Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting More Experience (Intermediate)

One of the best ways to improve photographic skills is to acquire more 'real world' experience. In that regard, don't limit yourself to weekends, vacations or family events. While it's unlikely that a professional wedding photographer will want to work with you if you have little or no experience, there may be excellent learning opportunities in your community, organizations, or at work, such as company parties.
Volunteering to take photos at such events is a low pressure way of acquiring valuable experience. For even less pressure, volunteer to take photos at less formal events first and work your way up from there. In any case, most of the time, people have very reasonable (i.e., low) expectations and will be appreciative of your efforts.
You'll learn more if you treat it as you would a professional photographic engagement. Suggestions:
1. Research the area where the pictures will be taken to visualize shots you would like to take.
2. Based on the location, think of your lighting strategy (Use just ambient light? Is bouncing possible? etc.)
3. Make sure your equipment is ready (main and backup batteries charged, memory cards cleared, etc.).
4. Find out the schedule (if any) from the organizer so you can anticipate when you need to take shots (and when you can take a break and eat).
5. Find out if there are any VIPs. Not necessarily prominent people - these could be guests who are important to the celebrant.
6. Respect people's preferences -- some people don't want to be photographed, period. Conversely, some people like being photographed (generally, more attractive people do).
After the event, while doing the postprocessing (you will won't you...? :) ), identify some of the things you did right, and some areas where you would like to improve. With respect to the latter, do some research on how to do better next time.