How To Make Pictures Like Me

I get a lot of compliments on the pictures I put up here, which makes me happy and which I appreciate. I also get questions about how I make pictures like I do. Since I like sharing information, here’s a brief run down of what to do if you’re interested in making pictures like I do.

Note well: I am not a professional photographer, nor do I pretend to be; I’m at most a moderately-versed amateur. Note also that I’m not fronting this as “how to take good pictures,” just “how to make pictures like me.” If you don’t like my photography, then this will probably not be useful to you.

Also note I talked about my photo tools recently, including cameras and software, so I won’t be covering the same ground in depth here. Finally, I assume we’re talking digital photography here. I know next to nothing about film cameras or processing.

Okay, then.

1. Do try to get yourself a decent camera, “decent camera” in this case meaning a camera with a reasonably large digital sensor, with a reasonable amount of resolution, and with a reasonably large lens, which can take pictures in a RAW photo format. The first three give you the best chance of getting the most amount of information for your pictures, the last one gives you the best ability to fiddle with the information you get. I say “reasonably” a lot here because unless you are a pro or genuinely committed enthusiast, you don’t need to spend thousand of dollars. I use a midrange dSLR (the Nikon 5100) with the kit lens. Right now, it goes for $580 on Amazon. Other cameras with similar capabilities are available at or below that price. Not cheap. But not stupid expensive either.

If you are interested in picture-taking beyond the occasional cell phone shot or vacation shot, I really do recommend picking up a dSLR. DSLRs have two benefits: one, at this point in time dSLRs are still the best total package for digital picture taking; two, they offer you the option of letting the camera do everything for you (aside from taking the actual picture) but still have the capability of letting you level up in terms of control if you want it.

I think it’s important to note that even if you have a dSLR (or other such camera) on full automatic, you can still get some decent shots. Nearly all the Nikon shots I post here are taken with the camera on full automatic, with the flash off. The camera is smart enough to take a decent photo in most cases, and in any event, as I have the camera record the data into a RAW format, I can go in and fiddle with the picture to tweak to where I want to be. Which brings me to the next point:

2. Invest in a decent photoediting program (one that can work with RAW files) and learn how to use it. As I noted in my piece about my photo tools, I use the latest iteration of Photoshop and I am happy with it, enough to recommend it. In particular I like how it allows me enough control of the RAW data that I can draw out detail and massage the picture in lots of ways. Sometimes I want to pull back some shadows, sometimes I need to bring down the exposure, sometimes I want to make the image more (or less) color saturated. Photoshop allows me to do that. Knowledgeable photographers can do a lot of what they need with the camera itself, but in my case I usually find it easier to to keep the camera on auto and then fiddle in the software.

Aside from RAW manipulation, Photoshop also is very good with touchup and editing. I don’t do fashion-shoot levels of photo manipulation, but I do some editing; for example, I will occasionally take contrails out of my sunset photos, or zits out of my self-portraits (yes, I still get the occasional zit at 44. So will you, probably).

As an example of what a decent photoediting program can do, here’s a recent sunset picture right out of the camera:

And the same picture after I’ve fiddled with levels and taken out the contrails:

Note that all the information for the second picture is in the first — a good camera records a ton of stuff, and it’s up to you to decide what you want to use. If you have a good photoediting suite (and the picture in RAW format), you have more options in that regard.

3. Don’t worry too much about “realism.” With regard to those two sunset pictures above, the first picture seems like it is more “real” than the second one, but I would say that I don’t think it is really, from the point of view of the human eye. The camera’s sensor (and the processor inside the camera) is not equivalent to the human eye — it makes different choices and has different priorities. The first picture has all the ground vegetation silhouetted out, but when I shot the photo my eyes could very easily see all the flora around me. The camera chose to highlight the sky; my eyes took all of it in. My apprehension of the sunset was somewhere between the first photo and the second one.

When you recognize and internalize that the camera and its brain are not in fact equivalent to your eyes and your brain, it frees you up to recognize that photography — to the extent that you are taking pictures for your personal enjoyment, rather than as a form of journalism — is meant to evoke a feeling as often as (and sometimes more than) it reminds you of reality. That being the case, why not fiddle and see what you get.

