cc_artwhite10Where do your ideas come from?  How did you learn?  How do you know what works and what doesn’t?  I hear these questions a lot these days.  Actually have heard them a lot through the years.  Everyone wants to know if I went to school to learn photography.  If I assisted anyone and how I learned all that I know.  It would take a book to answer everything most people want to know, but one of the BIGGEST ways I learned just about everything is by testing.  What is testIng?  Pretty much what it sounds like… Testing your ideas before your bring them to a client or important shoot.

I still test to these days.  I’m always experimenting, being creative, looking for ideas and trying just about everything.  Weather its at the actual shoot or in post production I’m always trying something new.  With digital it makes it easier and cost effective.  Back in the day with film it got expensive trying new things.  Always try new things and test out these ideas.  That is the only way to learn.  You can talk about it all you want, but doing it is the way to learn!  Some simple tips…

  1. Set up a schedule to test.  Maybe once a month so you always have something to plan for and do.
  2. Try new lighting or gear for easy shoot.
  3. If you see a photo you like, bring it with you for an example.  Try to match the look and feel, the lighting or the make-up.  Just put your twist on it!
  4. One thing I always did was give myself assignments.  Picked a subject and then gave myself a certain amount of time to complete.
  5. Keep your cost down if you can.  Rent or borrow gear before you go out and buy anything.
  6. If you can get an assistant to help you, great.  Just get his thoughts on what you are trying to get.  Sometimes the assistants know more than you and me.
  7. Look at your end results carefully.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  If you have a friend or mentor, share the work with them.  Second opinions, educated opinions are ALWAYS good.
  8. Keep notes.  If you are trying some fancy lighting… Write down the set-up, the settings and if you can draw a map of the set-up.
  9. If you get a model… Be nice and be grateful.  If she is helping you for free or you are paying her big bucks… ALWAYS be nice!
  10. Last, never stop pushing yourself.  Never rest and never settle for good.  ALWAYS work hard to be great in everything!