Tip of the Week – Constant Improvement
July 30, 2012
At Fundy Software we are in a unique position of seeing fantastic photography everyday. Whether it be our featured photographer or one of our Facebook friends or fans, the quality of photography we see on a daily basis is outstanding. We see some of the best and most renowned photographers in the industry and the high quality of work they produce. But, we also see many completely unknowns who are producing world-class work on a regular basis. This high quality of work is how I learn, how I push myself, and, ultimately, how I improve.
One of the key elements in self-improvement is determining what really is good and what is not. This is not necessarily an easy task. I think we can all be honest, there is a fair amount of simply moderate photography passed off as quality work in the wedding and portrait industry. I think it’s extremely important to look deep inside and evaluate the work we see with a critical eye.
Don’t Stay Close To Home
We have a tendency to compare ourselves to our local competition. We want to be number one in our market. So, we naturally compare ourselves to our local market. If we do this, we are (at best) a little better than our local number two. As much as I can, I compare my own work to the very best in the industry–through Facebook, magazines, books, etc. Additionally, I compare my own work to photography outside of the industry. My two favorites are Vanity Fair and National Geographic (travel photography). I’m able to see the artistic side of the photographic industry as well at the photojournalistic side.
While I don’t expect to rival the photographers I see anytime soon, I see glimmers of similarity–glimmers of high quality.
It’s natural to see something you like in someone else’s photography and emulate it. But, it’s essential to always make it your own. Being a copycat may serve well in the short term, but once everyone figures out who the original is, you’ll be left holding the bag. Spend time, thinking long and hard about what your own style is. A good friend of mine always gives me a bad time about bunching up my blacks (losing details in the blacks in my photos). I don’t know what it is, I’ve always loved old-school processing where the contrast is high and a lot of detail is lost in shadows. I see a lot of high key lighting out there, and I love it, but I know it’s not me. I love the contrast.
Be true to what you like and develop your own style. It may not pay the bills right away, but it will in the long run.
The photography business is about the long haul. Keep at it, keep working and keep challenging yourself. In this post I’ve included a series of photos that I shot recently with a model. We shot all day. I shot over 580 photos. I’ve shot weddings with fewer photos than this. It would be easy to show 50 of my favorite shots. Instead, I’ve kept editing and I’m down to 9 shots. These are the only 9 shots I’ve shown anyone. If this was for a client, I’d probably show 40 shots, but there is absolutely no reason to show more than 9 of these shots to anyone else.
Show only the best of your best. Whether it be a wedding or a portrait, there is no reason to show more than a dozen shots on your blog or Facebook. Your clients will end up seeing all of your shots, there is no reason that they need to see them all in a public environment. Many times I’ve seen outstanding photographers show mediocre work on their site, their blog or their Facebook page, simply because they show too much. My gut feeling is that this hurts their business in the long run.
Sum It Up
Compare yourself to the very best and only show your very best. 2012 is just past the halfway point, we hope you are having a fantastic year. We hope both your photography and your business keeps growing by leaps and bounds.
Entire shoot just to see how much I culled out.
Keep on improving.
© All images copyright Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg