Tax Time again…here are a few pointers

As photographers we also have business needs and although most of America do not realize we have all the same issues any business has – Equipment cost, Marketing, Insurance, Leasing, utilities, and those are just for our business…not our home.

We all need a little business help from out side sources.  I’ll tell you that the financial business side to our photography studio is not as strong as I would like it to be, so I found this list of things to consider for write offs you may miss.  I hope this little bit helps, and all of you great shooters, we wish nothing but success for 2013!

Top 50 Overlooked Deductions

1. Student loan interest
2. Half of the self-employment tax paid
3. Self-employed health insurance premiums
4.Penalty on early withdrawal of savings
5. Alimony paid, but not child support
6. Medical transportation expenses including tolls, parking, and mileage for trips to health facilities, doctor’s offices, laboratories, etc.
7.Nursing home expenses that are primarily for medical care
8.Medical aids such as crutches, canes, and orthopedic shoes
9. Hearing aids, eye glasses, and contact lenses
10.Hospital fees for services such as nursing, physical therapy, lab tests, and x-rays
11. Equipment for disabled or handicapped individuals
12. Part of the life-care fee paid to a retirement home designated for medical care
13. The cost of alcohol and drug abuse and certain smoking-cessation treatments
14. Special school costs for mentally or physically handicapped individuals
15. Wages for nursing services
16. State income taxes owed from a prior year and paid in the tax year
17. Fourth quarter estimated state taxes paid by December 31
18. Personal property taxes on cars, boats, etc.
19. Taxes paid to a foreign government
20. Mandatory contributions to state disability funds
21. Points paid on mortgage or refinancing
22. General sales tax deduction (including tax paid on large items such as cars or boats) in lieu of the income tax deduction
23. Cash and noncash contributions to a qualified charity
24. Mileage incurred in performing charitable activities
25 General casualty and theft losses in excess of $100 and totaling more than 10% of adjusted gross income
26. Education expenses you paid to maintain or improve job skills
27. A handicapped individual’s work-related expenses
28. Professional journals, magazines, and newspapers that are job-related
29. Cost of safe deposit box used for investments or business
30.Seeing-eye dogs for the handicapped or guard dogs for a business
31. Required uniforms and work clothes not suitable for street wear
32. Union dues
33. Employment agency fees or commissions in certain cases
34. Home office expenses, if for your primary place of business
34. Job-seeking expenses within your present field of employment
36. Reservist and National Guard overnight travel expenses
37. Dues to professional organizations
38. Business gifts up to $25 per customer or client
39. Your moving expenses
40. Business expenses including travel, meals, lodging, and entertainment not reimbursed by your employer
41. Cleaning and laundering services while traveling for business
42. Tools for use at your job
43. Cellular phones required for business
44. Worthless stock or securities
45. Commission to brokers or agents for the sale of property or property management
46. Fees for tax preparation or advice
47. Legal fees to collect taxable alimony or Social Security
48. Hobby expenses to the extent of hobby income you included in gross income
49. Services of a housekeeper, maid, or cook needed to run your home for the benefit of a qualifying dependent while you work
50. Gambling losses to the extent of your gambling winnings

Good luck everyone with this year’s tax season!  Everyone at Photo Imaging News wish you great success in your photography business future


Picture of the Month — Hands by NYIP Graduate Gloria Restrepo

This month, NYIP Associate Dean Jerry Rice has written the Photo of  the Month Review. Jerry’s keen eye can help readers decipher any type of  photograph. A lifelong lover of fine photography, when Jerry talks about  photographs, everyone at NYIP listens. We know you’ll enjoy Jerry’s observations  on this month’s photograph.

At NYIP we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for setting up every  photograph they shoot:

  • Step 1. Know your subject.
  • Step 2. Focus attention on your subject.
  • Step 3. Simplify.

This simple Three-Step Method is the secret of every successful photograph  ever taken. We teach our students to consider these three steps every time they  look into the viewfinder. To consider them before they press the shutter  button.

When our students mail in their photographs for analysis by their instructor,  the instructor starts by commenting on what we call the three Guidelines. Of  course, the instructor analyzes other elements of the picture too — focus,  exposure, filters, etc. But the key to every good photo — and the essential  element of every great photo — is adherence to these three Guidelines.

How do they work? How can you apply them? It’s beyond the scope of this Web  site to teach you every nuance, but you will get an inkling from the Photo of  the Month Analysis that follows.


