Tag Archive for 'learning'

12 Tips for New & Aspiring Photographers.

By Gavin Seim

A few people think of me as a cranky old photographer who picks on newbies. This is probably because I’m pretty blunt, and I’ve written articles like A Style & Why Most Photographers Don’t have One and Stop Camera Abuse.

They have just not gotten to know me. Truth is, I’m just a guy in my late twenties, and it was not that long ago that I was starting out. I know what it’s like. I study a lot, know a lot of the hassles that can be avoided, and I see what’s happening in photography today. So I won’t simply play the part of a feel-good guy who says everything is great no matter what. We all deserve honesty.

Encouragement is a valuable thing, but there’s a lot of patting on the back going on because people don’t have the guts to be honest with their peers. In the end, the truth often comes out in the fact that they can’t make it in business. I say going bankrupt is terrible way to realize how hard photography is. Best to get to the hard truths right off, so you can make a business plan that works.

So that said, here are some thoughts–some observed, some learned the hard way–for newer and aspiring photographers. I’m going to be a little blunt, so don’t take it personally. It’s OK to be starting out. But you deserve honesty, and that’s exactly what you’ll get today.

It’s not like it was. Let’s face it. The standard of excellence is higher than ever. Everyone is doing photography. Yes, you can learn to take “good” photos pretty quickly. But so can everyone else. And with so many people doing just that, nearly as many trying to go into business, and a lot of those working for next to nothing, the market is totally saturated, and the value of photography has been driven to an all time low. But don’t lose heart. There is a market, but you need a brand and something with unique value to offer. You’ll need quality, personalty, and business skill to boot, or you’ll just be working for peanuts producing the same stuff everyone else is.

1. Take the Time.
You won’t be Ansel overnight. Don’t stress about it. Becoming a really experienced photographer takes training–a lot of it. It will not happen overnight. It probably won’t even happen in two or three years. Not that you won’t be taking good photos in that time, but don’t expect them to be the most amazing things every time. If you want to rise above just keep getting better. Keep training. Because you can, and you’ll feel great about that progress.

2. Don’t Rush Into It.
Make a clean, simple site where you can show your work and get feedback. Then keep at it, but take it easy. Don’t feel like you have to rush out and book gigs. It’s OK to be a photographer for the sheer joy of it, just learning, sharing, and having fun. As soon as you start hiring out, you’ll have to spend more time managing a business than making great photos. A lot more. In many ways, it’s actually less enjoyable when it becomes a job, even if you still love it. Continue reading ’12 Tips for New & Aspiring Photographers.’

Stop Camera Abuse!

by Gavin Seim: Help a friend this season. Camera abuse will effect over 950 million people (probably a lot more) this year alone. It most commonly occurs when a person buys a camera, makes business cards, a website, and decides they should start pressing random buttons, as they pretend they suddenly understand a skill that takes years to master.

We understand, as cameras are really cool. But aside from the suffering the camera must endure. Children, individuals, couples and families, will be subjected to poor lighting, posing, composition, false confidence, bad retouching, and often outright lies, as an abuser pretends to know what he or she is doing. While the abuser may trip over a few good photos. Tears will flow in the end.

Stop Camera Abuse. Help the victims and help the abusers. It’s cool that they love their cameras. Just help them learn to fly before they jump out of the airplane. Send a friend educational books, to real workshops, or to long hours of practice, before unleashing them on the masses. Take the batteries out and even burn the business cards, if it’s bad enough.

Art is subjective. Experience is less so. It’s time to be honest. Friends don’t let friends camera abuse. Spread the word and start change now. History will thank you. And your friends will too.

This message brought to you by Gavin Seim and Pro Photo Show. Note: Please be careful when burning business cards. Fire is also awesome, but can be dangerous. Check local laws.

111 Photo Project – One Goal One Hour. One Image

by Gavin Seim. Spread the word. Because its’ time to raise the bar. I have a challenge to photographers everywhere. One that will teach us all something. I know this because I’ve started doing it. It’s addictive, educational and I plan to do it a lot more. Different expedience levels will accomplish different things, but everyone will learn something new.

