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Practicing with the SB-900s. Learning.

Face it, being a better photographer means being a more diverse and well-rounded photographer. You knew that, though didn’t you. That’s one of the reasons you come here, right? You’re always seeking to improve your craft, learn new tips, techniques and methods, and expand the boundaries of what you’re ultimately capable and comfortable shooting.

As someone who used to shoot only adventure and extreme sport-type subjects and who seriously shied away from inside photography jobs, I’ve certainly diversified my style of photography. Not only has this allowed me to get a wider variety of assignment work and increased income from stock, it’s also contributed to my own personal fulfillment in photography.

Whereas I rarely used to shoot people, except in the context of the sport in which they were currently engaged, now I find myself quite driven by the challenge of shooting environmental and location portraits and focusing on lighting, framing, and expression instead of just action.

To develop this part of my craft, I’ve used the regular learning methods that most of us tend to use: books, instructional videos, workshops, etc… However, I’ve also turned to methods that I wouldn’t have previously thought of. Sometimes I get books to review, and they’re not always titles that I think are relevant to my style of photography. That said, after taking a look at some of them, namely Light and Shoot: 50 Fashion Photos by Chris Gatcum, it occurred to me that there is something to learn from just about every resource, even if you don’t think there is.

For the record, I’m not a fashion shooter. Never will be. That said, fashion shooters use some of the most creative and experimental lighting techniques and styles known to man and I realized that I might be able to learn a few things from this book that I might not have thought of. In fact, I took it with me on the plane while traveling to a recent location assignment where I knew I’d be shooting people, just to browse through and get ideas.

I can’t say that I used any of the exact techniques that were in the book, but by exploring and expanding my scope of learning material, I know that I’ll slowly push my creative boundaries over time. Try it. Get some books you wouldn’t normally get and see what you can learn from them. I promise, you’ll learning something and at least find some new creative inspiration. And remember, you can always write them off.

Happy (diverse) learning.


Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.




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