When you first start out as a photographer, you tend to have a false sense of expertise. Your family tells you your images are fantastic. Your close friends tell you they love what you do. So you print up a few business cards and start out in the business.
Then things change. The moment you start hanging around true professional photographers, attend a few classes by people that have made it in the industry, or submit your work to a professional photography contest … that’s when you learn all the mistakes you’ve been making along the way.
The first time someone criticized our photography it hurt. Did they really think it was that bad?
Then as we began learning more about what the pros were saying, and really studied our own work, we discovered they were right.
Taking an amazing image is more than luck. Its more than letting a person roam freely in front of you, snapping a few images as they “do their thing”. It takes a lot of work. You have to get a completely natural looking image that has every single aspect of it well thought out in advance.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to plan it and move everything into place. A true photojournalist knows how to look at a situation and instantly move into the right position to capture exactly what he or she is thinking about.
But there are certain things you should be watching out for every step of the way. And if you don’t, you’ll instantly showcase your lack of knowledge when it comes to your shooting skills.
Unflattering Lighting – Hotspots
Whenever you photograph a person, your entire concentration should be on the person. His or her face is what matters most. We want to be able to see into their eyes and really understand who they are as a person. If your light source is anywhere but on your subject, your eye will drift to that hotspot, and it will focus on the wrong area of the image.
Above all, your image should believable. If its not, will your client actually want to buy it? Yes, its fun to put your subject in all kinds of situations. But the final image should be beautiful, impressive … and believable. Make sure your subject isn’t doing something unnatural for the situation.
Too Much Nose, Not Enough Eyes
When people pose, they move into all kinds of unnatural and unrealistic positions. They flaunt, they show their sexy side, they like to pretend they are modeling. And half the things we do as we move simply won’t work for the camera. People don’t like to look up at their nostrils. And they love to focus in on the eyes. The eyes are our windows to our souls; they shouldn’t be squinting or irregular.
If you don’t focus in on your background, you may get some unexpected surprises peering at you from behind. Is that pole really coming out of his head? Is that branch attached to her shoulder? When you see a distracting object in the background, its really all you can focus on. Before you take the image, take a quick survey to make sure everything is in its place.