As a photographer you are always aspiring to be better, improving, changing and growing. You have to, not only for your own self-improvement but also to keep up with the fast pace of the creative industry and the constant changes in technology and style. Being a photographer is a lifestyle choice as you will always be thinking photography and seeing things photographically, looking for inspiration for your next shoot. Many photographers live and breath photography, so these are some tips I’ve come up with based on my personal experiences as a photographer.
Travel light. Keep it simple.
After just traveling around the world for 6 months, I soon discovered that sometimes carrying all your gear around with you can be almost enough to put you off taking photos every day. Not only can it be strenuous on your body, it might also hinder your creativity. Personally I prefer not to be weighed down with gear. If you’re out and about capturing new sights or just practising, keep it simple, take only what you need or what you want to use and that way you will enjoy it much more without any restrictions. It pays to keep it simple in your photo taking process as well. Try not to over think or over complicate things as sometimes a simple idea can make for a beautiful image.
Know your equipment.
It’s not necessarily always about having the biggest and best camera. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to gear I’m technically challenged but I think it’s more important to learn and know how to use your camera, before upgrading. Understand how to make it work for you and your shooting style. Everyone shoots differently, has different needs and ideas about what to use and how to use it. Your camera is the tool you use to unleash your creativity. The less you have to think about how to use the camera the more creative you can be. Read the manual, test every function, shoot in manual mode, shoot in RAW image format and just keep shooting.
The more you shoot the better you’ll get.
Remember that old saying “practice makes perfect”? One of the best ways to learn your equipment is to get out there and shoot. The more you use your camera the more using your camera will become second nature to you. Try going out on ‘photo dates’ with your partner, friends or family. It makes for a fun day out, a great way to practice and even have someone there to critique you and bounce ideas off – they can even act as your model subject. Try new things, get out of your comfort zone and experiment. You could create photo books as easy reference to looking back over some of your favourite photos.
You are your own worst critic and, if you’re anything like me, you tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. It’s hard not to let doubt seep in about your photographic ability, the running of your business and how you sit in relation to others. Confidence only really comes with experience, knowing yourself and your equipment and having trust in your photographic ability.
Don’t get distracted by what others are doing.
This one can be really difficult and sites like Facebook definitely make it harder. While it’s great to have photographers whose work inspires you and who keep you competitive, try not to focus too much on what they are doing compared to what you are doing. Again, have confidence in yourself, your ability and what you are shooting. You’re your own worst enemy when it comes to boundaries, as most limitations are self-set. Try to develop your own ideas and be different. Find your niche within the industry and try to stand out from the crowd.
Define your style and incorporate your personality.
We do this by finding things that inspire and influence us and using these to explore, develop and deliver our individuality and originality. Part of this process involves being true to yourself, shooting what you love, allowing your work to be critiqued and critiquing others.
Join a group. Get a mentor. Network.
Sometimes being a photographer can be quite a lonesome journey, or at least it feels that way. The good news is that there are many other photographers who are either going through or have already been through this process who are there to support you. There are many groups and associations you can join to not only meet new people and get support but also to help you develop as a photographer. Even if you’re not the most confident extroverted type there are also many online groups and forums where you can get feedback, answers to questions or even arrange social meet and greets. The more people you meet and tell about your business the more word of mouth will spread too. Check out www.aipp.com.au, www.prophotoseminars.com.au
There are certain aspects of photography that you can’t always control. It is important to be able to think on your feet, be flexible and adapt to different situations that may present themselves. For example, this is where knowing your gear will serve you well as it’s one less thing you have to think about. Being a photographer is always a learning experience and should continue to challenge and reward you.
Erin King Photographer
Photographer of weddings and pets Melbourne, Vic, AU & Wellington, NZ www.erinking.com.au
www.facebook/erinkingphotographer (photo credit to Erin King)