Your Camera Vision

November 11, 2013


I have taught many many classes and much to the horror of my colleagues I have always given my students my personal cell phone number. At the end of the term in my parting comments I say ” Don’t be a stranger. Call if you need something.”

One night my phone rings and I answer and it’s a former student from a couple years ago named Jessica (Jess) and I ask how she is doing.

“Fine,” she says. “And you?”

“Great,” I say. “Just working on some school stuff.  What’s up?”

“Nothing.  I had a quick question.  I’m down here at Machu Picchu and am trying to remember that thing you said about blurring the background but I’m just not getting it,” says Jess.

 So, she is in Peru and suddenly realizes she has a photography problem. While she thinks about what to do, she remembers me and remembers that she still has my phone number. She makes the call.  I’m flattered.

Maybe I should have a 1-900 photography help line, hmmmm.

Everyone may not be traveling to exotic locations, yet everyone has a busy enough schedule that it is easy to feel like a world traveler even though you are only going from Naperville to Plainfield. Your photo emergency is no less important than the Peruvian version.

My best advice has always been that it’s best to spend a little time with your camera before you really need it. And,   then when you really do need it, the controls are second nature, and the tough shots are no problem.

Especially in this Yuletide season of holiday cheer, the naturally busiest time of the year, you will want to capture the memories of the season.  Some will be easy to get, while others will be more difficult.

My best advice, again, spend a bit of time getting to know your camera.  This should be your “me” time.  I know, I know – you are the busiest person in the world. Do what I do. Take your camera everywhere you go. Make sure to take the manual too.  When you wind up with an extra couple minutes after rushing out of the Jewel, pick up the camera and look at the controls. The ones you are not sure about, take a look in the book.

A cool trick to help retain things that are hard to remember is to write them down.  Writing it down a couple times helps even more. Then practice. Pop out of your car and get a photo of  those lined up shopping carts. Can you blur the one that is closest to you?  Or, can you make them all look as sharp as the ones that are furthest away from you?

Get this correct and you will have no problem taking that awesome picture of your Grandmother and Grandfather sharing a quiet moment with the Christmas tree artfully out of focus in the foreground.


You are the star photographer of the family !

Speaking of becoming the family photographer,  it’s up to you to record all fun stuff along with the masterpieces. Sometimes getting a shot of your Aunt Mary’s famous sausage and sour kraut is just as important (maybe more) than some of the more “artistic” images you want to capture.

While you are at it, don’t forget to get all the family members photos that you can. Even your crazy Uncle Ernie. Some of these shots may not seem too exciting, yet years later they may give you the best memories.

Here is one of my Grandma Vern and Dad. Both are now gone, but not forgotten. This photo is on the top of my dresser and it makes me smile every morning.


While I have your attention, let’s (me included) bring back the family photo album this season. You know what that means. Edit carefully and quickly.  Get those photos printed ( easy, have PJ’s do it, see my FAQ page) and then put them into an album. I’ll bet at the next family gathering you will surprise the heck out of everyone showing off your treasured photos, priceless moment.

So, have a great and safe holiday season. And hey, we may not know each other yet, but if you get in a camera jam on Christmas eve, call me:  708-965-3688

Frank Jackowiack photo bar