How to become a better Photographer...and subject.

Becoming a better photographer

I love digital photography, I think it is a wonderful and powerful tool and advancement. It allows for instant satisfaction when taking a photo. You know right away if your photo is to bright or blurry and if you don't like a photo
you can simply DELETE it.

If you're just getting into photography as a hobby or to take it to the next level and possibly make a career out of this incredible art form then strap in for a wild and crazy ride. Photography has come a long way since my Pentex K1000 and the darkroom in my garage and it is always changing.

With that said, even though photography can be very complex, it is also very simple
in many ways once you understand some basic principals. 

What makes a good photo is objective from the artistic stand point but from the principles of good photography it is straight forward. 
Light, Color, Composition, Shade, Subject, Contrast, Focus, Noise (Grain).
Just a few terms to get friendly with and know the meaning of and how they effect your photo. 
When I started out in photography, film was king and it was not cheap. A roll of 24 exposure, 400 ISO, B&W film was about $8.00 In 1979 that was not cheap, after you shot your 24 exposure you had to have it developed or develop it yourself if you had a darkroom. This was not an instant satisfaction process at all, it took time and it cost money every time you pressed that shutter button.....ChaChing!

So begins our journey and my advise to all the budding and fledgling photographers out there...

Number 1. Slow Down, take the time to understand why your shot looks good or blurry, understand why the background is in or out of focus.

2. Shoot like it costs you money every time you take a picture.
Why? ....If you go out and shoot 400 photos at the park with a friend, you will not remember your settings, your lighting or f stop. You will waist time shooting instead of learning and improving. My advise, shoot in blocks of 10 - 30 photos, then stop and review your progress.

3. Emulate others
One way to get the most our your photo sessions is to choose a photographer that you think Rocks and try to reproduce their work. The goal is not to steal someone else's style but to develop an eye for excellence and to see beautiful light. You can compare side by side your work to the work you're trying to emulate.

4. Shoot on MANUAL, no more AUTO.
This is where things get real. Shooting in Manual will force you to slow down to make adjustments for lighting and aperture changes. When you do this you will begin to remember what settings work and what does not.

5. Shoot the light!!!
Forget the background for a while and shoot your subject in the best possible light. Start with natural light and work your way to studio lighting (I'll talk about this later)

6. If you’re the subject, learn to listen to the photographer. Most photographers have a plan and a vision for their images. Learning to listen saves time and will produce the best work. Being in front of the camera is hard work, it takes concentration and a willingness to trust someone else with "your image". Give it a shot!

7. Be patient, this is for both photographer and subject. Don’t expect perfection instantly and dont judge your work to harshly. Today you have access to the best in the world, instantly you can see photographs from every corner of the globe. Take time to develop your style and technique, then you’ll have something to measure your progress by.

8. Finally, (I saved this one for last intentionally) Have fun and stop blaming your equipment!
Below are a few images of my gear, I love my "toys" but I also push myself to work with as little tech as possible. This forces me to do my best work and not rely on artificial creativity.

You can't learn to see better and you’ll never improve if you're always knocking your own work. Instead of investing in a new camera or lens, invest in your education. Connect with a seasoned photographer that you like and commit to spend an hour a week studying there work and technique. You’ll see huge gains from this one strategy.

There you go, now go shoot something you love.

Visit my website for contact info and to see more samples of my work at Stephen Alexander Photography