Photo by NYIP Graduate Gloria Restrepo

This Picture of the Month is that it is reminiscent of the work of the great  Dorothea Lange.  For those of you who do not know Lange’s work she was the  foremost photographer among several other fine ones who did much of their best  work for the Farm Security Administration under the direction of Roy Stryker in  the Depression years.  One thinks of such famous Lange photographs as the White Angel Breadline, the migrant woman, and so many others depicting the wretched  conditions that existed during that time.  It was documentary work at its  best.

But that is not to say that this month’s photographer, NYIP Graduate Gloria  Restrepo of Medellin, Colombia, was deliberately trying to copy the work of  Dorothea Lange.  It is hardly possible to make a photograph that has not been  made many times before by other photographers.  As it says in Ecclesiastes,  there is nothing new under the sun.  Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Raphael spent  countless hours studying (and possibly copying) the works of other artists.   Each, of course, brought his own inimitable touch to their creations.

So what do we learn about this man in the photograph?  Of course, our  judgment can only be based on visual observation — what we actually see in the  photograph.  There is nothing else to suppose, evaluate, guess at, or  what-have-you.   When I evaluate student photographs I am often struck by the  verbal assertions that accompany the pictures — statements about the child’s  innocence, the veteran’s patriotism, the old woman’s valor, etc.  But the point  is that the student is describing verbally inner emotions or characteristics.   That is impossible.  In a photograph you can only show what is visible, not what  is buried deep in the heart, the soul, the brain, or even the big toe.  You can  only show what can be actually seen; all the rest is supposition and sometimes  vivid imagination.

Back to the photograph in question.  I think it is a picture of a man, but I  am not certain because the facial features are hidden.  The hat seems to be that  of a man’s, but in South America, women are often seen wearing a man’s hat.  The  clothing, including the hat, suggests poverty, but there are eccentric  millionaires (Howard Hughes, e.g.) who often appeared as ragamuffins.  The hands  and fingernails are dirty, but we do know whether this might be the result of  hard physical labor or merely the lack of the wherewithal to keep clean.  Once  again, we can only go by what is seen, not what we suppose.  Looks are often  deceiving.

And what else do the hands suggest?    Fatigue, the person is cat napping.   Shame, the person does not want us to see the dire poverty.  Fear, the hand  blocks the sight of impending danger.  And so forth and so on.  But all of these  things are in our minds; we do not actually see these conditions, do we?

There is always a risk in photographing a person of this sort.  Are we, for  example, intruding on one’s privacy?  Are we, without intending to do harm,  exploiting this person’s apparently down trodden condition?  Are we placing  ourselves in some imagined superior position, for we could just as easily  photograph a well-dressed millionaire exiting from his splendid yacht?

These are questions that all photographers should ask themselves if we are to  be honest.  Of course, honesty in photography goes with the territory (as we all  know, don’t we).  To prove that honesty abounds in photography, consider Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.   When Rosenthal got to the peak of Mt. Suribachi the flag has already been raised  and was hanging limply from the flagpole; several Marines were sitting on the  ground, smoking.  But the photographer restaged the photograph with the flag  waving rapidly in the breeze and several Marines struggling valiantly to raise  it.  Of such fakery Pulitzer Prizes are won!

Or take Karsh’s famous photograph of a truculent Winston Churchill defying the Axis powers.  You’d be  truculent and angry too, if the photographer had unceremoniously yanked your  expensive cigar out of your mouth, but Karsh got the picture he wanted.Or how  about NYIP’s most famous alumnus, the great W. Eugene Smith?  Take some of the  pictures Smith made at his hospital in Africa.  One in particular shows Dr. Schweitzer surrounded by workers, all in sunlight.  But  for dramatic effect Smith added some silhouetted hands of other workers to give  the photograph a black foreground in order to highlight the main subject,  Schweitzer.  In other words, the silhouetted hands were not in the original  photograph.

So much for honesty in photography.

How did Gloria Restrepo, the photographer, utilize the three NYIP Guidelines?  The subject matter is obviously of a strong nature.  To focus attention on the  subject Restrepo used the hands to hide the face, used the hands also to form a  frame, worked in black-and-white which in itself is a form of abstraction, and  threw the background out of focus in order to emphasize the person.  And she  simplified the picture by admirably filling the frame with the subject.  That  business of filling the frame appears too infrequently in student pictures.

