Being a Photographer
So we are slowly making our way through all of our lessons here and we are up to light. And obviously light is very important with photography. Without it, it doesn't really exist, does it? And light can come in many different forms and we're gonna break it down and we're gonna talk about it. From natural to artificial and just look at every different category of light and the types of things that work and don't work. Before we get started though, I always like to start off with something a little bit fun and different for the day. I was originally going to call this 10 facts about being a photographer but I guess they're more opinions. So these are 10 thoughts that I have on being a photographer. If you're new to this photography world, well its a little different. So there's a few things that I think you oughta know, if you don't already know them. Number one, photography is not cheap and I'm not gonna apologize for it, okay? It is an art based on technology a...
nd the technology is changing and it's getting better and some of the high-end stuff is what creates unique stuff. But it doesn't mean you can't create very original, very valuable things to you, whether that's just personally valuable or financially valuable with very inexpensive equipment. But some of that high-end equipment just costs money and some good quality lenses just cost a lot of money and that's just the way it is. Doesn't mean you have to buy it, doesn't mean you have to use it for what you're doing, but it means that some people are that are competing against you in some ways and so it's just part of the game that we play here. Number two, the best camera tomorrow, can't shoot a picture today. Now, there's probably not too many people that actually go to the rumor sites more than I do. Just 'cause I'm trying to stay in touch with the biz and what's going on. And I'm curious because I create the classes on these cameras, I wanna know what's coming and what am I gonna make my next class on and what camera's coming out. But I see some people making comments like, well I'm really gonna wait until this company comes out with these features or this camera and I don't wanna go on a trip until I get this better camera 'cause it's not worth my time. You cannot live your life waiting for tomorrow and generally the difference between one and the next generation of cameras is not gonna make any real big difference at all. I mean, if you just look back in time, I look back to kinda the earlier days of digital when we went from six megapixels to eight megapixels and there were people making really weird decisions based on, well I can't shoot this with a six, I gotta wait til there's an eight 'cause that'll be really good then. And now you look back and you're like, ha, there's hardly any difference at all. So get out there, shoot with what you have now, don't worry about what comes tomorrow. Number three, quality is important up to a point. You know, quality is really important and you will find that there are a number of really great photographers who really push things to a very, very high limit. But with everything you have to do, you have to know when to say enough is enough. There's always a way of spending more money and doing more to get a little bit higher quality but you know sometimes you need to get projects finished and out the door and sometimes when you put a picture up on Facebook you don't need to spend 40 hours editing it and shooting it at 50 megapixels and doing all these crazy things 'cause it's only gonna be this big and so, have pride in your work, put out as best of quality work that you can but you can't fuss over something forever and ever and ever. Part of being a good photographer, if you wanna get into the kind of the professional side of it, is being able to turn over what you're doing, finish your project and get on to the next one. You can't spend all year editing one photograph. So get it done, get to your best level of quality that you can in a reasonable amount of time, and move on to the next project. Number four, nobody makes a living just being a photographer. And what I mean by this is being a good photographer, knowing when to capture the best moment, knowing light, how to work your camera, is just a small part of what we do in leading the life of being a photographer. Every photographer I know that has made a career in photography tends to be an expert in something else. I've worked with Art Wolfe and he is a great photographer but he's also really smart when it comes to wildlife and he knows about a lot of cultures and he knows a lot about traveling, he knows about marketing. And I've worked with some of the wedding photographers that have done classes here at Creative Live and I don't want them to get insulted but I don't think of them as photographers, in some ways. They are wedding experts who happen to use a camera in their way of working with their clients. And most expert photographers are really experts in that particular subject and they just happen to add photography to it. Number five, the average photographer with great business skills will beat a great photographer with average business skills. Now this class is not about the business of photography but there is, you gotta talk about it because as soon as you start taking photos, your friends and your family are gonna say, hey, you can start a business in photography, you can make some money. It's not necessarily the right way to go for everybody. Photography is just an enjoyable way to live. You don't have to go out and start trying to make money from it. I have a friend who enjoys flying airplanes, he has no desire to go sign up for American Airlines to fly planes across the country. I know friends who like going out fishing. They're not going up to Alaska to be commercial fishermen, they just enjoy doing it on the weekends when they wanna do it, as they wanna do it. But if you do get into trying to make photography your business, I've talked to a lot of photographers