When you’re done, come back post a link to your result. For those that would like, email me and I’ll even call you personally to critique and talk about the image for no charge.

The premise is this. Nearly every photographer I know needs to SLOW DOOWWN. I’ve encountered this in everyone from newbies, to some of the most experienced and award winning photographers in the world. We need to stop the clicking and start the thinking. the better image we make in camera the better piece of art we’ll have when we’re done. There I said it. And I’m included. I’ve on a mission to slow down.

One of my results of slowing down. I spent hours planning this single frame and I learned so much from it. Even the exposure is over 2hrs. Click the image to see the details in my journal.

So many images being are made, but there’s not enough thought about whats happening when we press the shutter. Anyone can take a “pic”. But not anyone can be a craftsman. It’s not to say everyone is making bad images. I just think we need a moment if silence. Silence from the clicking. Making great images is not about how many you take. It’s not about having so many to put on your blog that our eyes bleed when we read. It’s about real quality.

The 111 challenge is this.
Spend one hour in the field, planning and capturing a single composition. In camera. Planning and making that single scene.You can edit after, but at least one hour making that one image that achieves one goal. It’s not that every image needs to take an hour or more. But if you really do this, you will start thinking more about every image you make. No matter long long it takes.

No matter what genre you work in, you will benefit from this one. Slowing down and learning to see in one area teaches us to do it on others. It’s opened my eyes in every area of my work. You may not be able to execute this project at your next wedding. But will help your next wedding, or anything else.

What do you get? Mainly you get knowledge. Which is extremely valuable. Every time you take on this challenge, or take it further, it will open your eyes to new ideas. Plus you get to display the Pro Photo Show achievement badge on your site along with the resulting frame.

There’s no photographer that this will not help. I speak from experience when I say it’s amazing. Remember not to pick just any subject. You need a subject that’s inspiring. You need a plan and the right light and make it all happen. This will all take far more than an hour, but once you have the goal, spend at least that just composing and planning for the final image.

Once we master this, maybe we’ll plan a day long image setup. Also for anyone that finishes and wants it, email me and I’ll call you and give an honest one on one critique session on the image for no charge. So, do you have the discipline to take this on? I look forward to seeing what you learn… Gav

Some simple guidelines.

  • There’s no deadline. Think about your goal. Plan a trip or event worthy of this image.
  • You can’t spend a random hour. Spend it making the best image you’ve ever made.
  • You can spend MORE than one hour in the field making the image. Just not less.
  • Planning the excursion, subject or post edits do not count towards your hour.
  • Plan one composition. No spending an hour making random images hoping for success.
  • You can make test images, but only to help you refine the one image you’re after.
  • It can be HDR or bracketed if you like, but we just want to see one image in the end.
  • Take your time in post. It’s not part of the hour, but it’s relevant to a great image.
  • Take that one final image and post a link in the comments. Make sure it’s ONE image.

Pro Photo Podcast #77. Better Concepts and Evil Laughs.

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Today’s Host... Gavin Seim

On this shorter episode Gavin takes a look at what he learned with another month on the road. A discussion of 4×5 film, a look at learning and working conceptually, and a little practice session on evil laughs.

140 minutes of night. Gavin's longest ever exposure. Click the image to see Gavin's post with all the details.

Podcast #77 forum discussion:

Notable Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions quick updates.
  • 04:09 Experiences from a month on the road.
  • 12:32 Random interesting video and things.
  • 16:27 A month long trip with 4×5 film.
  • 26:05 Lightroom Power online workshops.
  • 28:00 Main – The Concept Photographer.
  • 45:05. The after show. Picks and stuff.


Links to things we mentioned.

Gavin’s Online LR Workshops.

Lightflow Aperture Presets are now available.

Video. Battle At F-Stop Ridge. Can you say, Awesome.

Good reads on using Zone System for digital. One by M Frye…. http://bit.ly/me3SjA and a thesis by Gary Meek…. http://bit.ly/lrTfYO

Color images before there was color, by Prokudin Gorskii.

