Home » My helpful hints for new Photographers!

My helpful hints for new Photographers!

By Arrow Photography, written 1472284203

So here I am, two years or so in to my journey (apologies for the corporate speak) and I look back with  my wise old head at how foolish the youthful me was - hey two years is a long time and I am definitely greyer!!

I thought it would be interesting to canter through the things I wish I'd known when I started this in the hope that others out there just starting may find it helpful or even those who've been at this a while may look at it slightly oddly, from an angle, under an old fishing hat and give a wry smile...

I caveat all of this with this is just my opinion, it's not the holy grail, this is my advice based on what I've seen so don't go getting your girdles all bunched up (it's REALLY uncomfy and chafes like you wouldn't believe)

1. All gear and no idea

I absolutely thought that to be considered a photographer (I will never use the word Tog as I hate it with a grinding passion) I had to have the biggest camera, the longest lens, light stands, tripods, soft boxes, speed lights, reflectors...arrgghhhhhh.

Now I've realised I need a camera and a lens...and...yeah that's about it really. It's nice to have all that stuff but models will not look at you and go "humph..only the one lens and it's not L Series...amateur..." So yeah...don't buy a load of stuff you don't need just because you think you need it!  I have a shed full of stuff that now I just don't use. I did invest in a better camera as I wanted something that was better in low light. The rest is shortly going on eBay!  If you're going to spend your money then buy good glass. Decent primes are the bomb (as the young say) and don't worry about brand names, Tamron, Sigma - wish I'd know that their stuff wasn't cheap knock off but actually awesome bits of kit! And there's so many options now, you don't have to spend a fortune, if you want those little Fuji things are awesome, bridge cameras - fantastic! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SPEND A LOT ON GEAR - of course if you're stinking rich then fill your boots but I 100% cast iron guarantee that gear alone will not improve your photography one bit.

2. Models aren't scary

FACT - models aren't scary. Spiders are scary, some people in a dark alley in East London on a  Friday evening are very scary but generally models aren't! I wish I hadn't waited so long to work with my first model due to a crippling fear of this strange and aloof species.  Models are lovely! Without exception every single one I have worked with has been fun, easy to get along with, professional and totally happy not to laugh at me when I leave the lens cap on.
They mostly exist on water and jaffa cakes in my experience but other than that they are totally  normal and I absolutely count a fair number of models now amongst my friends!

3. Put aside a few quid

Unless you are so talented on day one that Kate Moss is camping outside your house begging you for a shoot then you will have to pay models, in fact if you're new it totally will benefit you to pay some awesome models to help you build your portfolio.  Some (most!) of them even know a thing or two about photography, editing, lighting, composition etc and will be your best friend for ever and totally happy to offer advice - think of it as a model shoot with a free lesson built in!

Honestly if you can't afford to pay model rates then maybe this as a hobby (yes this isn't aimed at professionals) isn't for you? Find some friends to photograph, your dog, your nan, dodgy Fred from the cash and carry, trees, lakes, mountains, beaches, your own feet - there's a plethora of free things to take pictures of - models will not shoot with you for free / trade unless you can give them something they can't already get for free from other photographers, so please don't expect it the day you start!

4. Don't worry about manual

There's a school of thought that says only rank amateurs and your weird Uncle Bob at the church fete use the cameras auto settings! Pah! tish and tosh and twaddle!!

Some really clever Japanese dudes spent a long time on those bad,naughty settings round the other side of the dial! Don't be afraid to use them when you're starting - it's better to capture the image you want while you're in the moment. I almost exclusively use Aperture priority now and unless I'm doing something moody where I want control, Auto ISO, Auto WB - yeah I'm an auto whore and proud of it!!  Of course manual has it's place but don't worry when you're starting and no one will care or think less of you - and if they do then point them at me and I'll punch them in the pants for you.

5. Rules Schmules

This is not a camera club and the first rule of camera club is? Yeah don't join one unless you want to lose your soul every time you attend.

Rules are for big old losers, I sneer at the rule of thirds, I tweak the nipples of straight horizons and I flush perfectly exposed images into the sea with all the turds that Blackpool can muster.

Rules are ok but don't let them rule what you do, never say "oh I can't take that shot as it doesn't conform to rule X or Y". Literally if you do that every time a kitten will die.

Take the shot, be brave, be creative

6. Nude - be cool

There will come a time when you do your first nude shoot, or lingerie, topless (oh and I mean a model by the way not you - that's really not cool).

I've heard this from many a model, be cool, don't be a perve, don't act like a horny schoolboy! Nude models are very used to being nude (I know, go figure!) they don't find it a turn on, it's a job and they're good at it.  They are absolutely capable of being naked without an urge to throw themselves at you in fits of lust.
So, be cool, don't dribble or lick your lips, don't try to sneak any "special shots" , don't chat them up.
Don't invite your mates to hold a reflector. Really just be normal and act like an adult (a proper one, not a weirdo).

7. Comms, Comms, Comms, Comms (did I mention Comms)

Communication is key!  When booking be clear about fees, locations, timings, if you're supplying edits how many and when by.  So many post shoot issues are caused by poor pre-shoot communication.
Make sure you confirm your shoot, if meeting somewhere other than a studio then ensure mobile numbers have been swapped, confirm you're on your way - confirm everything and then get your mum to run round behind you confirming it again!!  Don't forget to leave a lovely reference!!

8. Don't get bogged down in drama

The modelling and photography world is beset with drama, it's like an episode of EastEnders a lot of the time - although I have yet to be shouted at "GET OUTTA MY PUB".

Do try and avoid all that, be nice. Don't  get involved in forum drama or slagging people off on social media. Be nice to everyone. It's very hard to get a reputation as a great photographer and all round nice bloke but very very easy to lose it. 
Sometimes things will happen, a model won't show up, these things happen - take the time and effort that you'd spend stressing about such things and put that into your photography instead. Hell, go take a walk, anything really is a better use of your time.

9. Don't be plastic

Plastic skin is not a good look, those sliders on photoshop mostly look best around the middle! Don't overdo it!  Look up sites such as PHLEARN, they have a ton of stuff for free on youtube, its so easy to follow and the guy that does it is super cool! Look up frequency separation, dodge and burn techniques.  It's not hard to get it right.  Be subtle, nothing should ever be set to 100%.  Do your editing then dial it back to get a natural look - your models will thank you for it too.
Try and avoid packages such as superplasticskinwizard2.0 - photoshop is the simplest and the best.

10. Fun!

Have fun! - this is kind of a lead on from 8 but think why you're doing this. I have a job that's as dull as a Dutch Man eating a plain unsalted cracker. I do this to have fun, to be creative,  to take me away from the dullness that life offers me. 
If you genuinely find it too stressful then maybe reevaluate what you're doing and why you're doing it.
As above, don't do drama, have fun, forget the rules, be nice, treat people with respect and don't think you know it all and you'll have a blast!