Making the leap from hobby photographer to someone who takes the craft more seriously can be exciting, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Photographer David Koonar is sharing his top tips for taking your photography to the next level, whether you want to become a professional or are simply looking to level up the photos you take of your friends and family.
If you’re feeling like your photos aren’t up to par lately, it’s normal to hesitate to pick up your camera. Push past the discomfort and get right back to shooting anyway, advises David Koonar. Making a goal to shoot at least a handful of photos every day for a month can be a great way to push past a slump. Try not to judge your daily work — it can take thousands of shots to get a great one, especially when you’re still learning your own photography style.
Many photographers make the mistake of shooting a photo and immediately stepping back to look at how it turned out on their camera screen. Fight the urge to do this, advises David Koonar. Instead, stay in the moment with your subjects and your environment. Shoot in the time you have, and analyze later. A few quick checks to ensure that the lighting is good won’t hurt but get out of the habit of checking your work every few seconds.
Genuine, real emotions come out beautifully on camera, and it’s your job to help your subjects come out of their shell and share their true smiles with you. Joking with your subjects, asking them to tell stories, and showing up as a genuine person can help your subjects relax and feel comfortable interacting with you. Try to leave yourself plenty of time during your shot, advises David Koonar. The more time your subjects spend with you, the more they’ll be able to relax and provide you with gorgeous moments.
Your work schedule and other daily commitments may make it convenient to stick to one time of day to work on your photography skills. Whenever you can, break out of your scheduling shell. David Koonar recommends shooting in the early morning or early evening if your schedule permits. Changing up your normal location — trying to shoot in a shady area if you normally shoot in a sunny area, for example — can also provide new insights that allow you to grow as an artist.
When you’re just getting started as a photographer, it can be scary to let others know that you’d like to become a professional. You’ve got to start somewhere, and talking to others about starting a photography business is a great way to get your first gig. Before you start offering yourself up for professional jobs, be sure to develop a portfolio of your work. Shooting family parties, graduations, and other events you’d attend anyway is a great way to develop your skills and provide examples of your work to potential clients. Whether you’re thinking of going full-time or just want to make some money on the side, be sure to start a social media page for your photography business, making it easy for family and friends to spread the word that you’re available for work.