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Learn Digital Photography – Keys to Effective Photography

Each one of us wants to become more effective in our photography. That could be winning a competition, selling your images or just taking great photos to put on your wall. So, what is effective for one might not mean effective for another. And, the person who determines how effective is…? You! How do you increase the effectiveness of your photography? Here are a few keys that have helped my students become more effective.

1. Plan

This is just so simple to do. The old adage, “those whole fail to plan, plan to fail” is so true with photography. Happy snappers just don’t get the images that are stunning and fit in the context of effective photography. Before you decide to go out and shoot make sure that you sit down, even if for just five minutes, and plan what you are going to do. What type of image are you going to shoot, where do you want to go and for how long. A simple plan will increase your effectiveness quite dramatically.

2. Make a specific time

If you are serious about your photography, whether it be for pleasure or to make a career out of it, set a specific time to go out and shoot. Tagging a shoot at the end of a busy day or rushing off a few shots before going off to work is not an effective use of your photography time. It deserves your full and undivided attention. In addition to this specify how long, an hour, two hours or even just thirty minutes. Then give it your full and undivided attention.

3. Implement something new

Effective photography means learning a new technique or method so why not try to implement something you have just learnt and see how it turns out. Treat it as a project or assignment. Better still enroll in a free online course or buy a book with assignments at the end of each chapter. Use these assignments as the basis of your photo shoot.and put into practise your new knowledge. If you are more experienced then use it to brush up on your rusty techniques.

4. Get some advice

If you have a friend who is more experienced than you or you are part of a photography club, then seek out their advice. Find out where you are lacking in skill or technique and ask them to show you how they do it. I always look to those more experienced than me for help despite being a photography teacher. Never stop learning and always be teachable.

5. Evaluate

This to me is one the most important things you can do as you learn digital photography. Look at what you are doing and then evaluate it. If you aren’t too sure then get others to help. Be careful who you ask as some people will say anything so as not to offend or hurt your feelings. Positive criticism is essential to uplift your level of competence. When you are trying out new techniques, print out the image and compare it to your textbooks or course material. Whatever you do keep on learning.

Business in Photography

Louis Daguerre of Paris, France can be said to be the Father of Commercial Photography. His daguerreotype of processing an image captured from then “advanced-technology” camera obscura was the pivotal development in the history of photography.

Although his first photograph with a human person in 1838 was an “accidental shot” which took more than 10 minutes of exposure in order for the image to be captured into his camera, it paved the way to the commercialization of photography. It created a demand for photographic portraiture in the middle classes which could not be sufficiently served by then current and expensive method of oil painting.

Commerce and industry opened its doors to photography. From its initial commercial visage of portraiture, photography evolved into other mercantile forms and vehicles, where it picked up payment for the “images” depicted rather than attach value to the photographs as “works of art”. Among the many forms and industry uses of photography, the following are mainstream applications:

· Advertising photography that visually promotes products and services

· Fashion and glamour, usually employing models that enhance the products

· Crime scene photography as tools that offer clues and proofs to theories that help solve crimes and mysteries

· Still life photography depicting wonders that only photographs can convey

· Food photography, an area where food palatability is scrumptiously enhanced

· Editorial photography and photojournalism that successfully enhance and sensationalise news and stories

· Portrait and wedding photography that renders romanticism and sentimentality

· Landscape photography that serves to invigorate the tired soul

· Wildlife photography bringing realism to flora and fauna in their natural environments

· Paparazzi photography of freelance practitioners preying on usually “unsanctioned and unsolicited” personal photographs of celebrities, politicians, the prominent and wealthy that make juicy gossip items in prestigious publications

Aside from the top-class line of photography professions enumerated above, other businesses allied or related to photography have been an industry backbone that has contributed much to the economy of many countries, coming in different forms and modes:

· Manufacture of equipment, accessories, consumables, parts and tools

· Sales and servicing of equipment, accessories and tools

· Photography and videography studios and services

· Image and photo printing and reproduction

· Printing media manufacture, sales and distribution

· Archiving and storage of document and photo images

There is also an opportunity area for photographs of national heritage import and/or phenomenal works of art such as 99 Cent II Diptychon, dubbed as “the most expensive photograph in the world” when it was auctioned for US$3.34 million at Sotheby’s on February 7, 2007.

Conceptual Photography

One of the things you may come across in photography school is Conceptual Photography. Conceptual photography differs slightly from regular photography, in that it’s about the concept or idea of the photo, rather than the subject itself. In some schools of thought, conceptual photography is actually considered to be a more artistic application than other forms of photography, because it tends to incorporate aspects of abstraction as well. Though some photography schools specialize solely in the subject of conceptual photography, most photography schools at least offer some courses in it.

Most conceptual photographers aim to communicate some type of message to their viewers. The most common types of these are political and social commentaries, as well as advertisements. When making a conceptual photograph, the artist will take the various elements that make up the subject of the photograph/concept, and place those elements in the picture in a way to communicate their ideas. Though some photographers may come upon their concept through experimentation, it’s usually the concept/idea that precedes the photograph.

In the past, much conceptual photography was done by hand. Nowadays it’s just as common to use computer programs like Photoshop to generate the effects found in conceptual photography, though many artists still do utilize organic conceptual photography techniques.

You may have studied the work of Eugène Atget in photography school. Atget was one of the first conceptual photographers. His work, “Avenue des Gobelins,” often taught in photography school classes, depicts three mannequins in a shop window. One of these mannequins is actually a live person, which the audience discovers upon closer examination. From a distance, the real man appears to be the same as the mannequins, because he’s wearing similar clothing and his posture is set in a similar way. Often, Atget’s photograph is interpreted as an allegory of modern civilization, communicating the uniformity that fashion and clothing generates on society.

Other famous conceptual photographers you may have studied in photography school include Man Ray, whose conceptual use of the photographic technique of solarization brought him much acclaim; Herb Ritts, who use his black and white fashion photography in a classical Greek sculpture style; Andreas Gursky, whose best known for his large format architecture and landscape photographs (an interesting fact here, Gursky’s “Rhein II” became the most expensive photograph ever sold on November 8, 2011 at Christie’s in New York City, when it sold for 4.3 million dollars); Cindy Sherman, one of my personal favorites, whose known for her conceptual self-portraits-Sherman’s work often raises questions about the role of women in society.

Photos like Man Ray’s “Le Violon d’Ingres”, which shows a nude woman with the f-holes of a violin on her back, and his famous solarization work, “Julie et Margaret”, which turns the women in the photograph into contours (exemplifying the depersonalization of society), are both great examples of conceptual photography. Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” is another excellent example. In these self-portraits, which are intended to look like film stills, Sherman acts out different roles of women and depicts the fantasy of popular culture.