Jan Hudson’s Photography Tips

This is installment #9 of our weekly series for the musician who either needs to or wants to do their own photography for those press kits and social media uses however, anyone could most likely benefit from Jan’s experience – Happy Shooting – ed.Jan Hudson w Banjo

Welcome! We are going to continue answering questions from some of our readers. This week's question is from Jake, who asked, "I just bought a camera, what should I buy next?"

The answer to this question could change with the type of camera that you have recently purchased. If you bought a point and shoot camera or a dslr, one of the first things that you should buy is a case.

Cases: Oh my word, camera cases are the most expensive diaper bags/back packs on the face of the earth. It never ceases to amaze me how much money camera stores ask for a glorified diaper bag. If you are shooting with a small point and shoot camera, find a case that protects the camera and is small and easily transported. No need to give your right arm for this little camera cover, so look for the best deal anywhere you can find one.


For those of you who have purchased the DLSR camera that allows you to use different lenses and add a flash unit, by all means, make sure that you have a well padded camera bag that all of your extra equipment will fit into. Does this mean that you have to spend $400 on it? Heck, no! Keep your money for other toys.

You can go to Amazon.com and look up dslr camera bags and they have several to choose from that are large, padded, and under $60.00. Buy one. The dirty little secret about camera bags is that camera stores make little profit on the actual camera itself, so they have to up the cost of camera bags to be able to make some kind of profit on a camera sale. Unfortunately, if you're not aware of this, you can spend upwards of $600.00 on a camera bag. Well, my dear, I'd rather see you get a nice bag for $49 and spend the other $550 on other goodies that you can actually use to take great photos.

So, on camera bag purchases: pick the style you like (backpack) (shoulder bag) (sling), make sure it's well padded, make sure it's big enough to hold the equipment you have and (the new items you) will eventually buy, choose a color that you like (lol), and buy it at the best price you can get. It's a camera bag, it shouldn't cost more than the camera.

Lenses: Oh, now this is where you want to spend some of that extra cash you have left over. Go to last weeks blog and find the kind that works with what you are going to photograph. It's a huge blog, so we aren't going to re-hash it again this week. lol.

Things to remember: don't buy cheap, buy what fits into your needs. If you are going to be a holidays and vacations photographer, don't buy top of the line, it's a waste of money....go mid-range. If you are planning on going semi-professional, by all means, get the best that you can afford. If you have a point and shoot camera, don't worry, your camera is all ready equipped with a nice wide angle to zoom lens.

Image634988712460540154Lens shade: Now this addition will really make you look like you know what you're doing because it makes the lens look longer! lol. Seriously, if you take a lot a photos outdoors on sunny days, a sun shade will save you from that nasty sun flare that ruins your photos.

Filters: There are so many filters out there to choose from and some of them are really worth the money. If I had a few dollars available to spend on filters, my first choice would be a UV filter. It not only cuts down on the ultra-violet light that comes through the lens, it protects the lens from dirt and scratches. My next top dog favorite is the polarizing filter. It works just like putting a pair of sunglasses in front of your lens on a sunny day...the colors are deepened and saturated and any kind of reflection is taken away. It's a great filter, a bit pricey, but actually worth the money.

Other filters that are nice to have are neutral density filters that help cut down the amount of light coming through the lens on a brilliantly sunny day and specialty and fun filters. Remember, you have to purchase a different sized filter for each of your lenses. To find out the size of the filter you will need, just look on the front of the lens or the inside of your lens cap. Image634988714516087725You'll see an O with a slash through it and a number: 72mm or the like. ie: My 50mm lens uses a 72mm filter. If you have any problems finding this number, just ask the person at the camera store, they will gladly help you out.

Tripod: Everyone needs a tripod. Bottom line: a tripod is used when the light is so low that you can't take pictures without getting camera movement. So, let's think logically...why would you chintz out on a tripod and buy a cheapie that barely stands on its own? Image634988715949169693The idea is that the camera is on a steady object so there won't be camera movement.

If you put the camera on a cheap tripod and touch the camera and the whole enchilada moves...what good is the tripod? Not much, it's NOT doing it's job. Make sure that the tripod is well built, sturdy, and at least as tall as you are when totally extended. There is nothing worse than leaning over a tripod for an extended period of time...unless you like shoulder and back pain. ;)

Extra memory cards: Have at least one extra memory card. Please. As mentioned in a previous blog, never, never put all of your images on one card. It's best to split them onto two cards, just in case of card or camera failure or loss.

Extra batteries: not only for your flash (if you have an external flash unit), but for your camera, too. Have at least one set of each. There is nothing worse than having your flash or camera die in the middle of an important shoot, whether it be vacation or a wedding or a great concert. A quick personal note: I've photographed over 3,000 weddings and have found that the absolute best...bar none...rechargeable flash battery (AA, AAA, etc) is the eneloop rechargeable batteries by Sanyo. I can literally photograph an entire wedding (1200 flashes) with one set of AA batteries. That's unheard of...and the recycle time is 2 seconds or less. They are fantastic batteries and not at all expensive, especially compared to non rechargeable batteries.

Let's keep the most important thing that you should buy with your extra money for last. What could it be?

Insurance: Insurance is a cheap way to protect what you have invested in your equipment. Check with your insurance agent and see if you can put an equipment rider on your homeowners policy. It's very inexpensive and will allow you to replace your equipment if and when something happens to it...whether by theft, accident, or miss-use. It's the best money you will spend on your camera equipment.

Thanks all....enjoy your week.

‘Til next time!


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