Photography: A Journey
“It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold
Everyone’s a photographer these days, or so the saying goes. With cell phones containing cameras that take high quality photos, the tools to become a photographer are available to most people at a reasonable cost.
Cameras are Tools
But, the camera is just a tool. A true photograph comes from the person behind the camera, and that’s why it is important to master the technical aspects of photography. We’ve all seen amazing images from an iPhone as well as disastrous images from an expensive, professional camera. Photography is about the images you create, not the camera you use.
If you have an interest in photography, no matter what your subject or camera, you need to learn the basics before you can use your heart and personality to create great images.
Photography is a Journey
My journey into photography started when I was 18, and my niece and nephew were young. I bought myself a point and shoot film camera and began documenting our family. In my early 20s, I took a basic photography class at a local community college and learned all about aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
A few years later in 2003, I got my first digital camera. Every few years, I upgraded my gear, but I continued to learn by reading blogs, following other photographers and attending photography sessions. I’m still learning. It was only several years ago that I finally took the leap into shooting RAW files. Now I’m learning how to edit and post-process better and improving after each photo shoot.
So, where do you start if you’re just beginning your photography journey?
The First Steps in Your Journey
There are many resources available to new photographers. You can join a critique or learning group on Facebook, take a basic photography class at a local community college or sign up for an online class.
Read the owners manual for your camera and practice all of the many settings and functions that your camera offers. Follow as many photographers as you can on social media – Instagram is a great resource for this – and look at their images to try and learn the different ways to compose, edit and present a photograph. The more professional photographs you see, you will begin to realize and develop your photography style.
Lastly, take photographs, as many as you can. Practice, practice and practice some more. This is the only way you will improve and develop your skills.
Tips and Tools: Silhouette Photos
In the coming months, I will be writing more photography blog posts and offering a behind-the-scenes look at some of my work. I will present tips, tools and resources to you to help you move forward on your photography journey.
First up: silhouette photos. These photos can be tricky to produce and require the photographer to take a few conscious actions to capture the shot. To take a silhouette photo, you’ll first need to find a spot that will give you an expansive open background, like a sky or an ocean. This will make your subject stand out from the light. Silhouette photos work best and offer the most dramatic results when taken at the “golden hour” – that hour after sunrise or before sunset.
Your technical settings will depend on your camera. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want the camera to create settings that will expose the light source (the sun) and not your subject. This will make your subject appear almost black.
Finally, make sure your subject is in an exaggerated pose. The contrast between the light of the background and dark of the subject will help the pose translate lovely in the photo.
An Example: Silhouette Photo
Here is an example of one of my recent silhouette photos. The family featured in the photo are a personal friends of mine who have been going through some rough times. For that reason, I wanted to deliver at least one “wow” picture.
Before taking the picture, I prepped the family by telling them that I wanted to take a special photo and that the pose might feel “weird” but to bear with me. Then, I lay down on the ground and started taking test shots, changing the camera settings until I got it right. Here are the image settings for this photo: ISO 200, F/6.3, 1/500, 24 mm. In post processing, I made the sky more dramatic and the silhouette blacker.
Have you ever taken a silhouette photograph? Show us your image in the comments!
Continuing the Photograph Journey Together
As photographers, no matter where we are in our photography journey, we are constantly learning and improving – even the pros! I’ll be sharing more photography tips and tricks in the coming months and would love to hear from you on topics you’d like me to address. Happy snapping!
For more tips on how to photograph a silhouette, check out these blog posts: