Shooting for fun is FUN
Lately, I've found that I've been taking photography too seriously, to the point that the connection I had with my creativity and artistic vision was fading. I started getting into portraits by just going out to a cool location with my friends and we had such a great time taking photos of each other. Now I'm building a business doing what I love most. I admire each new shoot for its uniqueness; allowing me to connect with lots of people and hear lots of awesome stories. It's not that commercial work has exhausted my creativity or I don't have tons of fun with my clients because I have poured my heart into my shoots since I started my business. But, there's something different about shooting with no pressure whatsoever. You grow as a photographer by gaining experience with posing + lighting, discover new locations, and have some cool stuff to present to future clients.
I think every photographer, especially those starting out, should make time for laid back shoots like the one I had with my friend Nikki this week.
When starting out with portrait photography, one of the biggest challenges is learning how to pose people. Don't make the mistake of going head first into photoshoots without taking the proper time to learn to pose, like I did!! I always say "I hate posed photos," but I've learned that even natural photos need some encouragement and guidance. I have spent COUNTLESS hours on Pinterest looking up unique/natural poses and am always drooling over other photog's work on Instagram, but that talent doesn't happen over night. It takes years of practice, trial and error, and a variety of shoot conditions, locations, and clients to get where you want to be.
That's why I'm a huuuge advocate for shooting recreationally. Just because you're a commercial photographer building your own business that doesn't mean your camera must be used for all work and no play. There's no harm in taking photos of your friends to gain more experience or let your creativity run wild.
Sometimes you come up with a photoshoot concept that none of your clients are up for and that's totally fine! But, don't limit yourself to the art you bring to life with photos. If that concept has been burning in your mind for some time, call up a friend and get shooting!
I've been wanting to shoot in an urban setting FOREVER. Something fresh to switch up my style and challenge me a little. So, Nikki and I already had plans to hang out after work and we ended up having a whole shoot.
Since I was stepping out of my comfort zone at a location I'd never been to with a style of photography I've never attempted, it was only right that this was a recreational shoot. I now have my foot in the door with urban photoshoots and feel ready to approach any that I will have in the future with this experience.
I find that I am giving the best creative energy and honest effort to my shoots now that I've taken the time to shoot for fun. No-stress shoots with my friends has given me the opportunity to practice verbally posing different individuals and I can see what works, what doesn't, and find the style that I'm going for with a variety of different shoots. Shoots like this have helped build my portfolio and emulate the style I'm going for to attract clients looking for a photographer who can execute their visions.
Another tip for beginners: don't go into a shoot with a set list of poses!! It's good to have an idea of what vibe you're going for, but some traditional poses don't work for everyone or the client may not be comfortable doing what you ask of them. Each shoot is different and deserves individual attention. You can have your go-to poses, but switch it up and have fun with it. Bounce ideas off your clients and see what kind of vibe they're going for. The vibe and location will always be unique and have a lot to offer. That's not to overwhelm you, but show that there are so many options out there and there's no harm in trying something that will set yourself apart.
When you're first starting out, you can't expect to making a living from taking photos without building up your portfolio. Don't jump into the commercial game too quickly without taking time to shoot like crazy! Find your style, build that beautiful portfolio, and then present yourself as the professional you are and from there, you'll find your clientele who will just eat your work up!!
Shooting for fun also gives you something to do during the slower weeks between shoots. I could shoot all day every day and not get tired of it, so when I have a week or two gap between shoots it gets kind of boring. So to keep myself on my toes with taking and editing photos, I'm making sure to squeeze in recreational shoots whenever I have a vision in mind. It's a nice treat for yourself and your friends.
I've also found that doing some modeling myself has helped me SO much as a photographer. Nikki is amazzzzing behind the camera, so I hopped in front for some artsy shots too. Knowing the type of shots I'd want from a shoot helps me take on the vision of my clients. Now that I'm more comfortable coming up with poses for myself, I'm able to step away from the camera to show them how to execute a pose in a way that they're comfortable. To be honest, as of now, I'm not great with verbals when it comes to posing. I prefer to move around and physically show people where to move their hands, the way to cross their ankles, the head tilt, etc.
All of these photos were taken at The Color Park in Pittsburgh. I realllyyyy want to shoot some senior photos here, so if this location fits your vibe -- let's book it! This park is located along a bike trail (I did not know this until I was laying on the ground taking a photo and I heard the *ding ding* from someone's bike that almost plowed me over hahaha), SO it's another gem of this amazing city.
Photogs -- take some time and shoot for fun! You'll never regret it.
Those looking to shoot -- reach out to your photographer friends to see if they're looking for creative release. We can't do what we do without you!
Photos should be fun, I hope you're always enjoying yourself whether behind or in front of the camera.