Creatives and the Law

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Camera Gift Giving Guide: Mirrorless and Compact Cameras

Time for the second part of my camera gift giving guide -- 'tis the season for electronic toys in the form of mirrorless and compact cameras. I will begin by explaining the difference between the two types of cameras.

Difference Between Compact and Mirrorless Camera

What is a Compact Camera?

Compact cameras (also known as point and shoot cameras) tend to be small and very light. They are equipped with automatic mode and various "scene" modes such as fireworks, landscape, portrait, sport, etc. Unlike a DSLR, you cannot adjust settings such as aperture or shutter speed. It is meant for the person that wants to point and shoot, giving the camera full control over the settings.

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Mirrorless cameras (also referred to as interchangeable lens systems) fall between a compact camera and a DSLR. Like compact cameras, these cameras tend to be light and are equipped with auto mode and multiple scene modes. However, unlike compact cameras, but similar to DSLRs, these cameras allow the user to change lenses and are equipped with aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual mode. Mirrorless cameras use smaller lenses and have smaller image sensors than DSLR cameras, but the image sensor of a mirrorless camera is much larger than that of a compact camera, which results in nicer images. Basically, a mirrorless camera offers you the versatility of a DSLR in the size of a compact camera.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Camera Gift Giving Guide: Nikon 3300, 5500, and 7200 DSLR

In light of the holiday season, I thought I would write a couple articles on camera gift giving. You might want to begin by reviewing my previous post on what you should think about when buying a new camera. The post will help you think about the type of features you need (or want) and will help you understand terms like "megapixels" and "sensor size" that are often throw around.

One thing to note, in this post, I will only touch upon entry-level DSLR cameras. All of these cameras have a cropped sensor meaning if you have old lenses from an old film camera, those lenses will produce a different sized image when used on any cropped sensor camera. Nikon uses the letters "DX" to identify a camera with a cropped sensor. I will write another post on full frame cameras, but be aware, full frame cameras are really geared more towards the semi-professional to professional photographer. In the meantime, check out this article if you are interested in learning more about the differences between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor.

DSLR - Nikon D3300, D5500, D7200

Now, let us begin this gift-giving guide by thinking about entry-level DSLR cameras. I am a Nikon girl -- always have been. I love the quality of the cameras, the lenses are amazing and I believe they offer a good value for the money.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Creative Mornings

Last month a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to attend one of the monthly talks held by Creative Mornings. Intrigued, I agreed to attend the event and decided to do a little research on this organization. I learned that Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. One Friday morning a month, attendees come together for coffee, breakfast and a chance to listen to a short talk. Each meeting is free of charge and open to anyone. While the program initially started in New York, cities all over the world now host Creative Mornings gatherings.
 Seeing as how this was my first event I did not know what to expect, but the experience was incredibly exciting and invigorating. The speaker for November in Washington D.C. was Kelly Towles an emerging street artist in DC. Aside from the energy I gained from simply being around creative people, I really enjoyed his talk because it served as a reminder that I need to believe in myself more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Someone Stole My Work - What Should I Do?

If you put your work on the internet, eventually, one of your images will get stolen. When that happens you will likely feel a flurry of emotions -- shock, anger, frustration, and maybe even a little excitement (it is nice to be wanted). But, eventually, you will likely settle on anger and want justice.

Let me be clear, if you download an image off the internet without the author's permission, you are stealing. If you happen to "borrow" a site design or vector from another website, you are stealing. Unless the artistic creator explicitly states that you have a right to use their intellectual property for FREE, you do NOT have the right to download, use, or borrow anyone else's work (even for personal use). Besides, it is bad karma so just avoid it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Understanding Your Camera's Metering, Exposure Compensation and White Balance Settings

Recently, I wrote a post on understanding light, which touched upon different types of light and the color of light. While I briefly referenced white balance and metering in my previous post, I thought it would be best to explore these settings in greater depth because you must understand metering, exposure compensation and white balance in order to properly account for light. Therefore, below you will find an explanation of the metering, exposure compensation and white balance settings on your camera and how to use each setting.


