Do you have a voice and vision?
Unless you have your own voice and vision, you are of no value as a professional photographer. So says artist rep Maren Levinson, founder of Redeye Represents in this interview with John Keatley.
John Keatley, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a award winning celebrity portrait photographer who has worked with some huge names in advertising campaigns. Names like MSN, the NBA, Samsung, NBC, Discovery Channel and many, many more. You can see more of his incredible photography on his website Keatley Photo.
Now with amazing consumer cameras…Instagram, Flickr, you don’t need to pay a professional (photographer) to fill a space, there are a lot of ways to fill a space…
In the interview below Maren makes some bold statements that are worth listening to. In her opinion “with amazing consumer cameras…Instagram, Flickr, you don’t need to pay a professional (photographer) to fill a space, there are a lot of ways to fill a space…” as well as “It used to be that somebody who could light, show up and make a portrait was of value. That person is of no value anymore.”
It used to be that somebody who could light, show up and make a portrait was of value. That person is of no value anymore.
It is no longer good enough to shoot a sharp, well composed image. It takes more than that, it takes a photographer with a vision.
Here are 5 ways to help you find your voice and vision.
1. Learn the essentials
Know the rules of photography. Know when you can break the rules. Knowing how to take a good photograph is not a style, but without a solid foundation you can never develop a vision. Learn composition. Then push yourself to learn more, try new things and new approaches.
You will need to go beyond technical proficiency to develop a certain branding or look.
2. Learn Lighting
Learn to “see the light”. Learn how the angle of the light can change things like color and depth.
Where is the light coming from? The direction of the light will have a huge effect on the quality of your photos whether you are using natural light or artificial studio lights. Is your subject back lit, front lit or side lit? What areas of the subject will be lit, what will be in the shadows? It is the shadows that give depth to a photograph but shadows can also obscure details and color.
Light affects the contrast. Is it bright sunny day or a cloudy day? A bright environment will give your image higher contrast. A dimmer scene will produce low contrast.
3. Pick a subject
Your subject can be anything you feel passionate about. What photos do you like looking at? What subjects do you love photographing? Is it landscapes, portraits, cars, wildlife, streetshots? Understand why you picked that subject. What does the subject say to you, what is it’s story?
Your vision is a story. Don’t just share an photograph with your audience share its story. You are not just creating an image but creating a story through the image. This story can be an emotion, a belief, a feeling or a particular way of looking at the world. It is also about sharing the meaning of your photo. The image should mean something to you. Your photos don’t just contain objects, people and features, they also contains the ideas that represent your vision. Without vision, a photograph is just a photograph. With vision it can be a masterpiece.
Make photographs. Seriously, get out and shoot. Start a 365 project – taking at least 1 photo every single day for an entire year. Look at your images and do you own critique. What could you have done better? What did you do well? Make photos at different times of day, make them inside and outside. Use natural light, use different types of artificial light, use off camera flashes or on camera flashes.
Look for inspiration. Look at a variety of different concepts, what did you like about the image, what didn’t you like. Find photographers that make images that you enjoy. Study their style. Try out a bunch of different styles, play with them and combine the elements to make them your own.
5. Post Processing
Some may find this controversial, with all the talk of “getting it right in camera” and the people who post images that are “straight out of the camera”. This of course is rubbish, especially if you are shooting RAW. You need to learn post processing. Post processing can’t help a bad image so getting it as right as you can in camera is still important but it is no excuse not to post process. If you want to stand out and be noticed you need to post process your images.
You can come up with your own style and look through post processing
~ Trey Ratcliff
Take a look at one of my favorites, Trey Ratcliff, at Stuck on Customs, his HDR Photography is outstanding, not the garish HDR images you so often see. You can find out more about Trey’s style in his HDR Tutorial.
You should also check out Joel Grimes, the photographer mentioned in the video, he certainly has his own style and vision.
There are vast amounts of photography blogs that you can find top tips, tutorials, workshops, and courses that can help you learn Lightroom and Photoshop. One of my favorites is KelbyOne (use this link to save $20 off an annual membership). I have been a member for several years and they keep coming up with great tutorials and workshops to help with every aspect of your photography.
The bottom line is that the photography industry has changed and it is now more important than ever to differentiate yourself from your competition. As Maren said in the video above “You will get reduced to one sentence and it’s your job to fill that sentence.” What are you going to fill it with?
Let me know in the comments section what your thoughts are. Do you agree with Maren? What is your voice and vision?