We have heard the saying many times “Slow and steady wins the race” and over the past 30 years of being a photographer I do have to agree with that statement. In this day and age it seems like instant is everything, instant potatoes, instant text messaging and instant success takes precedent over the slow and steady philosophy. Over the past several months I have had the pleasure of talking to a number of photographers that got me thinking of how far we have come from the slow and steady approach to running a business, especially a photography business. One photographer that had been in business just over a year told me they were revamping their business and changing from one specialty to another because they had not achieved success in that area after the 14 months that they had been working in it. Another photographer was changing their entire approach to shooting weddings as they thought that this new way would bring in more business, that was after 8 months of being a wedding photographer and not getting enough bookings. A couple photographers that I know completely switched camera systems last year as they figured a new camera system would make them more money.
As many of you know I am a BIG fan of Photoshop, some days spending 8 – 12 hours using it. But at the same time I am not a fan in any way of Photoshop CC – the version that you rent for X dollars every month. That being said I need to clear up some misconceptions of Photoshop CC as there is a lot of misinformation kicking around about it.
Continuing on the list of questions that I regularly get is “What are the three focus modes on my camera?” This is referring to the One Shot, AI Focus, AI Servo settings and people always wonder what they do and which one to use?
Continuing on with popular questions that I get is “Should I buy actions for Photoshop or Elements?” First what is an action? An action is a program that installs inside of Photoshop or Elements and does specific things like making the images sepia or saturated or unsaturated, etc, etc. Many people will know by now that I am not a fan of actions, many of the actions that are made are done so to capitalize on a fad and after seeing thousands of images that all look the same I just cannot recommend that my clients get on the band wagon of actions that turn all your photos to look like the next persons. Yes there are some cool actions but if every photographer is doing the same thing what is the point? To make things worse instead of applying the action to a couple of images from each shoot many photographers will do it to all the images giving the client no choice as to what they get.
I do have actions and use some actions regularly (signature, copyright, resizing are some of the ones that I use to help me save time, not to apply a look to the images) but I believe that you should learn how to do these effects for yourself and use them sparingly, or learn to create your own actions. The other reason that I am not a fan of actions is that they can start to really add up in cost. I know a number of photographers that will buy an action, use it once then move on. Some of these actions are not cheap and can quickly add up to a lot of money.
So if you want to get into using actions what should you do?
1) When you see an action that you must have, wait a couple of days before you buy it. You may find out that the look is actually not what you wanted. If you can try the action / look on some of your images.
2) If you buy an action PLEASE do not apply it to every picture that you take. Use it sparingly.
3) Remember the actions that you have bought so you don’t go out and buy the same type of action from another person.
4) Learn Photoshop or Elements and do your own effects or make your own actions.
I get asked a lot from people “What editing program should I get?” and I always say the same thing. If you are just starting, or have been doing photography for a while, get Adobe Photoshop Elements. Why? Because it will do 90% of what most people will want to do with a picture, from colour and density corrections to removing a flaw to adding text Elements will do it.
I still get the one big question from people that I meet, and it is the question that got me started into teaching. No it is not “How much money do you make?” or “Why are you a photographer?”. It is “If you could tell me one thing to improve my photography what would it be?” Wow what a question and not an easy one to answer. But if I have to narrow it down to one thing it would be “Get to know your camera, whatever make or type that you have, COMPLETELY!” Learn the menus, functions, features and how to adjust these without having to think about it. Once you do that you will not be stuck trying to figure out how to adjust or set your camera when you should be taking a picture. Once you do that you will be able to make adjustments on the fly without having a nervous breakdown and once you know how to do that you will get better pictures.
I hear from so many people “If only I knew I could adjust that” or “You can do that with this camera”. Don’t waste your money on new accessories till you are comfortable with the ones that you have and that starts with the camera itself.
Lesson: Take a few minutes with your camera to figure out what all the settings are. Read the manual. If you still are confused come in for a one on one course, I won’t tell anyone that you were confused 🙂