Photographic Literacy: Ideas for the Small Firm Lawyer or Intelligent Lay Person


Burt’s Sony Cybershot DCS RX100

Everyone has become a photographer/videographer. That’s good for Rodney King, but it sure leads to a lot of bad photography.

What should a small lawyer or an intelligent lay person do? You are taking photos/videos every day. Shouldn’t they try to capture reality, or even be creative, or, occasionally, art?

Here is what I use my camera for at work:

  1. I use my IPad in a ClamCase hinged case to video the elderly or infirm before they sign their will. I make sure they are thinking clearly, have the person who accompanied them wait outside, and I let them confirm the who/what/where/when, and explain why they want what they want. None of my wills have ever been successfully challenged.
  2. I photograph many of my personal injury auto accident scenes, even supplementing my accident reconstructionist.
  3. When I meet the clients early enough, I photograph my clients’ injuries. It is shocking how poor the photos are that clients’ family, or even police officers, take of such injuries.
  4. I photograph my inspections of real estate. Recently, I was pleased I could provide to my three sibling clients, sharp, clear, properly exposed photos of all their deceased mother’s collectables, including blank spaces where other siblings had removed some items.
  5. I archive inventories of my office and home personal property.
  6. I edit photos brought to me by clients, of themselves or of their property or of collisions or damaged vehicles.
  7. I snap photos of the judge and the adopting family. That’s always fun!
  8. I take dozens of photos for my marketing; for my Yellow Pages ad, my website, my blog articles, and for claiming my page on 60 different social media sites.
  9. I have shot many information videos, but need to learn the software before I do many more. The iPad and iPhone take great videos.
  10. I have taken hundreds of family videos. I try to keep them 30 seconds or less, but I have taken many “family history” videos, which I save to DropBox.

My Photography Roots

I was fortunate to have photography as a 4-H project in the late ’50’s, I had access to a Kodak Retinette IA .35 mm. and a Polaroid Land camera, model 900. Both had “electric eyes” but allowed manual control. What a teaching tool, manual control. The Polaroid Land camera, with a bellows, provided great feedback for the new photographer.

I think I am a good photographer. At the very least my photos are well framed, composed, and edited. Now that everyone’s smart phone can take good shots, what a waste to have shadowy figures, whited-out skies, and tiny, blurry figures. At last count, I had around 50,000 images.

Some basic tips:

  1. Learn the basics.
  2. There are myriad sources, including books and magazines.HoToPhotographyGuidebookPhotography From The Great Courses
  3. I have taken several of “The Great Courses”, which have at least three photography courses. Also or There is no excuse for taking bad photos.
  4. Decide what you need. I have friends with great SLR’s (single lens reflex). I used to have a Nikon 6000. But, I decided that with the number of photos I take, I needed something as convenience as my iPhone. In fact, I now take the majority of my photos with my iPhone.SonyCybershotDCSRX100
  5. I found a camera, $800 then, and $400 now, a Sony Cybershot DSC RX100, with a 20.2 megapixel sensor. My iPhone is 8 meg. There are Nikon and Canon equivalents to the Sony. If my budget permitted, I would still have an SLR but never as my only camera.EyeFi
  6. In preparing this short article, I realized I have been using my Sony less because of the iPhone’s convenience, so I have ordered an Eye-Fi wireless HD memory storage card with one year free online storage.
  7. I suggest that you find a few favorite iPhone Apps, or check with your geeky Android (Google) friend. Here are mine.CameraPlus
  8. For simple, effective, editing, I use “Camera +”. Its half dozen preset “scenes” usually have one I like.Cameras3
  9. For daily snapping, I use the built in iPhone Photo App. It has a terrific pano mode, and it has video. And Apple has a simple video editor that allows you to clip off what you do not want in your video.
  10. Even if you do not have a scanner like the ScanSnap described below, I have found a scanning app called “Photomyne”. It allows you to photograph a page from your photo album, autocrop, and save as individual photos. It requires some fine tuning, but you can still scan a whole album in ten minutes!
  11. Still, the scanner you cannot do without is a Fujitsu Scansnap 1500. There are many models, but, if only one, get the newest $400-$450 model. It will come with Adobe Acrobat, is bulletproof, scans 40 pages a minutes, is wireless, and can create searchable PDF’s or .jpeg photo images, and send them to the ScanSnap File Cabinet, Evernote, OneNote, a folder on your computer, DropBox, and many more. It is also an essential component to a “paperless office.
  12. My staff has been resistant to doing away with the classic copier, so I also have a high-nd Toshiba multifunction photo-copier, color copier, scanner, fax, printer. At $500/mo. it is a luxury we should give up, but each time we threaten to give it up, we get a new and better lease. But, remember, the ScanSnap is a sheet feed, while the Toshiba also does books and other objects not susceptible to sheet feeding. Do your homework here. Have a great time, and learn, learn, learn.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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