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Thread started 25 Sep 2010 (Saturday) 11:13
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Discovering your photography style

 
ChrisMc73
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Sep 25, 2010 11:13 |  #1

So I've been taking pictures with my Canon 5D Mark II for over a year now and like an onion I've slowly been peeling away at what kind of photography I do and don't like to shoot...

At first I started with a very open mind and said I'd shoot just about anything! Ha, how a year can change that thought process.

I'm still not very good with my flash/speedlight, at all. I can't get consistently decent shots with it. Seems I'm constantly trying to find the right exposure, shutter speed, aperture, flash compensation, flash setting, moving my flash angles, etc...I just don't like it either. In my natural light shoots, I am still changing my settings, just not as often or frequently.
Its so much easier and better for me to shoot in natural light, at least for now until I can master creating my own light. I'll stick with natural light photography for now.

After Thursday night I've decided that "event" photography is not for me. Unless its a very specific event that I want to do and is natural light. I offered up my services, volunteered to shoot an event for the American Association of Diabetes and it was a major fail. Not just my photography but the event was as well, which lent to that. There were "paid" photographers from local magazines and papers there, because the event had some local sports celebrities, and they were like vultures. I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone to take a picture due to them already asking everyone in sight.

I would have felt really bad had I been paid to get the shots and only got the pics that I did get. I'm not a vulture and not pushy so from that night on its no more of that type of event photography for me. I'm not paparazzi, and I won't be.

I've also just about ruled out wedding photography as well, after being a 2nd camera in about three weddings now. Too much pressure to get the brides special day.

So my onion is peeling back more and more over time. I love shooting children and families in a natural light, candid type of lifestyle photography. But even that has its downsides. Ones I'm more better at handling.

So my point of the post was to just get off my chest how I'm seeing my photography styles mold and shape after about a year and a half of taking all kinds of shots.

Sponsored and Organized Events as well as Weddings and Receptions are not my cup of tea.

I do want to take some classes and get better with a flash and maybe once I get a better understanding there, I will feel different about these two areas.

Thanks for listening.




  
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Phil ­ V
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Sep 25, 2010 13:55 |  #2

I'm not sure I understand your motivation here?

You've worked out that you enjoy some aspects of photography, though from your post I'm not sure what they are? Even the bit you enjoy has downsides?

What has led you to believe that you must enter photography commercially?

Many people enjoy photography for what it is, constantly pushing their learning in their chosen direction. Some of them do this with a view to one day making some money but many other just don't. Many of these people can produce work that rivals work produced by many pro's, but lots can't and are happy to just do it for the enjoyment anyway, all of this is valid.

On the other hand, you appear to have decided that you don't have the camera skills / patience / people skills to do many types of photography for a living, yet you've not really given yourself much chance and appear to be giving up many things without giving it much effort, I suppose that's enough to tell you that you don't have the tenacity and drive to create a successful business in whatever field.

There are some people who can pick up a camera one week and the next they are making money, this is all about drive and belief and it's very rare. For most of us we have taken photography seriously for years before we felt we had the skills to charge for our services. Even then lots of us aren't equipped with the necessary business skills to make a living from this.

I'd suggest you keep learning, even if you've decided to specialise in natural light portraiture, you should learn how to supplement / substitute this with flash because unfortunately natural light doesn't always turn up exactly how we need it. And if we have paying customers with appointments they don't understand that we can only perform at our best when the sun is on our side. They expect us to provide our best for them when they ask.


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TomCross13
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Sep 25, 2010 16:21 |  #3

Sounds like you're not doing it for fun anymore.


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cdifoto
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Sep 26, 2010 04:02 |  #4

Sounds like your specialty is flowers then?


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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:36 |  #5

Phil V wrote in post #10976497 (external link)
I'm not sure I understand your motivation here?

You've worked out that you enjoy some aspects of photography, though from your post I'm not sure what they are? Even the bit you enjoy has downsides?

What has led you to believe that you must enter photography commercially?

