It has been said over and over again that every photographer should engage in personal work. It keeps our minds and creative spirits active. It makes us feel good to create something that we solely have conceived. It satisfies the need to activate our shutters and play with our equipment. Recently I embarked on a personal shoot, and used it as a chance to set some goals for myself.
After organising everything that I needed for the shoot tools wise, I sat down to think about things that I need to improve in my photography. It is always good to look at yourself from the perspective of a third person when trying to improve something about yourself, so I took the perspective of a photo editor as I looked at a couple of my recent shoots.
One thing I noticed was that I tend to act like I have OCD when I get a camera in my hand. I take a single frame and hammer away at it until I get a lot of good frames, all very similar. As the photo editor, I wasn’t very happy with this. I needed a variety that I didn’t get. So that was my goal for this day out, to come back with a variety of shots for the ‘photo editor’.
The next step was to figure out what I could vary. The obvious one was composition, as I usually look in my composition at the beginning of a given shoot and don’t vary it too much. That was the first item on my list. A few other things I noticed where my use of flash, I tended to over do it a little, and not keep my ambient frames. There are two more items. Then there was adding a little more drama. It’s too easy to go for a pretty frame, especially when you have a pretty model and a beautiful dress. So in the end, my goals for the day were as follows. They were not lofty, so I knew I could achieve them all easily.
- Vary the composition on each and every shot
- Shoot ambient light as well
- Vary the amount of ambient light in the same composition
- Work with some dramatic light
- Make the flash part of the scene, like it was never flashed
The best part about this shoot was all the variety that I got back. We shot 5 different locations over two hours here, and every one of them involved flash being used or not used, the angles being varied, lenses being changed. This kind of variety keeps not only the shoot going well, but makes the editing session a lot more pleasant as well!