I recently read an interesting story on my favorite new iPad App Zite about simple reasons why most people’s photography does not improve. Rather than be negative, I’m going to give you three ways that I try to improve my photography. These three ways are not by any means rules you must live by, or the only way to make you better, rather the top three things that I do to improve myself. So read along, make a mental note, and improve your photos too!
Try something different…
I was talking with my best friend the other day about this. She was telling me that she feels like her images are starting to look the same to her. My advice to her was this; Take your “bread and butter” images first. Take the images, the poses, and the lighting that you know work first. Once you get the shots that you know work, and that you’re comfortable with, step outside of your comfort zone. Do something different. Had a different lighting style on your mind for a while? Try it! Want to try a pose that you’ve never done before? Why not? By doing this you are always pushing the envelope. You are always pushing forward to new areas that you have never been before. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. On the image at the top of this post, I followed this thought process. By the time we arrived at that location we had been shooting for about two hours. I knew that I had some really good shots. I wanted to push it a little. I used an off camera flash and umbrella in a different way than I normally would to create the dramatic lighting on my model. In the end it worked out. This isn’t always the case. Some times it doesn’t work out like this. Some times going out of your comfort zone doesn’t work out so well but the times when it all comes together more than makes up for it.
Shoot for yourself (self projects)
Shooting for clients is awesome. After all, that’s what it means to be a professional right? To shoot for paying clients. The problem with paying clients is that you have to shoot what they need, which is usually similar to something you’ve shot in the past. The conversation usually goes something like this; “hi, my name is John Doe, I saw those great ad shots that you did for the ABC company. Can you do something similar for me?”. This doesn’t leave much room for experimenting. When you shoot for yourself however, you have all of the creative freedom in the world. You are the one deciding the goal of the shoot, or series of shoots. You cast the models, and provide the theme. This is really important for growing as an artist. A lot of the time you can find willing models to work for image trade with services like Model Mayhem or One Model Place. The other option is to find a friend that is willing to pose for you like my image above. My good buddy Dave Concepcion better known as DaveyC. He’s an up and coming DJ in the Cincinnati area and perfect for my shot. I really wanted to get a darker shot showing a profession without spelling it out. I think this worked really well. Dave has the perfect look for this style. He was more than happy to pose for me and in exchange I gave him the images to use for an upcoming album cover. It was a mutually beneficial shoot.
Shoot Something different…
I shoot people. That’s what I enjoy.. That’s what I’m good at. I prefer portraiture over any other type of photograph. That being said, I often times stop what I’m doing to take a picture of something that I wouldn’t normally photograph. This photo was taken a few years ago in Hamilton Ohio of a train bridge that I thought was interesting. When you go outside of your comfort zone you tend to think differently. You compose differently, you think about the lighting differently, and you photograph differently. This helps me grow as a photographer, and I know this will help you grow as a photographer.
I hope that these three things will help you as much as they have helped me. See you next time. Jason