100 Do's and Don'ts for Photographers
I teach photographers at all levels, from beginner to experienced professionals. When you're teaching you learn such a lot.
I've tried to capture 100 suggestions that will help any photographer, especially those working with models.
These range from good technique tips, to how to work with models and how to make the most of your money.
- Do shoot around 100mm lens - it is the most flattering focal length for people
- Don't shoot with a 50mm lens - you will get perspective distortion
- Do use wide-angles when you are being creative - not by accident
- Do watch out for what's in the background
- Do learn more about composition than the rule of thirds
- Do learn how to a do a minimum of retouching and post-processing
- Don't spot colour - it is so old fashioned!
- Do make backups, make sure at least one backup is off-site
- Do have a shoot and packing checklist - use it!
- Do only show your best work
- Do build a following on flickr, 500px, Purpleport and the many other photography websites
- Do credit all the models, make-up artists, studios, designers etc with your images
- Don't mix all your photographic subjects, nudes, butterflies and steam engines is confusing
- Do try and show a variety of work within your specialist area
- Don't fret about people stealing your images
- Do photograph men from time to time
- Don't bother boasting about being "award winning" or "published" - it seems every photographer is at least one of these
- Do be specific about publications if you have them
- Don't bother telling models about your equipment, they don't care
- Don't just be a "taker" of photographers - "make" them too
- Do explain what sort of image you want to create
- Do give models ideas, almost like short stories, this helps them pose and be creative
- Do show models images on the back of the camera, but not every shot
- Don't use gratuitous props - especially guitars
- Do learn the tricks of posing and the common posing styles
- Don't let hands turn into bunches of bananas
- Don't let knees or elbows point towards the camera
- Don't let the eyes turn further than the nose - you will get just the whites of the eyes
- Do learn about handling facial and body defects and how to shoot them
- Do tell the model how much of the pose is seen in camera - full length, waist up, head and shoulders
- Do use different camera heights to make the post of different poses and proximity to the model
- Do make sure you are learning all the time
- Do practice.
- Do go on workshops
- Do listen to camera club judges, discard what isn't useful to you
- Do get as many critiques of your images from professionals/experts as you can
- Do experiment
- Do emulate other photographs, but don't copy them
- Do look at a lot of images from many sources
- Do look at your failures and learn how not to repeat them
- Do mix it up: shoot indoors, outdoors, location, studio
- Do understand how to use natural light and studio light
- Don't bother pursuing letters after your name for the sake of it - only for the learning experience
- Don't get despondent when you think your images are not improving - we all plateua then improve
- Don't get flustered over the many camera settings you may have, you probably need less than 10 of them
WORKING WITH MODELS
I also spoke to a lot of models to get their side of things too. What really surprised me was the number of suggestions relating to men being jerks.
Really, starting with "Don't Touch!" to much more aggressive and sexualised activities. So, I make no apology for having to be so explicit on models behalf on telling photographers what not to do.
Some photographers nailed it by summarising it as "Don't be a dick!" and thought it was obvious. All I can say is that models don't feel the same way and that instructions to guys need to be very carefully spelt out. So while I am no fan of the sentiment "all photographers are perverts" clearly some really don't know how to behave. So if you see a photographer over-stepping any of these marks - tell them.
- Don't Touch
- DO learn how to make your subject feel comfortable - especially at the start of a shoot
- Do talk, be chatty and have a good humour
- Don't flirt
- Do compliment
- Don't get bashful
- Do give constructive criticism (or advice)
- Don't mistake on-set chemistry for anything that might apply afterwards
- Do give feedback on poses and adjustments, I can't see how it looks from the camera
- Do show images during the shoot
- Do communicate through the shoot, tell me when I need to adjust the pose etc
- Do watch out for flaws, tell me when hair or clothes need fixing
- Don't try and fix those flaws yourself, tell me and I will fix them
- Don't push the boundaries
- Do stop if a model asks you to
- Don't try and turn a previously arranged clothed shoot into a nude one
- Don't just keep constantly clicking, give us a chance to move and pose
- Do let models have time to touch up make-up
- Do pay for good models, you get much better pictures for a small increase in money
- Do provide tea and cake breaks
- Do provide images from TF shoots in a reasonable time and a reasonable number
- Don't push levels
- Do be professional
- Do be respectful
- Do maintain a safe environment
- Don't make the model change in front of you
- Do make sure your model is warm
- Do provide a self contained and warm changing area
- Don't brag or say how "lucky" we are to shoot with you
- Don't compare to other models
- Don't forget, just because you are paying, models do not have to do everything you say
- Don't Touch!!!
- Don't talk about the boner you have during a nude shoot
- Don't say your wife doesn't know about this shoot
- Don't tell me about the sex troubles you are having with your wife
- Don't tell me you want to leave your wife for me
- Don't ask about boyfriends, partners etc
- Don't talk about your sex life - full stop.
- Don't ask for personal email addresses, postal addresses etc without a reason
- Don't make passes, ask for a date, or be suggestive
- Don't ask for a happy ending
- Don't expect to make money
- Do pay your model promptly
- Don't buy equipment assuming it will make you better
- Don't fall into the "Gear Acquisition Syndrome"
- Do buy the best lenses you can, they are worth more than your camera
- Do ask for photo credits when published, don't be surprised if you don't get them
- Don't do commercial work for free
- Don't do commercial work "for the exposure"
- Don't expect to get published
- Don't just start shooting weddings - learn how first - find out if you can - weddings are very hard
- Do be honest with the tax man
- Do keep a record of all your expenses - they are tax deductible - even months later if you go professional
- Do keep a record of all your sales
- Do get insurance if you are taking money
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