You never know when Spiderman will appear
Why do you take photographs? This is a question of often ask students and occasionally ask myself. It seems a bit of an odd question when first asked but I find that the answer can be surprising and for many people there can be multiple reasons. Why you take photographs or what you want to photograph effects the techniques you need to learn and the equipment you might need to buy.
The nude female form elicits a number of, sometimes conflicting, potential responses from the viewer of an artwork. It can be seen as the depiction of a human being as a sex object, an anonymous manifestation of beauty or the nudity can be used to foreground aspects or themes within the picture. The most common criticism levelled at photography is that it simply imitates another art form.
Where do I want to sell my pictures?
Always a sensible question to ask yourself when taking a photograph. Composing photos that sell is not always easy. My article Photographic Composition covers the basics but this article looks at composing for specific uses and markets.
Let’s start the right way up
I have sold a lot of pictures for use on covers. Book covers are generally vertical. How often do you see people trying to photograph the bride and groom at a wedding holding the camera horizontally? Most people are taller than they are wide. Mobile phones work just as well horizontally as vertically so why do people shoot video vertically? The last time I looked my TV and this computer screen were both horizontal. If the subject will fit why not shoot one horizontal and one vertical picture and maximise your chances of a sale.
What lens have you got on that?
I hate talking about gear when I am using it. As a long suffering wedding photographer I used to dread the approach of the serious looking old gentleman with a scuffed brown leather cased, 50’s vintage, camera round his neck. Usually he had just been fiddling with for at least ten minutes to take one photograph of his rather overweight, and definitely bored, wife in her best hat. I knew the inevitable question was coming.
‘What sort of lens have you got on that?’
‘That’ was usually a 6×4.5 Bronica film camera. We used to use medium format cameras because no one believed you were a pro with a 35mm SLR
My reply was often a completely genuine, ‘I don’t know.’
I could see him debating as to whether to rush off and exclaim to the bride that she had booked a complete idiot to take her wedding pictures, or whether to tell me not to be such a sarcastic bugger.
Many years ago, when the only things that were digital were your fingers or your watch, I won a photographic magazine’s cover girl competition. Not me personally you understand – one of my photographs.
A couple of weeks later an excited young photographer and his girlfriend, who just happened to be the scantily clad subject of the winning photograph, arrived at a posh Park Lane hotel for the prize giving. I don’t remember much about the event apart from one rather disparaging comment from the editor. ‘Your picture won because you were the only one who left space for the title.’ This was probably not the most tactful thing to say to an aspiring young photographer about his first competition win.
Taking better photographs depends on a lot of factors. I recently took part in a critique where a photographer put up a technically perfect but aesthetically boring picture of a nude. He commented that he had no concept or message when taking the picture but would like to do more ‘artistic’ work. I suggested that if he worked on having the former then the latter might naturally flow.
Location modelling pitfalls
Having finally taken the plunge and given up my studio, there seemed no other way to get me out of its cozy confines I booked Meg for a location modelling shoot. The weather forecast the previous day had promised a bright and sunny day with odd local shower and the blue sky looked promising as I pulled up outside her flat.
Oh Joy Oh Bliss, I wonder where the model is? (First published in 2014)
I recently decided that I needed to shoot some pictures for a website with some new models: as if I hadn’t already lost enough hair. Now the internet is a wonderful place as long as you remember that 90% of it is made up by people who have no idea what they are talking about whilst only about 10% is actually useful. (Oh and since you wondered only 4% is porn *). At this point you should be saying ‘How does he know this? Actually I don’t; I just made up the first two statistics based on my personal experience and bias. The third statistic actually comes from a reasonably creditable source and if you follow the * to the bottom of the page you will find a link to where this came from.
Camera exposure settings are taken care of by the Auto or Program features on your camera most of the time. Sometimes the auto system get confused and need a little human help. Download these free PDFs to find out how to set your camera for the optimum exposures.