digital photography doesn’t end with the camera. Just as in film photography, a lot of design decisions can be made after the shutter snaps. In the case of digital, adjustments and enhancements can be made on the computer with photo finishing applications. Understanding these applications and the choices they make available will prove to be another valuable career skill.

Choosing a Digital Camera for Your Child

Which Camera Should You Get for your Child?This article is divided into age groupings to help you decide what kind of camera would be best for your child. The age guidelines are simply a starting point, as kids progress at their own pace, and some will be more interested in “serious photography” than others.Toddler through Early Elementary: What Kids Like About Cameras/Photography Turning the camera on and off on their own
The cause and effect of pushing a button and having something happen
Seeing someone or something through an LCD display
Seeing themselves on the display or in a picture
Doing things like Mom and DadThe Type of Photos You Can Expect to See:Pictures of the floor, the ceiling or partial shots of people and objects
Multiple pictures of the same person or objectWhat to Look For in a Camera:Since the first stage usually applies to younger kids, you’ll want a sturdy camera designed for small hands
Completely automated features, including flash and focus
A picture resolution/storage space combination that can hold a lot of photos
Controls that are easy to use and understandEarly Elementary through Middle School: What Kids Like About Cameras/PhotographyCapturing favorite things, people and places
Capturing memories, such as vacations, field trips, birthday parties
Being trusted with a digital camera of their own
Printing pictures or using them for cards, journals and scrapbooksThe Type of Photos You Can Expect to See:Posed and candid shots of friends, pets and family members
MANY pictures from each life event, including field trips, vacations and parties
Shots of themselves posing with friends or doing silly thingsWhat to Look For in a Camera:Easy to use and understand
Sturdy and inexpensive, in case it is dropped, lost or stolen
Mostly automated features, but some control over things like the flash and zoom
Good resolution (clear photos), but not so high that the pictures eat up storage space
Just for fun: special effects, such as captions, clip art, etc.
Customizable camera cases and straps for the fashion-consciousMiddle School and Older: What Kids Like About Cameras/PhotographyCapturing friends and favorite places or belongings
Exploring sense of self with self-portraits and photos with friends
Self-expression and a creative outlet
Editing photos and possibly creating scrapbooks, collages and journals
Printing photos, using them on web pages or otherwise sharing themThe Type of Photos You Can Expect to See:A lot of group shots, particularly of friends
More artistic pictures of nature, architecture and people
Self portraits, either alone or with friends, that display different aspects of their personality.
Expect to see more expressions of sexuality in the photographs as that is an important part of exploration for this age group.What to Look For in a Camera:A reasonably priced, adult-sized camera
Control over flash and zoom and possibly other more advanced features
Some kids may still enjoy customizable faceplates or “fashion” cameras
Mostly automated features, unless they are showing a more serious interest in photography
Expandable memory optionsThe great thing about digital cameras is that you can easily download the pictures to your computer for viewing ( or deleting) without paying for prints. They can also be downloaded to a disk for storage, or printed at home.Show your child the basics of how to operate the camera. Kids may even need to know what button to push, and where to place their hands, so that they are not blocking the viewfinder. Teach them the importance of light, such as making sure there’s enough light to see what they’re photographing. Teach them to have the light in front of the subject. Tell them not to point her camera into the sun. You may need to teach your child to focus the camera.Show your child books of photography by famous photographers, including those that feature photos of children. Good examples are “In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers”, any of Anne Geddes books or photos of babies, or any by Ansel Adams. If you have pets, any of William Wegman’s dog books would be good to show them, as well. Point out the use of light in the books, how the photographer centered the subject in the photographs, and what there is about the photograph that makes it interesting or fun.Take your kids to photo exhibits, or find ones suitable for your family online. Look for local exhibits by contacting studios or museums in your area. Ask the children to comment on the use of light and how the photographers created their images.Print your child’s photographs, and display them for her to see. Acknowledge all your child’s efforts.Let them come up with ideas for photo shoots or photo contests, that can include the entire family. You can suggest a “What Is This?” Contest.What is that?When taken close-up, many commonplace things take on weird, unusual, and otherworldly appearances–especially if they’re shown upside down or at an unexpected angle. Even the family pet!”What Is This?” mystery photos can be put on-screen on your computer as a slide show, and everyone can take turns guessing what is in the photo.Or you can hold a Photo Exhibition, where you can invite family and friends over for snacks and an art showing. Kids love showing off their works of art!Another idea is to make a jigsaw puzzle out of a photo print.The kids can print out a photo (on card stock) or paste a photo onto cardboard (to make it thicker), and cut into squiggly pieces for a puzzle the whole family can enjoy.Let your kids have fun with their digital camera. Encourage them to photograph whatever subjects appeal to them. Answer their questions, and be there if they ask for help.

