I’m back from a quick trip to San Francisco. Although I brought my 5DMKII, I actually spent most of my time shooting with my iPhone. I found myself really enjoying snapping hundreds of pictures with wild abandon, shooting things I would have never “wasted” shots on with my 5DMKII.
This experience was a valuable reminder of what I love about photography: The act of taking pictures. The sheer joy of capturing a moment is such a powerful feeling as a photographer and one that I’ve been missing in recent months.
I find that many photographers, especially the perfectionists among us, feel a huge pressure when it comes to their photography. Gaining good editing and photoshop skills, as well as pushing yourself creatively is an important part of becoming a better photographer, but when you start feeling perpetually unsatisfied with every picture you take, you start to lose the passion and love for the thing you love to do.
I’ve noticed this with my attitude towards my own photography, so I thought I’d share some tips to help you generate a little bit of heat between you and your camera.
1. Fill up your memory card.
Never limit the number of shots you take based on digital space, just line your pockets with memory cards :) Memory is cheap. Buy plenty of memory cards and don’t be scared of filling up your cards. I carry 2x8GB, 2x4GB, & 2x2GB CFs plus 2x8GB SD cards for my P&S with me all the time.
I’ve had photo shoots with models where I didn’t get a great shot until Shot 100 after one hour of shooting. Think about professional fashion photographers who snap-snap-snap 10s of pictures a second. If you don’t get the shot the first try, keep shooting until you do.
2. Don’t edit in camera
You may think that keeping those 50 shots of blurry pigeons flying into the blue sky, but you never know what you are going to get with a photo until you see it on your computer screen. The LCD screens on your camera/iPhone is extremely deceptive and can not be trusted out in the field, especially on a sunny day.
Some photographers swear on editing shots in camera, but I disagree. You can always dump the unusable shots during your first editing pass on your computer. So, keep those shots, even the overexposed, blurry ones, you might just have the next famous, award-winning blurry pigeon shot sitting on your CF card.
3. Share your photos
Pete Cashmore catching a cab on Market St., iPhone.
Never feel embarrassed to share your shots with others because you don’t think they are “good enough”. We are all at differing levels of ability from a day old shutterbug to Annie Leibovitz. And let’s face it, not every shot is destined for the front page of Vogue, so cut yourself some slack and don’t get caught up in negative feedback.
Criticism is never easy to take, especially with something as personal as photography, but learning from our mistakes is how we grow as photographers. By not sharing your photos you are not only preventing yourself from growing, but also shutting yourself off from receiving praise and encouragement from others.
Networking with other photographers is one of the most motivating things you can do. So, put yourself out there a little and post a photo on your Facebook. It’s as easy as one, two, Zukerberg…
4. Don’t miss a photo-op.
The world has an annoying habit of producing amazing photo-ops at the exact moments when you don’t have a camera on you. I’ve learnt this the hard way by missing many magical moments: A double rainbow over a field of hay bales in the south of England, a golden magic hour backlit shot of wild Pronghorn antelopes in Jackson hole, Wyoming, and a perfect sliver of light shining between two glassy high-rises in downtown Vancouver illuminating a beautiful woman carrying a red umbrella. *sigh* Having learnt this painful mistake numerous times, I now carry a camera with me where ever I go and often, in the palm of my hand.
It may annoy your friends more often then not and you will probably hear this phrase a few times: “Why do you take so many pictures all the time?” and possibly,“What’s so interesting about about that drain grate anyway?” But you’re a photographer, that’s who you are, so keep that camera close and capture as many moments as you can. You never know when that double rainbow is going to spring up.
5. Photograph what you love
I love photographing people. I’ve explored all kinds of photography from landscapes to macros to wildlife to sports and I find that I’m just more passionate about photographing people. Even when I’m out shooting street photography I try to sneak candid shots of people.
I find that photographers that focus on one particular area of photography and building a portfolio of work in that area, tend to develop a more cohesive style. Plus, they are happy because they are photographing what they love to shoot. You’ll never find a more unhappy photographer than a passionate sports photographer shooting weddings. “Can we have a replay on the bouquet toss? This time really give it some air”.
Now it’s your turn. Make me a promise that you’ll fall in love with your photography again! Happy snapping & share your shots in the comments below :)