A major pet peeve I have is when complimented on a photo the person follows up by saying "Your camera takes nice photos". We put so much into planning and consistently growing as a hobbyist or professional that it immediately comes off like an insult. Yes, we know that was not the intention. I am just describing the feeling we get. It also contributes to the self doubt we are already battling. So, today my intent is to give the consumers and potential clients an inside look at what we do. I also want to encourage my fellow photographer to not allow your equipment to effect your progress.
I started off shooting with the Nikon D3000 and the 18-55mm kit lens. I had researched different aspects of photography for about a year and finally decided to buy a camera. A hobby quickly transitioned into a paid hobby and then a business venture once people began to ask if I would take photos for them. I still shoot with my D3000 and my kit lens as well as my 50mm because of comfort, familiarity and effectiveness. A lot of photographers have way more fancy equipment than I, but still can't seem to get the quality they seek. There has to be a balance between the qualities you as the photographer bring (creativity, knowledge of composition, knowledge of lighting etc..) and the capabilities of your equipment. My experience is that through trial and error I have become familiar enough with my equipment to get the quality I seek. In other words shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Gradually you learn more and more about photography, yourself and your equipment.
As a person who is seeing things from the outside I completely understand why you believe the equipment is what separates a pro from the regular joe with a camera. Here is a general list of what we might do just for a small shoot in no specific order.
LIST OF TASKS FOR SHOOT
-Find a model
- Get contracts signed
-Create a mood board
-Scout a location
-Book location (studio rental or space rental)
-Find MUA if needed
-Equipment check/Inventory (at least I do)
-Confirm details with team (MUA, Model)
-Transportation (to and from with equipment if necessary)
- Sorting photos to keep
- Adjust lighting
- Airbrushing as needed
- Color correction
- Resizing if necessary
- Converting RAW images if necessary
- Editing/Retouching images client wants
- Sorting images for promo use
- Watermark if necessary
This is a general list that varies to give an idea of what we do. I also excluded the business side of what we do on the daily basis. Hopefully, this brings a broader prospective and more understanding. We are web designers, graphic designers. social media experts, marketing consultants, administrative assistants/personal assistants, stylist (at times) all in one. Anything you want you have to work for and photography is absolutely no different.
When I first started my journey in photography I would read about photographers doing personal projects. The encouraged all photographers to do them. It is suppose to be a good way to keep you active and practicing between shoots. It could be anything that peeked your interest. It was just suggested that it be something you can keep going long term.
I decided to create my own personal project. I thought about what would keep my interest and it came to me. My love for sneakers is something that stuck with me since a kid. I thought it would be great to photograph classic sneakers. In the sneaker world we refer to them as retro or OG kicks (Sneakers that were brought back out or that will not come out again). I started doing test shoots with people I knew that had some type of sneaker collection. It served its purpose. The project kept me interested and practicing.
I have not added to my collection in years unfortunately. No, I did not lose interest, but I can be distracted too easily at times. I intend to get the ball rolling again for summer 2016. The moral of this story is that I agree with the blogs I read and think everyone should take on a personal project. It allows for you to practice and reflect on your progress. I cringe at seeing my older work being my own worst critic as always, but below are some photos.
Patience truly is a virtue. It is a constant battle for me. I know what you're thinking. How can you build a business in a field where you work with customers and lack patience. I do not mean this in the way you might have understood it. I am impatient when it comes to my progress.
I find myself wanting things to happen on my schedule. Things will only happen when they are suppose to. Progress cannot be rushed. I usually go through this anxiousness related to me feeling like I should be doing more. Life has subtle way of reminding me that I am accomplishing things at the pace it is suppose to happen.
My recent goals were to complete a boudoir shoot and a pin up shoot. It didn't happen on my time frame but I accomplished my goals. I am currently restructuring my business in an attempt to draw more people in. I know I will repeat the process mentioned above. It is a cyclical behavior for me. I guess it may just be a part of my process.
Your journey is your unique journey. Things will happen as they are suppose to. Embrace it. Try not to get too high or too low. Understand that as long as you put the work in you will see progression. Reflect on previous work and acknowledge how far you have come. Below are two of the reminders of my progress.