Ansel Adams videos.

Rothco 550lb. Type III Paracord.

Gavin’s favorite travel apps list is here.


11 Killer Marketing Books & Resources for Photographers:

by Gavin Seim: If all you want to do with your photography is buy new gear, go on photo walks, make a few prints and get friends to say “ooh aah”, then that’s Ok and spending all your time learning better photography techniques is fine.

If however you want to be a profit making professional you need to think business. It’s the cold truth, but a known fact that being a successful pro is more about business sense than about art. Sure amazing images turn heads, their great and I love making them too. I’m not saying a photographer should ignore skill building, but most budding artists would be better going to a marketing school while practicing their art, then going to to an art school expecting to graduate and make a profit.

Here’s some things I’ve found to get my business mind thinking (share your own favorites in the comments). Some of these are books and some are free resources. Try making a commitment to getting into at least three of them (all would be even better). This is stuff I’ve tracked down over years of learning and talking to other photographers. Take time to learn something fresh every week and you won’t regret it.

  1. The Purple Cow.
    Seth Goden’s book focuses on making a client experience that is memorable. It’s a short book with advice that could be considered simple, but a lot of people overlook it. I’ve gleaned a mindset of service from this book. You can get in on Amazon as well as on Audible as a convenient Audiobook.
  2. David Ziser.
    If you don’t know the name you need to read more and there’s no time like the present. David has been in the business for a long time and his blog is a great one to follow. To get you started check out… The Portrait Consultation Part1 and Part2 and The 14 step plan for a successful sales presentation. Then start browsing thru the rest of his great business tips.
  3. The Ultimate Sales Letter.
    Writing good copy is valuable in any business. Some of the examples in this book may feel more like a car salesman than a photographer, but the principles can be used to help you market better. I have not found an audiobook, but you get get the print edition on Amazon.
  4. 19 Tips for 300 Client Inquiries.
    This is a guest article Matt McGraw wrote for PPS. While every tip on the list may not work in your situation, you’re sure to get some ideas in a very short read.
  5. How to Sell Anything to Anybody.
    If we can do what the title says we’re good. Seriously though selling high end photography is about knowing how to sell and this book will give you a few ideas. Here’s the Amazon link.
  6. 22 immutable laws of marketing.
    This is a short easy read that interesting. It looks at big brands in past years and analyzes successes and fails. You may not be the next Coca Cola, but the concepts used in big marketing the effects the way you approach your own. You can find it here on Amazon. and there’s also an Audible version.
  7. Continue reading ’11 Killer Marketing Books & Resources for Photographers:’

6 Tips to Becoming a Professional Wedding Photographer

how to be a wedidng photographerSo, you’re going shoot your first wedding. Maybe you’ve been hired, or maybe your doing it for a friend on a budget. Either way you want to get great results, have good referrals for the future, and make the clients super happy!

So what do you look for? What about wedding photography is so intimidating, and how should you take on this challenging but rewarding type of photography?

1. Don’t Oversell Yourself.
If your just getting started with weddings don’t pretend to be something your not. Chances are the reason your shooting their day, is because it’s not in the budget to hire someone who’s experienced with weddings! That’s OK, and an opportunity for you. If you feel it’s too much, then let them know and maybe get someone else to help. Chances are however that your thinking “I can handle it fine” That’s cool, but be realistic, and remember you can’t do a retake of a wedding.

2. Do your Homework
If you lack experience with weddings do some research. Take the time to read a few books and get a feel for what is expected of you at the wedding. A couple books you might check out are Digital Wedding Photography, The Complete Guide to Professional Wedding Photography, and The Wedding Photographers Handbook. There’s many more, just search around on Amazon.

If it makes you more comfortable, have the bride give you a list of shots she really wants, but don’t expect the couple to know everything you need to shoot. Once you know your way around you’ll probably outgrow lists for the most part, since you’ll already know what to shoot and when. Also take the time to look at great wedding pictures from other photographers and note what you like and dislike about their images. Continue reading ‘6 Tips to Becoming a Professional Wedding Photographer’