Deciding to write this introductory post regarding information for photographers was something I wasn’t sure about at first. I always feel as if I have more to learn and have not been in the industry for a terribly long time, but it is truly just my desire to help those who may have been in my shoes a year ago and answer some questions I’m being asked over and over.
I get emails weekly from photographers who are just starting out and want some information on this or that which they think I do, maybe even just to bounce around ideas. Most of the questions are around these lines: “What editing software do you use?” ”What’s your favorite lens?” or “What action made such and such photo look so good?” They just want to know what the magic is, and I know I’ve asked a lot of questions on my journey, so I don’t mind lending an ear. There’s no “one shoe fits all” but here are some points that I’ve learned.
1. Don’t get too stuck on “actions” & “textures”.
I start with this because I feel as if this is a hot button, and an issue that keeps many amateurs from truly developing their photographic style. Instead of becoming an enhancement, these “tricks” often become a crutch. Of course I have used actions from such companies as MCP, Florabella, and TRA. There are some real gems to speed up workflow on tasks or add some pizzaz to photos in these sets. On the same token, if used improperly and in excess, things look fake, unnatural and lose that unspoken charm. I have noticed the more I gain experience, the more prefer to get it right in my camera:) This winter during the slower months of January and February I really committed to learning my Manual settings, bonding with my camera, and developing my style even more. I’ve even messed around with film photography, something I will be doing MUCH more of in the future. By truly learning my equipment, I’ve reached a whole new confidence in my photography, and I’ve saved A LOT of time in the editing process. To give some insight into a photo that I have edited, I have posted one from my “Love Letters” session and the steps I took to edit it:
- Open up RAW image in Camera RAW… adjust fill light to 30.
- Open in Photoshop
- Dodge shadows under eye
- Use patch tool to even out tone under eyes
- Use patch tool, stamp tool and band-aide tool to take away stray hairs and the stray pc. of yarn off of beret.
- Save & Close
That leads me to the next point:
2. Learn your equipment
I think this is huge. I heard a saying by a famous photog once, wish I could remember who. They said that most photographers never spend the time to learn their equipment in and out and utilize it to it’s fullest. They just go from one camera, lens, etc. to another, thinking it will make them a better artist, only to be disappointed. I read Jose Villa interviews online voraciously. Know why? He is a photographer who has taken his craft and made a science of it. He uses only film, mostly medium format & 35mm, and figured out a style in camera that he stands by; with VERY MINIMAL photoshop help later. He uses his cameras almost exclusively on Manual or Aperture priority and at the lowest Aperture his lens allows (mostly an 80mm F2 Zeiss Planar on his Contax 645) and exposes +1-+1 3/4. That has given his photos a distinct look in camera that is frankly quite dreamy. I love the fact that he developed a style and learned his equipment and made it work for him. Though not all of us have a Brooks Institute of Photography education like Jose, I think we all can develop a distinct style and compose lovely art IN CAMERA!
This is just a start, but I hope it helps. I know that I’ve had to learn much of this the hard way:) More to come, and feel free to leave any other questions you may have in the comments here.