• Why are some of the pictures grainy? That is really just a matter of what camera we used, or more accurately, whether we remembered to bring our digital camera, or which camera we owned at which time (see below). If we forget the regular cameras, we get reduced to cell-phone cameras and while recently we and the world have upgraded to some more decent phones, that wasn't the case a short time ago, plus even now you can still see a slight difference.
• So what kind of cameras do you use? A few different ones and this changes fairly often so this may already be outdated. Here is some kind of attempt to go through this timeline, I'll put it into categories.
= Nikon D-3000 (3 lens choices: 50mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm, 2010-present)
Lets tackle these a bit separately. For DSLRs, if you have one you are set for the camera need. Yes, more expensive cameras can do fancier things but the D-3000 (generally considered a starter DSLR) can do most everything we'll ever need it to. The way to make sure you have awesome pictures is through 2 things: good lenses and knowing what the heck you are doing.
Technology has changed so much in the last decade for Point-and-Shoot that it really doesn't even matter what you use so long as what you have was made sometime in the last half decade. The Camera-Phone question is almost arbritary, we just use whatever our phone plan allows us to get for free on the upgrades, the current day Droids and iPhones are both good ways to get nice stuff like panoramic or videos. Our accessory of choice is the Flip Mino as it shoots in HD and is smaller than any phone meaning its incredibly easy to travel with. All of the point and shoots we've used are great we've just upgraded for various reasons like storage space, shooting quality or our latest upgrade to the Lumix, which was a need for waterproof/shockproof.
• Ok, so whatshould I buy or do to get better pictures? Any camera made in the last 5 years should do. If you have bought a DSLR, taking a workshop like these are highly recommended and well worth the money. After that it comes down to you, if you never learn what your camera is capable of how will you take advantage of its modes and features? But probably the most important tips we can give:
1) Do NOT take pictures of people just standing in front of stuff. You can get a picture of people any time, how often can you get a shot of that cool thing. If you have people in a picture with a cool thing make sure they are not the main focus points.
2) Move around, get low, climb on stuff (legally), get off a path without killing yourself, get away from the place that everyone else is taking their shots, take landscape and portrait shots (but not videos); just do anything that helps you avoid #1.
3) Get your camera off of "auto" mode, camera's at best are guessing at what you're trying to take a picture of.
• How in the world have you not been to (insert place here) before? Well keep in mind the map & pins are not a 100% accurate depiction of every place we have ever been. We've both been to many places that aren't depicted on the map (heck Kelly was born in Alaska) but usually we've either A) been to those places too shortly to really consider it a visit; and more likely B) visited when we were younger and never had this web-site in mind, & therefore didn't think to take pictures of everything. We might have to consider adding pins without pictures/video to be an entire accurate depiction of everywhere we've been; but we feel the pictures & video are a good deal of the fun in the site.
• Travel is just too expensive to do all the things you do. Do you guys have support? No outside support, no special deals, no travel agents, no favors; just the money we make at our day jobs and financial management. The only deals and guides we find are via internet research. Of all the reasons people say why they can't travel, this is the most often over-used. Cost of travel/vacations is directly proportional to your comfort. Just because you visit the Bahamas doesn't mean you have to stay at the Atlantis resort. You can visit a lot of beaches for free without staying in the beachside villa with attached lazy river. You don't HAVE to stay in 4-5 star hotels, heck you don't even have to stay in hotels (we did 11 days in New Zealand with a campervan).
More than any of these things is just simple money management. In this day and age, do you really need 400 channels on your TV when you can watch 80% of that stuff free online through things like ESPN3 and Hulu, or through cheaper services like Netflix? Going down a TV tier can save you $700+ a year, same goes for cell phone data packages or extra pairs of shoes, dresses and video games etc. A real easy way to save incrementally is to not go out to eat as much; for the price of going out you can eat for a week or more cooking at home (plus cooking at home is more fun and better for you). Cut back on a few of those things over the course of a year and you just saved enough for many of the trips you want to take, sometimes multiple trips.
• But you make money off the ads on your site that helps you right? We wish. So far in the 9+ year history of PPIAM, we have made enough money off our ads that we can purchase a couple value meals at McDonalds. In fact we've made such little money that we still haven't hit the minimum amount for Google to bother sending us a check. Sure if we ever got popular we might make something, but the PPIAM site and our travel is completely self funded and always will be. We've got 34+ states, 7+ countries, 300+ pins all self planned and financed.