This has been requested quite a lot on Instagram and so I thought that it was finally time that I wrote this. Whilst I do run a photography business in its early days, I know that things like this can be personal preference and I do not claim to be an expert in all areas, however in my experience these are things which I’ve found improve my photography completely.
Find the natural light
I honestly can’t state this enough. Natural light is so so incredibly vital. The difference in all photos, whether it be headshots, food shots etc with natural light is ridiculous. I recently did commercial shots for a dark restaurant and had to test out several different areas in order to find the best lighting, but the time that it took to do so was completely validated by finding an area where the photographs looked so much better. If you’re indoors always always shoot by a window. I always use light reflectors too for headshots to bounce the light onto the skin, making it soft, giving your eyes a catchlight and also reducing shadows. The difference in quality and in the softness of your picture is huge. After all, clouds (if it’s cloudy) make a perfect soft box.
Find an interesting angle
I love different angles and takes with photography. I always try to take it a little different to how someone else would do it, you’ll rarely find me just pointing and shooting, 99% of the time I always end up on the floor, crouched behind something to get an interesting texture, or on my tiptoes. Get a different perspective for your photograph, it may change your shot entirely.
Get in close
For me, my photography is massively about the tiny details. I love getting closer and really making something that goes unnoticed with the human eye pop. Again it adds something new to the photograph. If your shot makes something look better than it does in real life, then you’ve surpassed your job.
Shoot all the time
It’s incredibly rare that you’ll find me not shooting on a day off. I mean first of all it’s incredibly rare that I’ll have a day off in the first place, but that’s because even when I do, I always find ways to incorporate shoots into them. Practice really does make perfect. I learn new things every single day, it’s one of those industries where I think you’ll never stop learning.
Stage the shot
Unless you’re a documentary style photographer doing wedding candid shots, I think it’s so important to really stage your shots, and take your time with them, especially with product and commercial shots. Add interesting layers, colours, create a colour palette theme, if you’re photographing a dining table for example and it looks bare, add wine glasses, flowers etc. Design the image how you want it to look, don’t just point and shoot and hope for the best.
Shoot in Manual
Learn your camera workings inside and out. If you want Bokeh, learn how to work your aperture. If it’s dark practice your ISO balance without getting too much noise. If you’re catching someone running, work on your shutter speed/F stop balance. You need to know how to quickly adapt your camera settings for changes in light, different kind of shots, and shutter speeds. Once it becomes second nature you’re so much more adaptable on set, and can worry purely about nailing the shot instead of worrying about your settings.
Relax your subject
If you’re a portrait photographer, we all know how awkward it can be to stand in front of a camera. Where do I look? Where do I put my arm? Why did I have to wake up with a huge breakout??? We’ve all been there. It’s so important to really take your time with your subject, and boost their confidence. I love throwing compliments their way as we shoot and even occasionally showing them some of my favourite shots as we go, it gives them faith in you which in turn makes them feel relaxed and in safe hands. If I use a light reflector for example I’ll also show them the difference on camera with and without one, so that they’re able to understand it’s use and work with it. Really talk with them about what they’re wanting from a shoot, if they’re an actor for example discuss the casting types that they’re wanting to portray etc and really collaborate together in creating a portfolio that your client is happy with.
Work on your editing skills
Editing is one of my favourite parts of shooting. I love uploading it all into the studio and getting to crack on with bringing them even more to life. Again, practice practice practice. Editing a photograph can take it from good, to great. Learn how to retouch, how to use and make presets, and edit it in align with what your client has asked for. Editing really does transform a photograph. My favourite websites/applications for this is Lightroom, Photoshop and Digital Film. I love having a personal editing style too. I’m always told that my photography has my own style to it, and I think that’s a great thing to have. Learn what you do, and love best, and stick with it. Consistency is key, it lets clients know what to expect from you, and let’s them decide if they are interested or not.
I’ve found the photography community to be so supportive. Join Facebook groups such as Build + Bloom, where thousands of photographers come together and support each other, offer inspiration, and ask and receive advice. Follow photographers on Instagram who inspire you. I love seeing a photograph from an angle or in a style that I’d never have thought of, it pushes you to try new things. YouTube is massively your friend. Julia Trotti, Jessica Kobeissi, Jessica Whittaker etc, all amazing photographers offering advice free of charge. It really is an industry where you never stop learning.
I hope that some of these helped you, even just a little bit!