Last weekend I met up for a collaborative test shoot with photographer Jennifer Buchanan of Sunshine Soul Photography. Jennifer specialises in couture portraits of high school seniors, and is great at producing timeless images of the young ladies before they venture out into the big world.
Jennifer arranged for two high school students Sierra and Savannah (and their parents) to meet up with us in Motobu. In exchange for their time, we’d give them a few photos they’ll hopefully love.
Jennifer and I took turns photographing the girls. We offered each other tips, watched how we posed the “clients,” compared the gear we use, but above all we could just practice.
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice, and a lot of it, is required to become proficient at any skill. One theory states that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” is required to master something. Concert musicians are well known for playing hour after hour after hour. (Two thumbs up for the movie Whiplash).
Sometimes it’s not the gear that is holding us back, but the limited amount of time that we spend practicing with it. I used to have a purple Washburn electric guitar, but wasn’t getting the sound I wanted. I upgraded to a beautiful fiesta red Fender Stratocaster with maple fretboard, and I still couldn’t play like Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton or Mark Knopfler. The lack of callouses on my fingers was a pretty good indication of where my real problem lay.
10,000 hours of practice may not be realistic, or even necessary to achieve your goals. But without regularly picking up the camera, progress is always going to be slow or nonexistent. As a photographer there is so much to learn, so much to practice, and so much room for improvement. One tip would be to stop spending so much time browsing through the reviews of gear, and get out there and take photos.
Thank you to Savannah, Sierra and their parents for coming up to Motobu for the shoot. Thanks to my assistant Keith for working as a voice activated light stand. A huge thanks to Jennifer for suggesting the idea it was great hanging out with you again.
A few things I learned on the shoot.
You can work wonders with a big reflector. Especially to create very soft light across the entire face.
Watch the shape of hands. Are they relaxed, posed, flat to the camera or side on.
Cosmos flowers bloom for around 2 weeks, but different parts of a field can bloom at different times. There may still be a section with beautiful flowers when other sections just have dead heads.
Pentax 645Z, 90mm 2.8 Profoto B1 with OCF beauty dish white, large white reflector.
I believe what you say about the importance of practice is very true Chris. It’s easy to spend hours browsing YouTube tutorial videos, but if you never get out and practice any of the techniques, then it’s just wasted time. The best workshops I have ever attended in loved lots and lots of time for practice to help new concepts sink in.