We have discussed various aspects of photography and have covered the obvious ones such as light and composition, equipment such as cameras, tripods and camera bags. As well as the kit that should be in your bag.
However, I was recently asked by a friend about certain of my pictures and how I manage to get the images.
I have published pictures in various magazines and have often been asked if I am self-taught. Around 30 years ago I was responsible for publishing a few in-house magazines and the company sent me on a 12-month photographic course ratified in those days by the Department of Manpower.
In those days you shot on film and learnt to shoot economically. I still do so even with my digital camera. Yet I occasionally shoot film as I have retained my Nikon FM2. Today everyone is a photographer given the quality of cellphones and editing apps.
But what’s the difference that I never learnt? The things that do not get taught?
- Drama is the first one, you will often find me in strange positions, getting dirty to get a great shot. On my belly or in a tree, often cold and wet. I prefer to shoot landscapes, setting up a picture in advance if I do not have a camera with me.
- Use available resources, my camera came with a manual that is roughly 3 cm thick, it’s small and not really user friendly. After 30 minutes of trying to come to grips with the settings for the film simulation mode, I went to Google. Two minutes later the necessary changes were made courtesy of YouTube.The tutorials are amazing and cover just about every question one could ask.No matter what brand of camera you own Google something and an answer will pop up.
- Then take your camera everywhere and forget about the inconvenience. It will irritate you when a great photo opportunity appears and you don’t have the camera with you, spontaneous moments are often the best ones and the most dramatic.
- Rise early and get home late, we have discussed light previously. Shots taken at midday can have an overexposed look that editing may not fix.
- Shoot in automatic it’s often the best setting for most shots, you will have to compensate in low light. But remember your best setting. Mine came courtesy of a free course offered by the manufacturer of my camera.
- Look for Bokeh, the coveted out of focus background with a crisp clear subject.
- Play and have fun, play with perspective, focal points and composition, don’t be afraid to get dirty, climb a rock or a tree or even stand in water. This can be a game-changer in terms of the finished image.
- Look at the editing software, some cameras synch to your phone and enable you to edit the images, others are laptop-based. But clean the pictures, enhance sharpness, warmth and exposure. Be careful though of the “special effects” offered as they may overdo things.
- Hustle, look at sharing your work on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and compare notes with many other photographers and professionals in the business.
Break the rules, as I said it’s more than what you learnt on a course. It’s just a different approach. Have fun.