Saturday, July 10, 2010

Best Advice I Can Give...

I get several photography-related questions each week, almost always from a sweet reader somewhere who I've never met, who's a little terrified to ask, but since I say I welcome it so much, they cave and go for it.

And I love that.  I love all of you.  I can't explain it.

I write this blog for me, and for my family.  I'm not a big community-building blogger, because I can't be.  It's not my space in life to do it.

But I know you're out there.  I'm not writing for you, but I know you're there with me and that really is precious.  It is.  And it's so sweet that you're out there, reading about the ordinary things I think and do, you know some of what I'm up to, you know my children, you listen, though we never talk.

So no, don't be afraid to say something.  If you have a question or a comment about anything, you can always reach me, it's welcomed and cool. 

Back to the top.  Photography.  I answer lots and lots of questions, and usually they center around a few main things- but today as I was answering someone, I thought, "Man, I've got to just blog this.  This is everything a new photographer needs to know before they move forward, before they purchase anything else, before they judge their work improperly or wish for better equipment, software, talent."

Here you go-  this is what you need to get started right and stay on track-

"Editing programs. I don’t have an editing program yet, but am itching to get one!! To me that’s how you take a   shot from picture to portrait. What do you suggest? Right now I have a PC, do you think it’s important I get a Mac? Seems like all the cool people have one ;)"

I will say right now that nearly everything that turns a snapshot into a portrait happens in camera and in your technique while shooting. It's all about subjects, backgrounds, details, lighting, metering, focus, aperture, shutter speed, color, composition and perspective. If these things aren't applied well when you're shooting, almost nothing can be done in post processing to elevate the snapshot.

So, no worries! It's not ultimately about post processing. It's about Straight Out of Camera excellence- and you can do that right now!

To give you an idea, almost every photo on my blog is SOOC, just optimized for web viewing. And I never, ever spend more than 2-3 minutes on any image in Photoshop, for myself or for clients. Photoshop is where I fully process the digital negative into a finished image, but I'm definitely a purist when it comes to processing. I'm a natural light photographer who works to get things right and true to life in camera, and I only use PS to assist me and give my images a finished touch. Every photog has a different style- many, many photographers use heavy post processing to "boost" their somewhat ordinary images, and some use heavier post processing the "right" way and it works well for them and for capturing their vision and style.

It's about being true to your creativity and style, but, as a rule, post processing should enhance the SOOC excellence, instead of being used in an attempt to distract or cover up a problem photograph. So again, no worries- you can already do all of this in camera without making a big software purchase yet!

I am a PC, and there is absolutely no difference between a Mac or PC when it comes to editing programs- they are all equipped identically, just made for Mac and/or PC, whatever version you need. Some keyboard commands are different, but nothing in the program changes.

Photoshop Elements is an inexpensive beginner program, and if you ever want to move up, you can move on to Photoshop CS3 or CS4 and get a great deal, because they are no longer the latest version, but will not have differences that will affect you.


That's it.  I've answered that question so many times.  There is no magic bullet.  No piece of equipment, no software, no magic action to run, no special tricks.
It's about you and your love for life, people, the world and photographing it with your own creativity and style.  Doing that well happens with determination, work, education, and trusting and believing in yourself and your mission to photograph with excellence for archiving and art.
So yes, you can do it.  You really, really can.  One step at a time.  And don't be afraid to ask questions.
Have a great weekend everyone!


Sarah said...

Great post. Thanks!
Okay, and now that we've got that straight, can you write a concise post (4 paragraphs or less) telling my EXACTLY how to make my SOOC shots look just like yours? Thanks. You're a dear.
p.s. none of this "it takes practice - same way I got here" business. I want magic pill.

Kristen Maddux said...

Thanks a heap!