Photography Subjects – What and Why are you Shooting?
With digital photography it is so easy to just shoot away filling your cards and hard drive as quickly as you can, after all it is free! This was a problem I had for years, I think I got it from my Grandmother…I hate throwing things away.
I have learnt, first of all, to stop and think “Why am I taking this? Will it go on my wall? Will I sell it as stock? Competition material or website/blog use? Will it be used for ANYTHING? If all is good I take just a couple of images (portrait and landscape) making sure the exposure and focus is correct and then move on.
You have to be a little ruthless with digital.
So what floats your boat?
Most people have areas of photography that they prefer to others. For me, I love wedding photography, stock photography, sports, commercial, architectural and landscapes. I am not so hot on portraits (I mean standard family “nice” shots…I love wild, wacky and different shots of people all day long), fashion, glamour (way too steamy ; ) or paparazzi (too intrusive).
I actually love all aspects but just not shooting all of them.
If you have a particular niche that you enjoy, excel at it, enjoy it and even make a living out of it if you wish. If you just love photography as a hobby, fill your boots and shoot whatever you fancy on any given day.
That is the beauty of photography, you can be part of a group or be a complete loner walking about with your camera. I am both depending on what I am doing or what mood I am in.
Landscapes are one of my favourite photography subjects. What better way to get fit AND enjoy your hobby than this? It gives you a great reason to go to new places with family or alone in Winter, Summer, Spring or Fall. You can learn about new places and build a stunning portfolio and “memory box” of all the places you have been to…plus you can sell them as fine art prints or stock photography too!
The beauty of photography is that whichever type you choose to shoot on any given day, the skill sets and tools you use will differ greatly.
Great landscapes are all about timing, light and composition. First you need a great viewpoint from which to show off the subject to its best potential. Secondly, the time of year and time of day make a huge difference to the light and how it falls onto the landscape. Lastly, lenses and filters also play a large part in how the final image will look.
We will cover landscapes once again in more detail in the next module but some quick tips for you to practice with now are:
- Use the Golden Hours – 30 minutes to 1 hour after sunrise and 30 minutes to 1 hour before sunset give the most magical, warm light. Of course, you can also use the sunshine as it is just falling to add some shine to your images…play with the light and enjoy it!
- Don’t just use a wide angle lens – Many people think “Landscape = wide angle lens“. Break the mould once in a while and use a telephoto lens to pick out particular points of interest within a landscape scene. Use a macro to enter the wonderful world of close up landscape photography.
- Be prepared – Work out where you want to go, check the weather and traffic reports and go there when the light is best (well, half an hour before actually to give yourself time to set up the shots). Try to reccie places first, get an idea of what you want and work around it. Of course, you may just happen to stumble on an amazing shot there and then so TAKE YOUR CAMERA!
Portrait photography can be a little daunting to some people. The thought of asking people to “get out of their comfort zone” whilst you move them about and shove a camera in their face can be off putting.
Thankfully, a new trend these days is for natural portraits in the person/s natural environment. This immediately puts them at ease and makes your job a lot easier. There is good money to be made from portraits even though many people have the latest cameras…do you know why?
Regardless of what latest and greatest make and model of camera you have, you can never buy skill, knowledge and experience. The difference between an amateur family snapshot and professionally taken portrait is astounding and that is why there will always be a market for a good portrait photographer.
You will learn the skills in the next module that will blow you away in their simplicity and style. Certain equipment is needed to get the most out of portrait photography but it needn’t and shouldn’t break the bank.
Once you get confident (confidence is of paramount importance with any type of “people” photography) and some experience under your belt, the possibilities for making money with people photography is endless:
- Family portraits
- Graduation portraits
- Business portraits
- A “Day in the Life” portraits
- Pet portraits
- Senior portraits
…and so on.
If you are a regular at All Things Photography, our newsletters and forums, you will probably know that I love stock photography. I started shooting stock in 2004 and it got me hooked immediately, the earning have stayed fairly constant and in some cases risen quite a bit.
Over a 10 year period, I have earned well over 6 figures which is incredible considering I was ridiculed at the time for going “microstock”.
So what is stock photography?
Stock photography has changed its rules, regulations and appearance over the years but ultimately the principles stay the same.
You use your DSLR to provide high quality images of literally just about anything and everything;
…you then use a specialised agency to market them on your behalf. When a sale is made to a customer anywhere in the world, the commissions are split between you and the agency based upon the criteria at each different stock photography website and/or agency, a 50/50 split is the norm but some offer as low as 20% to the photographer so be aware.
In theory it is simple and very lucrative…it is also open to ANYONE! In practice however, there are many things you need to know before even uploading one image:
- Equipment needed
- Which subjects to shoot and which NOT to shoot
- Criteria regarding quality and file size
- How to upload efficiently to many agencies
- How to file your images
- How to create a saleable image from shots just lying around on your PC
- How to create 2 or 3 good images from just one shot
- “Unspoken” rules to follow if you want to succeed (forums etc.)
- How to price your images – Royalty free, rights managed, licensed, sell the rights, extended licenses?
The beauty of stock photography is similar to landscapes, you have the chance and opportunity to not only visit new places and photograph them, but to make money at the same time. Done right, a short trip or two week holiday could be paid for by the photos you take whilst ON holiday!
Who uses stock photos?
Well, I do for one.
