In the last several weeks, I’ve had different people ask me for advice on photography. So I decided to do some blogs about about the way I work. I hope someone out there finds them helpful and encourages you to pick up your camera and go do your thing. These blogs will not be particularly technical. So, if you are looking for information on exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, etc, then I strongly recommend you check youtube, Lynda.com, or Kelbyone.com. I may eventually address some of those things. But they are not my top priority at this time. Also, if you are wanting to do portraiture or wedding photography. I’m not your source. I am a Fine Art Photographer, so that’s where my brain lives. I do professional photography (lifestyle and product) as my day job. I may eventually address some of those things as well. But right now, this is about photography as an expression.
First and foremost, get to know your camera. Get your manual out, find out which buttons do what. At this point, I’m going to assume you know the basics like shutter speed and aperture. But you need to know where those buttons are on your camera. Different brands have them in different locations. If you know you want to only shoot at certain shutter speed, then use shutter priority mode. If you know you want to shoot with a long or short depth of field, use aperture prefer mode. Again, this is indicated differently on certain brands. I always shoot in manual mode and adjust my aperture and shutter as I go. That’s why it’s good to know exactly where those buttons / dials are located. If you are shooting quickly and the light is changing or maybe you want to shoot both close up and wide, you’ll need to change those settings quickly.
Maybe you haven’t bought a camera yet or are thinking of upgrading. I strongly recommend renting any equipment before purchasing it. Whether it’s a camera, a lens, or even just a backpack, try it before you buy it. When I travel, I rent a camera and lens. Mostly because I can’t afford the camera that I like to use. Also, it’s insured, so if anything happens to it, I’m covered. In addition to cameras, I have rented lights, flashes, backpacks, filters, and tripods. Go to lensrentals.com or borrowlenses.com and see what they have. I mean it, don’t buy anything until you try it first.
Also, I am going to let you in a on a little secret. Not every photo you take is going to be awesome. In fact, a lot of them are going to be out of focus, badly exposed, or just lousy because the lighting sucked or it isn’t as cool as you thought it was. I used to get so mad at myself when I would get back from a trip or photo shoot and find those photos. The “Damn, that is a great shot!” then when you look at it little closer, it’s out of focus. Especially if it’s something that can’t be redone. But don’t throw them away. Sometimes when I first look at a batch of photos, I think “ugh” those are boring as hell. But months or even years later, I might look at it again and find that I like the weird lighting or maybe I can just change the sky or finish it a little differently or even use it for a collage or background for something else. One more thing, don’t be afraid of editing your photos. You’ll hear a lot photographers brag about “straight out of camera”. First off, yay for them. Secondly, most of them are lying. They didn’t tell you about how they lightened, darkened, straightened, and sharpened those photos. Straight out of camera mattered when we were using film. Now, it’s just nonsense. Use the tools you have available. There are plenty of free or cheap photo editing softwares out there. Use them.
So, the moral of the story is, shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. The more time you spend with your camera in hand, the better you’ll get at photography. You’ll develop a better eye for light and shadows and cropping. Also, it’s digital. Make a copy of your original and work it. Experiment with it. Play with it.
All of the above is for people who want to shoot for artistic purposes. If you are just a tourist or someone who wants to take nice pics without all the technical stuff, this next part is for you. If you are traveling and don’t have time to learn those techniques, don’t be afraid to use Auto mode. You will get perfectly serviceable, technically correct photos in most situations. Most pros just fell out of their chair and will immediately start writing me nasty notes over that. Wait until you read this next part. No camera? Or don’t want to carry a big, heavy camera around? Use your smartphone. Most smartphones have perfectly decent cameras on them. They take pics good enough to print most sizes up to 12 x 18. Although, that size might be pushing it a little. And some phones shoot bigger than that.
For everyone reading this – HAVE FUN! Don’t get so wrapped up in the photos that you don’t enjoy the show. If taking photos is more stressful than fun, just don’t do it.
My next blog will be about travel and street photography. I love comments, so please feel free to introduce yourself. Also, ask me questions about photography or art or Photoshop. In fact, ask me anything. I will probably answer! Thanks for stopping by!