Tips for Photographers
I am a Loughborough based photographer. Loughborough isn’t exactly renowned for being a creative mecca on the world stage. I mean, the University is well known for its engineering and sports, and it does have a media department, but generally there isn’t as much of a production based buzz in town – or at least you have to look hard for it. This being so, I find hearing the thoughts and experiences of other photographers and videographers to be very important in my own professional development.
The internet is obviously a vast source of insightful information, and I’ve found the Digital Photography School to be particularly helpful over the last couple of years, but there’s nothing quite like hearing an experienced professional share their perspective in person. Therefore it was refreshing to listen to Scott Kelby live at the NEC Photography Show last month, delivering a funny and insightful presentation on “The Stuff They Don’t Tell You”.
The content of Scott’s presentation is applicable to all photographers and encourages us to stop beating ourselves up in the pursuit of photographic perfection. What follows is my personal summary of Scott’s key points:
1) Don’t give too much attention to EXIF data (shutter speed, ISO, f-stop) – particularly from someone else’s image. You can’t replicate the same exact settings to achieve another photographers image unless you are standing next to them at the time they took it.
2) Ditto for histograms – if your aim is to create a high key fashion portrait, the histogram would show the highlights as being completely blown out and unbalanced. Trust your eyes, not the histogram.
3) When shooting portraits, the import moments are those that occur between the poses, when your model is be behaving more naturally. Capture those moments, and if possible use a professional model or a photogenic friend! Subject and context are key to getting a great shot.
4) Don’t overthink exposure; just get the shot. The vast majority of exposure issues can be recovered in post processing (especially if you’re shooting RAW).
5) If the subject and composition of the shot is good/sharp, ignore noise if you had to shoot at a high ISO. How often are your images seen on anything but a screen? The only person aware of the noise is you, the photographer. And anyway, how often do you print at anything close to 100% scale?
6) Post-processing or developing your image is part of the photographic process and has always been so. Getting the shot as good as you can in camera is great and everything, but not the be all and end all. Cropping and sharpening in post is okay and leads to better final images. If they were making the effort to do intricate post production in the days of film-only, why not make use one of the many digital post-processing options we’re lucky to have now?
7) When possible, print your images. How often do we get the opportunity to hold a printed image in our hands? And how often do we actually look through the 1000s of electronic images that we take over the years, that sit on our hard drives? Giving a print to a customer, colleague, friend or family member is a powerful message, and will act as a visible archive of your talents.
Some of Scott’s comments might not be new to us, but it is reassuring to be reminded that we should put creativity before technical precision. It might even save us some money if we’re not constantly chasing the next must have piece of kit to gain ‘technical advantage’!
I’d be interested to hear any advice you may have been given that has had a positive impact on your work and your approach to it. I think creativity should be about collaboration and sharing experiences/insights, and the 90 minutes I spent listening to Scott Kelby completely reinforced that.