Many people enjoy photography for what it is, constantly pushing their learning in their chosen direction. Some of them do this with a view to one day making some money but many other just don't. Many of these people can produce work that rivals work produced by many pro's, but lots can't and are happy to just do it for the enjoyment anyway, all of this is valid.

On the other hand, you appear to have decided that you don't have the camera skills / patience / people skills to do many types of photography for a living, yet you've not really given yourself much chance and appear to be giving up many things without giving it much effort, I suppose that's enough to tell you that you don't have the tenacity and drive to create a successful business in whatever field.

There are some people who can pick up a camera one week and the next they are making money, this is all about drive and belief and it's very rare. For most of us we have taken photography seriously for years before we felt we had the skills to charge for our services. Even then lots of us aren't equipped with the necessary business skills to make a living from this.

I'd suggest you keep learning, even if you've decided to specialise in natural light portraiture, you should learn how to supplement / substitute this with flash because unfortunately natural light doesn't always turn up exactly how we need it. And if we have paying customers with appointments they don't understand that we can only perform at our best when the sun is on our side. They expect us to provide our best for them when they ask.

Thanks Phil, I think what I was trying to say in a nutshell was that I started this as just a hobby and means of documenting my son's birth 16 months ago, and it led to a lot of people complimenting me for my photos of him growing over the past year. So much so that I started looking into doing it as more than a hobby, to try to make some extra money on the side. Where that led me to what I was ranting about above, which was that I do not want to do the events anymore. I still do love to see good wedding photographers work, and hope one day I can do that quality of photos, but after my experiences with shooting some weddings, maybe I don't. Thats up in the air still.

I do however enjoy photographing children and families. I have been following many local photographers who do this well, and even become good friends with some and helped out their mini sessions. This is something I think I can continue.

I agree with you on what you said to me, just about everything. Thanks for the advice and information. I will continue to learn and try to supplement the natural light photos with some flash/strobe photography, once I can get into some situations that help me to learn this. It does excite me to see some flash photography with the children/families, so I know it would be a great skill to have.

Again, I think I was just ranting that after my 1.5 years of experience with my photography, I decided that I know for sure I do not want to be a paid event photographer who has to compete with others on the spot for shots. I like a more controlled environment, where I'm the lone paid photographer, and I can use my camera to craft my own art. I think thats what I was trying to say...

I have fun shooting candid shots of kids and their families. Letting them let loose while I capture all the cute and fun moments with my lens. So far that has been my most enjoyable moments with my camera.




  
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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:39 |  #6

TomCross13 wrote in post #10977063 (external link)
Sounds like you're not doing it for fun anymore.

Tom, in some ways you're right. I have a lot of friends and word of mouth references coming at me now, asking to get photos of their kids and families and now and then other opportunities come along, such as that event, that I decide to "try" out. I think mainly its just a trial and error process for me. Try "this" event, try "that" one etc...and after the other nights event, I decided that those kinds of events will no longer get my attention.

I still have fun shooting the kids and families, and my own as well.




  
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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:40 |  #7

cdifoto wrote in post #10979417 (external link)
Sounds like your specialty is flowers then?

lol...I don't even own a macro lens, so no! lol...and flowers die and well no I don't like to shoot them either...
:D
I think I'm narrowing down my specialties though.




  
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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:42 |  #8

Ps, my next photo shoot is a 28 person family shoot...not sure how that one will go.




  
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cdifoto
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Sep 26, 2010 04:46 |  #9

ChrisMc73 wrote in post #10979489 (external link)
Again, I think I was just ranting that after my 1.5 years of experience with my photography, I decided that I know for sure I do not want to be a paid event photographer who has to compete with others on the spot for shots. I like a more controlled environment, where I'm the lone paid photographer, and I can use my camera to craft my own art. I think thats what I was trying to say...

Most events aren't like that, at least not the ones I've done. As long as you carry yourself as a professional, most folks will respect you and stay out of your way, or at least heed your requests for them to move and/or wait until you're done shooting to get theirs.