Read more at New York Institute of Photography – Picture of the Month – Hands

Know Your Rights: Photographers

September 7, 2011
> Know Your Rights: See more essential resources from the ACLU
Join the ACLU and Protect First Amendment Rights »

Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project

Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes the outside of federal buildings, as well as transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

However, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. The ACLU, photographer’s groups, and others have been complaining about such incidents for years — and consistently winning in court. Yet, a continuing stream of incidents of illegal harassment of photographers and videographers makes it clear that the problem is not going away. In the spring of 2011 alone, the list of incidents included these cases:

  • A woman in Rochester New York was unlawfully arrested in May 2011 for videotaping a traffic stop in front of her house — while standing in her own front yard.
  • A man was unlawfully detained in March 2011 for taking photographs of Baltimore’s light rail train system — despite the fact that the Maryland Transit Administration had previously pledged to cease harassment of photographers, in response to complaintsby the ACLU of Maryland starting in 2006.
  • That same month a photographer taking video of police using a taser on a participant in a New Orleans parade had his phone violently knocked out of his hands by a police officer. In response to this and other repeated incidents, the ACLU of Louisiana has filed an open records requestfor documents pertaining to the First Amendment training of New Orleans police officers.
  • In February 2011, uniformed Secret Service officerson patrol in front of the White House detained a man for taking photographs of them in a public plaza swarming with tourists, journalists and cameras of all kinds. They demanded his identification, and told him, “Since you took a picture of us we’re going to take a picture of you for our records,” taking down his identification and photographing him. It is unclear what was done with that information.
  • Two journalists were arrested at a June 2011 public meeting of the Washington, DC Taxi Commission. According to reports and a partial videoof the incident, one man was arrested for taking a still photograph of the meeting, while another was arrested for filming the arrest of the first journalist.
  • A high school honors student in Newark, New Jersey was arrested in March 2011 for taking cell phone video of officers responding to an incident on a New Jersey Transit bus. We would link to the student’s video but cannot do so because officers also carried out an illegal search and seizure of her phone and erased the video she took. The ACLU of New Jersey filed suit in the case.

Examples of these kinds of abuses, which continue to be reported weekly, are chronicled on web pages such as Photography is Not a Crime. And for more information on the ways in which law enforcement is spying on Americans today, visit our report on “Spying on First Amendment Activity.”

A Crucial Check on Power

The right of citizens to record the police is a critical check and balance. It creates an independent record of what took place in a particular incident, free from accusations of bias, lying or faulty memory. It is no accident that some of the most high-profile cases of police misconduct have involved video and audio records.

Of course, photography is not necessarily “objective” and it is always possible in a particular case that there can be circumstances at work outside a photographic record. Overall, however, the incidents above make it abundantly clear that respect for the right to photograph and record is not well-established within the law enforcement profession.

Many of those involved in these incidents appear to be activists who know their rights and are willing to stand up for them. But not everyone is able to stand up to police officers when harassed; we don’t know how many other Americans comply with baseless orders to stop photographing or recording because they are uncertain of their rights or too afraid to stand up for them.

Photography as a Precursor to Terrorism

A big part of the problem here is “suspicious activity reporting” — the construction of a national system for the collection and distribution of information. Under this system (as we discuss on this page and in this report), law enforcement leaders at the federal, state and local level push officers on the ground to investigate and report a broad spectrum of legitimate, everyday activity as potentially “suspicious” — including photography. In fact, many such programs actually suggest that photography is a “precursor behavior” to terrorism, and direct the police to react accordingly. This notion has been dismissed as “nonsense” by security experts — but appears to be disturbingly robust.

A serious question for photographers and videographers who are harassed is whether they are being entered in government suspicious activity databases or watch lists, and whether and how such a listing might come back to haunt them. An investigation of Suspicious Activity Reports by NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting, for example, found numerous individuals were reported to the FBI for taking photographs or video in the Mall of America.

A Problem From the Top

Another disturbing trend is police officers and prosecutors using wiretapping statutes in certain states (such as Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) to arrest and prosecute those who attempt to record police activities using videocameras that include audio. (Unlike photography and silent video, there is no general right to record audio; many state wiretap laws prohibit recording conversations if the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy — which is never true for a police officer carrying out his or her duties in public.)

