For Other Photo Hobbyists

What I’m learning as a Photo Hobbyist . . .

On Shooting:

1. The more I shoot, the better I get.

2. Take time to get to know my camera and its functions. (Manual shooting will give the best results if understood).

3. ALWAYS shoot in RAW (with the exception of fast paced events, where shutter speed matters).

4. I must be patient with myself. (Additionally, clients are much more patient than I might have expected because they appreciate a careful approach –they’re paying for good photos). I do expect I’ll get faster the more I shoot.

5. Take time to scope out a venue with my clients BEFORE I snap the first photo.

6. Sharpness cannot be faked in editing. Use a tripod if need be. Sharp focus IS one of the biggest definers of good photography.

7. Be conscious of light and shadow sources–and use them to my advantage (and not manipulate them in the editing room).

8. Try new things at every shoot.

9. If a client wants to try something –try it.

10. Traditional poses are not all bad –and they make a lot of people (and parents) happy. Always do several traditional poses and shots.

11. Never tilt the image to make it “cool”–UNLESS it enhances some dramatic motion.

12. The rule of thirds works like MAGIC.

13. Utilize the color at a venue.

14. Intentionally shoot a photo to be manipulated in black & white later, by utilizing natural exposure.

15. Keep my clients’ expressions and postures natural by cuing them to pose at the last possible count (To prevent blinking, have them close their eyes until they hear “2”).

16. Give clients activities to do (provided they bring props)–to enable myself to take some good candids.

17. Do “real life editing” (move in closer, move an object, move to better light) and take a shot again. I should never assume I can fix the shot in the editing room.

18. Don’t set up photos by looking through the viewfinder. Please the natural eye first–than make adjustments through the viewfinder to replicate the real aesthetic. This goes with the whole “see your shot in your mind, before you ever take it”. The most beautiful shots do not happen by accident.

On Clients:

1. Always have a consultation with clients before a shoot. Ask couples what they are comfortable and not comfortable with.

2. For portraits, and couples’ shots I encourage the use of props (books, magazines, picnic items, travel items, accessories, anything that the client uses to express his/her personality).

3. Talk about the wardrobe and any outfit changes ahead of time.

4. Ask the clients to send me pictures/links of shoots they like from around the internet.

5. I must be honest about what I can or cannot do with my equipment.

6. Let the clients look through the camera view of pictures when they want to. If they don’t like something–delete it; if they like something, even if I don’t, keep it!

7. Stay excited and enthusiastic with my clients from the first consultation to the final photo presentation.

8. Let the clients be creative, whenever they want.

9. Always have a shot list ready (preferably memorized) for every circumstance–so there are no lulls in time, or lack of creativity.

10. Always get feedback from my clients.

On Editing:

1. It’s easy to over edit–always go back a day or so later and evaluate my edits objectively, and tweak (even start over).

2. Refrain from messing with the exposure. Instead, adjust gray levels to keep definition.

3. Textures are great –in moderation.

4. “Enhance” > “Edit”.

5. Manipulate a photo into black & white when I’ve intentionally shot in a high contrast situation. It will turn out nicely. (Occasionally I discover in the editing process a photo will look better in black & white–but that’s on the rare occasion).

6. Keep cropped images in standardized dimensions.

7. The editing should only enhance the mood and content of a shot.

8. Keep up with editing trends. Leave fads in the past (Especially those random-pops-of-color-against-black-&-white-shots).

9. Never be ashamed to re-edit an entire shoot from scratch (even if it is from a year ago). Send the updates to my clients–they love that. . . and update the portfolio with the new editions.

10. Don’t post every shot I’ve taken onto social media. Post my favorites only. (Additionally, if my mind changes about a photo, I’ll take it down–or put a new one up.)


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