Three Things I Wish I Knew
New photographers, take heart. Everyone who has picked up a camera for the first time (and that means every photographer, by the way) has made mistakes. Big ones, even. Here I want to share three things I wish I knew when I started, and hopefully it will help you avoid the same mistakes.
1. Shooting into the sun will produce haze.
I knew I wanted backlit photos. I loved the dreamy feel sunlight had as it poured over my clients . . . . and basically made their faces so grainy I couldn't salvage their images. Try as I might, I could not get rid of that haze until I realized: If you shoot into the sun, you will get haze. Period. What I didn't know, too, was that you can move your body a little to catch that gorgeous light without losing your details. Woops.
2. If you edit with different styles, your clients will be confused.
I learned the hard way that changing my editing style so many times would lose me clients. I had a sweet lady hire me for a session based on what she'd seen me share online (which is exactly what she should have done). And when the session came, wham! I hit her with a totally different style. Needless to say, she was not thrilled with the results because she had her mind set on my previous style. It doesn't matter that I think my new editing style is better (it is), what matters is that I was inconsistent and still tried to run my business. That's a big no-no. If you're changing your editing, you need to share it and tell people, announce yourself. And make sure people know you before they book you.
3. You can't salvage bad in-camera stuff.....usually.
I love indoor sessions. So. Much. When I started out, however, I found myself frustrated often with the deep shadow in my subjects, especially their faces. When I tried to bring up the shadow in post, everyone looked like creepy ghosts, and I did not like how they turned out. Well, shoot. Maybe I could have moved around, moved my subject, found the good light, and nailed my shot. But it took me at least a year of constant shooting to figure this out. If the shadow is too deep in-camera, it will be tough to fix in post. I will say, I've seen photographers save things, and I've saved a thing or two myself, but geez that's so much work! Save yourself the trouble and MOVE yourself around (or your subject) until the light is right.
An indoor mistake I made constantly starting out was pressing my subjects up against my backdrop. I shoot in-home and have a fabulous dark gray wall I use for most of my work. I love that wall. But I do not love its texture--it's old and grooved and distracting. But every time I had someone there for a session, I kept getting those details from that dang wall, and in post I had to smooth it out every time. Ohhhh, the hours I spent fixing that texture! Well, I finally figured out (I'm sure someone told me) that I had to pull my people OFF the wall if I wanted a creamy background. Wow. Like Depth of Field 101, right? But hey, newbies have to learn sometime, right?
That first year you are making all kinds of mistakes. That's okay. Here's the last thought: Use your past mistakes as a learning tool: analyze your bad photos and figure out one thing you can shift. Ask for someone to look at it with you. You'll figure this out, I promise.