Before I decided I would start offering photo sessions, I wanted to make sure I was ready for that step. Of course, you can never be “ready” enough because you need experience and practice and the only way to get that is to go for it! However, I didn’t just want to be a girl who has a dSLR and therefore, thinks she can call herself a photographer. Anyone can buy a dSLR, but that’s just the first step. Thanks to my awesome teacher, Ryan, I have learned A LOT in the past few months. Probably the best thing he did was teach me on the Manual settings. I owe him big time!!!
Everyone is their own worst critic, so of course, I turned to Ryan for feedback. Boyfriends MAY be a little biased, but I knew he would be honest. He didn’t just say, “Oh, yeah, I think you’re good enough.” Instead, he went through and explained why he thought I was ready. Here’s some basics we decided were important before diving into photography as more than a hobby…
1 – Know your camera
How can you take good pictures without knowing how to work it? Manual mode works to your advantage, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Shooting in manual will give you full control over your images. You just need to know the basics of aperture, exposure, shutter speed, ISO, and you can take it from there. Av mode is the next best thing to manual in my opinion, which is sometimes necessary. The on camera flash should be a VERY last resort. It’s usually far too harsh and uneven lighting. It may work in some situations though! Part of knowing your camera is knowing what kind of lighting you are working with and make sure your settings are optimal for that (sunrise, sunset, NATURAL light, or off/on camera flashes). You’ll want to be sure to read your manual that came with your camera.
2 – Know how to compose a good shot
This can always, always, always be improved. Some people are naturals, but most people need some sort of training in the form of conferences, books, etc. Using the manual setting on your camera isn’t going to help much if you don’t know what would make a good shot. It’s just your tool. Just taking a photo while holding your camera at an angle is usually not proper composition. There’s a lot more to it. What are you trying to say with your compositions. Mood is important to composition. Just think of a shot that is shot from below looking up at a person. This makes them look bigger than they really are and can make them seem menacing. Is that an angle you want to shoot when shooting a bride? I guess if she is a Bridezilla!
This is really your chance to be creative and use that “eye” that everyone talks about. I think they mean the left side of your brain. The sky is the limit and this is your chance to make people go WOW. This is also a part where you set yourself apart from other photogs. Two people using the same settings and same camera/lens shooting the same subject at the same time of day will still come up with different shots. Post is the other part.
3 – Know how to post-process
Also known as editing, via professional programs such as Lightroom or Aperture. Sorry, but Picnik usually won’t cut it.
You can really ruin a great picture if you wanted to in post… OR you can really make a picture pop. It is somewhat subjective, but only to a certain extent. There can be a “wrong” answer. A good rule is to not go overboard. Perhaps once in a while an over edit may be required, but more times than not it’s there to help enhance your composition.
It takes experimenting and a little bit of knowledge. For example, you should know to adjust “vibrancy” and not “saturation” so you don’t mess with skin tones. Skin tones are pretty important. If you like a certain photogs post style, then experiment with your adjustments until you find something you like. It’s important to get some good feedback on your final product too.
With all that being said, I still have A LOT to learn … and I don’t even like calling myself a “photographer.” There are sooo many people that are better/more experienced than me, but you have to start somewhere!
I will elaborate on these things and more in upcoming photography posts so stay tuned if you would like to learn with me.