Most of my photography skills are self-taught and I find at times photography can be really competitive and uninviting if you’re not an outgoing person.
In this article, I will explain my tricks to progress from amateur photographer to payed professional.
What are the 6 most important things to have a successful photoshoot?
1. You need an idea and a title.
It has to come from something you feel, or a creative idea. Try to make it clear and tangible. You need to be able to quickly communicate your idea to another person. Drag them in to your world.
From that initial concept, I try to build a mood board to convey my more intricate feelings to my team.
After I find the name it becomes easier to stay inside the theme. Everything fits right into place by defining the project in a name. This helps establish guidelines and drive the direction of the project, which will give a better chance of being published in magazines.
2. Quality lenses.
Prime lenses offer the best!
You don’t need to spend all your savings to have a quality lenses. In my first two years of portrait and fashion photography I used only one lens: the Canon 50mm 1,4f.
Cost? $300 AUD!
Later, I added the Sigma Art 85mm 1,4f, and I find the longer lens easier to split the subject from the background and create bokeh. This helps a lot when the location is messy or doesn’t offer much to the photo.
However, I often like to have a lot of detail, so I also use the Canon L 16-35mm 2,8f. I had originally planned to use it mostly for landscapes but I actually use it a lot for fashion now. I like the curve of the lens and compose many pictures with the background and buildings from the location. I like to use the intricate details captured in these pictures to do graphic design and make collages. You can see this technique used effectively in my soon to be published work for Walking Slouch and my collages made from the photos I took at Brighton Beach with The Elephant Room team.
3. Talented model.
When I started doing photography 5 years ago, I was shooting mostly friends from Facebook or asking people in the street if they want to have a photoshoot with me.
Most of the time it was their first shoot and I taught them how to pose. It was often really surprising how quickly they discovered new skills. Some of my first models are now modelling and are doing really well with it. A few of them are even being paid for it!
Finding a model this way sounds like a lot of fun. It's not. It's a time consuming and tiring process and the results are not always reliable.
So I now work with agencies. They have a database of different profiles and can advise the best models to suit my shoots.
It’s also safer because when the model happens to cancel at the last minute the agency can just send me someone else. Considering that I work with teams and cannot simply cancel a shoot at the last minute just because of the model has cancelled. It's a big relief knowing the agency is there to take some of the responsibility from you.
At the moment I am working with a few agencies in Melbourne.
I really enjoy working with them and the girls are really sweet and have a good attitude on the shoot.
Contacting agencies is really easy. You just have to call them and ask if they need test shoots for their models. If they like your work, they will send you a list of new talents who need pictures taken for their portfolios.
4. Find an interesting location.
There is no secret about it if your location is bad your pictures will probably look terrible. You need a nice location unless you’re going to shoot only close portrait, which can be quite repetitive.
A good location means a nice looking place but also good lighting on the location.
I hate harsh bright lighting and am still learning to deal with it. I like soft light and I prefer to shoot really early in the day at sunrise or later during and just after sunset.
But it can be really difficult when you are working with a team to have everything set up and starting shooting for 5:45AM. You need to make an effort and be able to shoot with the light you have and learn to use extra lights and edit your pictures.
5. Have fun!
Photoshoots are the best part of the job for me. I love it.
There are two different types of photoshoots; Paid contracts and free collaborations.
A client hires you to shoot for their brand. This means that this person has seen your portfolio and liked it. They trust your ability to deliver quality photography and to work within their guidelines. They will pay you to work on the project, but they expect you to provide the product on time and at a premium quality.
The collaboration (Also called TFP- Time For Print);
This is the time where you realise your dream shoot. This is your moment. You choose the style and the direction and build the entire shoot from the ground up.
On TFP shoots everyone is working for free and giving their time to collaborate with you on a shoot.
The models, stylist and HMUA all trust you to capture their talent with the camera. Keep in your mind everyone is working for free and you need to be well organised. Don't waste their time.
6. Be prepared
Having a shoot can be really stressful. The day before I like to spend doing 'prep' work. I print mood boards, makeup boards, make a schedule and check the weather 100 times. I make sure I have a good assistant ready with extra gear. I look at my mood boards 10 times to remember what poses and look I want to achieve. Prepare for different problematic situations and it will help you to handle problems when they arise.
My last tip isn’t really a tip, more like life advice. Be thankful for the people who are working around you, especially if they give their time for free. Nobody owes you anything and you should be grateful for these people. Try to repay hair and makeup artists, stylists, brands, assistants and models back by giving your absolute best to every shoot you go to. For this, you have to believe in yourself!