I have been advised by a fellow photographer that I do not blog enough. One of my resolutions for 2017 therefore is to try and release a blog post every week. To kick things off, I have written a blog post feature 5 things I think all new photographers should do.
1) Read Books
If you have just started photography then the first thing you should do is read The Camera by Ansel Adams. If you have clicked on this blog post expecting to be able to take awesome photos by the end of it, then you will be disappointed. Blog posts on photographer’s websites and on educational photography sites are great starting places, however to get in depth knowledge that need to be a great photographer requires reading books and lots of practice. Once you have read The Camera, then work your way through this list on Goodreads.
Networking is key to being a successful photographer. Not only will networking build you a client base, it will also create an audience who take interest and engage with your images. It is also essential to network with other photographers, as it is other photographers who will be able to not only offer advice on how to improve, but also assist you and help with your photography business. Other photographers may hire you to be their assistants too, where you can learn much about photography, client interaction etc.
3) Study Other Photos
Studying other photos will help you to improve you own photography. From looking at a photo you can work out how it was lit and framed. If you like the photo, you can then apply your findings into your photography. Remember, the camera never lies!
Take the example of the headshot below. We can see that the background is rather dark, so either the image has been shot either on a dark backdrop or with the subject positioned far away from a lighter coloured backdrop. We can see 2 lights – a rim light down the right cheek of the subject and a key light starting on the left cheek of the subject, covering most of his face. Lets start with the key light. If you zoom into the photograph then you can see catchlights in the subjects eyes. From catchlights we can tell what modifier was used and where the light was placed. In this case, the catchlights are white rectangles, so we can see that a softbox was used. They are to the upper right portion of the eye, so we can tell that the softbox was positioned slightly above and to the right of the subject. Other things, such as shadow from the nose, can help deduce where lighting has been positioned. Onto the rim light. If you look where it stops on the subject under his jaw, you can see the line is not a horizontal line. Rather, it is on a slight diagonal. As it is going down from left to right, we can deduce that the rim light was placed slightly higher then the head of the model, thus creating this line.
4) Start a Personal Project
There are many reasons why I recommend you should start a personal project. I would advise trying to think of an idea that nobody else has done before (this is tricky, because most things have been done before) and make sure it’s something you are really interested in. Having a personal project will help you to network with people, gain clients, improve your photography and have impressive images to use in your marketing. I myself started a Sports Portraiture Project with GB Athletes in the summer of 2016, just after leaving my day job. Despite not yet finishing the project, I already have a collection of images that I wouldn’t have otherwise gained through client work, and have met many inspiring and motivating athletes. You can see my Sports Portraiture Project here.
5) Stop Obsessing Over Gear
One of the least important parts of photography is upgrading and buying gear. Too many people who start out think they need the latest camera, lens and lights to take good photos. This is not the case. Your subject and lighting is far more important then your sensor size or how sharp your lens is. If you cannot afford a flash then learn to use natural light – take photos on cloudy days where you essentially have a giant softbox in the sky. Once you’ve mastered that, buy some reflectors and experiment using them. Gear can indeed help make photos look better, however if you are taking bad photos and blaming this on gear then you have the wrong mindset. I personally shoot with 2 Canon 6D’s and 3 lenses – a 70-200mm, a 24-70mm and very occasionally a 50mm. I will buy new cameras and upgrade lenses when these ones break, not when the latest model comes out.
Shot on a Canon 7d with a 50mm f/1.8 lens using natural light.