Monday, September 27, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday


Part 1:  Encouragement for Beginners
Stephani asked me for a few 'words of wisdom' on how to become a better photographer.  As I was writing an email back to her I realized that I get lots of similar questions and I usually have the same first response. So I thought I'd write it here as well. For those of you who've been around awhile this will sound like a broken record (hmm, I guess that phrase is really outdated).... anyway, this is for you newbies who might benefit from my answer.


Hi Stephani,

Just a follow up to your comment on my Phun Phriday post asking for some ‘words of wisdom’.  I don’t think my words will be particularly wise, but more practical, and a bit boring.  For me, it all comes down to time, practice and persistence.  If you are willing to do these three things, I know you (and anyone) will certainly improve by leaps and bounds as a photographer.   Even those of us with limited natural abilities, can ‘learn’ to develop their creative side.   Probably 80% of everything I do, I learned from someone else.  That leaves only 20% for originality and creativity.  I got into photography later in life, after my kids were older, so I had a bit more time to devote.  So here’s what I did and still do.  I first got a decent camera, then read the manual.  I went to my local book store and bought several books further explaining how my particular camera works.  (If you have a popular camera, these books are readily available.)  I studied all the features of my camera, practiced until I understood all of what it could do in addition to just pointing and shooting.  Then I read every book the library had on photography, and purchased some new ones as I could afford them.  Now I have all sorts of books from learning general photography, to specialized ones on lighting, exposure, portraiture, how to shoot landscapes, etc.  Then the internet came along and I discovered if I spent some time, I could find almost limitless websites, blogs, etc. teaching just about every aspect of photography.  I find out about well known and new techniques, both for general photography and editing.  I find and follow the blogs of great photographers.  I study their photos, I read their tutorials, then I practice, practice, practice.   I am active in local camera clubs, and got on the mailing lists of camera shops and clubs that sponsor guest speakers and classes for little or no money.   Years ago I discovered Photoshop Elements and that changed my photography dramatically.  I realized that not only did I love to take photos, I loved the artistic side of seeing what I could create in post processing.   

I know there are those who are truly gifted, and can pick up a camera and within a short time create spectacular images.  That’s not most of us, and certainly not me.  For me there are no short cuts.... just time, practice and persistence!   Believe me, if you saw some of my early attempts at photography, you’d really have confidence that everyone can improve!!  Hope I’ve given you some encouragement.

Happy shooting,
Karen
Thanks for asking Stephani. I'm honored that you would find my opinion valuable; and, for everyone reading this, check out Stephani's great blog Picture Window.

Part 2:  Critical 'equipment' for photographing children

GROUP HUG!

Here is an image from tonight's photo shoot.  This is my beautiful daughter and her beautiful handsome family!

  From this point of view you'd think taking this picture was easy ..... smiling, cooperative children holding still while grandma fiddles with the lighting, her camera settings, until she finally snaps the shot.  Well not true!  If you are thinking of specializing in family and children's portraiture, there is one essential piece of 'equipment' you MUST have.  And that is an assistant!  But beware, not just anyone who calls themselves an assistant will be able to get the job done.  It is essential that your assistant have multiple and unique skills and abilities.  This person must be in good shape because a lot of physical labor is required such as running up to the children to wave a stuffed animal, feather boa or other interesting item in their faces then racing out of the picture so the photographer can take the shot.  She must be proficient at blowing horns, ringing bells, and conducting a puppet show on the photographer's head.  She must be quick witted in order to make up silly games on the spot, think up and execute unusual noises and sounds that will entice children to look at the camera.  She must move quickly and have good upper body strength and stamina to chase, pick up and carry a 2 year old back to his spot at least 100 times in one hour.  She must be an entertainer, a comedian, and a disciplinarian.  And most important, she must be someone the kids adore!!!  And I have the perfect assistant that does all of the above, even when she's 5 months pregnant!!  This is my wonderful daughter-in-law Michelle.  I've decided if she ever moves too far away to be my assistant I will just have to stop taking pictures of children!  She is always willing to help me, and believe me it is work.  She is exhausted when we're through, but I honestly could not do this without her.  Thanks Michelle!
 

17 comments:

tusen said...

The apples do not fall far from the tree!
;-)

diane said...

Thanks for the Tech Talk. I always look forward to them now all I have to do is take notice of them and make time to do what you suggest. The family foto is fab.

Scott said...

Great words of advice. With the Internet and today's cameras anyone who seriously wants to improve can. Guess what. I just discovered that I was not on your follower list. I can't believe it. Well I am now.

Sandra said...

your family is beautiful, even all those males. had to laugh at all the men your daughter has to live with. the photo is a reall memory catcher for them. thanks for all the info on how to learn to do better. i learn someting each time i come here, even when it is your photos, by studying them

Ginny said...

What a wonderful family picture! I didn't know that your DIL was your assistant. Is this how she met your son? I went to stephani's blog, and it is so good!! I left her a comment.

chasity said...

great advice!

Don said...

Good advice! In photography, like everything else, we should always be learning.

Rick said...

Good reminders for all ! Very helpful of you to do this for all the people out there wanting to improve.

And a great family photo ! I'll have to enlist an assistant next time I plan on making family photos with the grandkids.

JANE E KIRN said...

SUPER photo, loving it. I will be checking back with you often to read and view, just found you today.

teca said...

I think you gave a good advice ... sensitivity only add ... I believe that a photographer has to leave the flow sensitivity ...

By the way, I love your family! What beautiful people! The picture was great!

Kisses.

A Life In Focus Photography said...

lovely family...and lucky you with your assistant!

Lisa said...

Karen thank you so much for spending the time you have writing and sharing your thoughts , how you have gotten to where you are today. I agree with you in all areas and to take the time. Time is the big factor for me and patience. Thanks for the adding that in there so profoundly.
Great Blog. Loved it.
Have a great night.

Amber said...

Love the photo. The kids and all look FAB!! And yes Michelle is the most important part of the photo shoot aside from your obvious talents. She ROCKS it as an assistant! Can't wait to see you all again at Thanksgiving.

Denise said...

First of all you have a lovely family Karen. I enjoyed reading this post and found it very enlightening. The part where you talked about your assistant made me smile. I don't think many people realize what goes into taking portraits of children. It is quite an achievement to get the desired result and you certainly achieved yours. Off to see Stephani's blog now.
An English Girl Rambles

S. Etole said...

what good insight you offer ... especially about having an assistant with children ... I've often wondered how people get such good photos of children when they are always on the move

Elettra said...

This family photo is amazing, you were still facilitated by the beauty of the characters, many compliments

Lisa said...

That is a perfect description of Michelle