Metering is how your camera determines what the correct shutter speed and/or aperture should be depending upon the amount of light that enters the camera. Every camera usually has three different metering options, generally referred to as "center-weighted," "spot/partial," or "matrix (Nikon)/evaluative (Canon)." Each option works by assigning a relative weighting to the light in your scene.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photography Books: How to Photograph Everything

One of my favorite photography books is How to Photograph Everything: Simple Techniques for Shooting Spectacular Images from the editors of Popular Photography. I enjoy this book because it combines beautiful photographs with simple tips on how to photograph over 40 different subjects. Specifically, the book offers suggestions on how to photograph fireworks, the night sky, food, abandoned spaces, concerts, and museums and aquariums. It also contains a brief introductory section on the basics of composition, color, exposure and lighting. If you are new to photography (or just do not use your camera frequently), you might consider investing in this book as it is certain to help you improve and expand your photography skills.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Know Your Rights: What Can You Photograph

Greetings world. Sorry for the posting hiatus, I've had the craziest couple of weeks -- moving + unpacking + trying to sell all of the extra stuff that would not fit into my new place has occupied most of my time. However, now that things are organized in a way that suits my OCD, I am ready to get back to writing!

In light of some of the articles in the news this week, I thought it would be good to write a post on what you can (and cannot) photograph. Knowing what you are and are not allowed to photograph is extremely important for every photographer, however, you should always remember that just because you are allowed to take a photo does not necessarily mean that you should.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Understanding Light

When it comes to photography, you need to understand light. Light is the difference between a good picture and a great picture. As a photographer, you should always be aware of the type and quality of light and you should use it to your advantage. Learning how to use light and produce your best photography in any light is not the easiest thing, but with a little time and practice you can learn how to use light best. 

Natural Light vs Artificial Light

There are basically two types of light -- natural and artificial. Natural light is any light that occurs naturally such as sunlight or candlelight. Artificial light is any light created by humans. Artificial light has a different color than natural light.

Hard Light and Soft Light

You may have heard the terms "hard light" and "soft light" before. Hard light is caused by a small directional light focused on the subject. Soft light, however, comes from a large or filtered light source.  Hard light creates harsh shadows and accentuates textures whereas soft light creates soft shadows and creates a range of tones bringing more detail to shadows. On a cloudy day, the harsh light of the sun is diffused by the clouds creating soft light. Reflected light is usually considered soft light as long as it is reflected from a large source.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Business of Photography: What Should Be In Your Photography Contract

As I have mentioned in previous posts, if you intend to start a photography business, you should always enter into a contract with your client. Contracts protect both you and your client by ensuring both parties understand their rights and obligations. However, unless you were an attorney or regularly reviewed contracts prior to starting your photography business, you probably do not know the type of information that should be in your contract. Generally, every contract contains the same basic information and your standard contract should incorporate this basic information, as well as, a few additional provisions that ensure adequate protection of your intellectual property.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Protecting Your Camera From the Elements

Sorry for the hiatus in posting -- I've been super sick the past week so I have not felt like writing anything. Now, however, I feel relatively better so get ready because new content is coming your way!

As Hurricane Joaquin moved along the eastern seaboard several weeks ago, and I hunkered down for a few days, I thought it would be a good time to prepare a post on how to protect your gear from the elements. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen people carrying cameras in the rain or snow without any protection. You will often hear people say things like "oh, well these cameras are built tough so a little rain won't hurt it." Maybe a little rain will not hurt your camera today, but a little rain over a relatively long time will destroy your camera.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual Mode

One of the hard things to figure out after buying your first camera is when you should move out of automatic mode and into the more advanced options of aperture priority, shutter priority or manual mode. Well, my advice -- get out of automatic mode as quickly as possible and start working in aperture, shutter or manual mode.

Brief Explanation - Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO

Now, there are three principles you need to understand before you can move out of automatic: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.