Out of all the types of shoots I have done I enjoy family and kids shoots the most. These shoots are extremely easy to shoot. They also give a different feel to the photos. Every family is different and it shows in the images in my opinion. The kids in my experience usually bring the most personality to these photos.
I think that it is a lot easier for kids to be expressive in images. They are way more carefree and just are themselves. Kids don't care about posing a certain way and are not concerned about how the look to the outside world. They do not care about showing emotion. It allows the photographer to get the most unique photos. I always want the photos I take to reveal a little bit about who the subject is.
Most times during these shoots people don't even realize I have been taking photos because they are interacting normally. If it is a kids shoot try to capture them in their element. If they want to play then let them. If they want to speak about things such as cartoons indulge them. For family shoots I encourage the family to just do things how they normally would. Eventually they become less focused on the camera and just conduct themselves as they would normally.
In conclusion I think we can learn from the carefree attitude of kids. There is no harm in letting loose and just being you. In fact I'm sure most photographers would prefer it. That moment of authenticity might create some amazing images.
I think we get so caught up in our daily routine that we can overlook things. We become immersed in the task directly in from of us. It wasn't until I started photography that I realized how amazing my city truly is. Blogs and being extremely anxious encouraged me to explore with my camera. Here are the stories behind some landscape photos I took a couple of years ago.
In this photo I was Downtown Brooklyn with my wife during the summer. I was waiting for my wife outside a pharmacy. As I waited I decided the rain would help me create some amazing photos. This person was passing by and I decided to make him/her the focus of the shot. I also waned to make sure I got the scenery in the background as well. This is a place I have been a bunch of times but for the first time I had seen this place in a different light. This photo in particular means even more because this is one of the communities that raised me.
This image was taken at Washington Square Park in NYC during the summer. I was waiting to do a test shoot with someone who never showed up. I did not want the day to go to waste so I decided while waiting to take some landscape photos. This might be my favorite landscape photo I have ever taken. This all happened by mistake. That includes how I edited the image. You'll notice if you look close that one person was left in color. After noticing this I initially I started to fix it. Then I realized I loved it exactly the way it was. I think it adds to the composition of the photo. That day ended up turning out great.
This photo was also taken during the summer in Dumbo. This is an amazing part of Brooklyn by the water. I was coming back from a shoot with a good friend and I asked him to take some photos by this quote. It was also for an on going personal project that I will discuss in a later blog. I got an amazing and memorable photo that cause nostalgia each time I see it. The quote reads:
"The instruments by which government must act are either the Authority of the laws or Force. If the first be destroyed the last must be substituted and where this becomes the ordinary instrument of government there is an end to liberty". - Alexander Hamilton, 1794 (DUMBO, Brooklyn)
Too often we allow theoretics to hold us back. We tend to forget the very simplistic things that drew us to our crafts. This a reminder from me to us all including myself to just do it.
Go out and experience things through trial and error. Stop getting caught up on advice and opinions. Listen but don't let it impede on your learning through doping the actual work. I have to remind myself of this all the time. I credit a former colleague for teaching me this life lesson and how it applies to me. He said I should just go out and shoot. He followed up by saying whenever we put ourselves in swim or sink situations we will always choose to swim and find a way to get things done.
By heeding this advice I stepped out my comfort zone and progressed. Some amazing work has come out of it. Below are examples of me just carrying my camera around and shooting. Think less and do more.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced since starting photography has been approaching clients. I guess maybe I expected that people would jump at the opportunity for photos when I first picked up my camera. The reality is that you have to be proactive in this process whether you are looking for paid shoots or test shoots.
I find that the easiest way to approach this is social media. If you post consistently the person has an idea of who you are as well as what you do so less of an introduction is needed. It also give people a glimpse into your life so the identify with you a little better. In their eyes you are not some random stranger approaching for photos, but instead a husband/wife, pet lover, photographer etc.
My most difficult project was my first boudoir shoot. It has been by far the most challenging for me due to the process of finding models for the shoot and having to convince them that it will be done in a tasteful artistic way. There are so many reactions I have gotten from approaching people about this shoot. My solution was to post on my social media the mood board I created for the shoot as well as details expressing my vision. I strongly encouraged women who were just interested in photos without any modeling experience to try it as well as those with experience.I think this made interested people more comfortable with contacting me. The result was an amazing shoot. Below are a few of the photos.