Sunday, November 1, 2015

Take a Risk & Take a Picture (aka Photography with Purpose #2)

As the digital world turns even more social, knowing how to take a good photo is a great asset...well more like a must if you're aim is of a professional nature. Social media posts with photos get more clicks. I know you've heard that statement dozens of times by many bloggers and social media experts.  But what if you had more than the plain 'ol photo for your post or blog? Take a moment and imagine yourself as the author of one-of-a-kind photos no one can duplicate. Imagine how much more engaged your audience could be with your new found authenticity. In a previous post, I discussed photography with purpose where I was speaking to branding with photos and now I'm sharing the second part to that post, which is taking awesome photos. I will tell you why every entrepreneur, blogger and graphic designer needs to take steps to learn the basics of photography. I will divulge the little things I discovered on my little quest to improve my photography.

As a graduate of graphic design, I was required to take a photography course; but it was in high school that I had my first experience with a camera and developing in the darkroom. Since college, I hadn't been seriously interested in photography until I took a free photo class near my 9 to 5. After taking the class a few years ago, I bought my first digital camera, the NIKON 3100 and I'm glad I did.

My Experiment Starts Here

A few weeks ago, I decided to start one of my learning experiments to refresh my photography skills. I volunteered to photograph the talented blogger, Mercedes Sanchez, for her blog My intention was to learn while giving and it worked. I have learned so much in a matter of weeks and here's how I did it.

Each week, I took 15 minutes out of my time to shoot Mercedes. The short amount of time helped me get much quicker at selecting my settings and starting to shoot. I could have stopped there and just do the same thing every following week, however, I wanted to improve. After each shoot, I evaluated the photographs, selected the best photos and retouched them using Photoshop. I've actually improved my Photoshop skills which was an added bonus of my experiment. I tried a variety different filters to make the photos pop as some were flat in the very beginning.

The Learning Curve

On my first day out, I decided to shoot outdoors by a park. Natural light is great and I will tell you that it is easier than lighting indoors. I learned that lighting under trees is unpredictable. I used a semi-automatic setting because it was easier to adjust given my time constraints and lighting difficulty. I completely recommend using aperture or shutter speed priority to those starting out.  I took pictures from high, low, and behind objects. I learned a lot about depth of field and how it affect how objects are photographed.

Outside of taking the photos, I was learning to be prepared for the next shoot. I freaking read the manual, not that I know it by heart, but I read it. I watched you tube videos on posing and read a million online articles about lighting. I took pictures every time I saw something interesting. It didn't matter whether it was good or bad but I did just to see the outcome. I practiced with my little family. Thankfully, they still love me.

You Can and Should Do This!

I can'tell you enough how much photography is important to your personal brand and getting your blog or business off the ground. Just take a look at your Instagram feed, paying close attention to the people you follow and try to evaluate their photography. Photos are especially important if you're not a celebrity. If your blog is your money-maker then photography matters. The more attention your photography gets, the more eyes you get, the more exposure and income you will have. For me, having this experiment has made an impact on how I see the world around me. As a graphic designer, it has opened my eyes. I can see the details even more than before. I can notice things in an instant. It's very helpful because it saves time and headaches. I know my faults though sometimes I accept them and move on because of time constraints. So take a risk and take a picture, it's worth it and you won't be disappointed.

See my progress on Instagram @may.wonders

Are you a professional photographer? Do you have any tips for me? I would appreciate your comments below.
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