Aperture is the opening in the lens. When you press the shutter release button a hole opens inside your camera that allows your camera image sensor to see the scene you want to capture. The aperture that you select affects the size of that hole. The larger the hole, the more light that reaches the sensor and the smaller the hole, the less light that reaches the sensor. Aperture is measure in "f-stops." Large apertures are represented by low f-stop numbers whereas small apertures are represented by high f-stop numbers. An easy way to remember this -- the larger the number, the smaller the opening and the smaller the number, the larger the opening.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Business of Photography: Forming Your Business Entity

Congratulations on your decision to start your own photography business. You are embarking upon an exciting adventure that I am sure you will not regret. Well, now that you have made the decision to go out on your own you need to set up a business. While starting a business might seem like a daunting task, it is actually relatively simple -- if you know what you need to do.

Now, a quick disclaimer, this article is for general information purposes only. While I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and nothing in this article should be or is intended to be taken as legal advice. The receipt or viewing of this information is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Most Valuable Photography Accessories

Whether you are just starting out with photography or simply looking to improve your setup, you will quickly realize that the right gear can definitely make your life easier. However, identifying the right gear can be a bit exhausting. Now, when I use the word "gear" I am referring specifically to camera accessories. Why the focus on accessories? Well, I do not believe purchasing new cameras and lenses should be a regular occurrence. Instead, I believe you should focus on taking care of your equipment. However, as with lenses, there are so many different accessories available on the market that you can easily find yourself purchasing equipment that you really do not need. Well, have no fear, I am here! Below is a list of the top 5 accessories I believe will be most valuable to you as a photographer and factors to consider when purchasing these items.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Become A Better Photographer: Go Look At Pretty Pictures

Yesterday evening I attended an event at National Geographic's Headquarters titled "Pope Francis and the New Vatican." As you may (or may not) have heard, National Geographic was granted special access to the pope and permission to document his daily life inside the Vatican. The images and story behind the experience grace the cover of the magazine's August 2015 issue. The event I attended consisted of a panel discussion, moderated by National Geographic's editor in chief, with writer Robert Draper, photographer Dave Yoder and Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Weurl. The magazine has also published a book with the same title as the event, which you can view or purchase here. The panel discussion was fascinating and the images were amazing. The event was the perfect end to what was an incredibly stressful day. As I left Nat Geo with more-than-a-little pep in my step I had the urgent need to go pick up my camera and start shooting. During my walk home, I realized that simply viewing great photography inspires me to BE a better photographer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Business of Photography: Do I Need Insurance?

I recently submitted an article to Fstoppers that touched upon the legal issues you need to consider before starting a photography business. Naturally, my Fstoppers article was not all-inclusive so I wanted to take the time to touch upon another subject that many people often ask about -- insurance.

Do You Need Insurance?

Before diving into the different types of insurance available, I think it best if we take a moment to think about whether you even need insurance. Start by asking yourself two questions (1) what type of photography do I do and (2) is this my primary source of income. Once you have answered those two questions, make a list of your risks and potential liabilities. For example, a general portrait photographer likely has a smaller risk of loss than a wedding photographer. Wedding photography poses a unique set of challenges since the photographer is shooting once-in-a-lifetime events with large numbers of people. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Photographers and all their (un)necessary gear

I have not posted at all this week as I have been enjoying a much needed vacation at the U.S. Open. I have been fortunate enough to see many great tennis matches, however I have also seen a lot of photographers and all of their gear. As I watched the guy next to me take out a very fancy and (admittedly) pretty cool dust blower for his camera lens in the middle of one great tennis match, I started to wonder why it is photographers always have so much gear.