Conducting Market Research From the Back of a Boat

I have often talked about the skewed parenting skills of my father, who, without ever realizing it, was quite the entrepreneurial genius. Though he never dabbled in business and it certainly didn’t occur to me at the time, many of the lessons I learned from him about life can be put to practical use in your business today.For example he would take me fishing and hang the dead worms on my hook and the lively wigglers on his. In business we call that, “Getting the competitive edge.”He would direct me to cast my line in waters that he knew were barren while he cast his line in waters teeming with fish. In business we call that, “Knowing your market.”He would turn to me every so often and say, “Look, son, I’ve hooked another one! That makes eight for me in the last ten minutes. How many have you caught? None? Gee, that’s too bad.”In business we call that, “Creating a monopoly.”There were times I recall sitting in that tiny boat with he and his big string of fish on one end and me and my empty string on the other, that I imagined myself picking up an oar and giving it a swing to see how far I could knock him out of the boat.In business we call that, “Customer satisfaction.”So let’s look at a few of the lessons I learned from those fishing trips that pertain to how you should be doing business. First off, you may recall in the last column that I mentioned that the old man had surveyed every square inch of that lake and knew exactly where the fish were hiding.In business we call that, “Conducting market research,” and if your business is new or contemplating a move into new markets, failing to conduct market research could leave you sitting in the boat with no customers nibbling at your hook.Why do market research? The most obvious answer is to verify that there really is a market for your product or service and to determine if the market will support your efforts. A market should be large, easy to reach, and have lots of disposable cash. A market should be hungry for and passionate about the product you are trying to sell. Otherwise you will find yourself trying to build a business that caters to a market of disinterested, broke people; like selling house plants to homeless people, not a good idea.Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of giving consideration to their product first, without worrying about who will buy the product when it’s done. They come up with a great idea that they are sure the world will love without bothering to ask the world its opinion. They pour thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars into their great idea only to end up asking, “Now who will buy my wonderful new widget? Hello? Anybody out there?”The old man taught me that you should find a pond full of hungry fish first, then come up with the bait to catch them. Remember, you succeed by giving customers what THEY want or need, not by trying to sell them what YOU think they want or need.Identify a market first, develop the product second. Never put a dime into product creation until you are sure there is a market that will give you a dollar or more for every dime you spend. Never go on instinct and never trust your gut. More often than not you’ll find that the great idea you have churning in the pit of your stomach is just gas, and not the kind that will make you money.Fortunately it has never been easier to conduct market research. Thanks to the Internet you can thoroughly research a market with a few keystrokes. Most industries have associations that publish statistics about their market. The government publishes enough industry data to choke a horse. You can use online directories and business research tools to gather data. You can also use search engines like Google and Overture (Yahoo) to search the web for market data and gather competitive intelligence. Visit forums and newsgroups to see what people in the industry are talking about. What problems are they complaining about? What needs do they have that are not being met? What itch do they have that you can scratch?You should also research the competition in the market you are considering.
You can learn a great deal from your competitors, such as: what are the top product lines in the market, what is the demand for goods, what are the price points, what is the range in quality, what are they doing that you can do better, etc.And if you find there are no competitors in the market take that as a red flag. A lack of competition usually means a lack of market. Rarely does a product come along that is so revolutionary that it creates an entirely new marketplace, so keep that in mind as you do your research.At the end of the day business, like fishing, is all about finding a pond full of hungry fish and coming up with the best bait that you can use to catch them. He who reels the most customers into the boat wins the game.