I love photography. It’s a shame I didn’t discover it sooner.
I’m not really one for instructions or tutorials. I mean, I’ll read them, on occasion, but I enjoy the art of discovery more. I’ve been experimenting with my camera for nearly a year, and I’ve learned a lot. Still, I could be a student for a life with this hobby.
Speaking of hobbies, this is about the only hobby my wife supports me on. There’s no gas, grime, noise, hours in the basement or sweat involved. And bonus, as long as I get at least 1 good shot of her every session, she adds to her collection. So all is simpatico at home and on vacations.
What I’ve learned.
1. Lighting, lighting, lighting. Sight is light. Want a dramatic picture? Make sure the lighting is dramatic. Sometimes you have the right light, but not the right angle. You have to be willing to circle your subject, get them to move, or otherwise take advantage of the natural light. Great (natural) light goes fast, move quickly, check your camera settings, sometimes what you see and what the camera sees are two different things. That can work for or against you. Hopefully you get lucky.
2. Interesting Subjects. When I have my ‘camera eye’ turned on, I’m on the hunt for something interesting. I look for dramatic light, a reflection, contrast or texture that’s interesting. Sometimes it’s an object, sometimes a scene, sometimes an individual. Whatever it may be, the more extreme the better. Sharp lines, deep groves, smoky scenes, dark blue, florescent green, bright orange. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you say, ‘hmm, that’s interesting,’ and you can somehow get the angle and capture it.
3. Move. Be Bold. Many people, when they see an interesting scene, just whip out their camera and take the picture from 20 feet away, never getting off their seat. You have to be willing to get off your butt to capture a shot! Get in close, get low, get wide, squat, twist your head, find the angle, move! You can’t be shy, or worry about what people will think. Screw them if they don’t like it. But when the shot’s there to get, GET IT! Don’t let it get away! Sometimes, you only have moments, so you’ve’ got to move fast.
4. Keep it Real. I hate fake smiles and canned portraits. I’m fine with a subject looking at the camera, just as long as they are relaxed. I’d rather get a ‘real’ shot. Capture a ‘real’ moment, than the contrived moment. How your subject responds when you whip out the camera is a big part of it. Sometimes, you need to desensitize your subject to the fact you are there. At first, they might be nervous, just shoot them like a rock star, and soon enough, they will forget you’re there. Then you can get the real shot.
5. Sometimes you just get lucky. It’s hard to plan to be lucky, but must be at least prepared to be lucky. Meaning, some of the best lighting / scenes I’ve seen (on random occasions of course) have come the few times I didn’t have my camera by my side. Nothings more frustrating.