If we really take a step back and think about it, my guess is most of us would realize that we likely do not need all of the gear we have. One of my friends recently purchased his first DSLR camera and within the first few weeks of acquiring his new toy, the two of us have already had multiple conversations about the various lenses he needs. During our first conversation I calmly and politely tried to steer him from investing his money in new lenses until he knew his camera and had mastered his current lens. At the end I jokingly said "are you suffering from G.A.S?" "Huh?" he replied. "G.A.S. = gear acquisition syndrome" I quickly responded. We both laughed and he assured me he was not in fact suffering from G.A.S. but I still could not help but wonder a little. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

You are a Business Person and a Photographer

In case you were wondering, I am a business person and a photographer. Oh, and so are you! Whether you are a new photographer or a seasoned veteran, there will likely come a point in your career where you will want to start selling your work. While it is fun to take pictures and display them for your friends and family, it is also nice to have a little residual income coming from something that you love. Well, this year I decided that I wanted to start making money from my photography so I built an online portfolio and began marketing myself. Unfortunately, I was not as well prepared for this undertaking as I originally thought. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Become A Better Photographer By Defining Your Photographic Style

Whether you are new to photography or you have been a shutterbug for years, there is a good chance you have searched the internet for at least one "how to be a better photographer" article. In my opinion, however, these articles do not go far enough. If you have decided to invest hundreds of dollars into a camera and lens, you should be striving to define your personal style. It is relatively easy to improve your photography skills, daunting as it might seem, but defining your own photographic style will differentiate your photos from the rest of the crowd. Below are three tips on how you can become a better photographer by defining your style:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Camera? Now What?

Congratulations on your new camera! I am sure you are so excited to have your newest toy. If this is your first camera then let's shout out a big "WooHoo!" Your excitement, however, might be somewhat short lived as you now ask yourself, how exactly do I use this thing? If this is your first new camera in longtime then there may be some new features that you need to learn how to use. And, if this is your very first camera, then there are more than a few new features you need to learn how to use. Your first inclination might be to just take the camera out and start taking pictures. However, I recommend starting with a slightly different approach -- while you may not receive the instant gratification of being the "ultimate photographer" that you so desperately seek, you will receive the long-term benefit of actually knowing what you are doing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Favorite Photography Blogs

In my opinion, growth never ends. Therefore, I spend a decent amount of time and energy into learning more about photography. Taking photography classes is one way I continue to hone my skills and another involves reading photography blogs. When I invest in reading through tutorials, learning new techniques or viewing beautiful photographs, I am inspired to become a better photographer. So, with the hopes of inspiring you to be a better photographer, below is a list of five of my favorite photography blogs:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quick Review: Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

Two weeks ago I managed to finally get my hands on the new Nikon 300mm f/4e PF ED VR. It is backordered nearly everywhere -- Adorama, B&Photo, etc -- due to the pesky VR problem at the initial release. 

In case you have not heard about the VR issue, I will fill you in. Shortly after the initial release of the lens in December 2014 many users began complaining that VR induced image blur when shooting at around 1/125s or lower shutter speeds. Users complained that handheld shots with the VR OFF were much sharper than shots taken with the VR ON. Nikon stopped shipping the lens, issued a firmware update and then shipped new lenses with the firmware update. If you are interested in learning more about the VR issue experienced by users and Nikon's response to the issue feel free to check out this link.

In light of the foregoing, I was rather hesitant to purchase the lens without first trying it out. Well, two weeks ago I was home visiting the family and I decided to stop by Creve Coeur Camera, my hometown camera store. The store happened to have a copy of the lens and offered to let me try it out in store before buying -- a huge plus! A quick side note, one of the perks of buying from a local camera store is the ability to try out the lens; while you may not earn the 2% rewards you would otherwise receive through B&H or Adorama, it can be nice to actually test out a lens to ensure it does not have any problems before purchasing. 

I tested the lens on my Nikon Df and took photos around the store at various shutter speeds. Needless to say, I decided the lens was amazing and that I had to buy it immediately. Last week I took the lens out for a little more testing around the National Mall. The results from that little field trip are below:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Making Money Off Your Photography

I recently started marketing my services in an effort to drum up some photography business. A few months ago I left my six-figure salary legal job in order to take the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It was the right decision for me. One of the activities I have undertaken during this time involves developing my photography skills. My hope is that I can use photography as a "side hustle." (In case you have not heard the term, a side-hustle is what you do to supplement your 9-5 income.) Fortunately, I have been successful in gaining some business from my work, which makes me really proud. However, one thing that I am noticing is that working with friends can be difficult because they simply do not want to pay.

