Friday, January 22, 2010

Keep it simple and remember why you love photography!

Remember when you first picked up a camera, and how much fun it was?  Photography should always be fun, don’t over-think it.  This is the plain and simple truth of it.  Most people are not chasing after an artistic career like photography strictly because it pay’s the bills.  However, it can and WILL pay the bills if you work smart and hard at it. (Smart being a key word there)  This leads into the idea of the over-complicated shoot.   Spend too much time thinking about a shot, or a whole shoot, and you may blow the whole thing.  It’s great to visualize first, but some of the best shots and opportunities are missed while you are building up a single image.  Don’t miss those opportunities!

When you are looking at other photographer’s work, it’s easy to feel like you need lots of flashes for every image.  Navigate the Getty Images database, or any other stock provider, and look at the images that are selling.  The highly conceptualized shots that involve 3 or more studio lights are selling, but the majority of images that are making a profit are either with natural light, or one off-camera flash.  What does that tell you?  KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Image of Photographer Daniel Milchev

There have been times in my career so far, where I have missed key shots (sunset, great tricks, etc.) because I’m messing around with setting up another flash.  I’ve had other times as well, where I was discouraged from shooting because I didn’t feel like hiking/riding far with a heavy backpack full of flash gear.   I thought that if I didn’t have multiple flashes along, I would not make any great images.   Now I have learned to bring my camera along no matter what because I never know when a great photo will present itself.  What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get a usable image.

I have said in the past that the off-camera flash gives you the edge as a photographer.  This is true because most photographers don’t know how to set up multiple flashes and create a stunning image.   If you know how to do this correctly, then multiple flashes will bring your photography to the next level, and put you above the competition.  However, once you see the results, and put the time into making one of these great shots, you may get caught up in thinking you always need lots of flash.  Great shots can and do happen all the time, without a flash.

There have been several shoots where I captured photos first with no flashes, then built up the image one flash at a time until I thought I had created something spectacular.  When I got home, and my friends were looking through the images, they liked the first shot’s that had no flash, or the images with just one strobe.  This can be extremely bothersome.  Anyone could have created the first image with no flash!  Why do people like that one more?  It’s common to become attached to an image because of the amount of time you put into creating it.  The image below is one of those images where I put in so much time that I became attached (not that it isn't good, it's just not the best from the day).  Everyone who has looked through my photos from that shoot seems to like the other shots much better.

The truth of the matter is that some of the best shot’s you will ever take may not have been shot with a single flash, or with day’s of meticulous planning.  I like to think back to when I was younger, and I first became interested in photography.   I purchased a DSLR and was constantly shooting anything and everything my friends and I did. 

This is where my experience and knowledge today comes from.   I would call it the “experimental” phase, and every great photographer goes through it at one time or another.  My camera was an extension of my body, I learned the controls inside-and-out and was never caught up on too many technical details.  If it looked cool to me I shot it, maybe I changed some settings to make it look better, but I would shoot EVERYTHING!  Of course I was making mistakes at the time, but I was also learning along the way.  The time period when I first learned that I needed to shoot in RAW format to sell photos to publications, and for marketing.

After that phase, I purchased my first flash, eventually expanding to multiple flashes with radio triggers and faster battery packs.  Every thing has become more complicated now.  This is not a bad thing, but it definitely changes your whole perspective.   I’ve created the best images of my life in the past year shooting with all of this extra gear.  At the same time I started missing opportunities because I believed the images would not be saleable, or may have no use.

This is where my new approach (what used to be my old approach) comes (back) in.  I will now shoot regardless of a weather change, regardless of not wanting to carry too much extra flash gear, and will try to shoot everything that I am interested in regardless of potential salability.  Photography should not become an overcomplicated JOB (job being a key word).  Even if it is your career, what could it harm to take out your camera and shoot subject matter that will never get sold? 

You must keep the passion alive, and spending too much time fretting about certain settings to get one shot, can ruin that passion.  In this world, the vast majority of people have jobs that they dislike, and only perform because they feel like it’s their only option.  If you are photographer than you most likely started your career out of pure interest in the art.   You are lucky to do what you love, but you must never let it ruin the fact that you love to do it.

Many of my images that have sold time and time again, were taken with no flash, and only for the fun of taking the photo.   I challenge any photographer out there, grab your camera, spend some time shooting only things that you love to shoot, and find your passion all over again.  You may not feel like you are being productive, but you may also surprise yourself with the images you come out with and gain a new attitude towards your career.

Keep it simple and have fun!

That’s the BUZZ for today, check back soon to learn how to submit to magazines from contact until final publishing.


Clint said...

Love the post... thanks for putting a smile on my face tonight.

Munro said...

Good advice, way to keep things in perspective

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