Photography Lessons Learned

Last weekend I finally got the chance to take pictures of my friend Ryan again.  You may recall that Ryan was the first person that I took pictures of during my summer photo project.  I decided the only way to know exactly how much better I got was by doing the same shoot I did the first time again.  It’s actually crazy how much more confidence I gained in just a few months.  I wanted to share with you some of the photography lessons learned I experienced throughout this process.

Knowledge

Fun fact, I didn’t read my camera manual until the third or fourth photoshoot that I did this summer.  Big mistake.  I was missing some super key facts like – how to focus, the difference between taking pictures in video-mode and photo-mode, how to use the touch screen – really simple things that made a world of difference.  I shot the entire summer using my 50mm f1.4 lens and I absolutely love it.  Next I’m going to work on mastering a zoom lens, I still need to decide which one though.

Location

The first time I took photos of Ryan, we ended up in a park – a small park where every place you turn it looks busy.  I had no idea how to handle this then, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with it now.  I did learn that I really like shooting with a more city-esque background.  The lines are cleaner.

Location

Attire

This is a two part one.  The first time I took pictures of Ryan I wore a just-above-the-knee length skirt.  BIG mistake.  I couldn’t get into any position gracefully to take a photograph.  This time I wore jeans.  MUCH better.  The second part of this has to do with what Ryan is wearing.  I didn’t bring up attire beforehand because he didn’t ask.  Other people have asked what they should wear.  I learned really fast not to say anything along the lines of “whatever makes you feel pretty/sexy/insert-good-looking-adjective-here”.  I still don’t exactly know what to say, but I do know what not to say now.  Oh, and lucky for me, Ryan decided to wear something that awesomely complimented his eyes and skintone this time, as opposed to bright yellow…

Attire

Lighting

Oh goodness, lighting.  I haven’t been doing this very long, but I can almost safely say is every photographer’s most loved and hated technicality.  Constant, not harsh lighting is wonderful, the golden hour is delightful, shadowy harshness creating all sorts of shapes all over your subject – horrible.  The first shoot Ryan and I kept aiming for wherever we could find light, even if that light was spotty.  This time around Ryan actually said to me “I feel like you’re trying to keep me in the dark” – he was just being a pain in the butt.  Being in the “dark” creates a much more smooth looking photo though – where you can actually see the person’s face.  And by dark, I mean well-lit shade.

Lighting

Black and White

I don’t know why it took so long for me to remember that black and white photography existed, it’s a good way to cover a number of sins. I actually didn’t make any shots black and white last time for some reason, but I got a few good ones this time around.  Here’s an example of this time:

Black and White new

Here’s an example of one that I would have done from the last batch.

Black and White

Posing Ideas

Goodness gracious, guys.  Posing is hard.  Not only is posing hard, but figuring out how to tell people to pose and to make them feel comfortable.  I’ve spent so much time reading posts like this, and this, and this.  It’s still going to take a lot of practice, but I’m getting better.  Oddly enough, me making funny faces always seems to work.  The first time I took pictures of Ryan, he was pretty much in the same pose the entire time.  The second time I figured out three easy poses and them tweaked each one slightly, but overall the whole reel looked a lot different.

Poses

Photoshop

I didn’t realize when I said I was going on a Photography mission that I was also going to be going on a Photoshop mission.  There have been a handful of resources that have been priceless to me.  Photography Concentrate is absolutely wonderful.  They offer a bunch of different tutorials that are very well-done and easy-to-follow.  Two that I have bought and loved so far are Extremely Essential Camera Skills to get better at understanding manual and Really Easy Retouching.  I also love getting their newsletter every month – so informative, with such good tips.  Here’s a before and after done on Photoshop skills alone.

Before-and-After

Keep Learning

This one is a lot of fun.  In the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to be other people’s models to learn what it feels like to be the posee (as opposed to the poser), I’ve been reading Click Magazine (affiliate link alert) to get ideas for capturing great moments, and I went to an all-day conference.  Each of these experiences has made me a better photographer and has taught me something about what I like and don’t like in my own photography.  I realize I’ve been holding out on you about the all-day conference, but it wasn’t the experience I expected so I’m still trying to figure out how to relay that information on the blog.

Have Fun With It

Ryan is a goofball.  I absolutely love that about him – and it made for some great moments while I was taking pictures.  Remember to laugh and smile, because at the end of the day, that’s how you’re going to capture the greatest pictures.  Here were some of our “have fun with it moments”.

Fun Times1

Our Shadows.  In that last picture he’s actually making a halo.  I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.

Fun Times2

Ryan being The Thinker

Fun Times3

Ryan being The Flash, aka Ghost Ryan

So there you have it.  I would definitely say that I made some progress over the past few months and I’m excited to see what happens next.

WITCH HatToday’s WITCH number is 62.

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  • I really like this post! I purchased my first DSLR camera over the summer and still have yet to really learn how to use it (other than setting it to automatic mode). Your lessons learned inspire me to continue to practice.

    • Chrystina Noel

      If it makes you feel any better I owned my first DSLR for three years before I learned how to use it. And the way I talked myself into figuring it out was complete stubborness (one of my vices that totally helps me out sometimes) – I essentially said to myself “I’m shooting in manual from here on out even if I only take really crappy pictures for the rest of my life”. Welcome to my brain… PS. once you start, everything clicks. Totally voting that you make the jump 🙂

  • Jenn Coyle

    Great post Chrystina! It’s awesome to see your improvements over the summer. We should do one of those walking-tour-photo-lesson things together sometime!

    • Chrystina Noel

      I’m also up for a walking-tour-photo-lesson. Just let me know when 🙂

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