While there is no certain way to tell anyone how to make a genious pictures, my experience tells me, that in many cases people just were not told, how exactly they could progress. By simply telling them few hints, a substantial part of "poor" prohotgaphers can reveal their actual potential.
Here's some tips.
Photography is rarely just hitting the button at some right moment. It is a process which consists:
- having strong or not-so-strong idea of what you're trying to show on picture.
- knowing all these camera buttons and be certain that the regime/settings of your camera, as well as scene environment and supplemental gear (tripods, flashes) is right for your shot, so you do not trash the picture by wrong settings.
- ability to postprocess the picture in a right way.
Some philosophy. If you like some artist's work, remember that he is a human too and what he did you can possibly reporoduce. You can not copy his talent of seeing things, but virtually all technical aspects can be learnt. The best way to learn unique
tips is to ask the artist about how the certain shoot was done. The best way to learn common issues
is to find a good book.
Here's some books I liked:
- The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman www.amazon.com/Photographers-E…
- for as low as $20 this excellent introduction to a vast majority of compositional solutions that you might consider. We see things with our eyes and our mind. These behave according to some objective, common laws. Create images to keep these laws in mind and you will be much more certain about how to deliver your impressions. Compositional laws are not a dogma and rigorous rules, as many people think (wrongly). These are language. This fantastic book costs ridiculous $20.
- Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd Edition)
by Katrin Eismann, Wayne Palmer
- a definitive book about basic photoshop skills. You will no longer be bound to the pictures that lack contrast, got color tint, require a sharpening et cetera. EVERY camera delivers imperfect images. If you want a good picture, you're got to make in perfect technically.
- Photoshop Masking & Compositing by Katrin Eismann
- it is a special book, NOT for general photographer but rather for people who employ collages and like to alter parts of images using complex selection and masking. The book tells you how to select floating hair or soft, blurry flames and how to make collages professionally. The common need is, for example, to remove a studio background from a fashion shoot.
- Portrait Photography: Secrets of Posing & Lighting
by Mark Cleghorn www.amazon.com/Portrait-Photog…
- short and specific introduction to basic studio lighting. Contains all these numbers that you need to set on flashes and cameras to get things right in studio with common lighting schemas.
What all these aforementioned books have in common, despite diverse subjects? They teach to be rigorous about very tiny details of all the process - from precise exposure in studio to adjusting smallest things in the picture.
As for the creative part, the main rule is: know what you want
. Yes, you shoud be able to spell in words: "I want this, this and this which produces that effect in result". You are allowed to have a loose idea of what you want, too. But once you have some direction, you can explore it in scientific manner. The common thing is to watch the best photographers of your favourite topic
and look closely to learn techniques from their work
. Often mistake of many people is like that: "oh, he's so cool. He's like god or such of shooting wildlife and top-class models. Well, gotta shoot some flies at my dusty window and some kittens and that random girl". You're doing this wrong. Pick up the most talented girl (that would yet cope if you do something slightly wrong). Imagine 1-2 ideas of what you do with the shoot, think over, discuss with the model and fellow photographes. Make a research on successful shots of this kind, consult about how this or that effect was done. Learn techniques that your favourite artist used. Aim to get something that resembles his work.
The common mistake number two: following the crowd, not common sense. You hate glamour, but this girl looks glamorous? Then, by all means, do not attempt to shoot gore and violence with her, she will be out of sync, shot will never work. If you got an idea of some shoot but your model do not fit for that - change your idea. You can not possibly reveal what's not in the model. Be flexible. Try to make your ideas work, but if reality checks tells you that there's a problem - go for what's reality gives you.
Common mistake number three: conceptual crap and overphotoshopping. Using strong toning, overexaggerated effects and such will kill the picture. Postprocessing meant to reveal
the idea of the shot, and not to obscure the view.
Common mistake four: if your picture requires a long description, it is bad. Striking names are a plus, but long explanations about what's actually we see here just say that you're bad at depicting things appropriatley. Does your pic still look good without a name?
Common mistake five: do NOT subscribe to all photo communities in the world. Instead, look up for people who you adore and trust. Do NOT look for "grey mass", these pics tell you nothing new.
Common mistake six and last: do not call yourself a photographer (unless you're applying for a job). Show your pictures instead. The best portfolio is just a bunch of pics, accompanied by your email and cell phone. No ad texts and self-proclamations. Believe me, if you're good in photography, you may be still bad at words and using insane amount of cliches from Energier's commercials with that annoying bunny. If you're sure about pics, you need no words.
Photography is not like assembling a robot. You're working with people - so learn to deal with them. Learn how to pose a model. Learn how to make her at ease. Learn how to convince a customer or responcible person.
Here's some basic tips in short:
- be rigorous and learn tech manuals about all stages of your work flow.
- when shooting, remember the background. Good pictures have a carefully assumed background
- leave in the frame ONLY what you need and get rid of ANY unnecessary things
- examine the frame: is there anything that relocates attention from your subject to something else? A too-bright objects in the view is a good example of such obstacle.
- be certain yet modest about all special effects. Leave it to these teenagers with emo blogs.
- learn human interaction skills. Be ethical, responsible to models and your crew, and learn business communication. Bad-temper persons rarely got to work with same people again.
And yes, almost forgot. Do not use on-camera flash when shooting cute girls