The key to becoming a great photographer

Photography has been evolving at blinding speed since digital started winning the ‘digital vs film’ battle. DSLRs are in everyone’s hands these days and the inexpensive chips replacing film lets amateurs (and pros) fire hundreds of shots without giving it a second thought. In those hundreds, or even thousands of shots, the photographer might find a few gems and realize it’s time to take this craft from the hobby/amateur stage to the weekend warrior/semi-pro level.

These terms hobbyist/amateur/weekend warrior/semi-pro… are not degrading. Heck, the word “amateur” in French means “lover of” so in that sense I am a huge amateur of photography. Being a ‘professional’ can be anything from someone paying a dollar for a portrait, to knowing how to appropriately react when a lens falls and shatters during an expensive wedding shoot.

What all photographers need to realize is that you will never, ever, ever, ever know everything there is to know about photography. On the same note, it is my hope that everyone who takes photography seriously, WANTS to know everything there is to know about photography.

What is the key to becoming a great photographer? It is the love and desire to develop your skills at every stage of your photography life. At that moment, when you take off the lens cap for the very first time, I promise the desire will certainly be there… but keep that passion to learn intact and you will be doing photography for a long time.

Wedding Photography post work

This wonderful couple had their wedding day on July 29, 2011 at the James P. Davis Hall (Wyandotte County Lake) in Kansas City, KS. Jake and Bonnie planned for the perfect amount of time for Bride and Groom photos. This is where I love landing that ‘signature’ shot! Certainly found my signature shot and went to work in post-production.

The all-important capture! You want to try and get as much of the photo right at the time you click the shutter. Full disclosure, I am a pixel punishing Photoshop ninja. This day was a very bright (and extremely hot) day. In order to try and balance the exposure I fired an off camera flash to avoid creating a silhouette. The pose we were going for mixed with the temperature meant I wanted to spend as few minutes here as possible! Some shots had better exposure but this was my favorite out of the camera. I’m not entirely happy with the photo out of the camera… I began the pixel pushing! Thank you RAW!

Nick Schale Photographer - Wedding photo post work

First step was to bring out the sky, it’s over exposed. This was done by creating a LARGE adjustment brush, and getting the sky how I wanted it, popped the saturation a bit and erased over the mask over the couple. Then I added a few gradient maps to pull focus even more towards the couple. Created another adjustment brush for the dress, removing the blue overcast which kept it a more pure white! The tux being black needed a slight adjustment, trying to restore some detail in the dark shadows. I then put a lowering exposure gradient on the grass. Then I did some spot healing as the aperture was pretty small, so there were some dust spots, small, but they bug me. The result without firing up Photoshop below.

Nick Schale Photographer Kansas City - After CameraRAW processing

This photo could stand as is. In fact I did put it out for a few photographer’s critiques. As anticipated the rock in the foreground dominated the feedback. While I love putting something in the foreground in landscapes, this was about the couple and ultimately was distracting. So, I removed the rock and actually cropped down out a bit of the grass. This crop changed the layout too much for me, moving the couple too far to the left. I then created a small sliver to add to the left of the photograph, putting the couple at a ‘rule-of-thirds’ intersection.

Nick Schale Photography - Kansas City - Step Three, Photoshop

The final image (click it for larger resolution)

Nick Schale Kansas City Wedding Photographer Demo

See a few other photos from this wedding on my Facebook page: Link