Photography is a fun and rewarding endeavor. In today’s busy world, however, it can sometimes be tricky to find the time for it. Some helpful time saving tips for photography are just what you need in order to make sure your photography-time is well managed. And so, that is what we’ll present here: a few valuable time saving tips fir to help photographers minimize any potentially wasted time. No matter what sort of photography you’re into, there are a host little things you can do, which apply to all areas photography, which will go a long way in helping you to stream-line your efforts.
Before you go out to shoot:
(1) Do a quick, but thorough, inventory check. Yes, it might seem like this will actually take-up time instead of saving it, but trust me — you’ll likely come upon a time where it pays off in spades. A simple one or two minute long inventory check, to make sure you’re bringing everything you need, can help you avoid an incident where you waste hours. So, it’s a very good habit to get into. Don’t assume that everything you’re going to need for your photography trip is already in the pack you’re grabbing as you head out the door — check it to make sure.
True story: I once drove three hours to a location only to find out, once I arrived, that I had not brought a single memory card with me. It was a remote location that provided a spectacular view of a hidden lake surrounded on three sides by tall, sheer cliffs — very remote. So remote that there was nowhere I could go, that was within at least a couple of hours drive, to buy a memory card. I drove for three hours to get there — over rough, half washed-out in places, uncomfortably bumpy, trails and dirt-roads — and then three hours to get back home. If I had been in the habit of doing a quick, two-minute inventory check before leaving for every photography excursion, I could have done about 180 of them before I would have spent more time doing inventory checks than the time I wasted traveling to and from that location.
(2) Clean your lenses and sensor regularly. If you know how to safely and effectively clean your lenses and sensors, then make it a habit to do it regularly. If you don’t, then learn — there’s many useful tutorials and instructional web-pages on the internet (I’ll get around to writing one for PhotographyGiveaways.Com, one of these days) that will show you how to do it. Or, find someone who knows how to do it and get them to teach you. Or, have a professional do it for you on a regular basis. But, keep your lenses and sensors clean.
Dust, dirt and grime will build up over time on your equipment — it just will. No matter what sort of care you take, no matter how air-tight you store your equipment. Dust and dirt will accumulate. Better storage practices and care will only slow down how quickly this occurs, it will not eliminate it. The build-up will lead to spots appearing on your images — spots that will need to be dealt with when processing your photos. Removing these spots in the development stage is time-consuming.
I do a regular, thorough cleaning of everything about once every other month, and I do a quick blowing off of dust from the sensor and lenses using a dust-blower before practically every photo-session. So, before going out on your photographic excursion, do a quick tidying of your camera’s sensor, your lenses and filters. And, do a thorough cleaning of all of your photography equipment regularly.
(3) K.I.S.S — Keep it simple, stupid! Ok, ok… I often embody the final ‘S’ in that acronym and am often guilty of not following this one as well as I should. I HATE getting to a location and thinking “Oh, man! Lens-X, or filter-Y would be PERFECT to get this shot! Why didn’t I bring it!” — I’m a subscriber to the “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” philosophy when it comes to photography. So, if there’s even a remote, but still not entirely unreasonable, chance I might find use for a certain piece of gear, I tend to bring it. However, the fact of the matter is, the more you lug around with you, the slower your going will be. And, the slower your going is, the more time you’ll be wasting. And, in being an adherent to the philosophy I adhere to, I do pay a price for it in time and effort.
So, there’s a cost-benefit analysis that really should be done. How likely are you to run into a need to use that certain piece of gear? And, how much of a loss would it really, honestly be if you did run into a need for it but you didn’t have it with you? If the answer to either is ‘not very/much’, then it’s probably better to leave that gear at home instead of having it slow you down. In a lot of cases, if you do get out there and find that some piece of gear you neglected to bring turns out to be crucial, you can always schedule another trip to the same location.
(4) Check your batteries and memory cards. With each battery you’re bringing with you, and with each memory card you’re going to need to ensure you’ve got enough room for the photos you want to get, do a quick check to make sure the batteries are adequately charged, and there’s ample room on the memory cards, before you head out to shoot.
It’s easy to get out into the field just to discover that your memory card is full. And, the worst part is, commonly, when you’re out there ready to take photos, you might not then remember if you’ve transferred all of the photos on the card to your computer. So, deleting photos or formatting cards in the field can be risky and scary. And, there probably isn’t a more heart crushing time-waster than deleting photos from a card because you’re sure you transferred that batch onto your hard-drive, only to get home and find out you made a mistake and your pictures are gone forever.
