You know the expression, right? “Practice Makes Perfect” but, how can you practice constantly if you don’t get a steady stream of customers? Just walk!
Let me explain. In order to improve constantly as photographers, you and I need to practice constantly and, as part of that practice, we should try new things in the form of new techniques, different ways to approach our subjects, angles, lighting, poses… you catch my drift.
I usually shoot portraits, architecture or products. I also shoot fashion every once in a while but my main areas are those. So, how do I practice? Let me focus on architecture, because that was the trickiest type of photography for me to practice.
You see, architecture photography usually requires access to properties in order to photograph them. However, that’s the case for private properties. For public properties like museums, parks or civic centers, you don’t usually need special permits to access and photograph them. And even private spaces like office and apartment buildings, hotels and restaurants are very visible from the street so, I just walk by them and shoot.
This is a great combination for me. I like walking and I like photography, so I usually carry a camera with me and when I leave the office (photography is not my day job, yet) I photograph many buildings on my way home. Of course, I sometimes deviate a lot so I get to shoot something different, and I also try and take a long walk on the weekend with my camera to keep practicing, and also scouting locations for my portrait shoots.
On these walks I usually shoot brackets of under- and over-exposed shots, so I have more material to work with and sometimes work in HDR. One thing I try to avoid on these walks is shooting horizontally from eye-level, so I shoot pointing up or down, or I get really low and shoot close to the ground. My camera of choice? The Canon EOS M3 with the EF-M 18-55 lens, because it’s small and light. I generally shoot in Aperture priority, switching between f/5.6 and f/8, with ISO 200 in the summer and 400 in the winter (the sun sets earlier).
Walking comes with another benefit: health! I know it’s not a very intense workout, but I’m making sure I walk 10,000 steps daily, which is a usual recommendation for a healthy lifestyle.
What do I shoot while walking? Any building that looks interesting, of course! Whether it’s an old palace turned into a museum, or the tallest building in Latin America, I look for an unusual take on day to day views.
It’s not always easy. Some really nice, classic buildings are sometimes surrounded by trees and electrical lines, so it’s impossible to show the complete façade, but then the details are my best option.
After all this talk about walking and shooting, my main point is: You can find a way to practice photography on a regular basis. Whether it is that you trade your services in exchange for something, offer discounts, do a gear test shoot, or just walk, you should make a plan to have some personal practice time and stick to that plan. My motto is: Keep learning, keep shooting. This way you’ll build your portfolio and be better prepared when you have a paying customer.
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