As an example, recently I looked a little shaggy and went to get a haircut. This was the picture I took of myself just before I left:

I look goofy and unkempt, but (accurately) mostly harmless. It’s a fairly realistic picture of me. But then I fiddled with the picture and got this out of it:

And suddenly I look like an ax murderer. Seriously, I’ve shown this picture to people and they have actually recoiled from it, which of course delights me immensely. The first version is more “realistic” but the second version is better, I think, because it evokes an emotional response. When I’m working with my photos I will often value the emotional response over the realistic portrayal — “realistic” being a not quite accurate term in the case of what the camera sees anyway.

Not everything needs to be fiddled with, to be sure: Some pictures work right out of the camera, for what you want them to do, and there’s no point doing anything more with them. But if you want to fiddle, do it and don’t feel like you’re letting photography down by going for an effect.

4. Don’t be afraid of shortcuts. In addition to Photoshop, I also use Camerabag 2, a photo program that comes stacked with filters I can apply in about a second, and which will often accomplish what I would want to do but would take me hours in Photoshop. For example, here’s a picture of Athena from the other day, out of the camera:

And then after running it through Camerabag 2’s “Burst” filter (with some cropping):

The filter does a fine job of getting the emotional response I want for the photo, and I didn’t have to do anything but port it into the program. Sweet!

Now, any filter can become overused and trite — this is the Instagram effect — but on the other hand if it works for you, it works for you, and you don’t need to apologize for it. Use ‘em and don’t feel bad for not slaving over a photoediting program for hours. You have other things to do with your day.

5. Take lots and lots and lots of pictures. This weekend friends came to visit and I took pictures of their visit. When they left I went and made a photoset of the weekend. It was 42 photographs. However, over the course of the weekend I took 329 photographs. What’s in those other 287 photographs? Lots of blurry pictures, pictures where the camera focused on the wrong thing, pictures that were almost but not quite well-composed, pictures where people were blinking or otherwise caught in unfortunate facial expressions, pictures that were boring, pictures that were ill-timed. Pictures like this, basically:

Which is fine, because digital cameras mean you can take hundreds of terrible pictures with no real penalty, and that eventually blind luck is on your side: Take enough pictures and one of them is bound to be good.

My weekend ratio of roughly eight crap pictures to one picture I’m willing to share feels about right over time; I take a lot of bad pictures. My saving grace is that a) I don’t subject other people to the bad ones (mostly), and b) I can generally tell which ones are, you know, good.

6. Don’t stress about getting the perfect picture. If you have a reasonably good digital camera, know your way around photoediting software and take lots and lots of pictures, you’re going to find out — or at least I found out — that waiting for or trying to compose the “perfect picture” becomes much less of a problem. One, you can fix and fiddle a lot with pictures after the fact to make them better — in some cases substantially better, and maybe even the picture you wanted. Two, digital cameras mean that if you miss the “perfect picture,” relax, another opportunity will come around real soon. Then you can fire off ten shots in a row and one of them is likely to be something you can work with.

Three, digital cameras mean you can just let things happen, and be there when they do. And at the end of the day, in my own experience, a lot of “perfect” picture moments are the ones you didn’t know were coming — but that you were ready for when they did. Kind of like perfect moments generally.

And that’s how I make pictures. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s all good advice.

44 thoughts on “How To Make Pictures Like Me

  1. I would suggest one other bit that you appear to follow, that is critical, but not stated above:

    Light is your friend. It’s (usually) easier to filter a well-lighted picture to make it look dark and spooky, than it is to take a picture washed out for want of ambient light and make it presentable.

  2. I pretty much agree with everything. Actually, no, I do agree with everything.

    One tool I might add is a Huey Pro or other monitor adjustment tool. They are fairly inexpensive and adjust your monitor to make sure your pictures are consistent over time (monitors change as do computers)

  3. My friends who are (or were) professional photographers basically say that point 5 is the key. One friend who shot for the Army in the ’80s would routinely go through a few “bricks” (packs of 24 rolls of 24 shots each) in a typical photo-shoot — and expected to get, on average, one great shot per roll. (I’d say that your ratio of 8:1 implies that you are either (a) a much better shot than you think, or (b) you have lower standards for an acceptable shot than my pro friends, or (c) both. none of those options are bad, mind you).

    Digital cameras make it much easier — and cheaper — to take many bricks-worth of shots.

  4. Blaise Pascal:

    There’s also option (d), which is that being able to do post processing via Photoshop and other photo-editing software can take a picture that was marginal in the film era and salavge it here in the digital era.

