Isn’t Facebook time hop great?! Every day I get to see the last seven to eight years of my photography. Like almost every photographer, I sucked when I started out. My actual composition and use of the camera weren't too bad, but my post-production was horrendous. The best way to describe the post processing is “heavy-handed.”
Articles written by Scott Choucino
Most of us will have had that feeling of dread creeping up on us at some point in our lives; the racing heart, nausea, sweaty palms, and sense of impending doom. For some of us, this is just the start. And it’s not occasional. Working as a photographer with anxiety can feel very isolating and often impossible.
Although I now work in the commercial world, my passion started with documentary photography. I was, and still am, obsessed with Annie Leibowitz’s work with the Rolling Stones and I loved William Egglestone’s color observations of the mundane world he found himself in. When I find a free day, there is nothing that I enjoy more than walking out with my camera to document someone else's life. However, unlike the plethora of studio lighting tutorials available, there seems to be a real lack of articles on documentary photography. Here are six tips on how to improve your images.
Whether you are just starting out or you have been shooting for years, pricing is always top of your mind. For a long time, I just plucked figures out of the air, which made for very awkward conversations when clients wanted to know various ways to save money on a shoot. I eventually got my arse in gear and had a long (like a week-long) sit down and I went through everything in the smallest detail. Today, I give quotes with confidence, knowing that if a client says no, I am simply not the photographer for them.
You might have noticed a common theme in my articles: "the gear doesn’t matter". A lot of people have called me out on this, especially as in my profile picture I’m shooting on a Phase One with Broncolor lights. And yes, you are right, the kit does matter in my line of work, just not always. Sitting on the fence? Maybe. Here’s my explanation:
Going pro or full time in photography is often a daunting task. A lot of us are making the jump from another career rather than straight from university. This offers a particular set of challenges. Chances are that you have a mortgage or rent, loans, credit cards, children, cars, bills, a cat and dog, and a host of expenses that you have to keep on top of. The risk is high, but so is the reward.
As a photographer, at some point a friend, relative, co-worker, or a follower will ask you to photograph their wedding. Regardless of whether you are a product photographer, pet photographer, or any other kind of photographer that has nothing to do with weddings, they will ask you. And at some point, you will say yes, which is probably how you have found this article.
I always think that knowing a bit about the author is important, especially when reading an article about camera equipment. I work predominantly as a commercial photographer shooting people and food. However, most of my kit was purchased when I was starting out as a wedding photographer. So the reasons I shoot prime lenses apply to both my event work and the more commercial work I shoot now.
Almost all of us want to improve our photography. Regardless of whether you are a hobbyist, aspiring professional, or if you have been a pro for several decades, there's always more to learn. Creating better images should always be at the forefront of our mind. It doesn't matter where you are in your photographic journey or what genre interests you, here are five things that I think can help to improve your photography.
Being a professional photographer is an expensive game. Even really basic equipment is hard on the pocket. A lot of us (myself included) get this nagging doubt that our current kit is holding us back. I'm also guilty of getting gear envy when I see other photographers behind the scenes shots on instagram. However, professional photography is a business just like any other and it needs to make a profit, meaning spending on kit needs to be proportionate to your profit.
About a year ago I was drinking in a bar in Leicester, England. I got chatting to a gentleman who I sort of recognized from various events I'd attended in the past. After a few drinks, I discovered he owned a helicopter. At this stage, I was a bit worse for wear and thought it would be a grand idea to ask if he'd like to fly me above our hometown to take a sunset cityscape. We agreed, in our inebriated state, that this seemed like an excellent idea. So, just a few days later we met again (without beer) in a field; Me with my camera and a sickness in the pit of my stomach and him with his helicopter. We were all set for our flight.
There are many paths in professional photography. I have gone down the route of commercial photography, and whilst I am nowhere near where I want to be in professionally, I thought I’d share a few points that can go a long way to making it as a professional commercial photographer.
I am sure most of us look back on our lives and think, “You stupid idiot, what on earth possessed you to do/think/try that?” I am certainly no exception to this, especially in the professional arena. During my early years as a photographer, I made a heap of mistakes and I worried about all the wrong things.
Organizing a photoshoot, professional or otherwise, can be a daunting task. From a small portrait sitting with a local band to a worldwide ad campaign, there are some key steps that will reduce stress, ensure everyone feels understood, and ultimately help everyone work towards the same goals. As a bit of a disclaimer, I work in the U.K. as a commercial photographer, but most of these steps can be dialed up or reduced for any project, wherever they happen to take place and whether paid or not.
Free? Working for free? When I started out, being asked to work for free made my blood boil; Didn’t people know I had bills to pay, rent to make, black T-shirts to buy, rounds of beer to shout, girls to woo? These things cost money, and it still makes my blood boil when I’m asked to work for free. And yet I often work for free. Confused? Here’s how working for free is a good thing and how to ensure your blood doesn’t boil in the process.
The day you move from amateur to pro is one you never forget. But how do you decide to make that move? How do you know you’re going to cut it as a pro? How do you know if you’re ready? Will you ever be ready? Yes, you need a healthy interest from potential clients, and yes, you need a heap of camera gear. But what else? It is not all about the kit I promise you. That’s just a crutch. This is what you really need.