Home How-To Tip Of The Week Improve Your Photography With Self-Assignments—11/28/11
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Improve Your Photography With Self-Assignments—11/28/11

Challenge yourself to become a better photographer

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Don't skimp on the preproduction. Whether it's an ambitious fashion shoot (which Whaley pulled off with a crew of 20 in an exotic location) or a simple landscape session, planning is crucial to the success of your shoot. And if your shoot isn't successful, you're just wasting your time. So take the time to properly prepare, from location scouting to technical and equipment needs, a plan for the shoot day and an understanding of how you'll handle all but the most extreme mishaps.
Speaking of mishaps, know that they will happen. But if you're prepared, you'll have a backup plan and you'll be able to transition to that Plan B and still pull off a successful assignment. Not only is that the mark of a professional, but it will help you push yourself to do things you may not be entirely familiar with. And that's the next step.
I don't mean that you have to rent a helicopter or walk a tightrope or do other things this dramatic to make better images. But I do mean you need to do things you're not entirely comfortable or familiar with if you expect to learn from a photo shoot. If you're not familiar with studio strobes, try a shoot with studio strobes. If you're a landscaper who's not well versed with large format, maybe you want to borrow or rent a 4x5 to try it out. Whatever it may be, if you're challenging yourself and learning something new—explicitly new—on a test shoot, well you're on your way to becoming a better photographer in the quickest way I know how.

No matter what you're shooting, what techniques you're learning, how you're preparing or what you hope to bring back, you've got to maintain high quality at every level. If you're just hoping to become a better hobbyist, don't compromise the quality standards that you've already established. But if your goal is to become a professional photographer, you've got to behave like a pro even on a self-assignment. That's what Whaley does. Behave as if you were working for a client—because you are. You may be more forgiving than most, but this can be an invitation to cut corners if you're not careful. Don't cut corners. Hire professionals, take your time, and invest yourself into your own assignments as if your paycheck depended on it. Because in a not so indirect way, it does.

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