When you think of famous photographers, several names come to mind instantly. You have Annie Leibovitz who has photographed countless editorial shots of some of the world’s biggest celebrities. Or, Steve McCurry, who grabbed our attention with his photo of the ‘Afghan Girl’ that appeared in National Geographic.
Whoever inspires you, it’s important to look to these industry pros to learn from. They’re at the top of their profession and setting the bar for quality, innovation, and discipline. Below are a few tips and techniques to get you shooting like these famous photographers.
One thing that comes up frequently by many of the pros is how little importance their camera actually played in their photos. Many of them worked during a time when the film was prominent and you didn’t have an endless SD card of shots to work with.
Being a photographer means understanding your subject, knowing how to light your subject, and how that light interacts with your camera. Take advantage of its quirks and flaws. Find a way to be creative with what you hold in your hands. The best camera is the one that you will carry with you everywhere and feel comfortable using.
Why be a wedding photographer if you really want to be out in the mountains shooting landscapes? If you’re shooting what you love, it will pour out into every photograph. Within your passion, you can find your niche. Some landscape photographers pick an environment they grew up in to shoot again and again. They may notice things others wouldn’t due to the time they spent there. Don’t follow trends or copy what other famous photographers are doing. If you chase your passion and just keep shooting, you will find your own way.
Whatever you’re shooting, the most important tip many of the pros offer up is patience. As a nature photographer, you’re working in an environment you cannot control and spend much of your time waiting for the perfect moment. This may mean sitting through the elements or staying up all night.
The same is true for a street photographer. Much of your time is spent mingling and moving about. People need to be comfortable with you and with your camera. Stick to it and sooner or later you’ll get the shot you came for.
Any successful photographer will tell you lighting is key for a great shot. It is vitally important in every avenue of photography. Whether you’re working with natural light or manipulating studio lights, you have to understand the role that it plays in your photography. Shoot at every time of the day and see how it impacts your subject. Pay attention to color temperature and what colors get reflected off of light. The biggest tip that comes up is to shoot at either dawn or dusk – during the Golden Hour. This is when the sun is low on the horizon and shadows are soft.
As with any career, you’re going to make mistakes. The best thing you can do is learn from them and move on. If you’re afraid to make mistakes then you won’t be willing to take risks. It is those risks that have set photographers apart. Keep shooting and keep growing from your work. Look it over, share it with others, and accept constructive criticism.
This is an extremely important tip from famous travel and photojournalist photographers. The best way you can prepare is to know what you’re getting yourself into. Research the local culture and how you can best become a part of it. Get involved with the natives and spend time with them. If you’re planning an excursion for great landscape shots, know what type of weather you might run into so you can pack accordingly. As with any line of work, most important is to know what you’re getting into.
Every photographer has his or her own personal style. The pros didn’t become famous just by sheer luck. Instead, it has been through hard work, perseverance, and dedication to their craft that they are able to inspire the rest of us. They’ve carved out a style that suits them while working with subject matter that they’re passionate about. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes while you search for what inspires you.