What Pregnancy Can Teach You about Good Photography

The word is out.

I’m six months pregnant and there’s no hiding it. I’m here in Paris for our live photography expedition and people are giving up their seats for me on the metro, waiters are steering me away from certain cheeses and meats “pas pour le bebe,” and, by law, no café or restaurant is allowed to turn me away from its bathroom.

While I was sitting at the foot of Notre Dame today, waiting for the attendees to return from climbing the 387 steps to the top (no pregnant women allowed), my big belly reminded me that even though you DO need to be in fairly good shape to climb to the top of Notre Dame, you DON’T really have to be in the best shape to take good photographs.

And, since I didn’t want to lug my big camera around my neck all day (no need to add three or four more pounds to the 21 extra I’m already carrying), I remembered that you don’t need fancy equipment either. In fact, like myself this week, more than half the attendees here are working with point-and-shoot cameras.

So, over the next few days, I’d like to share with you a couple tips I’ve been practicing for getting the best shots without carrying around a lot of equipment and without putting myself in compromising positions (at least until the baby is born).

Starting with today’s tip…

What pregnancy can teach you about good photography, tip #1


When I first met professional photographer Rich Wagner, I was attending a photo workshop in Miami Beach, FL with a tiny point-and-shoot camera. I was researching an article for our travel writing readers on how to take better pictures -- with a simple point-and-shoot camera -- that they could bundle with their articles to sell to magazines. Rich pulled me aside to give me three tips we still preach in this e-letter today (and exactly the skills we teach in Turn Your Pictures Into Cash, AWAI's photography program):

Five years and 30+ of our own live photography workshops later, I’ve upgraded my equipment three times, changed equipment brands twice, and my photography skills have improved dramatically.

I now carry a Nikon D200 camera with two lenses, two filters, and a bunch of memory cards and extra batteries. My camera bag weighs at least five to seven pounds -- that’s a lot of extra weight to carry (even without a small child in your belly).

Below is a list of what I miss most about my fancy equipment… and what I like best about this little point-and shoot I’ve been using here in Paris this week. It should help you understand the difference between a point-and-shoot and an SLR, so you can make a better buying decision when time comes to upgrade…

First, the basic difference between a point-and-shoot and an SLR is the lens. SLR cameras have removable and changeable lenses. Point-and-shoot cameras do not. SLR cameras also have larger image sensors, so they take higher-quality pictures. Point-and-shoot cameras are easier to carry around but, in terms of picture saleability, they have a hard time producing high enough quality images for sale in both low-light and twilight scenes.

So here’s what I miss most about my SLR…

  1. Most of all, the lens. With my SLR camera I can zoom farther and blur more objects in the background than I can with a point-and-shoot.
  2. Image quality. Because the image quality in my point-and-shoot isn’t as good as the quality in my SLR (Note: Even though they have the same number of megapixels, they have different image sensor sizes), I have to be really careful to get the photo right when I take it. If I’m already starting with a smaller image, I can’t afford to make it smaller by cropping it in my computer when I get home.
  3. Superior night shots. My pictures may look the same on my computer and on the web, but when it comes to selling the photo, my SLR night shots are far more saleable. I won’t get into the technical specifics here but, basically, it comes down to “digital noise” that’s more prominent in low-light shots taken with a point-and-shoot. So, no matter how great my point-and-shoot photos look on my computer, I’m pretty sure they’re not saleable as stock, or suitable to be blown up for the cover of a magazine either.

All that said, here’s what I prefer about the point-and-shoot…

  1. The weight. Sure is nice not to have to lug that big camera around my neck.
  2. The size. Because this camera is much smaller, I’m able to take more candid shots without my subject feeling like I just stuck a big lens in their face.
  3. The ease of use. No bells and whistles. I think about the Rule of Thirds, diagonal lines, and framing… and that’s it. I can literally just point and shoot, and, as long as my camera is set up properly, I should get a great picture with good exposure. Note: And because I have a fairly high-quality point-and-shoot (the Canon G10), it’s possible I get a few saleable low-light and night photographs from it, too. I’ll have to look at them more closely or send them off to one of my online stock photo agencies to be sure.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]