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Five Secrets of Professional Photographers

difficult shot
The best shots rarely are found in the most convenient locations

Many people aspire to being a professional photographer but few will ever make it. A small subset of the total will actually make some money. Out of that small subset who manages to make money, an even smaller percentage will actually end up making their living from photography.

There are certain qualities which separate those who make it and those who end up in another line of work. The people who do end up doing something else, frequently it’s for the best. They lack either the passion, imagination or drive to make themselves a commercial success. It takes a fairly narrow range of skills to make the cut, a lot of talent, and a little bit of luck.

Like most challenges in life, luck seems to be most likely to come those most prepared to receive it. There are some secrets that will put you out ahead of the pack if luck does wander by, here are five of them:

Great Photos Are No Accident

I recently did a photo shoot for a friend’s business. He allotted two hours for the project, I was there for nine, shooting for seven. We had the maintenance people sweeping streets, cleaning windows, painting buildings and moving cars to get the shots. We closed off guest services and roped off areas to make the spaces look bigger. Every time my friend would ask why we had to do that, and every time I patiently explained why it was necessary.

While not happy at the time about the extra effort, he flipped out when seeing the results. Then he understood why all the effort was necessary.

Great photos come from great photographers and great photographers are constantly driven to perfection and are even willing to drive their clients if necessary. Check out this tutorial from Joe McNally at Nikon and you’ll see what I mean.

Most Of The Pictures Professional Photographers Take Are Garbage

Even with the all the preparation and drive to get the scene right, no matter how careful the preparation, the majority of photos any photographer takes will be absolute garbage. Without the preparation, they’ll ALL be garbage. All the preparation and scene dressing does is provide an atmosphere where a skilled photographer will be able to find an astounding photo.

It’s not unusual to take hundreds of pictures and get maybe four or five that really raise the bar on the profession.

You Can’t Fix Terrible Photography In Photoshop

You can sometimes tweak minor problems in a great photo, but if you start with a garbage photo before Photoshop, it will still be garbage after.

While post processing software can do some amazing things these days, it just can’t fix terrible work.

The Best Pictures Are Frequently In The Most Inconvenient Locations

If the best photos were in convenient locations everyone would have great shots. You have to go out and find the amazing shots and the best way to get there most times is walking.

Finding unusual places, unusual angles, and different perspectives requires a lot of looking around and thinking about photos from different angles.

Always Carry A Tripod

A tripod doesn’t have to be one of the carbon fiber models that cost hundreds of dollars. Many times the less expensive models offer the best value for the money.

It doesn’t have to be the best tripod made, but having one when you are shooting is invaluable. A stable tripod will give you so many more shooting options in a giving scene and let you select shutter speeds that go beyond what you can safely hand hold.

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