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Panel by NBTA: The In’s and Out’s of Photography

On Thursday, May 19th, NBTA president/CEO, Starr Jackson, was joined by talented photographers Julia Agnew, Travis Lee, and Matthew Payne for a photography panel on Instagram. They covered everything from finding your niche, to how to choose a photographer, to different kinds of editing software. If you are an amateur photographer, or just want to hear some helpful tips and tricks, you can watch the full discussion at And, if that’s a little too long for you to listen through right now, here are the highlights!

“My passion grew over the years,” Travis says about his start in photography. Both he and Matthew started small, with gift cameras and no particularly high ambitions. But, as they started taking more and more photos, they realized how much they loved it. Now, Matthew never goes anywhere without his camera, and that’s not just for networking! When you have your camera with you, you can always experiment. Julia, Travis, and Matthew all say they found their niche and styles by trying out new things. Only by doing can you learn what you love doing — and what you hate doing! If you hate photographing weddings, you can totally focus on other things and still be successful! But throughout the start of your career, Travis advises, “Stay consistent. I think consistency is gonna be key, especially when you’re first starting out.”

All the panelists got this far through the help and support of family, friends, and mentors. Maybe a family member can show you some lenses, that one friend can teach you editing software, or that group of buddies will be willing to pose for you. Build relationships with other people who are interested in photography! It can be hard to teach yourself these things. Youtube and Skillshare can certainly be a help, but Julia highly recommends looking for a good mentor who can teach you how to get into photography professionally.

When it comes to cameras, Matthew uses the EOS 5D Mark IV, Travis uses the Rebel T7i, and Julia uses the Nikon D5600. But, they also advise trying new lenses before you buy new cameras. Stick with a camera you are comfortable with and experiment with lenses to unlock its full potential! Also, some places offer lenses and cameras to rent, so you can try them out without having to hand over all your cash.

Always back everything up, to Google Drive, Drop Box, to external hard drives. Don’t trust your computer’s hard drive with all your work! But, if you have recently lost files on an SD card, Matthew recommends you look into the SanDisc Recovery app. It might save you from a lot of headache and heartache.

For editing, Travis, Julia, and Matthew all recommend Adobe Lightroom. Photoshop can also be useful, and Matthew recommends trying out VSCO, SD to Lightning adaptors, and Snapseed.

Finally, Julia emphasizes the importance of knowing your worth. At the start of your career, you’ll have to do some free gigs to network. But boundaries are crucial in careers like photography, where you set your own hours. Be kind to yourself, know how to say no, and stay true to your niche. All of our guests agree — communication is key. Respect your clients and ask for respect in turn.


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