- How to Snipe Out Your Best Shots Ever
- Beach and Surf Photography: How One Photographer Turned His Passion Into His Career (Video)
- 13 Tips for Effective Environmental Portraits (Video)
Posted: 08 Dec 2013 05:51 PM PST
You load ammo into your camera, aim at your subject, and fire. You are a shooter. Strangely, the way most photographers shoot is vastly different than the way a marksman – specifically, US Marine Corp Snipers – use their rifles. Is there a thing or two we can learn from these expert shooters? Can stealing a few tricks from the best snipers in the world improve your photo 'shot'? Find out now.
A common piece of photo advice is that the more shots you take, the more likely you'll stumble upon that one amazing shot. Even if it means 4/5th of your photos end up getting deleted.
I say this piece of advice is flawed. Here's why.
Taking twenty tries to get one shot right is, quite simply, sloppy shooting. And, while it's acceptable if you're just starting out in photography, it' should not be something any photographer is happy with.
A Marine Corp Scout Sniper, in contrast, is trained to load his rifle, aim, and get the shot right the first time - or die.
From day one of Marine Corps Sniper training, shooters are taught that there are no second chances. There is no delete button on their rifle. There is no 'Photoshop' to correct their mistakes. They must step up to the plate and become the best shooters in the world – or find another career.
Unlike photographers, every shot a sniper takes puts them at risk of being exposed to their enemy. As a result, snipers are forced to train their eyes to see anything and everything around them. They are forced to shoot with exacting precision. And they are forced to shoot with perfection– every time.
We photographers can learn a lot from Marine Corp Snipers. Follow along as I share with you three essential skills snipers must develop and how you too can harness these skills for your photography success (and, as a result, use the delete button a little less).
Essential Sniper Skill #1: Be James Bond Cool
A hot-head, unable to keep their nerves straight under pressure, will fail miserably during the 9-week military sniper training course. A great sniper is drafted first for his temperament.
One way military folk are trained to shoot under pressure is through a target practicing drill – without bullets.
Soldiers must go through the motion of loading and aiming their gun at the target just as if it they were using real bullets. Upon firing, however, they must use their mind to imagine their shot hits the bull's-eye mark. Most soldiers, you see, shake from the pressure of pulling the trigger. This type of 'mind training' helps soldiers visualize success and reduce trigger shake.
Applying This to Your Camera:
Bring your camera to a shoot and don't put a memory card in it (or film). Just point and imagine pressing the shutter every time you see the perfect shot. Since there's no way you can take the shot, you'll be forced to really look at what you're shooting and imagine getting the best shots possible. That way, when you do finally load your camera, you will be ready.
Essential Sniper Skill #2: Do Whatever It Takes to Get the Shot
Snipers are trained to do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot. They'll crawl over mine-infested roads. They'll sludge through three foot deep cesspools in the Jungles of Vietnam. They'll sleep in snow covered mountain terrain for weeks. Whatever is necessary to get the shot they've been ordered to get, they will do. Sniper training is specifically designed to weed out the solder that won't go this extra mile.
Applying This to Your Camera:
Be ready and willing to go above and beyond for that perfect shot. Just take a look at some of the National Geographic's photographers and you'll get the idea. These photographers make expeditions to the most remote parts of the world. They dive into arctic ice caves with uncertainty that they'll ever make it out. They step into deep, unexplored jungles with no idea what they'll encounter.
If you're willing to get dirty and take risks, you'll find shots 99% of other photographers will never get.
Essential Sniper Skill #3: See Everything, Everywhere
Snipers are trained to see everything around them. In one specific training drill, soldiers are shown a scene with several objects and then asked to repeat, with exact detail, what they saw.
At the start of their training, only a few objects are given to them to find. As their training intensifies, several more objects are added for them to locate. By the end of their training, snipers develop the ability to find and locate over 25 objects and describe these objects several hours later.
Applying This to Your Camera:
Try seeing the details everywhere around you, without your camera. Develop your skills of observation. Notice the objects around you while you drive to work.
One exercise I did a couple years back was to set an alarm every four hours on my phone for a few weeks. When it went off, I would immediately close my eyes and name ten objects around me with detail. At first, I struggled as I was rarely ever paying attention to details around me. With this alarm going off every four hours, every day – for weeks, that changed.
Try this same exercise out for a month and your observation skills will improve drastically! This will help you better notice details within the camera frame most other photographers without this 'sniper' training will miss.
