14 Tips To Be A More Professional Photographer
1) Think purpose before portrait
What is the picture being taken for? Is it for the sitters wall or the sitters facebook, or the sitters corporate brochure. Is it for the sitter, or their partner, or their parents. Is it for you, the model, the magazine, for stock. Now most shoots are often a mix of all the above, so make sure you cover all the bases.
2) Get a model release
Really, a proper signed release. If you think a shoot is going to lead to images that could be published then make sure you have a proper release.
3) No release, no publish.
Don't try and cheat, if you haven't got a release then you can't publish it. If you do you run all sorts of risks. Often though, just asking the model is all it takes.
4) Use electronic releases.
There are several electronic versions around for Ipad, Iphone and others. The model signs on the pad directly.
5) Spot metering is your friend
In any location where the lighting is interesting, you've probably got a situation where your camera's auto exposure is going to get confused. So learn how to use the spot meter and manually set your camera.
6) Don't be afraid to ask
If you see someone you think is interested, gorgeous or fills a gap in your portfolio, then ask them if you can shoot them. Offer them prints in return. Most people will say yes, and if they say no, well you are no worse off than if you didn't ask them in the first place.
7) Get a battery grip
For three reasons: 1) it extends your battery life, 2) it gives you a portrait shutter button, 3) biggest camera wins.
Now I know it's pathetic, but when someone is paying you lots of money to shoot them, if you turn up with a massive looking camera they will think they are getting their moneys' worth.
8) Get organised with your cards
Especially when shooting on location - and very especially when shooting weddings. Make sure you know where each blank card is, and that you have somewhere very secure to put your full cards. Don't just put them in a trouser pocket where they can fall out.
9) Bring a non-photographic "emergency kit"
Safety pins, sticking plasters, needle and thread, tissues, mars bar, small juice carton. Actually I have three levels of emergency kit, which does include the photographic stuff too. Mostly it just goes around in the case, never comes out. It includes another spare battery, video lights, spare cables, mini tripod, extra radio triggers, fags, tin of red bull, regular AA and AAA batteries.
I even take a change of clothes. Having been soaked at the start of a wedding and faced with the prospect of a whole day dripping - I learnt that lesson the hard way.
10) Protect your studio strobes with air-cushioned stands
They are not much more expensive, but sooner or later someone is going to let your strobe crash on the stand - air cushioning will save it.
11) Write clients names on the back of your camera
Use a small postit note, or even masking tape - so that when you are part way through the shoot you don't go "ummm, can you, yes you on the left, the fella there, please move"
When we are shooting sessions in the studio we have a list of all of the days shoots, all the names, all the notes from the client right in the studio all the time.
12) Make a check list
And then check it twice. I have my location and my wedding check lists. I print them out and cross each item off when I pack it, then cross it off again when I've actually put it in the car. Trust me, sooner or later you will forget something. Make sure the checklist includes everything, like maps to location, clients phone numbers etc., as well as just the photo stuff.
13) Know your gear by heart.
You need to be fluent with your kit, it kind of stands to reason. But in order to be fluent and know it by heart you have to practice as well. So spend time shooting practice situations.
14) Don't be a DSLR snob.
Because sometimes you won't have your favourite camera, you will only have your mobile phone - so make the most of it.
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