Two summers ago, I planned a photoshoot with a fashion influencer I hadn’t seen in three years. She was telling me how nice the pictures I had recently posted on Instagram were. She looked pleasantly surprised. When I thanked her for the compliment, she asked me, “How are your pictures nicer? Did you buy a new camera?” I happily replied, “No, I became a better photographer.”
For the longest time, I feared not improving as a photographer. Sometimes, it is difficult for me to say that I am a professional photographer because, first, hello imposter syndrome, and second, I don’t take photos for a living. I only do it for my family and friends, for artistic purposes, or simply for fun. But I’ve come a long way since my first photoshoot. What makes a good photographer, you wonder? Here are a few things I learned.
First, the rule of thirds is one of the most important rules of photography. Once you use the compositional grid, whether you take pictures with your camera or with your phone, you can’t go back. This rule helps you place your subject: you choose what the viewer looks at first. It also helps you centre your main subject, which is great for commercial photography (accessories, objects, etc.).
Second, do not think too much about taking the best shot. You are going to put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Treat every photoshoot as a fun outing. Get to know the model you’re working with and put them at ease. Focus on the communication part of the shoot. In fact, communication is key in photography. When you communicate well your vision, your pictures will shine.
Third, use everything the location you’re at has to offer you. You won’t always get to choose your locations, but you can make the best out of them. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to bring a huge number of props or costumes to take a creative picture. For example, I once did an impromptu photoshoot with a friend in a cramped coffee shop. There were books, plants, unique decorations, and most importantly, a lot of natural light. The pictures I took weren’t essentially breath-taking. Nevertheless, the pictures told a story. This photoshoot was the beginning of my search and creation of style. It opened doors to original ideas and pushed my creativity further.
Fourth, if your location is outdoors, let the weather add its touch. I remember planning a photoshoot for daytime because I had smoke bombs. I wanted the colours to pop. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. When the model and I met, the sky was pitch black. I also didn’t take into consideration the wind, which was strong. The model tried creating shapes by moving the smoke bombs and the wind played along. It created something that looked like a tornado. This photoshoot is still one of my favourites to date.
Fifth, whether in a studio, outdoors, or any in location, always make sure there is enough lighting, so your pictures are clear. If you’re taking pictures in a dark location or at night, use the flash integrated in your camera, or invest in an external flash that you can add to your camera.
Finally, a good photographer is also always eager to learn more about photography. You should take classes, attend workshops, read books, and watch tutorials online.
Are you a photographer or aspiring to be one? If so, what are your tips? Don’t forget to leave a comment!