I think many of us, myself included, rely on free and premium resources too much. Why not take a step back and become more involved in our designs? Some DIY style if you will. This post is a collection of ideas on how creatives can use digital cameras to do just that. There are also a few unique ideas for using your digital camera to help you run your business. I hope you find them useful and would love to hear any ideas you might have!
1. Building a Resource Library
You know all those amazing Photoshop textures, brushes, patterns, and backgrounds you see floating around the web? Many of then are made with nothing more than a digital camera and a eye for design. If you are reading this post, I assume you have both. Take your digital camera with you on any outing you go. You never know when you might find a cool texture or something that could make for a useful Photoshop brush. Need a specific hand drawn doodle for your design? Do it DIY style with a pencil, paper, and your camera!
2. Cataloging Colors and Pallets
It seems to me that there are few places to find better color combination than in nature. Of course, if you are trying to build a website full of hot pinks and electric limes, you may need to look elsewhere. That said, I constantly stumble across colors in nature that I think are amazing. Have you ever seen a birch forest? It is an amazing combination of colors. Fall is an especially great time to take your camera out doors to find great colors. Save these photos for reference later or build and save color pallets in Photoshop right away.
3. Ghetto Screenshots
If for whatever reason you can’t get a screen shot of your site in a certain browser or on a computer, use your digital camera to snap a picture. Obviously this won’t be accurate interpretation of the website, but it should convey any major visible problems. This is especially handy when your clients are just to computer illiterate to figure out how to take screen shots. Most people these days at least know how to take a digital picture and upload it.
4. Creating Your Own Stock Photography
Not that good stock photography is really expensive these days, but why pay for something you could create yourself? Obviously you can’t recreate every image on a stock site, otherwise you would probably be a photographer. But even a amateur with a point and shoot digital camera can create some of the pictures I see on stock sites. Being able to say you not only designed a site, but also did the photography for it isn’t something a lot of designers can say.
5. Backup Printed Documents
While many printers these days come with scanners, not everyone has one. If you are one such person, try using your digital camera as an alternative to a scanner. Before I had a scanner, I used my digital camera to photograph contracts, business cards, and other important documents. I would save them on a separate hard drive from the originals as a form of backup. This method also means you can setup an online fax account and move your business into the 1980′s. This is also another great method for getting signed versions of your contract back from clients without a scanner/fax.
My 5 Favorite Digital Cameras
I used to work as a travel writer who reviewed travel gear. As a result, I have seen and tested my fair share of digital cameras. Not to mention that I used to be a professional photographer before I got into design. I have done everything from high volume photography to print magazine work. I bring this up simply because I don’t want you to think I am shamelessly adding some affiliate links for the hell of it. These cameras are really ones that I think are great for designers and creatives.
1. Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 10 MP Waterproof Digital Camera
This is my favorite one for the simple fact that it is waterproof. I do a lot of watersports and outdoor activities, so this is super useful to me. But, even if you aren’t really into outdoor stuff, this is still a great camera. It offers WAY more protection than your basic digital camera. It is shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and waterproof. What does that mean? Basically, it means short of dropping it from and extreme height or driving over it, there isn’t much you can do to make it stop working.
Other digital cameras I recommend include:
2. Nikon Coolpix S70 12.1MP Digital Camera
“The Coolpix S70 introduces Nikonâ€™s newly developed 3.5-incg Clear Color OLED Display with refined touch control that offers a new level of intuitive fingertip shooting control and a variety of exciting playback options.”
3. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1/H 10MP
“The sleek DSC-TX1 incorporates the “Exmor R” CMOS sensor and boasts stunning low-light performance, reducing grain by more than 50%, even without a flash. High speed burst captures 10fps without distortion and expansive Sweep Panorama shots are easy to achieve with press and sweep motion. Control it all with its 3-inch touch screen LCD.”
4. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 12.1 MP
“The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 digital camera features Intelligent Auto mode, a 28mm wide-angle lens, automatically detects 8 scene conditions and selects the appropriate camera settings. Face Detection captures faces more naturally and helps prevent blur. Also, now record high-definition videos in 720p HD and enjoy your memories on your HDTV. ”
5. Canon EOS Rebel T1i 15.1 MP
“Canonâ€™s new EOS Rebel T1i is packed with features, both refined and new. In addition to its admirable performance with an all-new 15.1 Megapixel Canon CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 Image Processor, a 3.0-inch Clear View LCD with anti-reflective and scratch resistant coating, and compatibility with the EOS System of lenses and Speedlites, the EOS Rebel T1i adds remarkable Full HD video capture at resolutions up to 1920 x 1080.”
Digital Photography Resources
Want to learn a little more about digital photography before you invest in a new camera or buy a digital SLR? That is totally understandable. Lucky for you, there are a number of really great sites that teach even the most novice photographer how t create and capture outstanding images. Below is a list of a few of my favorite:
Photo TUTS+ – Nice site full of all kinds of tutorials and a next to no product reviews, which is nice.
Digital Photography School – This website covers every area of digital photography from tutorials, to reviews, to professional advice.