DARE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS, TRICKS AND TUTORIALS

TIP THIRTEEN

HAVING DOUBT IS FINE

What I see quite often at the Dare workshop is people giving themselves a hard time. They want to feel more confident and secure in what they are doing. They imagine that one day they are going to get to a place where they will have no more doubt or insecurity about their work, and I suspect, in their life as a whole. What if that is not part of the deal? What if doubt never goes away.

What if fear and not feeling good enough is simply the way that it is? The constant struggle to feel better, to feel happier, to be more than I am now is so tiresome. Like … has it worked so far?

How about … we simply allow all of those thoughts and feelings about our work and about ourselves to just be. We don’t try to get rid of them. We just allow it all to come and go. There are so many books out there that are suggesting we need fixing. What is it we are actually attempting to fix? One of these days we need to give ourselves a break.

What I am seeing more in my life is that everything is fine and has to be welcome. Freedom is not about getting rid of fear. It’s about allowing fear to be there and living my life anyway.

 

TIP TWELVE

PRACTICE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

The biggest plus for me when I started out in Wedding Photography is that I had spent a whole bunch of years previously shooting street photography and it gave my work an edge and a confidence. It enabled me to get in closer than most simply because if I can get up close and personal out on the streets I could do it a lot easier at a wedding where it was expected of me. (A step closer makes a world of difference). The practice was also fundamental in the development of my composition and storytelling skills.

I love the mysterious aspect of street photography also, getting out, on my own, me and my camera, and hunting down frames for nothing more than the fun of it. I’m not getting paid. I’m simply doing it for its own sake. If you’ve never practiced street photography it can at first be a little intimidating and I urge you to push through this barrier as the pay-off is worth it.

 

 

TIP ELEVEN

BE OBSESSED (ALWAYS HAVE A CAMERA TO HAND)

Smartphone, DSLR, film camera, disposable. It’s doesn’t matter. As Henri Cartier Bresson once said “The first 10,000 pictures are your worst”. Shoot, shoot and shoot more. Every day. If people around you are getting annoyed then you know you are on the right track. It’s an obsession worth having.

 

 

TIP TEN

IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT

I had an experience recently where I was looking back at some of my work from 3-4 years ago. What I saw surprised me. I saw a body of work that was energetic and full of life with some pretty damn good compositions. The past year or so I’ve felt that my work has become a little stale. Why was that? Then it hit me. I’d stopped doing a lot of the things that were working back then. It’s kind of like I got confused and thought that to move forward as a photographer I had to keep trying out new things. And for sure we do have to keep adapting and challenging ourselves and … there are a great many things that we do that will always work. Repetition is the a key word here. And it’s an invaluable practice. I think what can happen is that we get bored with doing something over and over. It’s like when we unbox a camera for the first time it’s a great feeling and we never quite have that same feeling about the camera again after that. So we buy a new camera. And another one. Or a new lens. A new camera bag. We keep looking for that fix.

I think anything worthwhile has to be worked at. It’s not always about the high. It’s about putting in the work. Practicing. Refining and honing what works rather than pin-balling about the place trying to come up with new ideas all of the time.

Its about … repetition.

I read an interview years ago about a Pianist. He was asked why at the age of 78 he still practiced for 4 hours each day. The Pianist responded … “Because just now finally I think I’m finally beginning to make a little progress.”

🙂

 

TIP NINE

THIS THING ABOUT POSING

With regards to posing, especially with couples, I am personally looking for movement and symmetry between the two of them and that takes looking and noticing and seeing what is going on between them. It takes being present. If we have a particular pose in our head that we want to set up, well that’s fine, and that’s not my way of shooting. Occasionally, rarely, i’ll set something up like that. But for me the best frames I get are spontaneous and come from simply not taking my eyes off of what is going on. Often, at the Dare workshop,  a particpant will set up a shot, and it may even be a pretty cool pose structure, and they take their shot and then they lower the camera. For me the best frame is yet to come. It usually happens the second or two after the couple relax, i.e. they think you are done, and they move into a natural symmetry. it always always happens. It is then that you should be clicking.

TIP EIGHT

WHEN IT FEELS AS IF YOU ARE NOT MAKING PROGRESS – KEEP MOVING FORWARD

There are times when we all feel stuck with our photography and our business. It’s at these times we have to keep moving forward. Absolutely we need to work on being innovative and changing it up. And … still there are times when we feel as if no matter what we do … nothing is working out. In my experience what we are doing is kind of blowing up a balloon with creative energy that will burst open with goodies at some stage. So don’t give up.

My guess is that what many people do is they lose faith and they stop putting the energy in … likely right before the balloon is about to pop.

TIP SEVEN

STOP MAKING EXCUSES TO NOT TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS

One of the reasons photographers often give at my workshop for not taking photographs is that they haven’t enough time in the day. The reality is taking photographs now is easier than ever. You have the handiest camera every built right there in your mobile phone. Photography isn’t about the tools it’s about composition, the subject, the storytelling and engaging with life.

It’s about taking photographs on the go. In fact I would go so far as to say that my smart phone is my favourite camera. It’s contemporary Lomography. And we get to travel light. The least precious photographers I ever heard speak are the guys that have been around forever. I saw an interview with David Bailey a while back and the interviewer was suggesting that the digital medium is taking from photography and Bailey begged to differ and made it clear he would use anything to tell a story and that the equipment was unimportant to him. It was just a tool and the only reason he used it was because he wasn’t that good at painting.

So no excuses. Pick up your phone and get clicking.