Word appears to have circulated within law enforcement circles somehow that using wiretapping statutes is a strategy for preventing public oversight, with some taking the concept to ridiculous extremes.

In contrast, it appears to be stubbornly difficult to spread word within those same circles of the fact that photography and videotaping in public places is a constitutional right. And earlier this year, following a lawsuit by the New York branch of the ACLU, DHS agreed to issued a directive to members of the Federal Protective Service making it clear that photographing federal buildings is permitted. Yet arrests by Federal Protective Service officers appear to be continuing. You would think that police chiefs and other supervisors could easily instruct and enforce an understanding of photographers’ rights among their officers. Still, for some reason, all too often that is not happening. In New Orleans, for example, in response to its public records request, the local ACLU found the police department’s policy which clearly instructs officers that people have the right to photograph. Yet officers there routinely violate the stated policy.

Your rights as a photographer:

  • When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the governmentand is important in a free society.
  • When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs.If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).
  • Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).
  • Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
  • Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.
  • Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.
    If you are stopped or detained for taking photographs:

    • Always remain polite and never physically resist a police officer.
    • If stopped for photography, the right question to ask is, “am I free to go?” If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. Until you ask to leave, your being stopped is considered voluntary under the law and is legal.
    • If you are detained, politely ask what crime you are suspected of committing, and remind the officer that taking photographs is your right under the First Amendment and does not constitute reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

    Special considerations when videotaping:

    With regards to videotaping, there is an important legal distinction between a visual photographic record (fully protected) and the audio portion of a videotape, which some states have tried to regulate under state wiretapping laws.

    • Such laws are generally intended to accomplish the important privacy-protecting goal of prohibiting audio “bugging” of private conversations. However, in nearly all cases audio recording the police is legal.
    • In states that allow recording with the consent of just one party to the conversation, you can tape your own interactions with officers without violating wiretap statutes (since you are one of the parties).
    • In situations where you are an observer but not a part of the conversation, or in states where all parties to a conversation must consent to taping, the legality of taping will depend on whether the state’s prohibition on taping applies only when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. But that is the case in nearly all states, and no state court has held that police officers performing their job in public have a reasonable expectation. The state of Illinois makes the recording illegal regardless of whether there is an expectation of privacy, but the ACLU of Illinois is challenging that statute in court as a violation of the First Amendment.
    • The ACLU believes that laws that ban the taping of public officials’ public statements without their consent violate the First Amendment. A summary of state wiretapping laws can be found here.

    Photography at the airport

    Photography has also served as an important check on government power in the airline security context.

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acknowledges that photography is permitted in and around airline security checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process. The TSA does ask that its security monitors not be photographed, though it is not clear whether they have any legal basis for such a restriction when the monitors are plainly viewable by the traveling public.

    The TSA also warns that local or airport regulations may impose restrictions that the TSA does not. It is difficult to determine if any localities or airport authorities actually have such rules. If you are told you cannot take photographs in an airport you should ask what the legal authority for that rule is.

    The ACLU does not believe that restrictions on photography in the public areas of publicly operated airports are constitutional.


Family Photography Tips – The Good Group Photo

Probably the hardest picture to set up and pull off is the group family photograph. These pictures only really work when everyone is on the same page, looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. Synchronizing by getting everyone to say “cheese” is the typical way to get everyone smiling. But it doesn’t always work.

Here are some things to think about when trying to snap that lovely family portrait to make everyone happy:

Put the Group at Ease - It is essential that all participants in the photo are at ease and comfortable with each other as well as the photographer. If the photographer also happens to be a family member then being at ease should not be a problem. With no strangers in the midst, relaxing before the camera is not a problem.

Move into Scene - Don’t be afraid to move into the scene, cutting out the background and focusing just on the people. Crop off the top of the head of the taller people, in order to emphasize a connection among family members. Allow the drama of kinship and love to play out before the camera. Let the family members interact before snapping the picture. Saying “cheese” while always listed as one of the most important family photography tips, is not always a good one, and will make people go rigid and become less candid, so sit them down and let them get comfortable. The good shot will follow as you watch.

Blur the Background - Blurring out the background makes the people aspect more dramatic. It makes the family the focus of attention, because, after all, the family unit is what you’re shooting.