in my one hour photo, some of you know I do a one hour talk here, one hour photo where I interview photographers and one of the questions I like to ask them is, what percent of your time do you spend photographing, either setting up a shot, capturing a shot, actually doing photography, as opposed to marketing, social media and all those other things that go along with being a photographer. And in general, the range is somewhere between 10% and 15%. That's what they spend their time doing. And so if you wanna be a successful professional photographer, you're gonna have to have great business skills. And if you were young and you're going to school, you should probably major in business and minor in photography, then the other way around. You'd probably do a better job in the world. All right number six, opinions matter, yours most of all. Now this kinda changes depending on where you are in photography but I remember when I was young and I was in college and I was putting together my college portfolio of all my best work, I was taking it around to a lot of my mentors to say, here's my 40 images, which 20 should make the cut? And I needed some guidance at that time 'cause I was really young and I was new to photography but if you do that too much, it's not your work that you're really putting out, you're putting out what other people think of your work. And you're gonna be constantly relying on other people to help you make decisions in what you are putting out as your best work. It's your work, you need to decide what is the best in many cases and you're gonna kind of live or die by that in some ways of your success but it's you that people want. They want your photography, they want your decisions and so you're gonna have to learn how to make those decisions and really go with it. And so it's good to ask opinions of other people just to get feedback but stay true to yourself. Number seven, five stars. We often can rate our photos in five stars, and I'm gonna talk more about this in the editing section, but if I was in control of your photography, I had full control of everything you did I would say that you should wait three years before you even grade one of your photographs three stars. The way it would work is that for your first two years of shooting you would throw away your garbage, your average photos you would give them one star, and your good photos you would give them two stars. And that's all you would do. Very simple, very easy. And at the end of two years, my guess is that you might have a few hundred images that are two stars and then by the third year you could go and you could rank some of those very best that you've shot in the first two years as three stars and then going forward your very best ones are three stars. And I think that's a lot easier than using the five star system, I think the five star system is too many for most people and I'll talk more about this in the culling and editing section in the next, following class after this. Number eight, the hardest part of photography is being in the right place at the right time. And this can be a lot of different things. This can be getting that great sunset. Did you just happen to be in location? I know for a little while, when I moved into where I currently live I have just a little peekaboo view of Mt. Rainier here and I get to see the sunrise and a little bit of the sunsets and I can see when the light's starting to get good and it's like, ooh this is good and I've got some free time, I'm gonna hop in the car and I'm gonna drive down to the lake and, (sighs) its too late. You gotta be down there, you don't have very much time to get there. It can also be there for meeting the right people and making the right connections. Be social, be around, meet people, be out there ready to shoot because that's just a big part of it, is just being in the right place and being ready, it's being prepared. Number nine, good photographers are good problem solvers. Actually taking photos is a very small part about photography. It's all about solving these other little problems. Whether it's how do you get to a particular location and being there. I know I'm gonna tell you a more complete story about shooting the eclipse this last summer. But there was a lot of planning in that and you know I need to figure out, okay where am I gonna put myself? I've got to be camping out, I'm gonna need this, I'm gonna need that, I need to be prepared for this and what about this and there's gonna be traffic jams and how do we shoot this, so I'm gonna have this and there's all these other lenses and actually the shooting part took place over about a half an hour and it was relatively easy to do but just getting all the logistics together. Talk about a studio photographer you know we gotta get this person in, we gotta get the makeup person in, got the person with the dog handler over there and what happens if the dog does this, we gotta take care of this and it's just all sorts of crazy management that you're doing and so you just have to be welcoming of putting out all of the little fires and sometimes they're big fires. Number 10, the learning never stops. You gotta keep going out there and looking and shooting and editing and reviewing your work and then going back out there and doing it again and again. And it's a process and the more you do that process, the more you'll learn. And if you can remember those little lessons that you've been through and it's hard not to learn lessons when you go out there and you try to do something and you just completely fail. I don't know for you, but for me, I really get ingrained in hard failures, you learn from those lessons. I don't even want to think, and I don't think about all the times that I headed out the door all ready to go take great photos and came back either with zero or nothing worthwhile. It just happens. But I do really remember the ones that come back are winners. Those are very special moments to me. You just gotta keep going out there and keep doing it.