Use These Sniper Skills to Strengthen Common Photographer Weaknesses
While using your cameras delete button is not a bad thing, relying on it is a clear sign of weakness. It is better, instead, for you to spend a bit of time working at developing your photo skills so you can get the perfect shot in fewer tries.
You'll find that you put much more care into each and every shot when you follow the philosophy of a sniper: you have one chance to get the perfect shot – or you're dead.
About the Author:
Posted: 08 Dec 2013 02:41 PM PST
Have you ever dreamed about quitting your day job to pursue your passion? If you have, you’re certainly not alone. While many contemplate taking that plunge, Eugene Tan turned his hobby of photographing beaches and surfers into the full-time career of his dreams.
At the young age of 9, Tan picked up his first camera and started taking pictures. Years later, the self-taught photographer makes his money by hauling his Canon EOS 1D X to Bondi beach each morning at sunrise to capture the waves, surfers, and sunrise. He uses these daily pictures in his newsletter, on his business Facebook page, and to create new prints for his gallery:
Making a Passion Into A Career
Tan always enjoyed photography and started shooting the beach early in the morning in the 1990′s as an escape before heading in to his day job.
He started his company, Aquabumps, first as a simple e-mail of daily photos he would send to friends. From there, he started a newsletter and now has nearly 50,000 subscribers. Eventually, people started asking for prints of his photos, so he started an online store which later evolved into a physical gallery. As more and more people discovered Aquabumps, companies got wind of Tan’s stellar photography and offered him payment in exchange for advertising on his website.
Tan’s advice to a passionate photographer looking to turn his hobby into a full-time job is this:
He also suggests developing your own style and deviating from what you see other photographers do in order to create your own artistic vision.
You should strive to create photographs that represent your art and your personal style, and as Tan says, “get that shot you haven’t gotten yet.”
Go to full article: Beach and Surf Photography: How One Photographer Turned His Passion Into His Career (Video)
Posted: 08 Dec 2013 11:32 AM PST
Departing from the standard "torso-up" headshot portrait, an environmental portrait portrays a subject in a location that lends insight into who the subject is and what he or she is about. Although the headshot portrait is certainly appropriate in some contexts, it is generally agreed that the best portraits are the ones that tell stories.
Newspaper photographer David Handschuh has been shooting environmental portraits for more than 30 years throughout his career and has developed this list of 13 tips for creating effective environmental portraits based on his experience:
1. Case the shoot location like a hunter or a burglar to find several different spots. Have a plan heading into a given shoot and survey the location thoroughly. Note all of the important details, such as lighting and angles, and select places to pose your subject.
2. Learn to read the light. Lighting makes or breaks a photograph—figure out what you want the photograph to look like and make it happen with the resources available to you.
3. Fight with light and wrestle with it.
4. Love color and embrace it. Handschuh believes that incorporating more color into your portraits will set them apart from other photographers' work and even save portraits if you screwed them up in other areas.
5. You have three seconds to make your subject feel comfortable.
6. Empower your subject. First thing during a shoot, Handschuh asks his subjects where they want to be photographed. He has found that giving subjects the ability to choose allows them to feel more involved in the shoot, which relaxes them, and helps him to identify places where his subjects feel most comfortable.
7. Watch your background, carefully and often.
8. Shoot in f/3.2 or f/4. Because the environmental portrait is supposed to impart a sense of place while mostly focusing on the subject, f/3.2 and f/4 are Handschuh's choice apertures because they make backgrounds detailed, but out of focus.
9. & 10. Always give your editors and clients choices. Make sure to take as many different variations of waistlengths, full lengths, horizontals, and verticals as possible during any given shoot so that if editors and clients come asking for different crops, you have them.
11. Be a master of auto exposure. Handschuh compares using auto exposure to driving an automatic car.
12. Bracket your exposure and white balance. Photographers who work under time constraints and the pressure of capturing once-in-a-lifetime moments, such as celebrity, wedding, and news photographers, would be well-served by bracketing in Handschuh's view.
13. Smile. Being bright and friendly will help to make your subject feel comfortable during the shoot—which will definitely pay off in your photographs.
Incorporating these tips into your technique can make all the difference in setting you apart from the masses of other professional photographers and amateurs with iPhones. They have certainly elevated Handschuh, who works as an acclaimed photojournalist for New York Daily News and has had the opportunity to photograph many celebrities throughout his career.
Go to full article: 13 Tips for Effective Environmental Portraits (Video)
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