Candid within the Group - There is always someone in the family at a gathering who doesn’t want to sit for a picture. Today’s small compact cameras make it simple to get candid shots without have to pose everyone. Keep the camera in your pocket as you work the room. Find your shot and compose it and shoot quickly. It takes practice, but grab-shots do come out well with a little thought and focus.

Taking Multiple Shots - When trying to capture everyone in one group, the only real successful way to do it is to take many shots, and quickly. Shooting in rapid bursts of three or four shots at a time will get the good shot for which you’re looking. The first shot is usually a throwaway shot. However, the second or third will probably be the keeper. Shoot some shots before everyone is ready. Some of the best pictures are of the actual organizing to sit part of the activity.

Timing is Everything - Choosing your timing carefully will make or break the shot. However, true timing can only be learned with practice. Another of the suggestions that tops the list of family photography tips is that the quicker you learn to compose or to know what you want in composition the better will be your timing. Try to work taking of the picture within the natural flow of events, when the family is naturally together rather than artificially posed making them more rigid.

Lighting - No matter what type of photography, lighting is probably the most important element. In most instances a small flash will be sufficient. However, bigger family groups may require more lighting. Taking the photograph outside in natural light makes for an easier, less stressful shot.

Taking Control - It is paramount for the photographer to maintain control of the situation and communication is the key. Keep talking to your subjects making them understand what you want to do and need for them to do to make for a happy situation. If you have a really large group to photograph, then use a tripod and have someone act as your assistant.

Smile - Finally, there is nothing worse than a grumpy old photographer, so smile. That will put everyone else who has to take part, at ease. Have fun, act like you’re enjoying the process. It’s okay to crack a joke or two in order to get everyone to loosen up. And don’t be afraid to be creative. Think outside the box. The group can be a group without sitting down next to one another with another row standing at attention behind. Emphasize other items of “family-ness.” Play with it. Enjoy!

I hope you have found these family photography tips useful.

Jonnie Blaylock is a hobbyist photographer that helps new photographers learn the fundamentals with his Family Photography Tips and more.

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The Art of Digital Photography

Digital photography: The art of digital photography

Many of the techniques used in traditional photography also apply to digital photography. The composition of the picture, use of light, line, shape, pattern, etc. also apply to digital photography. Three elements that are different in digital photography are white balance, picture resolution, and digital effects.

White Balance

In a traditional camera, film records and determines the colors of the scene captured in the photograph. As digital cameras have no film to interpret color, they use white balance settings for this purpose. These settings (called Kelvin temperature ratings) are represented by symbols for sun, indoor light, clouds and shade on most digital displays and can be manually selected. The Auto function, however, enables the camera to adjust the settings automatically. For most non-professional needs, this is quite satisfactory.

Some digital cameras contain a histogram function that will also help you adjust your light exposure.


Digital cameras record images in pixels. If you expand a picture on your computer with graphic software by zooming in on the picture, you will eventually see the picture rendered as a series of colored dots. The more dots per inch in a picture, the higher the resolution. High-resolution photos have better image quality and bigger file sizes as well.

Many digital cameras on the market allow the user to select the low or high-resolution settings. Since resolution affects file size, more of the photos taken in low resolution can be stored in your camera at a time. High-resolution images may saved in BMP, TIFF, or RAW image formats. These are large file type images. High resolution settings vary with each camera. A low resolution setting on one camera is a high resolution setting on another. It all depends on the camera’s megapixel resolution that could be anywhere in the range of .1 megapixels to 9.1 megapixels.

Resolution is an important consideration when buying your digital camera. If you are only going to be using your images on the web, very high-resolution images will not be as mandatory for you (although high resolution graphics allow more manipulation of the graphic in graphics software programs). Web images are typically lower resolution images since file size is a consideration for the web. If you are going to be printing your images, however, high resolution is necessary for a quality print. To be able to expand an image for an 8×10 print is going to require a high-resolution graphic for a good quality photo.

Digital Effects

Many digital cameras also have built-in effects that can be used to change the presentation of your photos. Fisheye is an example of one such feature that will reshape an image giving it a totally different effect. Soft-focus, Portrait, Scene, Landscape, and Wide-angle are some of the focusing effect capabilities that your digital cameral may have. These are nice features to have fun with. If you have a graphics software program, your images can be further manipulated once you have downloaded your images to your computer.

