Unsure, in need of a smack in the head maybe...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JenPena, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure this is even a place to bring this up but I am having plenty of self-doubt - does anyone else go through this when starting out?

    I don't know, maybe the photography business is not for me - I really - and I mean REALLY - love it; I get lost in it when I'm working and I wish I liked my work once I'm done, but I keep trying....

    The story is, there's no one in my town that does photography - or at least wasn't, until another girl my age with the same situation - not a lot of education in photography, but learning and wanting to do it more full time - came along, and now she's got the market - or at least somewhat, because her prices have skyrocketed and it's turning a lot of people away.

    The problem is, every time I see her work or see her little shop with the sign up above, I think I CAN'T DO THIS - I'm not good enough to compete with her - I really love her work.

    She's at www.jennifernace.com - any of her pictures are great; the front page shows a slide show of some really nice ones.

    This is my work:
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/Hillers28.jpg
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/Hillers24.jpg
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/Hillers13.jpg
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/Hillers1.jpg
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/DSC_0918.jpg
    http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t92/penamultimedia/344.jpg

    How am I supposed to compete? I don't know how she does it - the way she lights her pictures has me just frustrated, because it's the kind of lighting I wish to use in my own work. I don't have a studio yet so I am going from place to place and dealing with whatever lighting situation I'm handed, but I'm so green I still don't know how to situate my equipment to get the look I want - very clean, crisp and luminous images.

    I'm working on a Nikon D70 with a kit lens since I still can't afford a good 28-70 2.8 that I want, and a softbox or umbrella lights, and my Speedlight 600. Everything has to be set to auto though because it's still too hard for me to understand how to do things manually.

    I'm taking a class online - I have been told by my instructor that my lighting setup is "very good" but I don't agree - I hate everything I've taken. Am I stupid to want this so badly that I keep trying? And how can you make yourself believe you're good enough when you see work like the link I've posted above? I could have a very good business here if my prices are competitive but I don't want to just be the one people pick because I'm cheaper, I also want to be GOOD!!

    Sorry, I don't really have anywhere else to whine about this because people I know that don't do this for a living just say, "Oh, you're good enough" and I take it with a grain of salt - because they don't see what the rest of you would. I just had to vent my frustrations and fears somewhere and thanks if you were bold enough to read this!
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    For what it's worth, her pictures are heavily stamped 'technique' and are pretty much by the numbers. Just the basic lighting set-up.
    On the other hand, she has a clear idea of her market and what she is trying to do (which is, appeal to her market).
    Your pictures are a bit raw - partly because of the point source flash and partly because you don't know what you are trying to do other than copy someone else.
    One of the secrets to taking good pictures is to take your own, not someone else's. This is hard to do. You have to have a clear idea of what you want and focus on it.
    Another secret is to stop thinking that if you had a better lens or better lights then your pictures would be better. It's the photographer who makes things happen. You work with what you have and play to it's strengths and avoid it's weaknesses.
    One way to go is to use daylight wherever possible. That's all flash is trying to emulate after all.
    And stop sweating about it all. Nothing worthwhile comes easy or fast. It takes a lot of time and hard work. And perseverence.
     
  3. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    I'd have to agree with Hertz, your photos are more "raw", and as you say, the lighting leaves much to be desired. I don't think you can get the studio look without something that allows you to control the lighting. Perhaps a converted bedroom that you use part time as a studio?

    Or perhaps you can capatilize on your strengths and find a new niche...maybe taking 'photojournalistic' shots of family events, or maybe doing posed shots that look like they were a bit more spontaneous (casual clothes, outside, interesting outdoor lighting).

    You need the right tools for the job, and lighting is one of them. If you want to go the studio route, go to the library and pick up a few books on studio photgraphy to learn the basics of studio lighting and posing. After you have the basics, and you pick up some necessary equipment, branch off from there.

    Or, as I said before, don't compete head to head with her, find your own niche. You must have *some* photos (even ones taken just for fun) that you look at and say "wow, that is really nice!".
     
  4. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Knowing that I'd at least get a little flack coming on here, I still wanted to - but I still can't help wanting to turn tail with some of the responses.