    I do suspect I am less exacting than a pro photographer, however. Their livelihood relies on top-notch photography; I merely have to have a picture which is good enough for me.

    Ben Henic:

    Totally correct re: light.

  5. Invest in a decent photoediting program (one that can work with RAW files) and learn how to use it.

    For someone who wants to fiddle about without spending money on a premium editing suite, I heartily recommend GIMP, which is free and completely open source. It can’t do all that Photoshop can out of the gate, but it can do most of what you’re using Photoshop for, and there are a seemingly endless assortment of free plug-ins if you need a specific capability not installed in the core download. Even if you think Photoshop is in your future, why not play with GIMP for free first?

    Plus, you never real own Adobe products anyway:
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Creative_Cloud

  6. The one piece of advice I give my friends is to get yourself in a position to shoot the best angle. Sometimes this means laying on the ground to shoot upward, sometimes it means climbing on a rock to shoot down. In most cases you’ll get better pictures of people if shooting at a slight upward angle–which means kneeling to take most shots of small children.

  7. Agreed on taking lots of pictures leading to better pictures. (See also Gaiman’s “Make Art” speech)

    Also agreed on your axe-murderer shot. Although you will forgive me if my first thought was “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

  8. All great tips – I would add one other, that has helped me quite a bit. Avoid the temptation to zoom in excessively in an attempt to frame the short perfectly. A good DSLR will provide you with a high enough resolution that you can crop and still have a perfectly presentable final image, framed to your liking, and will leave you with more options for creative framing. I still use my 10-year-old ancient DSLR (Canon Digital Rebel XT) which shoots only 8MP, and that’s still enough to crop for snapshots as long as I am somewhat judicious about the initial framing.

    Another important benefit of DSLRs over most point-and-shoots – no shutter lag! I missed enough blowing-out-birthday-candles shots before getting one that I can’t imagine going back now.

    One last note – there are many sites with reviews for digital cameras, but I’ve always liked the in-depth reviews at http://www.dpreview.com – they usually provide way more technical detail than I can easily digest, but they are extremely comprehensive.

  9. Thanks for sharing those tips. I recently got back into photography and picked up a Nikon D7100. It is far more camera than I am photographer and this state of affairs will probably remain true for many years but I am enjoying using it. In addition to a 35 mm, a 50 mm, and a 70-200 zoom, I picked up a wide angle zoom from Tokina, 11-16 mm. It is a great lens for architecture. I also have, on order, a Sigma 18-35 mm lens which as gotten some amazing reviews. In addition to the D7100, I also have a Ricoh GR which is a small, compact APS-C format camera with a 16 MP sensor. It is really good for quick street photography where a larger, more obvious camera might draw unwanted attention from the natives.

    Are you using a tripod at all?

    I have pictures of my dog Bea that match (and some might say exceed) your first photo of your dog. I tell people that these are photos that Bea took and that she is in permanent denial as to how large her nose is.

    To manipulate images, I have been using Aperture from Apple and so far, so good.

    I just noticed that in your comment box (light green background), you have a photo of a man and I am assuming it is you. Ghost in the machine?

  10. Good tips! I would add that if you think you might be interested in taking better pictures, step one should be to use whatever camera you have (your phone, if nothing else) and figure out how to use it to its limits. Obviously a better camera will HELP you make better photos, but if you can’t make interesting photos with a lesser camera, the fancy camera won’t solve all your problems. Play with camera apps on your phone, dig into the menus on your old point and shoot and play with the settings you find there. Once you figure out what you like to shoot and what’s holding you back with your current equipment (or phone), you can make a better decision about upgrading to a DSLR or one of the new(ish) mirrorless cameras. Or maybe all you need is a higher end point and shoot like a Canon S120.

  11. Excellent “How To Get Better Pictures” primer, Scalzi!

    What’s your feeling on cameraphone/tablet cameras? Leo Laporte of the TWiT Network is fond of saying “The Best Camera is the one you have on you all the time”, and highly recommends recent cameraphone camera (like the iPhone camera with takes 5 or 8 Mpixel shots with a larger image sensor), though as of yet there’s apparently no way to take RAW images with it! For myself, I’ll admit I’m happy enough with what I get with my cameraphone, which is admittedly mostly shots of Tammy at public appearances and pictures of our house full of cats…. :D

  12. On a trip to the National Geographic Society museum in DC years ago — pre digital camera — one of their best photographers revealed their main secret: take LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of shots. They would go through whole rolls of film (Film? what’s that?) to get a single good shot. And they are the best!