By: Vicki Zolenski

Digital Camera Tips: Megapixels

1. How Many Megapixels Should I Get?

The answer depends on what you’re going to do with your pictures. Let me explain what I mean by that. The first thing to understand is that a megapixel simply refers to a million pixels.

That naturally leads to the question — “What is a pixel?”

Pixels are very small dots of color that make up the images in your digital photographs. They’re the most basic (and smallest) elements of digital pictures.

“Pixel” stands for “picture element.” Using the abbreviation Pix for picture and El for element, the two are put together like this : Pix + Element = Pixel.

It takes a lot of pixels to make a picture. Remember, it takes a million pixels to make one megapixel.

Pixels also make up what is called the resolution. The more pixels in the image, the higher the resolution.

That simply means more information can be captured in a larger data file. It’s kind of like a big, fat file folder stuffed full of papers and documents vs. a skinny little file with only a few papers. Obviously the fat file contains more information and details.

It’s the same with resolution. You get more information and details in a higher resolution image than a lower resolution–and it results in better colors, more definition, clarity and smoother color gradations. That’s why higher resolution usually means a better-looking picture. Of course, the quality of the lens and sensor also influence the image quite a bit.

For example:But generally, when you have more megapixels, not only can you get more details, but you can also print bigger pictures or make enlargements.

- 6 megapixels and up will look great from a thumbnail all the way up to a 16×20 poster.

- 5 megapixels will look great from a thumbnail all the way up to 11×17 inches.

- 4 megapixels will print up nicely as an 8×10 and will still look pretty good up to 11×17 inches.

- 2 megapixels will just barely print an 8×10 – but will do a better job with smaller pictures like 5×7′s or 4×6′s.

- 1 megapixel – Don’t even try printing an 8×10 with 1 megapixel. Stick with a 4X6 or smaller or email the picture.

Putting up a picture online or sending it by email doesn’t require a lot of megapixels. In fact, you’re better off with less. If you have too many, you might crash your email or have a webpage that takes forever to load.

So, you see, the way you plan to use your pictures determines how many megapixels you should get.

If all you want to do is email your pictures to friends and family, one MG (or even less) is enough. But that’s NOT enough if you want to print out 5×7 or 8×10 prints.

However… storing pictures with higher megapixels takes a lot more space. You have to have lots of storage in your hard drive and lots of RAM. Or you’ll need to put your pictures onto some sort of permanent storage like CDs to make sure you don’t use up all of your computer’s hard drive.

For most people (and most families) 3.2 megapixels is perfect. It gives you nice detail without taking too much space on your computer. And you can print out nice looking 5x7s and 8x10s.

Next: In a couple of days, we’ll talk about how easy it is to use a digital camera, the types of digital cameras there are and how much they cost.

See you then!

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for the Digicam Newsletter. You’ll get news about new cameras and accessories on the market, reviews, and tips, without charge. Just send a blank email to:

Rufina James

Portrait Photography Tips and Methods

Portrait is defined as, “A likeness of a person, especially one showing the face, that is created by a painter or photographer, for example.” In the area of portrait photography there are some guidelines that you should consider when you go to take photos of people.

The different types of portraits are: close-ups, facial shots, upper body shots or environmental portraits. Environmental portraits are where you focus on the subject and on their surroundings that provide more character to the subject.

When people have a camera in their face it usually makes them nervous and they will try to put on a face that does not portray who they really are. The real skill to portrait photography is trying to capture photos when the subjects are comfortable and not worried about a camera.

Many professional photographers try to capture their subject’s true essence by using tricks. One example of this is counting to three so the subject prepares and then while they are relaxing after taking a planned photo the photographer will snap a few more unplanned photos. In most cases the subject won’t even know that more than one photo was taken but it’s usually the photos that the subject wasn’t expecting that capture their true essence.

Another more common strategy professionals use is to tell funny jokes that make their subjects genuinely laugh or smile. I’m sure that you have probably experienced something like this yourself.


These usually have the subject’s shoulders and head or less. They are framed around the face. These are the most common and best at capturing expressions and glamour shots. For these it is very important to have the light coming from a good angle. To accent wrinkles or small details you should have the light coming from the side or from the top. To create flattering pictures you should choose a cloudy day or try to create diffused light so there are hardly any shadows. Also make sure the subject is brighter than the background to reduce distraction.

