June 27th, 2016

Photography tips

photographer-16022_640Here’s a confession: I am obsessed with taking photographs. Whether it’s a cute moment, a pretty scene, or even just a dinner I’m particularly proud of, I always pull out my camera or phone and snap a picture.

Now there’s nothing more frustrating than taking a picture and it not turning it out. It could be too dark, blurry, or simply just look a little off. Here are some of my strategies for taking the best photos:

1 – Know your light. Lighting is one of the most important parts of photography and it can really make or break the quality of your photo. I’ve always found that natural light yields the best results. The best time of day to take photos is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. This is called “golden hour” and it produces the most flattering lighting, especially if you’re taking a portrait of yourself or somebody else. The position of the sun during this time of day creates a warm and glowing golden light that can make just about anything look good.

But what if you want to take a picture at night or during a time when light is less than optimal? Fake it! The flash on a camera can often be too harsh on your subject, but you can use the flashlight feature on your cellphone to brighten up the subject without washing them out too much. When a camera doesn’t have enough light to work with, the pictures often come out blurry or grainy. So make sure you always pay attention to your light source!

2 – Take a lot of photographs. Say you’re photographing your child’s softball game or another sporting event, it’s often necessary to take many photos in order to get a few good ones. The trick is to do it quickly, so you don’t miss out on actually watching the game. If you worry too much about every photo being perfect, you may end up paying more attention to your camera than what you’re trying to take a picture of. So if you quickly snap a lot of photos, chances are you’ll get a couple of great ones and you can weed out the bad ones later on.

3 – Edit your photos. Sometimes you take a photo that is so beautiful that you don’t have to do anything else to it, but that’s often not the case. Almost every photo needs to be tweaked in some way in order for it to be the best version of itself. There is computer software you can use to do this, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. But if you want to take pictures without investing too much into the editing software, there are a number of great free apps you can use.

I recommend VSCO and Afterlight. Both are free apps that can be downloaded to your device and you can use them to enhance your photos. Your photo’s too dark? You can use the “exposure” or “brightness” tools to help brighten it up. Your photo’s blurry? Use the “sharpening” or “clarify” tools!

Both of these apps also have free filters you can use on your photos. A filter will adjust all of the aforementioned settings, as well as color, contrast, etc. Filters can be used to make a photo look beautifully natural or otherworldly and surreal. It all depends on which filter you use and what you want from the photo!

Cecil County Public Library also has tools that can help you in being the best photographer you can be! We offer Gale Courses in such subjects as “Secrets of Better Photography” and “Photographing Nature with Your Digital Camera.” Gale Courses are free six week online classes that are taught by actual professors and new sessions begin monthly.  These are great for both beginners and people who simply want to learn about more about photography!

Remember, you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive software to take great photos. Use these tips and start collecting memories!

What’s your favorite tip for beginning photographers?


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June 20th, 2016

If You Build It, They Will Come (Unless You Didn’t Have a Marketing Strategy)

My wife and I love to bring people together. This usually happens at the dinner table and for different reasons. For her, she loves to cook and cook well, and I’m not just saying that because she might read this. Adventurous artichoke and cheddar breads or chocolate-raspberry cupcakes always come out amazing. For me, I bring people to the table for games – party games, strategy games, card games, you name it. When we retire we see a potential business in our future. I would love to operate a family-friendly board game cafe and she would love to own a bakery. Somehow I think these could smash together into a hybrid, making great money and great memories. Half of the space would be filled with shelves of games and spacious tables and my wife would sell coffees, baked goods, and gourmet meals on the other half. But how would we ever get there? How do we pick a location? How do we take a passion and make it a reality? I recommend using the resources afforded to you the award-winning Small Business Information Center of CCPL.

CCPL offers marketing books, databases filled with useful regional statistics, free programs, plus one-on-one appointments with a professional librarian to discuss your ideas and goals. These are cost-free materials and services. You just bring optimism and a good work ethic.

Be your own catalyst for positive change and try some of the following titles:

 

Main Street Entrepreneur

Main Street Entrepreneur by Michael Glauser helps you understand how to grow and maintain a business with clear purpose. It explains how to build on what you know and do so tenaciously. We can’t all create the next Google or Facebook, but this 2016 book can help you with your approach to local business, and enrich the lives of your community.

 

 

Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing

Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing by Perry Marshal is exactly what it sounds like, but don’t let the boring name fool you. Entrepreneur Magazine put out this 2016 edition, and this is great to have next to your laptop for reference.

 

 


Get Scrappy

Get Scrappy is my favorite 2016 marketing book so far, and not just for its great title. This is the small book that packs a punch in the digital marketing department. If you are specifically looking to get an edge on your blogs, your videos, and your social media presence, this is the book to checkout. It’s hard to keep up with an online world that is constantly reinventing itself, but this new title should help you keep up.

 

The 10% Entrepreneur

And what about the people who want to start up a business and not quit their day job? I have a brand new book for them, too. The 10% Entrepreneur understands the reality that sometimes you can’t just quit your current job and put all of your eggs in one basket. First of all, you don’t know if that will work. Secondly, it’s scary. Written by Patrick McGinnis who has been there and done that, this slim little volume lays out a step-by-step plan to stay smart, stay secure, and make progress on your dream. (Plus, anybody who dedicates their book “to all my teachers – especially my parents” is alright if you ask me.)

 

To make an appointment with the SBIC to brainstorm business concepts, discuss your plans, look for specific business information, work on marketing, financial strategies and more, stop by the Elkton Central Library at 301 Newark Avenue in Elkton, or call us at 410-996-5600 ext. 128, or email us at sbic@ccplnet.org .

Sign up for our newsletter, the LINK, right here so you always know about upcoming business programs and opportunities.

For a list of small business and marketing resources including the titles described in this blog, click here.


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