I’d like to start by talking about a window. A broken window, specifically. A man by the name of Nathan Howe introduced this idea with his own story of a broken window, wherein a child threw a ball through his window and shattered it, so they boarded it up.
I encourage readers to explore anything that sounds new. By no means is this a checklist; at times, prioritizing one thing can reduce the possibility of another. Instead, take time to practice these elements individually until they naturally become a part of your approach.
Fine art photography is created with the photographer’s artistic vision. It is not simply documenting a subject as the camera sees it—such as in the case of photojournalism—but it is using the camera as a tool to create an artistic vision.
The first thing you want to do is come up with your purpose. Why do a styled shoot? Is it to build your portfolio? To get a chance to shoot at a certain venue or work with certain vendors? Is it to get published?
Magazine publishers will have you know that print as a medium is changing: there are more localized and niche magazines than ever. If you are paying close attention to your market, you'll see that while the industry has changed to accommodate the growth of online journalism and other publications, it isn't gone! Don't give up on the possibility of being published, but also don't discount highly-popular blogs, online magazines, and other publications. They vary in their reach and shelf life, but there’s no reason to ignore the power of print.
At the start of my journey, I stumbled and made mistakes as we all do… but those mistakes were all part of a steep learning curve. For the first 10 years of my career, I exclusively did private portrait commissions. That experience was invaluable in that it taught me how to deal with children of all ages. It’s difficult at the best of times to connect with a child who considers you a stranger, and to draw out the uniqueness in each child within a very limited time puts huge extra pressure on that connection.
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Having a consistent look to your images is the one thing most photographers struggle with, but it’s the best thing to help you in establishing a recognizable brand and attracting your ideal client. Let’s take a look at five things that have helped me establish my signature photography style over the last few years, in order of their importance to me and my brand.
I’ve probably spent just as much time in front of the camera as I have behind it. I started taking self-portraits when I first picked up a camera. It became the best way for me to learn the technical side of photography. It also let me be an artist and experiment with wardrobe, posing and lighting.
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