‘You have a good eye’… is a common phrase when it comes to photography. As an art form, this is very much a subjective saying, but so long as basic photography principles are followed, anyone can have a ‘good eye’ every so often!
These principles can be fallen upon accidentally, meaning that someones one-off snap may be an awesome photograph, winning prizes and commanding great financial reward.
However, being consistent with the quality of your photos is key to professional commercial photography, and it’s what each client demands and expects.
There are many factors to producing a saleable image including:
- Depth of Field
- Subject Matter
It’s also always worth considering if the image has a narrative, and if it tells a story to the viewer/customer.
As a commercial photographer, especially in the UK, I have to deal with many lighting conditions, which are rarely ideal! A midday wedding during a sunny August, for example, is a photographer’s nightmare. Having to squint for better visibility, dealing with dark shadows, and working in a suit to name are just a few problems, amongst others. Overcoming the problems in this scenario can be achieved by introducing good use of reflectors, picking creative locations, using fill-in flash, and of course, drinking plenty of water!
Every picture should tell a story, and my work as a documentary photographer plays on these rules constantly. What you include within your image must contribute to the overall narrative and message. Filling the frame with relevant info can sometimes be a challenge, especially in the documentary genre.
Of course, commercial shoots for advertising as an example, are usually planned out well in advance. Here, you can orchestrate exactly what you are wanting to include and where, from locations, props, products, and models. Being creative with focusing on specific parts within the image is key when it comes to all professional genres of photography. This is called depth of field, which is choosing what should and shouldn’t be in focus, for visual effect.
Knowing how to achieve creative focusing using apertures and shutter speeds (following the rules of the exposure triangle) becomes second nature to a professional photographer, which is what sets us apart from those on a more amateur footing, using phone cameras and consumer compact cameras.
So next time you take a photograph, try and have a think about the following:
- The composition
- What’s included (as well as what you want as your focal point)
- What additional elements you’re wanting to include
- The positioning of the model/item
- Your lighting source
It is also worth getting more technical if you’re more of an experienced photographer, and looking at the exposure triangle and depth of field, ISO (film/sensor) sensitivity, as well as shutter speed and apertures.
This is a guest written blog by Damian Furlong, a professional location and travel photographer based in Lincolnshire. To find out more, you can visit Damian’s website for further information.