It's really not that big of a deal if you have a spine. Seeing another professional in action is what really made this click for me. Especially when I asked him "where do you get the nerve to bark orders like that?" and he responded "they don't know what to do on their own - they're paying me to tell them what to do."


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cdifoto
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Sep 26, 2010 04:46 |  #10

ChrisMc73 wrote in post #10979504 (external link)
Ps, my next photo shoot is a 28 person family shoot...not sure how that one will go.

Yeah good luck with that. No envy here. :p


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cdifoto
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Sep 26, 2010 04:47 |  #11

ChrisMc73 wrote in post #10979498 (external link)
lol...I don't even own a macro lens, so no! lol...and flowers die and well no I don't like to shoot them either...
:D
I think I'm narrowing down my specialties though.

Hah! I'm glad you didn't take that the wrong way and get butt-hurt. :)


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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:50 |  #12

cdifoto wrote in post #10979516 (external link)
Most events aren't like that, at least not the ones I've done. As long as you carry yourself as a professional, most folks will respect you and stay out of your way, or at least heed your requests for them to move and/or wait until you're done shooting to get theirs.

It's really not that big of a deal if you have a spine.

I agree. But I guess I don't have much of a spine. These other two photographers were nice and would have moved had I asked, but I felt out of place. I didn't like asking the same people who just had their picture taken, to take it a 2nd or 3rd time etc...it was just awkward for me. Its just my preference I guess, to not have to deal and/or compete with other photographers for shots. If it was my lone source of generating income, which it seemed to be for these other two, I would adapt. But since I was just donating my services for a good cause, I didn't feel I needed to be "tenacious" etc...

That on top of the indoor lighting and flash issues I have, made the event a fail for me.




  
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TomCross13
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Sep 26, 2010 04:56 |  #13

ChrisMc73 wrote in post #10979498 (external link)
...and flowers die and well no I don't like to shoot them either...
:D
I think I'm narrowing down my specialties though.

Photo's of dead things produce a feeling in people like no other... consider it:cool:


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ChrisMc73
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Sep 26, 2010 04:58 |  #14

TomCross13 wrote in post #10977063 (external link)
Sounds like you're not doing it for fun anymore.

I'm thinking this could be a profound moving thing for me...did I remove the fun of it all when I decided to try to make some money?

I didn't mean to. I was getting so many great compliments, still do, and when someone wants you to recreate your art with their family, I could do it for free, buy why not try to get some extra cash? I just need to maybe stay focused on what kinds of shoots are "fun" for me, and keep them fun, and make the money as well.

I'm not charging a lot for my work, I give good prices, mainly because I'm not producing the quality that other pros are. Do I want to get there? Yes. I'm trying to learn more about PP right now so that I can take my good shots and step them up a few notches.




  
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cdifoto
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Sep 26, 2010 04:58 |  #15

ChrisMc73 wrote in post #10979525 (external link)
I agree. But I guess I don't have much of a spine. These other two photographers were nice and would have moved had I asked, but I felt out of place. I didn't like asking the same people who just had their picture taken, to take it a 2nd or 3rd time etc...it was just awkward for me. Its just my preference I guess, to not have to deal and/or compete with other photographers for shots. If it was my lone source of generating income, which it seemed to be for these other two, I would adapt. But since I was just donating my services for a good cause, I didn't feel I needed to be "tenacious" etc...

That on top of the indoor lighting and flash issues I have, made the event a fail for me.

Well celebrities (local or otherwise) are used to being bombarded with requests for photos. It's part of their job really.

Having the kanugas to call out to them basically comes with time. You learn that it's the only way to get a good shot in that scenario so you do it.

Same goes for weddings. You don't call out to them, but you realize that you're hired to do the best job you can, and it's you and only you who is responsible for THE photos. Not just any photos but the ones that go on record as the professional shots. It's in the bride's and groom's best interest, as well as the mother's and father's of the bride (who likely paid for all that stuff, including you) that you're not hindered by their guests. Guests can and should be made aware of this as well, without offending them, but only if they start to interfere.


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