“I am happy when I read a good book, listen to a good song, play with my dog, joke with my mother, take a walk in the wild, watch the stars in the sky, help someone, spend time in solitude, speak the truth, watch kids play. Happiness is both within and without.” – Priya Kumar
Music is a universal motivator. I feel, I make good photographs when surrounded by music. Music lifts my soul & freeds it from any anxiety which in turn let me concentrate better on getting the photographs I envision. Try it. Put on your favorite play-list on your mobile phone, plug in the earphones & begin to photograph. You’ll feel motivated & that will show up in the photographs you make.
Music is also known to divert the mind from fear & anxiety. If you or your clients feel uncomfortable, let the music flow into background as you shoot. Playing their(clients) favorite song will make them drop their guard resulting into more natural photographs.
And at times when you cannot foresight any photography, sit down, close your eyes & listen to music for a while. Let it pierce through your soul. When you’re done, you will experience a new vigor to photograph. So put on the headphones & grab your camera to go on a journey to make musical photographs.
Its a human tendency to lust on luxurious things. Photographers are no different species. Their wish-list is often filled with high end camera bodies & further high end fast glass. If you happen to go through it, you’ll find most of lenses having a fast aperture of f/2.8, 1.8, 1.4 or even 1.2.
The thing is, they believe owning these fast lenses will make their job easier. They will be able to shoot in lower light, get more creamier backgrounds & come close to making photographs like their role model photographer. However, there is also another aspect to this thinking. No doubt, one will get benefit of shooting at lower ISO’s with these fast lenses or getting creamier backgrounds. But has anyone given a thought to the shallows DOF’s provided by these fast lenses?
The shallow DOF commands the photographer to be very perfect in his shooting technique. Since the DOF is very shallow(and get even shallower at telephoto ranges), a photographer must be adept at his focusing technique. A small lapse in focusing and the picture will go straight into the Trash Bin. Here amateur photographers are better off with consumer grade lenses which offer medium apertures & conceal any mistake of the photographers when it comes to focusing. Also not to forget professional lenses like 70-200mm f/2.8 weigh a lot & if you’re not build like a tank, you’re going to get fatigued which will ultimately result in shaken pictures. In worst cases, you may prefer to keep such lenses at home & shoot with your normal consumer lenses which defeat your original purpose of getting a fast lens.
So as you see, its not that simple. Before you go out to buy those fast professional lenses, take a quick look at your capability. Ask yourself – How accurately you focus? How often you need to shoot Wide open? Do you really need the f/1.4 or a f/2.8 or f/4 lens will suffice? Its a case of, “With Great Power comes even Greater Responsibility”. Its better to hone your basic camera skills with your consumer lenses for a year or two before you take the path of getting fast professional lenses. This does not only applies to lenses but to any high-end photography gear. Any high-end photography gear might make your job simpler but will also magnify any of your shortcomings. So first measure your photographic capability before splurging.
I tend to get most of my photography ideas when I’m sleeping or when I’m least expecting them. At such times, its easy to relax & say to oneself that, “I will implement/work on the idea later”. Stop right there. Get a pen along-with a piece of paper and jot the idea down immediately. Lest it flies out of your head.
Its not paranoia but however strong your recollecting ability be, you’re bound to forget something or at-times not recollect something completely. I make it a point to keep a small spiral pad & a pen in my camera bag & one at my home, so I can quickly jot down the idea as it strikes me. If at times, I’m without pen & a pad, I punch the idea into mobile messages drafts. This way I’m safe from letting off a good photographic opportunity.
This nifty tip was imparted on my ears by the renowned photographer, Shiresh Karrale at a Better Photography workshop. He defined this process as making “Photography Scribbles”. These scribbles have helped me immensely to plan a shoot beforehand. I make it a point to make these scribbles as detailed as possible, with lighting diagrams, tips, problems faced & so on. You should also implement this idea in your photography work-flow & experience how overtime it will help you in making better photographs.
While you’re shooting, you’re always changing your camera’s setting – ISO, Aperture, White Balance etc. Given the complexity of today’s camera, you’ve a whole lot of settings to think before you take a shot. At time, we get so hurried that we forget to change the camera to its default setting.
Take an example, you’re shooting outside your house on a bright sunny day & the contrast range is very high in your scene. You’re taking a shot of a white building & decide to overexpose it by one stop to get an optimal exposure. Once you are done with the shot, you head inside your home & spot a candid moment among your family members. You quickly take the camera to your eye & shoot leading to a “Oops!” moment. You forgot to change the +1 exposure compensation which you dialled in for shooting the white building. Your candid shot is all gone with all the highlights blown out. Even post-processing cannot come to your aid.
The above example may not be such a big deal but imagine you’re on field shooting a client’s wedding(or similar one time event) & you mess up. You’ll be kicking yourself. Instead, just remember always to keep camera at a safe default setting. This means removing any automation & special parameters you may have set(which includes exposure compensation, drive mode, white balance, flash metering & much more) to get a previous shot. Make it a habit to take any changed options back at their default setting & you’ll never need to miss/mess-up the upcoming shot.
I’ve often heard photographers complain about they being not able to get good pictures as they are unable to travel to places. Off-course, the complain is a genuine one but not entirely true. The simple & effective solution is to shoot repeatedly in your familiar territory. A good photograph can be made almost anywhere. It can be even made into your own house, on your terrace, in your society’s compound etc.
If you want to shoot around & outside your home, consider visiting a park/monument/open space in your locality(I mention these places so you can make yourself comfortable shooting at first as these places provide ready-made photographic opportunities. Once get familiar enough, you’ll be able to look for frames even on streets, alleys etc). Frequent it with the objective of taking photographs. Go there again & again & again. I can assure you, that the photographic opportunities of a particular place are endless but only limited by your imagination. I’ve made most of my photographs at areas around my home yet many people think they are made at some far away exotic locations. Go out at different times of a day, shoot even if the conditions are unfavorable. If not a good photograph at-least you’ll gather experience of shooting under a particular lighting condition.