    As I've tried to explain, I don't want to do the same pictures as this other photographer - I am not the same and we don't have the same ideas - but I like her LIGHTING. And I think once I get some education on that and gain confidence in being able to do that right, I will get more freedom to be creative and not as "technique" as you say she is shooting. However, I won't get that confidence here if I am told I have lacking technique, but no real insight as to why or how to get better. I'm here to learn - simple as that, thinking that it's hard to find other pros that will talk to you or give you pointers so you can get better. I simply can't learn this on my own because it's complicated. I don't know what anyone means by "RAW" - I understand that my pictures are not lit well and I don't know how to fix that but asking on here just seems to get me a lot of flack, like I should know better than to ask such a question. I am not blaming my equipment because I think the stuff I have is pretty good - I am just trying to tell you that I don't know how to use what I have properly.

    Thanks for reading. I'll take the questions to reference books.
     
  5. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Books and theory are good. But personally I think the best way to learn more about lighting is practice. By that I don't just mean take lots of photos but really play around with light, using everything from your phone to the sun and including your flash. Reflect it, diffuse it, try manipulating it in as many ways as possible and see the results. For example lately it's been bright and sunny outside most of the day, so much of my photography has been inside using daylight from the window and various makeshift reflectors. My most useful equipment for some recent macro work has been empty noodle soup containers. My point here is not that you need to go making things out of paper and food packing, or that you don't need certain equipment, but simply that if you're feeling frustrated about not understanding or learning then it might be better to get away from the theory and try more variety in practice. Having said that, I don't know what you've tried so far, so please don't take that as a criticism. As for getting flack for asking, sorry to hear that, I haven't seen it in this thread and I hope it doesn't happen again. Please do persevere both in photography and in asking questions about it.

    As for the other photographer... I hope she doesn't read this and it's nothing personal... but I'm going to go further and say that to me it is, how shall I put it.. 'Starbucks photography'. She is obviously talented and very technically proficient, but it just seems somehow standardised and just a little bit soulless. It could just be me - I'm pretty sure that soundtrack on her site doesn't help matters for me. But if it's the lighting you like, then in each case try to think about what the light source is (or are), how the light is reflected, diffused or otherwise manipulated... and try doing something similar yourself... that might sound stupid, and maybe it is, but personally when it comes to lighting I've got more out of looking at favourite images or shots from movies, and experimenting, than out of books.

    I do sympathise with you. I personally certainly don't consider myself ready for professional photography and nor would I currently want to do professional work of the portrait or wedding kind. If you're really having doubts about the photography business, maybe for a short while you could try just concentrating on the photography without the business part? Temporarily removing the concern of competition might help you look at things from a different angle and with less stress. Of course that might not be practical as I don't know the circumstances and how well established you are in the business side of things. But do note that I said "temporarily" and definitely do not think you should give up your ambition to be a professional photographer. You said you love it. I have known professional photographers who had no more interest in photography than I had in retail when I was stacking shelves. If you really enjoy photography and enjoy doing it as a job then don't give up!
     
  6. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Forgive me, but what are you talking about? I don't see anywhere where anyone was giving you flack, cutting you down, or anything of the sort. I only posted (and saw posted) good, concrete suggestions:

    Hertz suggested:
    1. Getting away from using only one source of light.
    2. Have a clear idea about what you want your photograph to look like.
    3. Don't sweat the equipment too much, it's not what's making the difference.
    4. Make use of daylight more.
    5. It takes time, so stop stressing it so much.

    I suggested:
    1. If you want to emulate the other person's "polished" look (as opposed to a "raw" look), you must be aware of, and control, your lighting.
    2. One way to control the lighting is to convert a spare room to a part time studio.
    3. If you are going after the "polished" look (Zaph calls it the Starbucks look), there are quite a few books at the library that can get you most of the way there (lighting types, placement, posing).
    4. Maybe you can use your diffferent techniques and style to find a new niche that the other photographer can't compete with.

    See #3 above...you can't expect to learn all there is to know about studio photography in one message thread. You could also try doing a google search on "portrait photography techniques" and see what comes up.

    I don't mean to sound harsh, but your last post makes it sound like you were looking for a pep talk more than you were looking for ways to improve. :(
     
  7. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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  8. Jeff_in_PA

    Jeff_in_PA TPF Noob!