Now, I do not think my friends are being malicious or trying to take advantage of me. I just do not think they understand the amount of time and energy it takes to get the image from my camera to their hands. In an age where "anyone can be a photographer," I believe people have an overly simplified view of photography -- point the phone/camera at something, take the picture, post on social media, DONE! In reality, it takes a lot of time and energy to develop the skills necessary for a photographer to be able to take great shots in any kind of light. And, it takes even more time and energy to edit those pictures and prepare them for final delivery to the client. On average, I might spend 10-15 minutes editing one picture and putting it on my website. Now imagine if I have 600 or 900 pictures from an event. While I may be able to decrease the editing time since all of the pictures were likely taken under similar light, I still have to look through each picture and edit it. Are you starting to get my point?

So, if you have a friend or family  member who is a photographer and you need him or her to take pictures for you, PAY that person. And, don't just offer to take the person to dinner or to buy him or her a drink, pay your photographer friend with actual money--MAKE IT RAIN! Your photographer friend will appreciate it and you will have better karma!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Photography Funk

Earlier this month I was in a photography funk. I did not want to write about photography, take any pictures or attend any photography classes or meet-ups. It was really interesting because usually, photography is the activity I turn to when I need to express myself. However, for some reason, it became something that was more draining than invigorating and the last thing I need in my life is another activity that drains me. So, I decided to get out of town and take a little adventure just to refocus and reorient.

The adventure I chose was the beach; well, three beaches actually -- Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. Now I have been to the beach before, but it was in San Francisco and it was freezing. I stood there with my jacket on for fifteen minutes before leaving; it was miserable. Thus, the thought of going to a warm beach had a real appeal to me. While I was not a huge fan of Myrtle Beach, I really enjoyed both Virginia Beach and Hilton Head. Each day of my trip I would sit on the beach during the day and then take photos at the beach around either sunrise or sunset. Something about watching the sun rise and set over the ocean perked me up. I also made it a point to just capture cool candid shots of people enjoying their time at the beach or of objects at the beach. By the end of my week long road trip I was ready to get back home and my funk was over.

I tend to take myself on photo adventures pretty regularly, however, I have never just set out in my car and gone looking for new inspiration. There was a certain amount of freedom in doing just that so I may have to make it a more regular occurrence. If you want to take a look at some of the photos from my beach road trip and my other photo adventures feel free to head over to my website --

Printing, Matting and Framing

Earlier this year one of my photos was selected to be part of a juried exhibition. I was very excited as it was the first time I had ever submitted artwork to a photo competition, so, naturally, it was also the first time my work had been exhibited anywhere. Once my work was accepted, however, I had to figure out the logistics of having my work printed, matted and framed.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I alternate between AdoramaPix and ProDPI as my printers. Due to size limitations at the venue, I planned to print the photo as an 8x10" and then frame so that the maximum size was 11x14". However, when I submitted my photo, I did not crop the image to 8x10 so when I printed my photo, it printed at around 6.6x10 inches. Needless to say, this made finding a mat for my work a tad bit more difficult. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Purchasing a Used Lens

In case you have not noticed I have a rather unique blogging style -- I do not write a post unless I really have something to say. That is generally the way I seek to live my life (I do not speak until I have something to say) and frankly, I think there are real benefits to it. So, as you can imagine, I have something to say...lucky you world!

Recently, I bought my very first used camera lens. Yes, up until yesterday, I have always purchased brand new Nikon lenses from an authorized Nikon reseller. I generally buy new lenses because if my $1,000+ wide-angle lens (for example) breaks or needs to be serviced, I want to be able to send it to Nikon and have it fixed without any issue and no cost (if within the warranty period). So, you might be wondering why I decided to buy a used camera lens. Well, after much research, I decided a few months ago to purchase the Nikon 70-200mm telephoto lens. Prior to purchasing that lens I learned that Nikon was planning to release its new 300mm f/4 telephoto lens and I decided that that would fit my photography needs better. Due to the inclusion of a Phase Fresnel lens element, the lens is substantially smaller and thus lighter than other lenses in its class. Unfortunately, due to the rather numerous negative reviews associated with the malfunctioning vibration reduction mechanism on this lens, I decided to hold off buying one until the issue was fixed by Nikon. Just as an FYI, both the 70-200mm lens and the new 300mm lens are priced in the $2,000 range, but I consider (and still consider) both of these lenses to be worth the investment (assuming Nikon fixes the vibration reduction issue with the 300mm telephoto). 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Benefits of Photography Classes