For close-up portraits you should use a wide aperture (low f/stop) to make the background out of focus and therefore less of a distraction. Professionals commonly use a fixed telephoto lens that’s 90 mm or higher for portraits in order to de-emphasize the subject’s nose or any other unflattering feature. It works because at that distance the nose or any other feature does not seem closer to the camera than the rest of the face.


These are easier to capture because the subject is probably more relaxed because it’s less personal. These include a little more of the background than close-ups. These are commonly used for both single subjects and multiple subjects. This is the kind of portrait used to mark occasions such as graduation, yearbook, birthdays and other parties. The ideal lens would be about a 90 mm fixed telephoto or more wide angle depending on how many subjects there are.


These are the portraits that let you into the life of a subject. They might include the whole subject in a scenario or the subject participating in some hobby that they enjoy. These are best for telling a story to the viewer about the subject. They are almost always used by photojournalists to look into the lives of interesting people. They also make great Black and White pictures.

Use this information to develop what kind of portrait style you would like to take, and then practice it before dealing with any serious clients.

About The Author
Richard Schneider is a digital photography enthusiast and founder of which offers tips and news about digital photography, digital camera reviews, photoshop tutorials and computer wallpaper.

10 Tips In Better Photography

Taking a good photo isn’t as hard as you may think. You don’t need the most expensive camera or years of experience, just 10 simple tips.


Tip 1 – Use All Your Available Space

Don’t be afraid to use all the space in your photo. If you want to take a picture of something, it’s ok for it to take up the whole shot with no or very little background showing. Keep distractions out of your shot

Tip 2 – Study Forms

This is a vital aspect to photography. Understanding forms in your photos. Don’t see an object, she its shape and its form and find the best angle to photograph it from. Form is all around us and I highly suggest you read as many books on it as possible.

Tip 3 – Motion In Your Photos

Never have motion in your photos if you are photographing a still object. If there is something moving while you are trying to photograph a stationery object, your photo won’t turn out anywhere near as well. Also never put a horizon line in the center of your frame.

Tip 4 – Learn To Use Contrasts Between Colors.

Some of the best photos have shades of white, gray and black. You can take great shots with just one color on your subject, but the contrasts between colors in a shot is what makes you a great photographer.

Tip 5 – Get Closer To Your Subject

This is one of the biggest mistakes most photographers make, not getting close enough to their subject. Get up and personal and close the distance gap. You can always reshape and resize a good shot but you can’t continue to blowup a distant object.

Tip 6 – Shutter Lag

Shooting action shots with digital camera’s can be tricky due to shutter lags. What this means is, when you press the button to take the photo, it can take up to a second for the shutter to take a photo, by that time what you were photographing would have moved or changed somehow. This means you have to compensate for shutter lag by predicting what your subject is going to do and taking the photo just before it takes the action you want. More expensive digital cameras don’t have this problem.

Tip 7 – Pan

If you are taking an action shot and your shutter speed is slow, pan with the object. Follow through with the subject, from start to finish and one of those shots will be a winner. You have more chance of getting a good shot if you take more then one photo.

Tip 8 – Continuous Shots

To pan like I suggested above you will need a camera that does continuous shots and doesn’t need to stop and process after every shot.

Tip 9 – How To Take Fantastic Night Time Shots

Night time shots can be spectacular, almost magical…. if done right! If not they can look horrible. Really horrible. Without adequate lighting, even good camera’s can turn out crappy photos if the photographer doesn’t know what he or she is doing.

Tip 10 – Study Your Manual

If your digital camera has a special night time mode, read the manual and follow their instructions on how to use it properly.

About The Author
Michael Colucci is a technical writer for - A site that offers the latest tips on photography.

5 Simple, But Crucial Digital Photography Tips

Digital Photography is a highly complex activity, with a steep learning curve and many advanced techniques that take years to master! However, we all have to start somewhere. So, here’s a list of 5 Great Tips that will ultimately help you improve your digital photography, and set you off on the right foot.

1. Use a Tripod or Bean-Bag.

Yes, these can be such a pain to carry around, but they’re definitely worth the time. Using a Tripod or alternative such as a bean-bag will add stability to your camera, meaning you have greater control over exposure times and composition. You’ll also never see that annoying camera shake ruin a picture again whilst using a tripod!