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  9. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to the forums Jeff. Where in PA are you located?

    And yes, I also enjoy that picture, its very nice and I bet she was very happy with the outcome.

    I really hope that everything in this thread hasn't turned you off from the site. The majority of people here (with very few exceptions) are here to learn, to teach, and to share their love of photography, which is something that we all share and it gives us unity here. The problem with this is that with the love of photography comes the desire for perfection and for a more critical look on things. Before I got into photography, picture were pictures and some were cool, some weren't. Now that the camera has become an obsession for me I can't look at a picture and just go "oh" I tend to look into it with more detail. Things I see entered at the fair make me say "how did that get first place, look at the exposure, its all wrong, the eyes aren't in focus, the color seems lacking, and the composition is very boring." This is both useful, as well as a curse because I can very rarely look at a picture without thinking of the technical aspects, and I assume this is the same for most the people on this site.

    As a result, when we see pictures we critique them, sometimes in our minds, and sometimes out loud (in this case typed). The other result is that when we see someone talking about how disappointed they are with their pictures, we immediately try to help by giving any advice we can, and if you aren't looking for advice it can very easily be taken the wrong way.

    I just hope that you can see that everything that(was said here was ultimately in your best interest and no one meant to hurt your feelings or in any way make you feel bad about your pictures.
     
  10. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    I completley understand how you feel!!!!
    I am constantly getting discouraged. And I know it's all in my head.
    My friends and family say I got talent and my work is good but I can't help but feel that they're 110% biased :)

    I am in the stage where I'm not quite sure where I want to go. I'm starting to narrow it down and take comfort in knowing that I could work all avenues of photography if I wanted to.

    The key is to continue taking pictures. This is where I go wrong sometimes. I get so discouraged I think 'What's the point'.
    If you're shooting digital you can always delete them. I pay for every shot right now so I also ask myself 'Is this shot worth paying for?'.

    Hope you start to find your own path.
    Be sure to post pictures in the galleries here often. There's alot of experienced people here that will give you tips and tricks to help you impove.
     
  11. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    not ment to discourage :)

    sorry for the rambling style of the post..

    like others have said, you need to work on your lighting
    i would also suggest you work on some post processing stuff.
    to me your images look straight out of camera where as the "pollished look" the other person has is in part most likely because she knows what
    she is doing in photo shop.
    lighting is everything but you dont need expensive studios and lights and all that stuff to get great shots. It does help, but with the right weather and some white cardboard (reflector) you can shoot top quality shots.
    I have done some good stuff with just a dark room (IE all lights turned off), a detachable flash (that you can test fire) and a fairly good idea of how the camera records light and how light works.

    unfortuatly there is just too much about lighting and the camera in general for any one of us to cover in one post...hence maybe pushing you to other options... I also find it much easier to lean by example and it would be hard for me to demonstrat a lighting set up in type :)

    Ill make my suggestions.
    lean all you can about how the camera records light and use it to your advantage.

    Learn all you can about lighting

    learn all you can about post processing.


    I learned through books, trial and error and a well taught class.
    Nothing can substitute for hands on instruction. Online classes are good and all, but you dont get another experienced photographer there with you showing you exactly how s/he sets up lights to get certain effects.

    I think the best suggesting for you is to take a community college photo course or something similar where you can have hands on instruction as well as a well mantained studio where you can go practice. when i took my class i spent hours in the studio shooting lots of film. If we had to turn in 4 pictures i would shoot 12 rolls of 36 exposure film. shoot 432 pictures in a studio and you can begin to understand how it all works. For my course i printed 15 images i was happy with yet i ate up a 300 pack of photo paper.

    what it boils down to is practice and some good instruction

    yes it costs money, but in photography, you have to spend money to make money
     
  12. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    You need to know what you are doing if you want to be a professional photographer. There is no way around that. You can't go to a shoot and have no idea how to place your lights. You can't shoot in auto mode with strobe lights. That just doesn't work. I think the simple answer here is to slow down, and study photography. The cart is ahead of the horse. You have some nice images, and it's clear that you love photography. You can't escape the technical side of it however. It will either hold you back, or set you free.
     

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