GUEST POST::PHOTOGRAPHER ALEX ASHER SEARS
By Alex Asher Sears
As cliché as it sounds, great photos are in the eye of the photographer not the equipment. But digital has shifted that to some degree, as cameras are no longer such simple creatures. I consider myself pretty computer savvy but I find that the abundance of options is the biggest frustration. And this abundance doesn’t come cheap either. So, when people ask me what I use, I love to share what I have learned works for me (after learning what hasn’t).
Mac/PC – Coke/Pepsi: I love my Nikons DSLRs but finding the right camera is a personal choice. Visit a local camera shop I love Bel air camera. The selection and the knowledge of employees will be superior to most big box stores as you’re usually dealing with photographers. You don’t have to purchase but sometimes their prices are surprisingly competitive.
More is not always more: Megapixels are complicated creatures. And the higher the MP the more battery power and memory cards you’ll need. Anything over 10MP and be sure to buy at least one extra battery before you leave the store.
Look Out: Lenses get expensive fast. Some DSLR kits throw in lenses you’ll never use so check out the cost of buying the body and lens separately. I recommend a good zoom and a portrait lens. Like little black dresses, they go with everything. I also recommend an inexpensive bit of insurance for your lens with a UV filter.
The Limelight - I never thought I’d own a bounce flash being the natural light lovin’ girl I am. But I adore my bar mitzvah flash and all it does to make even the most mundane photo look better. Another great little doo-dad I carry is a pop-up diffuser. It takes the harshness out of the built-in flash for under twenty dollars.
IT Bag – I don’t ever think it’s smart to carry a bag that looks like a camera bag. For one, they’re easily stolen. Second, I find them rather ugly. I trade off between a big, rugged bag that has my monogram and a Marc Jacobs tote that could each carry a toddler. I use neoprene bags to protect my cameras and lenses inside. To carry batteries, cards and such I use a three-fold makeup organizer. If I were to carry a real camera bag, no doubt photographer Jessica Claire’s Shoot Sac would be it.
The Process - DSLRs are mini-computers digitally trying to mimic light and color. That doesn’t always work out the way I want it. So, I prefer to shoot RAW over JPEG images. RAW settings are like digi-negatives. You will have to process them but I find they give me more to work with.
When it comes to printing I send most everything online to a pro-lab. In a pinch, Costco does lustre finishes in an hour in sizes large enough to wallpaper a bathroom. I prefer matte prints so this gets me close. The only prints I do at home are on a large format printer. I didn’t want to make a great investment in a printer I’d use so rarely. And I use it rarely. My favorite paper of the moment is Staples brand double-sided matte. I buy it in 5x7 and 13x19. The quality is amazing as is the price. Printers and paper can be expensive so consider how much you think you’ll do at home for archival purposes before spending a fortune on a designated printer. Otherwise, your inkjet printer should do the trick for 4x6 on the fridge or test prints.
Once upon a time I treasured those twenty-four or thirty-six shots per roll, anticipating if a certain shot was going to come out as I hoped. It’s easy to get shutterhappy with an 8 GB memory card. So, enjoy the freedom to shoot with abandon as you get used to your new camera. But also be patient with yourself and relish the moments you capture. Go out and find some stories to tell.
FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY AK.A. MISS B:
P.S. If anyone wants to ask questions directly to Alex and not publicly on this very public forum called the Blah, Blah, Blahg, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward you her email. Cool right?
P.P.S. I don't know about you but I TOTALLY am going to save up for that bounce flash! That is amazing!