Not only do I shoot and sell stock images, I also buy them occasionally for the websites I create. Think about it, say I urgently need a photo of a faraway place for an article I am writing, what do I do? Do I book a flight, car and accommodation at great expense or do I simply spend a few Dollars on buying the exact image I want from a stock library..simple!
In the past, traditional stock photography was very expensive, and still is, with full size images costing as much as $500 for Royalty free and in excess of $50,000 for a “sell the rights” advertising image. These are known as “macro stock” agencies. I am on with such an agency and the past few years have been pretty good.
The problem was that many people who needed stock images (churches, schools, small business owners etc) couldn’t afford them at these rates. A clever boffin saw the gap in the market about 6 years ago and soon after, “microstock” agencies were born that filled the gap for many people, buyers and photographers alike.
The long and short of it is that you only sell your images for between $1 and $50 but still receive 50%. Believe it or not, this can pay HUGE dividends as there are a LOT of downloads going on in microstock. The top microstock photographer pulls in over $1.3 million a year from stock photography alone.
Would you rather sell one image a month on a macro stock agency* and make $400 or would you rather sell 1000 microstock images a month at an average of $1 commission each.
*Macro stock is the traditional way of selling stock images. Agencies such as Getty Images, Alamy and Photographers Direct sell images either on a Royalty Free, Licensed or Rights managed basis for larger sums of money ranging from $99 up to $450 for Royalty Free and in excess of $10,000 and upwards for Licensed or “sell the rights” images.
We will be talking about this more in the next module, and have also created a whole new section devoted to shooting and making money from stock photography (you need to be a full access member to see that section).
For now, check out these microstock agencies and start studying. Beware though that your first few images need to be spot on and accepted otherwise you run the risk of being “placed on hold” for 3 months.
It would be worth waiting until you have read the entire stock photography section before doing anything as you could get rejected and have to wait a while before trying again. I may even be able to help you with your initial upload but for now, stick to learning about your camera.
There are many other agencies out there but stick with these for now, they have longevity, good business sense and a huge database of buying clients. A few years ago a lot of new microstock websites “popped up” out of nowhere and I held off uploading for a while, I am glad I did. Those agencies no longer exist and many people spent thousands of man hours uploading to them for nothing.
Big business, big money!
If you plan on getting into wedding photography it can be a hugely lucrative, very addictive, tiring, fun, scary and profitable business. Overall it is one of the best areas to get into if you feel that way inclined.
I assisted at my first wedding at the age of 16 and then shot my own at 22 (I think…it was a family wedding). I have been a wedding photographer for years and have shot weddings in many different places:
- Italian Vineyard and the Savoy hotel in Florence, Tuscany
- Ritz Carleton in Spain
- Spanish Monastery in the Countryside
- On Board a Yacht/Catamaran
- In a Very Small, Dark Cave
- Traditional Churches
- On a Beach
- Park Lane Hotel in London…
Each wedding is vastly different and you get to meet all sorts of wonderful people. Weddings are probably the best way to network your business I can think of. Do a great job, get a good reputation and the work can just pour in through word of mouth alone. The opposite is also true if you do a bad job.
Note: Above image is strictly copyright (we have already sued one person for mis-use).
If you are desperate to get into weddings soon, we filmed a weekend course in Dorset, wrote and added some eBooks and interviews and put it all to DVD…you can grab a copy here;
However, we have now added the entire contents of these DVD’s and eBooks to ATP Members right here and you can access them by upgrading your membership plan if you haven’t done so already.
Wedding photography is a serious business and if you plan to get started, there is a lot to learn:
- What kit do you need and why?
- Chicken and Egg – How do you get started without a portfolio and how do you get a portfolio to get started?
- Do you need a website? If so, what sort, flash, HTML?
- How do you advertise and where?
- What should you wear?
- How should you act?
- Do you need an assistant?
- What about wet, stormy, wintry, dark weather conditions?
- How can you produce images like the pros?
All of this is covered in the DVD’s and subsequently in the new wedding photography section. To accompany this we are adding a new “business of photography” section covering not just wedding photography but ALL other aspects of any successful business:
- Marketing (both on and offline)
- Health (very important)
- Recommended and essential reading material
- Personal Coaching
Fun and Family
I am like many other photographers when it comes to family photography, I am truly inconsistent.
I sometimes photograph my family purely for stock purposes which is when I produce lovely, clean, crisp, colourful work. Other times I am a purebred snap shooter! I take no care to get the exposure spot on, I don’t worry about composition or lighting, I am not even that bothered about critically sharp focussing…and it feels GREAT!
After decades of trying to shoot perfect photography, I don’t feel like I have to always be at my best, although this is a good trait to have and will stick in your subconscious mind if you take enough heed in those thoughts, as sometimes it is better to let it all go and simply enjoy the moment and record it in any way you can.
This attitude is only fairly recent for me as I have been somewhat of a perfectionist in the past.
I have somewhere in the region of “hundreds of thousands” of images on my hard drives and they are in serious need of filing, printing, organising etc. I plan to one day get it all sorted and start producing some wonderful family albums and it really doesn’t matter to me about the overall quality.
As we said before, there any many other avenues you could take with your photography such as commercial, fashion, travel, fine art, property and so on. Please get in touch to let us know what you are into or looking to shoot because we will be adding as much as possible to suit all tastes as we go on.
Next Page – Filters