  13. Nicely written – as I would expect. Personally, I would add a couple of comments that (IMO) might be useful for people who are just starting to get into photography.

    First – Photoshop is deservedly the standard against which other photo editing programs are judged, but it is relatively very expensive and most of the capability that the buyer is paying for will never be touched by 99% of the users. Everything that you mentioned that you do in post-processing can be handled quite well by less expensive programs. For most people, this might be a better choice just because of economics, even if it is not literally “doing what John does”. Among the many options that are – IMO – good choices is “Lightroom”, which comes from the same company that sells Photoshop.

    Second – As you mentioned, take lots and lots and lots of pictures, and edit down to the better ones. Some of the true greats in the history of photography have said that their percentage of “keepers” was well under 5%. Taking lots of images will also have the benefit of helping to learn from doing, and it will become automatic to do a lot of little things that will improve the results.

    (As an example – you may or may not recall some photos that I took at Worldcon in 2008 of you and Mary Kowal when she was doing readings from “The Sagan Diary”. Personally, I was pleased with how those images came out. Part of the reason for my satisfaction with the results I got was that when I walked into the room where she was going to be doing the reading, I looked at where the windows were located, and took a seat in a location relative to the two of you where the natural light on you and Mary would “work”. Nothing exotic that thousands of others don’t do every day, just something that automatically came from the hundreds and hundreds of botched photos I had taken prior to that time.)

    – Tom -

  14. Timeliebe:

    Indeed, whatever camera you have is what you have to work with, and these days cell phone cameras aren’t usually terrible. All the same they will continue to have drawbacks, not the least of which is the fact their sensors are almost always very small, which is not so great for sucking in light.

    Make no mistake that you can take good pictures with a cell phone camera — or any camera, particularly if you know its capabilities and limits and work them. Matt Lewis’ point that you can work to the limits of whatever camera you have is well observed.

  15. The unkempt photo reminds me of some of Chuck Close’s work. Maybe a happier version of Big Self-Portrait, 1967-68.

  16. From a professional photographer, those are all excellent tips. I want to emphasize number 5: take lots of pictures. The only way to become a better photographer is to take lots, and lots, and still more lots of pictures. Yes, reading books or watching lectures by experienced photographers is good and necessary, but you don’t become a better photographer just by reading. You have to get out there and apply what you’ve learned, and that means shooting lots of photos. It also means not being afraid to experiment. Stretch your boundaries, try new things? If the photos are crap, just delete them and try again.

    And amen re taking shortcuts. Some photographers get really bunged up about using filters and plug-ins. “Real photographer don’t use filters!” Blah, blah, blah. I get paid the same whether it takes me two minutes or two hours to retouch a photo, so I use whatever shortcuts I can since the results are the same. I’d be insane not to.

    I’d add one more piece of advice. Take the time to learn your camera. As you said, you can get great shots using the automatic mode on most cameras, but you can get even better shots if you learn your camera’s features and capabilities. Go to Amazon and search in books for your camera model. There are tons of great third party guides that will take you step by step through learning all your camera is capable of. I personally favor the David Busch guides and the Digital Field Guides.

  17. I don’t want to contend with the size of the dSLR. My go to camera currently is a Canon S95 which is a great auto camera that also allows me to monkey with the advanced user settings and capabilities when the mood strikes me. The best part is that while not as small as a phone it still fits comfortably in my jeans pocket making it a take everywhere camera.

    The tip I wanted to share is that if you have kids you know the trials of trying to get a group of kids to sit and smile for the camera. One solution I have resorted to using in the past is to photoshop heads from different pictures to compile into one good “picture”. Most often used for my brother-in-law who will send me 5 photos that he was trying to take of his kids for his Christmas card photo and ask me to fix into one good picture.

    But I have found an even better solution when I am taking the shots and that is the Continuous Shooting mode. I used this recently when I needed to capture 7 kids, ranging in age from 10 to 4, in a group shot to give to their Nana for a birthday present. I set the camera settings and then held down the shutter and began to shoot. I then used all of the normal tricks to focus the kids on me and the camera. In the span of a little over a minute I was able to capture 87 photos. Out of those 3 were acceptable and only one was perfect and fit to print. The disappointment and stress this event would have entailed if a camera using film were involved make me shudder. The large amount of photos also makes great material for a GIF.

