So who was given or bought their own new camera for Christmas? Hands up…!
We all know that just having a fancy camera doesn’t mean you will automatically take amazing images. So how do we pros take the images we do, and if I’ve inspired you with my work check out these top tips…!
Like all skills and passions, photography is not just something you can decide to do when you feel like picking up your camera and snapping away at a couple of things. Uninterrupted photography time needs to be scheduled into your life. And by this I mean practice time.
When I was younger I played the flute. I was pretty darned good at it. I would be at my music stand by 06.30 every morning for 15 minutes of scale and arpeggios followed by 30 minutes of practice. And then school…
Photography is no different. You have to dedicate time in your life schedule to taking photographs on a very regular basis. Even during the two lockdowns I scheduled photography time every single week for me to get creative in my locked down studio.
You don’t get in a car and just drive it. You wouldn’t pick up a pair of scissors and say ‘hey I’m a hairdresser’, so why would you pick up a camera and think you’re immediately a photographer?! Yep that might sound a bit harsh but its fair.
READ. THE. MANUAL. You need to understand how everything works. Start with the basic functions if you don’t want to read the entire manual straight out of the box. And then put into practice what you learn. See above re practice time.
Learn how different settings mean that you can do different things. See how the light changes when the camera settings are changed up. Its a whole new world of possibilities that will help you create your own personal shooting style. And don’t be afraid to change things up. I used to shoot AF outside and TV indoors. Why? I have no idea! Now…? Everything is on M or TV as I understand light so much better.
What do you want to shoot most? And I don’t mean what pays the best returns!
I absolutely love weddings and I love lovely things. So for me its people and details. When I started going down the route of a professional photographer I looked back at what I had enjoyed doing most in the lead up to my even thinking I might be good enough to do this as a full time job.
So take some time over these holidays to have a think and write down a list of genres you would like to explore with your photography. Grab a coffee and some treats from the stash of Christmas chocolates and spend some time thinking about what you might like to do.
For example if you love cooking or baking how about thinking about food photography. If you like antiques then how about auction house photography. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Think before you shoot. One of the downsides of digital photography is something known in the industry as “spray and pray”. Indiscriminate shooting (like firing a machine gun) and hoping to get a lucky shot. Taking images without purpose and without a planned outcome. Don’t waste your time.
I learnt to shoot on film cameras and so as a youngster with 24 and then up to 36 exposures on one film which cost a couple of weeks pocket money to process, you took images carefully and you made a choice. This also had the effect on me of making them more valuable.
As a professional photographer 99 out of 100 images I take will be pretty much perfect in camera without the need for post production manipulation. The other 1% are pictures of the sky or the floor where I have fallen over my feet!
Start out with the mindset of thinking before you shoot and you will have learned one of the best and most important lessons already.
Read a book, scour YouTube for tutorials, book in with a photographer (please get in touch if you’d like a lesson with me) or local college to learn more.
Learn the basics of composition and how to manipulate light and you are on your way.
Above all enjoy it. Enjoy the process, enjoy the learning, and welcome to the limitless world of photography!
Images by Nikki Kirk Photography and courtesy of our sister companies Carlé & Moss and The Cotswold Portraiteer (website coming soon).