I try to take photo classes every now and then for a few reasons. First, it can be a great way to learn a new photo skill or technique (e.g. light painting). Second, there are certain places I just do not feel comfortable visiting alone as a petite woman so I prefer to go in a group (e.g. walking around the Tidal Basin at 9pm at night). And, finally, there are certain places you simply cannot gain access to on your own or the photography class receives special access that you might not otherwise receive if visiting on your own (e.g. ability to bring tripods into certain venues). Furthermore, photography classes are a great way to network with other photographers!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Where to Print Your Photos

I recently decided to start selling my photography to people other than my family and I knew that if I was going to sell my work to someone other than an aunt or cousin, it might be time to upgrade my printing situation. Previously, I was content with having Walgreens print a photo here or there or simply using one of the printers I have at home (HP and Epson). However, as I embarked upon this next stage of my photo career, I realized that it was time to get serious and find an actual printer. After spending a couple days scouring the internet, requesting sample papers, and testing out ICC profiles in Lightroom, I finally settled on two printers -- AdoramaPix and ProDPI. I'll give you a quick rundown on why I chose these printers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What to Think About When Buying a New Camera

Rather frequently I receive a text message from a friend or family member that reads something along the lines of "Hey, I was thinking about buying this type of camera, what do you think?" or "I'm looking for a new camera, what would you recommend?" When confronted with these questions I often start by asking another question "How do you plan to use your new camera?"

When entering the market for a new camera it is important to first think about how you plan to use the camera and what you want to take pictures of. For example, if you are looking for something relatively easy to use that will work well in most situations, then you might choose a point and shoot camera. If you are in need of a well-rounded camera that offers some advanced features and an interchangeable lens system, but do not want the bulk or price of a DSLR, then you might choose a mirrorless camera. Then again, if you are looking to delve more seriously into photography and require a camera with more specialized features that will grow with you over the years, then you might consider a DSLR.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Toy Cameras

Photo Courtesy of Lomography Website
I love to shoot with "toy" cameras aka lo-fi cameras with a plastic lens. Some people consider these cameras to be cheap and not worth the money spent on them. But, I disagree. There is a certain thrill in not knowing exactly what your picture will look like. Sometimes you're surprised with happy accidents and other times you have dismal results.

My favorite toy camera is my Diana Mini. It can fit in almost any bag and it is very light. I prefer to use Kodak Elite Chrome film (no longer in production but you can find it on eBay) that I then have "cross-processed." In case you don't know, cross processing involves the deliberate processing of film in a chemical solution intended for a different type of film. So, usually, color negative film uses C-41 chemicals for processing and slide film (like Kodak Elite Chrome) uses E-6 chemicals for processing.  When I have my Elite Chrome cross processed, my pictures have the most vibrant colors that simply cannot be replicated in any photo editing program.

If you're interested in experimenting with a toy camera, consider trying a Diana Mini. It is one of my favorites and it is always in my camera bag. The Diana Mini camera is produced by Lomography and is modeled after the 1960s original Diana camera. The Diana camera first appeared during the early 1960s as an inexpensive box camera and they originally sold for 50 cents per unit. It is a plastic-bodied box camera that uses 120 mm film and 35 mm film and is known for taking soft focus, impressionistic photographs. The Diana Mini camera is similar in that it also produces the same lo-fi results. The Diana Mini shoots 35 mm film and allows you to choose between half-frame and square frame shots. You can purchase the Diana Mini and Flash for $99 at the Lomography store or website.