TIP SIX

BE A CHALLENGER

If you are not a game changer you’re a game player. Game players don’t stand out from the crowd. They are part of the flock. Nothing wrong with that. And the question we have to ask ourselves is how do we wish to be seen? Being a challenger means doing it differently across the board, not just with taking photographs. It requires thinking outside the box. It requires us taking our inspiration from outside of our chosen field. If you are a wedding photographer there is little point in constantly eyeballing what other wedding photographers are doing. In short, we need to be courageous, we need to Dare to shake things up by doing it differently.

TIP FIVE

MY FAV APPS

PHOTO TAKING
VSCO
MEXTURES
HIPSTOMATIC
SNAPSEED
RETOUCH
FAST CAMERA

OTHER
(Used for business and creativity).
30/30 (Time blocking)
TODOIST (Daily to-do listing)
DAY ONE (Journal)
IA WRITER (Writing)

VIDEO
8mm
Chromic

TIP FOUR

BE PRESENT

The degree that we can step out of thinking and be present in life is the degree to which our images will come alive. Thought is overrated and where creativity is concerned it’s nothing short of an enermy. Our thinking (ego) wants us to play it safe and keep us from crossing boundaries. It wants us tucked up safe and sound in bed.

When you are out on a shoot begin to notice thoughts and feelings in relation to the challenge at hand. Notice also that the more challenging things become the more freaked out your thinking becomes.

This is not about stopping thinking guys. (not possible). Simply notice. Awareness is key.

If we are not aware of this dynamic within us we have no choice and we will simply be on autopilot. We are reactive. When we become aware of our thinking we can respond in any given moment. We have a choice.

TIP THREE

GET IN CLOSE

If you want your photography to have an edge, to shine and inspire and shake people up then one of the best pieces of advice I could offer (which I heard somewhere years ago) is to get in closer to your subject. And if you think you are close enough – take another step closer for good measure. When I first began to practise this my work took on a whole new dimension. This applies to portraits and photojournalism – including street photography.

This is an invitation to be brave because let’s face it it’s scary to get into someone’s space right? We feel intimidated because we suspect the subject is going to feel intimidated. We are scared of being rejected and we are afraid people are going to feel uncomfortable. (The reality is it is our own discomfort we don’t want to deal with.) Well guys I hate to say it but you’re going to have to risk it if you want to create the kind of images that break the mould and stir something in the people looking at them.

The question is are we willing to go through the discomfort that’s required to do what it takes? There isn’t an easy way around it this side of a paparazzi lens and we’ve all seen those images right?

Don’t get obsessive with this.This is not about shooting every single image 2 ft from someone’s face. This is about being clever and adding a new dimension to your overall work.

So when you think of it … get in close.

TIP TWO

SLOW DOWN

Why is it that quite often on photo shoots our tendency is to flap, or to freeze up, sometimes even freak out about the whole damn experience? This is specially prevalent when shooting portraits. It’s like we get into our heads, speed up, and dart about all over the place as if moving faster, or moving the model or couple to a dozen or so different backdrops, is somehow going to get us out of trouple.

STOP!

I mean it. The solution here is to slow down. We need to give ourselves permission to be human about the whole thing. Guys. It’s fine not to know what to do the whole time. It’s fine to run out of ideas. It’s fine to stop and take a moment. At first this will feel a little scary because in fact the reason we speed up in the first place is to try and escape that very same fear and insecurity we have about screwin up or looking silly or whatever it is. Give yourself permission not to know what you are doing on occasion. Your ego won’t like it but I’ll let you into a little secret. The person you are photographing won’t mind in the least. Being real goes a long way.

The ironty is, and it’s a cruel trick of the mind, the more we attempt to make things easier for ourselves in this situation the more tangled up in our minds we get. So what to we do? What we do is do the opposite of what our ego wants. We throw a spanner in the works. For example you might set yourself an on the spot challenge of “I’m not going to move the couple until I get 25 frames in this here place.”

What I have seen is that when I introduce these little challenges into the equasion my ego, the part that was attempting to run away, tends to quiten down.

That’s when we can begin to get creative.

If that fails … just keep clicking 🙂

TIP ONE

BE REMEMBERED

When you are at a wedding or event have the intention to be remembered. I don’t say this in an egotistical sense. This is about being remembered for being great and going the extra mile. So when you are in bridal prep in the morning be more than is expected of you. If you see the brides mum struggling from the car with a suitcase – hurry and lend a hand. Offer to make the bride a cup of tea. Have fun and be a little daring. For a lot of us this can be uncomfortable. Heaven forbid we are noticed and upset the order of things. Notice your discomfort and use it as a beacon to push outside your comfort zone.

For example if I am in bridal prep, and there is no music on, I might cheekily suggest we sling on a playlist. What’s the worse that can happen by being a little daring?

When you meet the Vicar or the Registrar be the best photographer they have had in their space this year. These guys love to feel the centre of attention so why not be of service and make their day. The same goes for everyone you meet that day from the Make-up artist to the florist to DJ, the band and every guest you come across.

Here’s an idea – possibly you could think of this as if you were creating alibis for yourself throughout the day. That way … if someone is murdered on the day … you can be accounted for everywhere by all the guests at the wedding. 🙂 What you will also be doing is staying alert to the day and what is going on. Also … it’s a lot of fun and you are going to feel so much more part of the day. You will also be creating a familiarity with the guests which will support you getting up close and personal with your photography.

Seriously … don’t simply be a wallflower in the background under the guise of being professional. That’s a surefire way to be forgotten. Be appropriate … sure … and be remembered. Everyone wins. You are being of service and as a consequence you are being remembered as the best wedding photographer these guys have come across. Then … when someone asks them if they know of a great wedding photographer … you may just be at the top of their list.

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