2. Get a High Capacity Memory Card.

Have you ever had one of those photography days which is going perfect? The light was great, your subjects look fantastic, the weather is holding off, your capturing the shots you only dreamed of…Then it happens.. Your Memory Card is full and you don’t have a spare! You could manually sort through and delete, but it’d take hours. It’s a much better idea to spend a bit more and invest in a high capacity memory card. They’re now available up to 8GB!!

3. Use a UV Filter.

Using a UV filter on your camera lens is a great idea. They’re small circular pieces of glass that screw over the end of your lens, and offer great protection from scratches, dust, finger prints and also filter out UV rays, improving the color of your images. Best of all they’re dirt cheap!!

4. Add Warmth To Your Tones.

The White-Balance settings on your digital SLR control the tonal effects of your images, so try experimenting with them. Don’t think that just because a setting is called ‘cloudy’ that you can only use it when it is cloudy! In fact, using the ‘cloudy’ setting when taking pictures adds warmth. Perfect for a sunset or evening landscape shot.

5. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!

This will obviously depend on your memory card size as discussed in point 2, but is still very important in trying to get those great shots. Simply put, do not rely on a single shot to capture a great image. Imagine taking time finding a fantastic composition, only to find later that the shot you took has a lens flare or dark shadow in it! Its very frustrating indeed! Take several shots for each composition, try slightly changing the angle each time. This way you can compare and choose the best one later. Remember you can always delete the images you don’t want, that’s the beauty of Digital Photography!

About The Author
Courtesy of Gary Bunn and

Capture Perfect Digital Sports and Action Shots – Digital Photography Tips Complementary Guide

What gets you all excited about your favourite sport? … the thrill of the chase in horse racing or maybe the atmosphere and tension of a ball game, maybe your favourite player? … Well if you were to capture some of these scenes how would you do it best? For some digital photography tips, let’s take a look at a few ideas right now to capture that realism …

Get Familiar

It’s worth getting familiar with the sport before you start shooting, for example, how points are scored, what causes penalties etc, as this will give you an advantage over others … you will learn to expect where the best action is likely to be, and you can then capture those glorious moments.

Another great tip, as well as aiming to catch the action, capture the ‘emotion’ too. Be ready to shoot players’ faces on triumph of a goal, or any other emotive action in the game and you will bring your photos alive!

Be Prepared

Cold and bad weather conditions can quickly rob the life of your digital camera’s battery, so it’s important to always carry an extra charged battery especially for outdoor sports.

Action Techniques

Stop Action … you’ll very quickly be able to shoot an action shot and ‘freeze’ your subject practically in mid air. Imagine the wheels of a drag car on a dirt road, bouncing off the many bumps … for those few seconds while the car is in mid air, snap away to capture the action. Lighting is not too much of an issue if you’re outside on a sunny or partially sunny day say at a car race, dog track, or horse race etc, but you’ll maybe need to make adjustments if you’re inside a gymnasium shooting a basketball game, for example. If the lighting is bright, then you’ll probably be okay, but depending on the type of lighting, you may need to activate your fill flash if you shoot players in action and you find your photo colorisation shifting to ‘yellow’.

Also bear in mind the distance, as your flash will not carry too far … it might be worth sitting near the basket hoop to catch the action!

Blurred Action … a couple of ideas behind blurred action is, firstly … if you look back at your photos you have taken using Stop Action, you may find one or two shots that did not freeze the action, which means your camera did not catch the action at the right moment … so you end up with an interestingly blurry effect to your subject.

Secondly, if you’re shooting a ball game, for example, you may get blurring if your player moves just as you click your shutter. If you did not intend for this to happen, you might be pleasantly surprised with the effect!

Panned Action … the most difficult to accomplish, but probably the most effective shooting technique, once mastered. The advantage using your digital camera is that you can delete unwanted frames and start again, so here’s how panning basically works…

Using your digital camera in automatic mode press the shutter half way down to focus on your subject, moving your camera sideways following the action, then pressing the shutter fully while still moving your camera. The effect created is the front of your subject should remain in fairly strong focus, while the back of your subject should start to blur, and as it blurs a long trail should appear, giving a feeling of movement like no other effect could possibly achieve.


By knowing what your digital camera can do, experiment with different methods to get the best shots. You could try shooting in continuous mode, then try panning the camera along with your subject, whilst he/she or it is in motion.

I hope these digital photography tips are helpful. If you can get to grips with panning, as I have described above, you’re on a winner!

About The Author
Yvonne Grubb owns which offers people information on digital photography tips