So, to recap: Doing a quick inventory check, regularly making sure your gear is clean, being astute and honest about what you really need to bring with you and trimming your load appropriately, and doing checks of battery levels and card space — all very good habits to get into that will, if practiced consistently, be sure to end up saving you time in the long run — and, very often, in the short-run too.
When you’re shooting:
(1) If you don’t need manual-mode, don’t use it! Yes, if you’re a newer photographer you should learn to get out of auto-exposure modes and begin shooting manual — that’s great advice — learn how to make your camera do exactly what you want it to do. If you master manual exposure mode, you’ll be able to make much more interesting, unique. creative and visually impactful images. This is true. So, you SHOULD learn to master manual-mode shooting. No doubt about it. But, once you do, shooting in manual mode is not always necessary, and can be a time waster. The trick is to know when to use manual, and when to let your camera do the brain-work for you — to identify the situations where shooting manual isn’t likely to produce significantly better or different results than shooting in auto.
There’s a trap that intermediate photographers sometimes fall into: They master manual-mode, and then they ALWAYS shoot in manual mode. And, quite often its for a fairly stupid reason: ego. Shooting in manual, and having ‘manual mode’ show up on their exif data is somehow a sign of passage into photography-championhood, or something. Silly.
On most decent quality cameras today, auto-exposure meters are really pretty darned good in a heck of a lot of lighting situations. And, they really only start to become noticeably lacking in rare, unique lighting scenarios, or in cases where you’re trying to achieve some look, or effect, that isn’t exactly the traditionally ‘correct’ exposure. This is true especially if you’re shooting in RAW. If you shoot in jpeg format, there’ll be A LOT situations where auto-mode is more than good enough. If you shoot in RAW, there’ll be almost none (save for when you’re going for some unique, creative effect) where it wont be adequate enough that adjustments can’t be made when processing your RAW images. So, if time saving is of the essence, then learn when to identify exactly when shooting in auto will save time and effort, but shooting in manual wouldn’t provide any significant benefit.
Modern in-camera meters employ very sophisticated technology, and are the result of decades, upon decades of trial-and-error tweaking, evolution, experience and advancement by highly skilled professional engineers. As a result, in most situations, they tend to work incredibly well. If you’re shooting in RAW, add into that the situations where they miss the mark by just a little, but their shortcoming can be easily compensated for in Lightroom, and you’ll find there are very, very, very few situations where auto-exposure just isn’t up to snuff for producing a great exposure.
(2) When in doubt, bracket it out! In the old days, bracketing kind of sucked. Why? Because taking photographs cost money — you had to pay money for every photograph you took. It was almost as though you had to stick a quarter in your camera every time you wanted to click the shutter-release. I remember those days — if you pressed you ear right up close to your camera body, every time you clicked the shutter-release you could almost hear a faint “cha-ching!” sound.
But, that was then and this is now. If you’re shooting digital, then whether you shoot five photos or five-hundred, the only thing you’re spending is time. And, setting your camera up to auto-expose three bracketed shots, quickly looking at those three images to determine which one most closely nailed the exposure, and pressing ‘delete’ on the other two takes way less time than finding out the highlights are blown on the only shot you got of a scene, and working for a half-hour or so in post to try and save it.
Three images of the same subject, or one — the monetary cost is the same. But, by properly bracketing any exposures that you’re not 100% sure on, taking those three images will very often result in less time spent than taking just the one.
(3) Bring a notebook and pencil and learn to use them, often! Yes, take notes! Lots of notes. Good notes! If anything ever enters your brain, even for a fleeting second, in which you think to yourself “Perhaps I should remember this?” Quickly jot it down in your notebook. Very often, when out on photo excursions, you’ll be inspired by something you see or experience, or it will spark an idea for other photos you can go after at a later time. It’s amazing how easy these things can be to forget. You get out to a location, see something interesting, and think to yourself “Hey! That gives me an idea! Wouldn’t it be cool if…” Then, you set your mind to getting the photos you’re there to get. And, an hour or more later, after you’re done the photo-trip you’re currently on, that idea is just gone from your memory. You may not even remember that you had an idea at all, let alone remember exactly what it was. So, jot it down in the notebook you should always be carrying with you. It’ll save time in situations where you do remember having some idea, but can’t remember exactly what it was. Instead of sitting around trying to jog your memory, it’s right there in your notebook.