Wednesday, April 1, 2009


PHOTOGRAPHER. Everyone can claim to be a photographer nowadays (professional or not). With a point-and-shoot (P&S) in their hands, they call themselves a photographer or a 'photographer-wannabe'. I myself shy away from calling myself a photographer/semipro-photographer. Having a SLR in my hands and a small portfolio in my HD doesn't make me a photographer. No matter how 'good' I am, there are always people TONS better than I.

After pondering about attitudes that photographers should have, I have come up with point(ers).

1. Be humble. (You will learn NOTHING by being proud. In fact, you won't learn anything in life by being proud. Accept tips from friends, family and even total strangers, you can learn plenty from them. Don't be offended by criticism- learn from it!)

2. Never stop learning. (The key is never. If you get to the point where you think you are satisfied with you head knowledge, you have read a dead end. Watch it, you photos in time will grow stale. Ignore the tiny voice which whispers, "You know enough...leave it.")

3. Look. (Notice I didn't say "read"? That's because I don't believe you have to read up photography books to become a better photographer. For me, I don't really read photography books. I LOOK at the pictures inside the book. Seriously, I learn more from studying the way the photo is taken than reading big words and numbers. To be honest, I don't know a quarter of the gooblygook of photography language. I use my eye and sense...of course, simple stuff like aperture, shutter speed...etc is known to me. Book knowledge doesn't give you a creative edge or an x-factor.

4. Be patient. (Ohhh...that is something you HAVE to be. Being uptight equals stiff pictures. Be patient and you produce wonderful photos. Be relaxed. Enjoy your time.

Having covered just some thoughts, I'll step into the unknown path and write in simple point form how I learned how to take better portrait photos.

1. Be a people person. Are you someone comfortable to be with? Some people are shy in front of the job is to 'un-shy' (I know, there's no such word) them. Also, if you take photos of kids, you have to get down to their level. Kids can sense if you are afraid of them...must be sixth sense or something. Don't treat them like glass. They're not.

2. Listen to what suggestions your clients and/or friends might have. (As for family, even you don't want to listen, you have to :)). Don't be the ultimate 'god' and 'I know best' about photography. It turns people off.

3. Composition. Rule of thirds, remember? But sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Try it. Break out of your mould.

4. Take 5 or more. Ever heard the saying- "Safety in numbers"? That doesn't only apply to people in groups or such. Take five or more shots of the same pose. There's always a chance of an out-of-focus photo or an overexposed photo. Don't give why to chance. The only thing you have to lose is HD space.

5. Take minor details. Take 'artistic' shots of their hands...or maybe just their eyes. Do they play a 'portable' instrument (violin, cello, trumpet, flute etc…), of so, as them to bring it along. I'm sure they won't mind playing while you take photos of them. Just remember to bring ear plugs.

6. It doesn't really matter what camera you use. It's the person behind the camera, not the camera that 'makes' the photo. True, but please don't expect you $300 P&S camera to take $1200 pictures. It just doesn't work that way. If you are really serious about photography, save up, buy an entry level or used SLR and be amazed at the difference, trust me. Why buy a $900 SLR-like P&S when for just two hundred or more you can buy a new SLR. Or better still, start off on a used (older model) SLR which you can buy for just $250 (body only) there are tons of people out there wanting to sell their old SLR's.

7.Edit. I once believed that editing photos was really cheating. That was before I found the beauty of Photoshop. No, Photoshop is not 'fake' or 'lying' its enhancing. :) A non-edited photo is nice...until you edit it; it becomes "wow". I don't encourage just 'snapping' a shot because- "I can always edit it later"; get it right on the camera first and make it look eye popping later. One rule: DO NOT OVERDO IT. Do not make your photo look like a painting unless that was your final goal.
"Less is always more"

And one more last thing: experiment. Try new thing, check out the different functions in your camera. Try new angles. Try different modes. PRACTICE AND EXPERIMENT.

That's the end of my article. Now, go out and take better photos. Capture tomorrow’s memories.

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