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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

So You Want to Be a Photographer?


People ask me all the time, what does it take to become a professional photographer, how do I take this hobby I love and make some money?
I wish there was an easy answer, most of the time the person asking the question kind of has the cart before the horse. Too many photographers try and make a go at this profession without first even knowing the fundamentals of the craft.
Sure it does take a keen business sense to run a successful photography business, but I think more importantly it also takes a firm grasp on that magic component, lighting.
I was taught photography by my good friend John, when he agreed to take me under his wing told me I needed to shoot 10,000 images before I would even start to understand what is happening with light. That was back in the days of film, in the digital world that is more like 50,000 to 100,000 photos...
So what is my advice to you? Shoot everything!!!
When asked why he painted something a certain color Picasso once said "if I don't have red, I use blue". I say "If I don't have a person, I shoot an animal, if I do not have an animal I shoot a flower; no flowers, then shoot a local landmark". The more you shoot the more things in life take on a new meaning and you begin to start seeing creatively.
The question is, is creativity something you're born with?
Absolutely not, creativity comes from taking what everybody has already done and putting your own spin on it or by simply trying to do it better. We all can be creative, the problem is it takes work, and it takes a lot of work to train ourselves to be creative.
As photographers, we're artists, we see things differently. When I look at a scene I see can what the finished photo will look like rather than how it looks to the naked eye. If you can't envision the finished product, don't worry, shoot enough photos and it will because part of who you are. It may be just me, but it took me two years before I could make the right decision on whether or not to shoot a photo vertically or horizontally.
Learn to look at things with "inquisitive eyes". I swear my family thinks I'm crazy, I take pictures of everything and they ask me all the time, "why in the world did you take that picture?" and most of the time it was just to see what it would look like.
This is what creativity is really all about, passion for your craft.
Trust me, no one will ever hire you based on what you say you can do, or even what you think you can do, they will hire you based on what you've done.
Keep that in mind because the creative person doesn't wait around for a paycheck and then create something, they create something amazing and the paycheck finds them.
A while back I was preparing a class on the relationship of color in photography and I kid you not later that same day I was in a place that knocked my socks off. This place looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park.
Immediately the portrait photographer in me started thinking, what if I had a model in a bright red dress in this amazing sea of green. But I didn't stop at thinking; I put a plan in motion.
I made a few phone calls, found a model friend willing to shoot, we found a bright red dress and headed back out there. After a few minutes of walking around it didn't take long to find the perfect spot.
It didn't stop there; we found another spot, and another and another...
Again the creative photographer doesn't sit at home dreaming of shooting pictures, he gathers his gear, gets out there and makes it happen.
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