One of the most important things when starting out any new business, and especially photography, is practicing your craft. How do you develop your skill set, but practicing it well and having great technique? In this video, author Skip Cohen discusses the importance of practicing photography as you start out in the photography business.
- One of the most important things with any new business, especially photographer, is that you've got to practice. It's nonstop, every single day you should be challenging yourself to try something a little different, to practice the previous day's skill set. And one of the greatest quotes out there is from a good friend of mine, Roberto Valenzuela. And Roberto said, "Practice doesn't make perfect. "What if you're practicing it wrong? "Only perfect practice makes perfect." And if you think about it, and this explains why I'm such a horrible golfer, I'm practicing it wrong.
I can go to the driving range and I can finally get things down to where I'm hitting balls the right way, and then when I'm actually out on the golf course they're terrible. So Roberto's background all comes out of a background as a musician. He's a classical guitarist, he has played with orchestras, and that discipline to practice all the time is one of the things that I believe has made him such a great artist today. He never stops practicing and neither can you. Let's talk about the importance of developing your skill set.
Right off the bat you need to make it a point to know your camera, your lens, your flash, whatever you're going to use for lighting. You need to understand every single aspect of your gear. You need to know every button, every bell, every whistle, because when you're in the middle of a shoot, especially if you're photographing an event, like a wedding, or a concert, or something else you might be doing, you're not going to have time to go look something up on the internet, or to Google a particular technique, so you need to know your gear cold right off the bat.
You need to understand all your photography basics. You need to understand exposure, composition, you need to understand posing, lighting. One of the things that's a pet peeve for so many of us in the industry is when you meet a young photographer and they will say to you, well I'm a natural light specialist, meaning they like to use natural light, usually window light. Well, guess what? We all love natural light, but usually what that means there's a big red flag that goes up that says aha, they don't understand studio lighting.
So they're a natural light specialist, because they haven't taken the time to really understand how to control their environment and deal with whatever kind of light they have. We're going to switch gears just for a second and talk about one thing you need to pay attention to, which is referred to today as hybrid technology. Hybrid technology is simply mixing still images together with video together with some great music. Now right off the bat you want to make sure that the music that's being used you have the rights to use it, so copyright becomes a real serious issue and there's some great companies out there to help you with that.
Being a photographer, whether it's a wedding, or a commercial, or a landscape, every one of your images should be able to tell a story. And when you're doing a wedding, especially the album, really positions the photographer as a great storyteller. Now when you're doing all of that being able to put those things together thanks to technology today you can go directly from a still image to video. Here's a good example right here with a Lumix GH4 where you can go from a still image to video with just one push of a button and suddenly you're shooting video.
So being able to document an event, like a wedding, or even a family portrait session, and being able to mix it up with a little video, together with still images, putting it all to music becomes a terrific opportunity for you to be able to share your skill set and again, this is about exceeding client expectations. And here's another name for you to Google, go Google Suzette Allen and you'll find her at suzetteallen.com. Now Suzette Allen is lovingly referred to as the queen of hybrid.
Suzette has made it a point to truly understand hybrid technology and as an example, one of the products she does every year are email greeting cards for her clients. Where she'll put together a 30 to 90 second piece where she's got still images from a family portrait session combined with a little video put to music and suddenly it becomes an incredible experience for a client. The bottom line to fine-tuning your skill set is that you've got to constantly practice.
Every image tells a story. Remember to make your images as good as possible, never compromise quality. You want people to be able to look at an image and go, wow, that's beautiful. They know what it is, maybe they know where it is, they find out something more about you. Portfolio reviews, camera clubs, associations and conferences, they're all great ways to be able to get more people to see your work. In fact, portfolio reviews at a lot of conventions and conferences you can bring your portfolio, now this would be your physical portfolio, and you can be able to open it up and have people actually review it.
You can also do it on a big iPad and be able to share it, so that people can look at your images and give you a critique. The whole advantage being you're showing your work to a recognized professional who understands more of what they're looking at and can give you better ideas on how to make your images better and your presentation better. Then you've got all the Facebook forums. Now the only challenge with the Facebook forums is that you have to remember that just because somebody doesn't like your image it's not the end of the world, so don't worry about it.
The point is you're going to share images, looking at other people's images, and seeing what people say about the work, having questions that you can ask on everything from what should I be wearing if I'm photographing a black tie wedding? To I'm having a particular problem with this piece of equipment, has anybody every experienced this before? And you'll get help in these forums. And again, you want to be careful, you want to only share images that you're willing to accept a critique on. If you've got a thin skin and you're not going to be happy if somebody says, hey, what an awful picture, then it's not the place for you, at least at that point.
But Facebook is a terrific way to get more helps in terms of more people looking at your images. And then get together with friends. Get together with them and be able to share images and be able to talk about the images. And again, just learn to have a thick skin and just remember, everybody's entitled to their opinion, you get to share yours, they get to share theirs. And the bottom line is that by practicing, not only great technique, but also being able to look at an image and give another photographer feedback you become that much stronger as an artist.
- Defining your niche
- Understanding your target audience and specialty
- Getting practice
- Understanding the industry and building your network
- The elements of your brand
- Gear: lease vs. buy
- Tracking your costs