I have mentioned often that 80% of portrait photography is psychology and 20% of it is photography. I go into the psychology in a lot of other pieces, so I wanted to take a moment to address that 20%.
20% of portrait photography. . .
Understand that the 20% that is photography is the foundation that is going to allow you to take great people pictures. What that means is you need to know your equipment, and know it like the back of your hand. Think about it. When you get in a car, you don’t think, “How do I drive the car?” You put the key in, you turn it, and you pay attention to the road, your directions, and the other traffic, but you are not thinking about how to use that vehicle.
When you pick up a screwdriver, the most you think about it is righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. You don’t think about, “How do I use a screwdriver?” And you know how you get past that point? You practice. You need to practice, you need to learn, and you need to get yourself to the point where you don’t have to think about your gear. That’s how you improve your portrait photography. When you have a person in front of you, you need to be paying attention to that person and handling the relationship side of things, not your gear.
Auto is the four letter word for forgettaboutit!
As I travel and I do my workshops and lectures and classes, it amazes me how many people I meet that don’t know how to get their cameras off of automatic and use them manually. Don’t forget, guys, auto is the four-letter word for “Forgettaboutit!” You’re not going to take consistently great images on auto, especially when you’re starting out.
The importance of the camera manual
Additionally, if you don’t understand all the features of your camera and how they work, that’s a problem! Why did you spend all that money for a camera and only use a fraction of what it’s able to do? Read your camera manuals! You know who you are.
There’s no shame in reading the manual. Believe me, in the photography world, it’s not just the guys that don’t read the manuals. Women, you’re just as guilty. The camera manuals are the key to understanding your camera. The best part of it is, is you also have these things called Google and YouTube, so the stuff that you don’t understand, you can learn about right away!
Carry the camera manual with you at all times. If you can’t stand to carry the hardbound version, put a digital copy on your phone. Every camera manufacturer provides their manuals as PDF downloads so you can put them on your smartphone, but you have to learn your gear. If you don’t understand the gear, you’re not going to be able to make great pictures.
Now, go learn your gear!!!
Before you read any more of this blog, take a pause. Take the time you need- a day, a week, months- to learn your gear. Learn it inside out and backwards. That way when you pick up a camera and you’re ready to photograph a person, your attention, your focus, is going to be on your subject. I have a feeling that you’re going to get much better images.
I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because – “Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!” — Joe Edelman