6 Lessons That Most Photographers Learn the Hard Way

If you own a DSLR and are learning photography, it is inevitable that you will be asked to do a portrait photography shoot for a friend or a neighbor.  Your first “professional” shoot can be daunting, but there are a few mistakes that you can avoid by learning from this article.

1. Provide an early sneak peak. Don't over-edit
The process of evaluating and critiquing each photo can take a tremendous amount of time!  You may have had the luxury of spending an hour editing every shoot you’ve done for fun, but when you have 1,000 photos from your friend’s wedding, you need to learn how to save time.

While photographers want to save editing time, it is also necessary to balance that need with the  notion that customers want to see their photos soon! Social media has even increased the demand for instant turnarounds.  A solution is to edit a few photos quickly and show them to the customer as part of a “sneak peek” with only basic edits done to the photos.  That usually excites the customer and gives you time to finish editing the entire batch. There is a fine line between editing correctly versus editing too much, taking too long and losing your customer.

2. Create a facebook fanpage for your photography
With social media becoming a focal point of advertising, marketing, etc, you can capture many photography opportunities from simply creating a page. Photographers found more success in “drumming up” business with this technique versus using print ads, newspapers, passing out business cards, etc. The Facebook fan page can increase the number of your photo shoots and it can also help shape your brand.

3. Watch for shadows in outdoor shots with the sun
When performing shoots when the sun is in play, avoid placing the model directly in front of structures such as buildings, fences, etc.  This is especially true when posing someone under a tree, where hot spots of light often peek through and put an unnatural highlight or shadow on the person. The most simple solution is to direct the model forward away from the structure until the shadow or highlight is not present.

4. Use continuous mode for toddlers
In contrast to shooting adults, toddlers cannot sit still and usually will not pose for the camera.  You have to change your tactic from technical shooting to shooting “in the moment” and simply getting proper focus and reacting to what the kid chooses to do.  When you're shooting toddlers while worrying too much about camera settings and the “perfect” single-shot focus, you'll miss many opportunities for great shots.  

5. Create a contract and stick to your guns
Starting out, photographers are somewhat afraid to sign contracts because it may come across as demanding, rigid, etc. Drawing up a contract and having the client sign it is the best way for you and the client to explain your expectations.  Without a contract, that aggressive mother wanting portraits of her child can try to strong-arm you into changing venues, changing appointment times, or even changing prices.  It only takes one experience of dealing with misunderstandings with a client to convince photographers to make the client sign a contract every time.  

6. Utilize flash in outdoor shots
In many cases, relying solely on the sun for light will produce unflattering shadows on the subjects’ faces. Utilizing the sun as your main light source (placing the subject where the sun hits them in a somewhat diagonal direction) and using your flash as a fill flash to correct any shadows on the side opposite the sun is a better technique.

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