Professional photographers utilize multiple different tricks to both capture and edit images. The following list will showcase some of the tricks which allow photographers to spend less time creating the perfect image.
- Photoshop Filters – Although there are many small editing actions that professional photographers will perform manually, there are just as many editing steps which a photographer repeats on such a regular basis that they’ll turn to a pre-set filter instead. Photoshop editing plug-ins, such as the Filter Forge software, allow professional photographers to create filters which can replicate common editing functions, including softening a portrait and changing the level of colors in an image.
- Flaws – No one wants to look back at photos and see acne or other obvious skin flaws. Therefore, professional photographers utilize a very simple clone stamp technique in Photoshop to eliminate these flaws. While it looks like magic to the uninitiated, it’s actually a very simple process which only takes a few moments with most photographs.
Storage and Backups
- File Storage – Hobbyists often look for a way to minimize the amount of storage space which their photographs require. Professional photographers, however, understand the need to maintain the largest possible file size for both their original unedited photographs and all subsequent edits. In order to maintain such a large amount of images, professional photographers require a laptop or desktop computer with a very large hard drive.
- File Backups – It is a general rule of thumb for professional photographers to store their more important images in three different places. The most common of which include on a laptop, on an external hard drive, on DVD-R and on an online storage site, such as flickr. Those who use flickr for storage purposes can choose to have all of their images archived privately, which will prevent others from accessing them. It is important to choose at least once backup source which is not in your home, thereby ensuring you won’t lose all of your images if there’s a fire or other disaster.
- Prime Lenses – Prime lenses, which are lenses that have a fixed focal length, work best for portrait photography. Although most hobbyists tend to stick with zoom lenses due to the cost of obtaining multiple lenses, prime lenses will provide the best results for portraits. This makes owning at least one prime lens a must for any professional who is planning to do a lot of portrait work.
- Specialty Lenses – It is quite common for wedding and event photographers to provide their clients with at least one photograph that has an unusual look and feel. In most instances, these photos are staged to have a comedic effect. Most clients enjoy these images, but have no idea how they were created. Although images of this type are sometimes the result of a Photoshop manipulation, they were usually shot in the format in which they are presented. These effects are created by using specialty lenses, such as a fisheye.
- Angles – When most people take a photograph, they hold the camera perfectly level and snap an image which is mostly filled with their subject. Professional photographers, on the other hand, will experiment with different angles, and are experienced at knowing which angles will be the most flattering for their clients. It is common for a good professional photographer to move around during a photo shoot, and they will also often photograph their clients from various different heights and distances.
- Centering – The first so-called rule of photography that non-professionals tend to adhere to is the idea that the subject of a photograph should always be in the center of the frame. This idea is not only antiquated, but it is flat out wrong. Although there are some instances in which centering makes the most sense, the primary difference in a professional photograph versus a snapshot will be the way in which the image is composed. It is typically much more visually interesting to not have the subject be the center of the photograph, and therefore most professional photographers will avoid doing so whenever possible.
- Natural Light – Most hobbyists leave their camera’s built-in flash on at all times. This can destroy the ambiance offered by natural light and should be avoided whenever possible. Although there are definitely times when a flash is imperative, if you’re in a natural light setting which is providing ample light without creating a lot of shadows then you should definitely turn your camera’s flash off, just as a professional photographer would do. The resulting photograph will feel more real and will also have much truer to life colors.
- Light Kit – When unnatural light is a must, professional photographers bypass their camera’s built-in flash and use an external flash or a full light kit instead. This allows the photographer greater control over where the light falls, and it also enables the photographer to bounce the flash in order to maintain as natural of a look as possible. Learning how to work with light is one of the greatest challenges that any photographer will ever face, but it is also essential for producing high quality images. If you want your photographs to look more professional, invest in at least an external flash and spend enough time experimenting with it to become comfortable using it as needed.
Forging a career as a professional photographer will take a lot of time, but by mastering the previously listed steps you’ll definitely be ahead of the curve. Hobbyists who have no interest in becoming a professional, but who wish to increase the quality of their photographs, can also learn a lot by replicating the main tricks of the pros. As with any other field, however, it is important to try out your own methods, and to not get too bogged down in following in the footsteps of those who have come before you. Photography is a very creative field, and as such you should feel free to embrace your own ideas; whether they work or not, trying out new ideas is a great way to learn both what you should, and what you shouldn’t do, behind the lens.
About Guest Author::
Kayla is a freelance writer who’s main passion is photography. She has been studying photography for years and can be found many times walking around taking pictures of scenery.