Capturing the Moment
My experience in photography began while attending college 20 years ago. The age of digital photography hadn't arrived yet and my training centered around the use of a film-based SLR. My courses in color, black and white photography taught me composition and camera settings such as ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed. And while a couple of classes in photography didn't make me a professional by any stretch of the imagination, I did learn some key basics that are still relevant today.
Directing a Photo Shoot
It would be several years later before I had the opportunity to make use of the training I received. Once I assumed the role of art director at Shoes For Crews, it was my team's responsiblity to get the necessary photography for the company's ever-changing footwear line. While most of the photos were product shot on a table in studio, I did direct several shoots on location as well.
The majority of the product photography was shot on white plexi and lit to give a subtle reflection. But our "hero" photos were shot against backdrops we'd create in studio. We built tiled flooring against painted walls with white-washed baseboards. We built industrial kitchen settings and restaurant dining rooms. We built sets that represented the places where you'd likely find our footwear. The work was time consuming and exhausting. But the results were superb.
Shooting on location was no picnic, either. The planning for a location shoot would begin a few months in advance with scouting locations, reviewing models, hiring photographers and stylists.
Of course the shoot never would go as planned and the events of the day were fluid and ever-changing. There were always hiccups and bumps in the road. If the shoot was outdoors, there might be a problem with the weather. A model might not be able to make it. Clothing might be ill fitting. Products not arrive on time. Hair and makeup might be falling behind, cutting into the day's production. No matter how many planning hours were dedicated to getting the most out of the shoot, the most valuable asset was the ability to deal with the ever-changing obstacles of the day. Adaptation and improvisation were critical. The location shoots began at dawn and often didn't finish until late at night. We always finished utterly exhausted but under the circumstances, always satisfied with the day's take.
My time spent directing photo shoots at Shoes For Crews inspired to me purchase my own DSLR system. Technology had come a long ways since my time in college, and while those photography basics were familiar to me, it took time to learn how to properly capture images with a new digital camera system.
I decided to purchase a Nikon system mostly due to the relationship I had built with other professional photographers who recommended the brand. But when I purchased my D300s I didn't understand the correlation between sensor sizes and the quality of the captured image. Had I known better, I probably would have purchased a D700 instead.
My photography began as a hobby, and I had no illusions of making money from my picures. I wanted to get more familiar with a modern camera system and at the same time, take better photos of my travels.
But as my skills with the camera improved and the number of accessories (such as lenses and filters) increased, I began to see that a number of my photos were actually decent; and some, perhaps, were pretty darn good.
And thus I decided to try my hand at selling photos online through one of the many stock photo websites. And while I've come to realize that I will never make a fortune selling photos on the web, my hobby has managed to put a few extra bucks in my pocket.
But perhaps more important is the knowledge I've gained while shooting my own photos that will improve the direction I give at photo shoots in the future.