  18. All in all, these are good tips and suggestions – especially to take lots of photos, which is very easy with digital, since you are limited only by battery life. That is one of the main things I dislike about digital photography – that you can simply shoot bajillions of pics and hope something comes out by blind luck. When using film (unless you have an unlimited film and processing budget), you are forced to make a concerted effort to make every shot count. Also, I agree with Blaise Pascal at 10:56 above, if you are getting 1/8 of your pictures to be good ones, you are an outstanding photographer. That is a fantastic percentage.

  19. Light is your friend. It’s (usually) easier to filter a well-lighted picture to make it look dark and spooky, than it is to take a picture washed out for want of ambient light and make it presentable.

    Another note on light: many things, including people, look noticeably better in diffuse light than in concentrated light. This is why photographers have those lights with reflectors the size of umbrellas. You probably don’t want to carry one of those around, so try to use diffuse ambient light when it’s available.

  20. Randall:

    “if you are getting 1/8 of your pictures to be good ones, you are an outstanding photographer.”

    Well, “good” might be stretching. “Acceptable to show to friends as a momento of time together” is probably more accurate. There are some good ones in there, though.

  21. I can’t disagree with any of this, though I really have never done much post-processing beyond adjusting the brightness and cropping.

    I have no doubt that I would get better pictures with a DSLR, but that would necessitate having a DSLR with me when I want to take pictures.

    Of course my phone is the camera that I almost always have with me, but if I am going someplace where I think that there is good chance that I might want to take a photo, I stick a pouch with a point-and-shoot on my belt. I take it on vacation and to cons, outings, gatherings, parties etc.

    It’s no SLR, but it takes better pictures than my phone and it’s much handier than an SLR.

  22. After you buy that dSLR, buy a Real Flash. You’ll get a couple hundred flashes out of the rechargeable batteries without running down the camera battery. And you can do things like bounce flash (without having to do trigonometry in your head!) and fill in flash in daylight. Yes, a decent flash costs more than that sweet 40mm pancake lens. Totally worth it. And if you stay with the same manufacturer you can use it with future cameras.

  23. Excellent advice sir. One thing I would add is that having the camera on you when a picture presents itself is just as important as what camera it is. That big DSLR is doing you no good sitting on a shelf at home. That’s why I have switched 90% of my photography to mirrorless micro 4/3 camera’s from Olympus. Their PEN and OMD cameras are lightweight, powerful, and compact, so It is much easier to carry them with you everywhere. I also recommend a halfway decent bag for carrying lenses, extra batteries, or even a spare body. Mine is a Domke shoulder bag, no bigger than a sane moms purse, and it means I always have my extra stuff on hand.

  24. I just posted about this, too. It took me a while to accept that photo processing (with Lightroom, in my case) is not somehow “cheating.” It’s frequently a necessary to step to make the photo look like what my eye saw and/or make it evoke the response I want.

    The man my father has been taking lessons from says he doesn’t take pictures; he makes photographs. There’s more to that process than just setting up the camera and hitting the shutter button.

  25. Instead of the full Photoshop program, I have Photoshop Elements. Does everything I want a photo editing program to do, and still has some stuff I haven’t used yet. Around $100 for most current edition, but you can buy older editions for a lot less and still be happy with the results. I have a Canon 60D DSLR, an old Canon XT Rebel, and for general walk around photos a Canon Powershot SX30 IS advanced compact (all the bells and whistles for exposure control that a DSLR has, but you can’t change lenses, and an APS sized sensor … But my DSLRs are all APS sized sensors anyway) and the Powershot gets the most use…digital zoom of 30 mm to 800 mm, I think 10 or 12 mp, ISO up to 3200… Lens isn’t as good as those I have for the SLRs, but decent for most photos. And as I’m often taking photos near or on the ocean, I don’t have to worry as much about salt air and sand getting inside the Piwershot as I do with the SLRs. Another hint for good pictures – use a tripod or other support when you can. You don’t realize it, but no matter how steady you think your hands are, they are shaking a little, and can cause blurriness in your photos. I’m in agreement with what has been said about photog vs camera – a good photographer can take great photos even with a cheap camera, a bad photographer’s photos with the most expensive DSLR will come out looking like cheap snapshots. And not only take lots and lots of photos, but LOOK at ALL your photos, and try and figure out what you are doing, either right or wrong…and learn from that study, so you keep doing what is right and stop doing what isn’t …

  26. I’m a point and shoot with pocket sized camera person. I do remember the days of film, and hoping things came out. So much easier nowadays to just click away and not have to pay for the “whoops, I took a photo of the floor” shots.

