Following photography rules to the letter would not only be downright confusing (because there’s just too many of it!) and would leave no room for flexibility, creativity and experimentation. Then again, we asked the famous and the pros to share their photography secrets to challenge and inspire you to always giving it your best shot in your craft and/or business.
- Simplicity is the key. Look for a strong centre of interest and make it shine. If the foreground has strong elements too, allow it to highlight the subject even more. Minimize distractions in the background and make sure everything in the composition is well-lit before you click away. By using a tripod, you can maximize the potential of your camera settings.
Dave Butcher – a fine art black and white specialist and an Ilford Master Printer
- Familiarise yourself completely with your camera and equipment so you can make it work to your best advantage. And when you can identify its strengths and limitations, do not be afraid to experiment on your shots.
Richard Lee – a freelance photographer with over 10 years’ experience in news, sport and feature photography
- Your own recognisable style is what would jumpstart your career. Do not try so hard to be like a shadow of a mainstream pro. Believe in yourself and just take pictures of the things you love. You’ll get more credit and respect out of it.
Svein Bringsdal – a top fashion photographer working out of Bergen, Milan, Paris and London, and the publisher of Norwegian fashion title, Sva magazine
- When you plan a composition, do so in an extremely thorough fashion. You have to pre-visualise the final image and then gather all the necessary equipment. Make sure all the elements are present and you should always have a back-up plan, in case something goes wrong. Be detailed about your camera settings from depth of field and shooting distance to direction of light and shutter speed. It is better to be well-prepared for the actual shoot than do some major tweaking in the studio.
Russell Lewis – has over 30 years’ experience as a graphic artist
- Portrait photography does not require you to go in such length just to please the subject and get what you want from them. Of course, you still have to make them feel comfortable. But be in control of the situation. This way, your portrait sitter would also give their confidence vote to you.
Ron Moes – an award-winning wedding photographer based in the Netherlands
- Always prepare for the worst. You have to learn how to have grace under pressure even when others are already screaming on top of their lungs. Talk to your models a week before the shoot and the day before so you can confirm if everything’s ok. It would be better you find out what is the problem sooner rather than later so you can anticipate the potential delay it might cause your shoot.
Emma Delves-Broughton – an in-demand fetish and fashion photographer.
- If you really are into it, then it has to be part of your lifestyle, your ritual, your personhood. It would be difficult to create great shots if you lack the knowledge and passion for making it right.
Laurence Baker – a freelance photographer specialising in rock star portraits
- What can give your images maximum impact? If you fill the frame just enough so there are no room for distractions. Take a step towards your subject so you can really get a feel of the subject and the best angle you can capture it. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
Ben Birchall – an award-winning press photographer
- Don’t just go in particular location when you feel like it. You have to make preparations in advance, not only to maximise the use of your time, effort and resources but also because you want to learn everything you need to learn out of that photo-op. It would be useful reference for your next shoot. So have a predetermined viewpoint so you can get the best results.
Lee Pengelly – a successful freelance shooter specialising in landscapes
- Making money in photography means limiting the number of projects you get yourself involved with. This would allow you to spend more time to communicate with clients and find out their specific needs and expectations. It is better to maintain a regular set of clients than drop them off like hot potato in favour of one-time better paying clients. That would be unprofessional and you would eventually lose your loyal customer base.