Black and white

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One of my favourite ways to shoot photos is in black and white. For me there is something beautiful and calming in black and white photos, it’s like seeing the world differently.

Black and white is timeless, it transforms an image into a world that isn’t abstract, but isn’t reality either.

Another reason I love shooting this way is because it expresses emotion that sometimes cannot be put into words, whether it be the emotion I am feeling at the time or the mood of my surroundings or subject.

These are some of the black and white photos I have taken.

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An aspiring photographer’s best friend – YouTube

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As an amateur photographer I do not always have access to a professional’s assistance, enter YouTube.

And, at times, I also use this platform for inspiration for new ideas.

One of the main reasons I use this platform is so I can learn how to take particular photos that are a little more tricky.

At present I have been using YouTube to learn how to take photos at night with street lights as the bokeh.

 

Here are some of my favourite YouTubers:

Weekly Imogen

Jessica Kobeissi

Bethany Kay

Jason Lanier

 

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In the bedroom

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Recently I did my very first (but hopefully not last) boudoir photoshoot and this was quite an interesting experience. I had to learn to work indoors with limited light and space.

This type of photography is very intimate by nature and can be intimidating for the model. I got very lucky for my first boudoir shoot and got to photograph a close friend, who is an absolute natural in front of the camera.

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But when it comes to someone who you don’t know very well or at all, it is important to make them feel as comfortable as possible because you want to build trust.

The level of comfort and trust between the photographer and the model is evident in the final images.

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When planning this type of shoot, advise your model to choose outfits they feel comfortable in. If they aren’t comfortable with what they are wearing, they won’t relax while you photograph them and this will leave you with rigid photos.

Boudoir shoots also don’t always have to involve the model only wearing lingerie or being nude. You can create beautiful photos where the model is wearing a shirt, T-shirt or a jersey.

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With many people living in townhouses or having smaller bedrooms you should prepare yourself to work with limited space. Inform your model that you will probably need to move things around so they should declutter their room as much as possible before you arrive.

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Even though I am friends with the model, when I arrived we didn’t jump straight into the shoot, we sat and had a cup of coffee just to get comfortable.

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Me, myself and I

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Kick your photography up a notch by practicing self-portraits.

By putting yourself in front of the camera you can learn more about lighting, angles, and poses that bring out the best in your own features.

My personal view is that you need to be able to be comfortable being in front of the camera in order to get your models, clients or friends and family to be more relaxed while you shoot them.

Once you’re in front of the camera, you fully put yourself in the place of your subjects.

You will understand how uncomfortable it can feel to try to pose.

As you sit on the other side of the camera, imagine what you could say to your subject to make them feel more at ease.

Use this opportunity to play around with different poses, even if they’re silly (no one will see).

I recently did a self-portrait shoot which took a few hours and I only got a few decent shots; it takes time adjusting the settings and angle of the tripod, but I learnt a lot during this.

This is something I would definitely recommend you doing at least once, if not every few months.

 

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Start off easy

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When I decided to take my photography to the next level I got a little overzealous. I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do and thought I could go out and get exactly what I wanted.

This, however, turned out to be another learning curve. I tried to take motion pictures, which just turned out to be blurry. When I tried taking photos with a shallow depth of field they landed up being out of focus.

I would even try copying the shutter speed, depth of field and ISO settings on photos I liked and still it would not work. This is when I learnt the photography is not an exact science. Professional photographers know how to adjust their cameras quickly but amateurs, such as myself, still need a lot of practice.

But, this is the fun part, you get to know your camera better and the more you practice the more creative you become.

Before you go out there thinking you will get those crisp clear photos with the subject in focus and perfect bokeh (blurred background) try taking some simple and easy photographs.

Here are some of the easy photos I took starting out:

 

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Getting inspiration

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As with any new hobby at first it might seem a little intimidating with what equipment you need, how to go about doing it, confidence in yourself and, most important, finding the inspiration to do it.

Even though I have done a few shoots with family and friends, I still use various sites to give me inspiration to decide what I would like my photos to look like.

One of my favourite things to do is to go onto Pinterest, type in what my idea is for a shoot and get some ideas from there. I also ask whoever I am doing the shoot for, to go onto Pinterest and we generally make a joint board so we both contribute to what kind of shoot we are doing.

You should keep in mind that your photos may not come out looking the same as the ones you have chosen. The lighting will be different as well as the backgrounds. However, use these photos to inspire you and give you an idea of how to compose your photo and subject.

Don’t fall into the habit of trying to replicate the same photos in different shoots, try something new. If you are shooting your family or friends, and have an idea for a pose ask them to try it. Even if it doesn’t come out how you imagined it, you still tried and learnt something new.

Instead of always posing people, take photos of them while they are acting naturally. Personally, I think kids are the best subjects to photograph, they always act natural and this can also inspire future photoshoots.

Here are some of my replicated photos:

 

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Learning as you go

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Since I was a teenager I have loved photography. When we got our first digital camera at home, a Fuji camera that produced grainy photos, I did my first photoshoot.

Even though the photos were awful (giggles) I had an amazing day with my friend. It would be a while after that day until I picked up a camera again.

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(Look how grainy it was.)

When I got my first job as a journalist, I was given a camera to take photos at events over a weekend. During that weekend I met the then photo editor from another newspaper who gave me some tips to take better photos.

After that I rarely travelled without my camera. I was designated photographer at my sisters’ kids’ parties and, although I didn’t think about lighting, composition and depth of field, I took relatively decent photos.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I decided I really wanted to improve my skills. I was lucky enough to be friends with a professional photographer who gave me some pointers and advised me about lenses.

I took a photography course to learn about the more in depth camera functions and then a course in Lightroom which taught me how to edit. I recommend learning Lightroom before Photoshop.

Once I had my “nifty fifty” (50mm lens) and my knowledge of editing, I was ready.

I used my son and niece as my guinea pigs and did a quick shoot with them.

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What I learnt from this shoot is that I saturated my photos too much, didn’t look at where the sun was, and, on some of the photos, I cut the photo off at their joints. DON’T TAKE PHOTO’S WHERE YOU CUT A PERSON OFF AT A JOINT SUCH AS THE KNEE OR ANKLE!

But taking bad photos is actually a good thing; you learn what to change the next time you do a shoot.

Personally, I think it’s better to start off photographing your family and friends. This way if you mess up no one gets angry and you can always redo a shoot. Also, these people will most likely understand that you are learning and be more patient when posing in the same position for longer while you take a good photo.

My photos started to improve after I edited them slightly, used the golden hour and composed my shots better.

I asked family members, my work colleagues and friends to model for me and each shoot became better and easier than the one before.

 

My tips as an amateur photographer:

* Play around with your camera settings; shoot on auto, aperture priority or shutter priority, or even manual. Get to know your camera.

* Shoot everything, whether it’s your pet, a Teddy bear or flower. By doing this you can learn to adjust your white balance, focus and depth of field.

* Take photos at different times of the day to compare how the sun can affect your photo.

* Shoot from all angles and try self-portraits. If you are comfortable in front of your camera you can make your subject comfortable.

* For tips on taking photos; watch different photographers on YouTube. There are so many helpful hints in these videos.

* Use Pinterest. Find photos you like and try replicate them.

* Play around with your editing program. Try all types of editing, whether it makes your photo look better or worse. It is how you learn the ins and outs of editing.

* Most importantly. Have fun. Whether you want to go professional or just have a hobby, photography should be enjoyable.

 

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