Tuesday, January 24, 2012

7 Secrets of Professional Photographers

Professional photographers are able to make their living doing something they love, which is something most people can only dream about.  But it's hard work, and they have their good days and bad days, just like the rest of us.  Becoming a pro takes time, but here are some tips to speed you on your way.

 

1) Great Photos are Made, not Taken


Many great photos seem to perfectly capture a moment in time that can never be recreated, and leaves other photographers wishing they had that kind of luck.   

But have you ever noticed how incredibly lucky some photographers seem to get?

Asking a person to move into just the right position isn't cheating. Photo Credit.

Of course, those photographers are no more lucky than anyone else.  Great photographers don't walk around hoping for the perfect shot - great photographers go make the perfect shot.

Decide in advance what it is you want to photograph, figure out the sequence of events necessary to make it occur, and then sets those events in motion.  You'd be surprised what people will do if you just ask them to, and, well, you can always count on seagulls to swarm if food is around.

You probably won't end up with exactly what planned for, but that's why photography is an art, and not a science.  You need to leave some room for the beautifully unexpected.

 

2) Less is More


Every photograph tells a story,  so keep distractions to a minimum.  Ask yourself, before you press that button, "Why am I taking this photo?" 

One subject with a blurred background helps focus attention in this photo.

The answer to this question will help you focus on the aspects of the image that matter most.  Concentrate on those few aspects that will make your photograph memorable, and skip trying to get everything into one shot.

And if you don't get that perfect shot, please remember the next secret of professional photographers.

 

3) You Can't Fix a Bad Shot in Photoshop


"If only I'd snapped this photo a second earlier."

"If only she hadn't turned her head."

"If only I could fix this shot somehow."

Too many Photoshop filters and HDR effects can make a photo worse.

If you miss that perfect shot, don't try and fix everything with post processing.  One of the most common feelings photographers experience is regret.  There are way too many photos out there where someone has tried to turn coal into a diamond. You're going to have to learn to live with it, and remember the next rule.


4) Most of the Photos Professionals Take Are Garbage


Professional photographers take a lot of pictures, and throw most of them away.  They take more bad photos than you do - because they take more photos, period.

You're going to get a hundred photos like this..

...before you get one like this.

Remember, photography is a numbers game.

The more photos you take, the more great photos you'll take.  You don't have to tell anyone about your bad shots.

 

5) The Best Way to Zoom is with Your Feet


Taking interesting photos is going to require you to go to interesting places.  And to be clear, by interesting I mean off the beaten track, into odd situations, and generally out of your comfort zone.

Great shots require you to move around.

 The rewards are obvious in the photos you'll end up with.

 

6) Carry a Tripod - It's Worth It


Though most cameras today come with stabilization controls, there's no substitute for a good tripod.  In fact, this is probably the first secret that any professional photographer will tell you.

Tripods are essential when photographing subjects with a lot of movement.

Using a tripod will up your odds of taking good photographs, because you remove one of the sources of bad photography - your own movements.  Less jerky shots give you a better chance of getting a clear, crisp image.

 

7) Professional Photographers Know Their Equipment Intimately


As boring as it is to read an instruction manual, you need to know every detail about the equipment you're working with.  Upgrading from point-and-click to a $2,000 camera won't do you any good if you don't know how to use it.

All those dials mean something - learn what. Photo Credit.

To become a professional photographer, you'll need to know what an f-stop is, what aperture is, and a thousand other technical details.  Beyond that, pros know which camera shoots best in low light, which at a distance.  Some even give their cameras names, and attribute personalities to them, the way a rock star does with his guitar.

If your aim is to become a professional photographer, remember these secrets, but keep things in perspective.  Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it takes time and perseverance, and there's no shortcut for those.