“You will never make money as a fashion photographer.”

PortraitFashion Shot

Whether you’re working your way through school, or you are doing it on your own, people will critique your work. This can help a lot with your growth as a photog. The key is taking the things that everyone says and finding the positive in it. I took this photo for a “High Fashion” class. The assignment was to take two photos of the same person, but give them two different feels… one being a portrait, and the other being fashion based. Let me start this rant by stating that I am NOT a fashion photog. I cannot get into photography where the person in the photo is a prop rather than the subject. I need that connection with said person. That being said, I attempted to follow the guidelines of the assignment. I went to a my friend’s house and shot her on her balcony in the football jersey she was wearing. I wanted to take the assignment a bit farther. Instead of changing the entire look of my subject, I took on the challenge of taking two completely different photos with the same outfit, setting, accessories, etc.. Apparently I “didn’t match the jewelry at all” and the portrait was “not a portrait”. Whatever. My point is that people are going to say things about your work that may make you feel bad. Don’t. Take their OPINION into consideration, and don’t take it personally. Just keep shooting.

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Never again

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My first time doing a chroma key (Green screen) shoot was a real learning experience. I learned that people with spiky hair are a real challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing. This was also right about the time I learned that you should NEVER give someone the digital copies of the shoot in hopes that they will buy some prints later. (Stupid. I know.) These clients of mine (My second paid shoot ever.) used this photo for their business cards, and never called me again. I believe I got about $50 for a cd with all the shots, 6 edited photos with custom backgrounds, and a 1 week turnaround. (Corporate headshot price. They were only supposed to get the one edited shot for that price.) That same package today (cd, 6 chroma key shots, and expedited hand delivery.) would be around $1,000. Point is never assume people will ever talk to you again if you give them everything they want upfront.

Just keep shooting

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No one knows how hard it is to stay motivated more than I do. I mean, just look at the gaps in my postings. I find it much easier to stay on the ball if I make it a routine. So, even if I don’t have to be to work until noon, I still get up at 7am so I can do my morning ritual: Brush teeth, make coffee, and start thinking about what I want to post that day. It makes it especially difficult when I’m not posting everyday. (As to not flood you all with tons of my ramblings to sift through.) But unlike blog posting, photography is something you can do everyday, all the time without “spamming” people. You only share what you want to. That being said, it’s best to stay in the habit of shooting everyday; It keeps your skills sharp, and your creativity alive. Even if you’re a portrait photog, you can still walk around your neighborhood taking pictures of flowers, bugs, and cloud formations. And if you’re really outgoing, you may even wish to ask a stranger to take their photo. Now that is a good way to practice your skill set. My point is, if you’re really interested in becoming a paid photographer, take advantage of every moment you have to hang out with your camera. In this photo of my niece, she was playing with my guitar. If that’s not a photo-op, I don’t know what is, so naturally, I ran to get my camera. I could’ve totally missed the opportunity by leaving the room. The moral of this story….

Keep your camera with you. Keep yourself motivated. Keep shooting.

First time for everything

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My post from AUG 29th (“I wish I was Back Then”) is my most popular photo. So much so that I found it being posted online by other people. Apparently, if you “share” something online, it is still credited back to the original poster. However, if someone downloads your photo and then posts it online, the 7,000 shares and 80,000 likes are not linked back to you. In other words, I got no love for my most popular piece. Naturally, I blew up both the poster’s page, and the page on which he posted it with links to my page/portfolio. That brought in a few new page likes, photo likes, and comments. (So it wasn’t a complete loss…but still.) What this means is… if you’re going to post your work online, there are some precautions you need to take. (LINK) In this photo of my friend/business partner, I’ve put a giant watermark over the entire scene. There are different ways to do this, but for now, that’s how I’ve chosen to do it. If anyone has suggestions or input, please feel free to comment. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Rules are meant to be broken

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The most important thing to focus on, in a portrait, is the eyes. It’s where your lens should have its sharpest focus. More specifically, the eye closest to your camera. Also, when positioning your lights, be sure to have specular highlights in their eyes. (The little light reflections.) This makes the person look more “personable”. Now take everything I just said, and put it in your toolbox. These are good rules to follow. However, once you understand these rules, like many others, you can bend or even break them. The important part is to truly understand the “Why?” and “How?” of all these various rules of photography. Only after these methods become second nature, can you really push your limits with experimenting with doing the opposite. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can use these rules to come up with the desired effect by not following them. e.g.: Supposedly, in the movie ‘The Godfather’, director Francis Ford Coppola made sure that in every scene the lights were placed in such a manner that Marlon Brando’s eyes did not have these specular highlights in them. This was done to give his character a cold, soulless demeanor. In this photo I have purposely placed a shadow over my buddy Mike’s eyes. I think it adds a bit of mystery. What do you think?

Photogs make the best models

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Even if they have never been in front of the camera, a fellow photographer can still take direction more easily than an inexperienced model. They know what to look for, they know what you mean when you say “Can you…[hand motion]”, and they inform you when your lights are dicked up. Also, as I mentioned in an older post, they’re punctual. This photo is actually of my, soon-to-be, business partner. I held up a mirror, and she did all the corrections herself. She made my job easy. If you find that your model stockpile is wearing thin, or you’re getting frustrated with flaky/inexperienced folks, try shooting one of your photog friends… It’s like a breath of fresh air.

Comfort ability

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You’ve heard the saying “Dogs can smell fear”. Well, your model can sense if you are unsure of yourself. If you are awkward, they will be too. Especially if they normally don’t model. This is actually tough for me sometimes too. (Who am I kidding… I feel nervous and sick before every shoot.) The key is to not let your model see it in your expression or hear it in your voice. If you are comfortable with yourself (Or at least appear to be.) they will be more comfortable with you. Think about this… I’m a guy trying to shoot females in their most vulnerable state. If I show that I actually am a nervous wreck while trying to shoot this ^^^ beauty, she’s going to look stiff, self conscience, and awkward. This shoot was a wedding gift to her husband. (He loved it so much he cried. True story.) If my uncomfortability rubbed off on her during the shoot, they wouldn’t have had the same impact. If you’re shooting with a model you’ve never met, or a friend you’ve never seen through the viewfinder, be sure to get comfortable with them beforehand. Relax. Laugh. Have a cocktail. (Not too many. That makes for a sloppy shooter, and a sloppy shoot. Trust me.)