    But even the dumbest camera and the most minimal software can do amazing things. I took a couple of hurry-up shots of the kitties just to put on my Google Plus, and it applied a filter that improved them substantially. Then I cropped them a bit right there in the browser. My friends and I enjoyed them.

    @Robert Enders, yes! Very Jenkins-like.

    @Chang, who is not totally sure what happened to him this weekend: Hee. I don’t think any of us do. Are you sporting a tattoo that says “Bnmz was here”?

  27. One non-technical thing which you didn’t mention but which I’m pretty sure contributes a lot to your shots of humans: respect your subjects. People are far more likely to look natural and/or goof off entertainingly in front of your camera if they are absolutely, 100% sure that you aren’t *ever* going to post anything they aren’t happy about.

    You’d think this would be too obvious to need saying, but there *are* people still stuck in the “ha ha, gotcha” school of photography.

  28. If you’re thinking about upgrading your camera, consider renting the model you’re interested in for a few days. Camera stores don’t typically have cameras you can actually try out. There’s six or more outfits that rent via phone or internet. Actually using the camera for a few days can be a huge help in making a decision. I rented a Canon 7D before going on a photo tour in Brazil two years back. It was noticeably better in a number of ways (the autofocus and frame rate in particular), so I upgraded from my Micro 4/3 system.

    This is also a less expensive way to get to use a telephoto lens that costs $5000+ that you may only need for a few days.

    Here’s a link that mentions 7 rental companies:

    http://digital-photography-school.com/where-to-rent-a-lens-online

    I’ve used Lens Pro To Go and been happy with the results. You can likely find online reviews of any of them.

  29. Echoing Blaise Pascal and Kenneth B, I say 1 in 8 is pretty good, certainly better than a journeyman journalist. When I was a newspaper city editor in the 1970s, our staff photographer bulk loaded 20-shot rolls of film for reporters’ point-and-click cameras and we’d tell reporters to shoot the whole roll on an assignment. Based on our experience, we expected to get at least 1 good photo from 20, maybe two if one was a mugshot. Why not bulk load 36-shot rolls and improve the odds? The newspaper rarely used more than one photo to illustrate an article. By the way, some very useful advice our photographer, Mike Lemberger, gave me and the reporters — and this applies to digital as well as film — was to take at least three shots for a mugshot, changing angles slightly from head-on to the sides. This reduced the chance of having no photo due to an unnoticed eyeblink, weird shadow or odd background item (telephone poles springing out of people’s heads, etc.). It also improved the chance of catching someone’s “better” side that you don’t tend to notice face-to-face, but often shows up clearly in 2 dimensions.

  30. I have a few additional suggestions:

    1. Learn to use your photo editing program. Photoshop (which I love) is massive and has thousands of features, many of which are pretty much hidden or obtuse. Buy a good book or look at some of the zillions of online tutorials to learn better ways to do things.

    2. Learn about non-destructive editing. Lightroom gives you this for free, but you have to work at it for Photoshop. It’s great to be able to tweak earlier edits after you see what you have done later.

    3. Get a good photo organizer tool. I use Bridge, but I know people swear by Lightroom as well. Taking thousands of photos is of no use if you can’t quickly and easily find pictures you are interested in. I do class materials and generate many pictures so I will have art I don’t have to pay for (or steal from the web as so many do). Keywords are essential to keeping track of all of that.

    4. Get a reasonable photo printer. When I bought my Canon T3i and Canon Pro2000 Mark II, I got a rebate that was basically the cost of the printer. The quality blows away your cheap “photo” printers. I didn’t realize how it important it would be to me to be able to print and frame pictures I’m proud of.

    5. Find a source for inexpensive, simple frames and buy a bunch. I bought a bunch of those MCS frames. 4×6 frames are $1.80 or less and it is nice to put up pictures with matching frames. You’ll be more excited about photography if you end up with pictures around the house and greater excitement leads to better pictures.

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