Photo Tips o’ the Day, Part 2

5 12 2009

The second part of the PTOD archives. Again, this is not meant to be a cohesive essay. They’re simply random thoughts that have occurred to me over coffee, in the course of conversations, etc. A few of my favorites are in bold.

Incidentally, I’m planning to write a few entries in the future elaborating on some of the points from PTOD and Advice for Aspiring Photographers. If there’s a particular point or two you’d like to see explained in more depth, please let me know.

******************************

The surest way to become a photographic trend setter is to completely disregard all photographic trends.

Do ONLY what you want to do. People who don’t understand are not your target clientele / audience. So what?

In your quest to create the best images you can, don’t forget that sometimes it’s the snapshots that mean the most.

The only photos we can ever really regret are the ones we never make. Stop thinking about shooting, and shoot!

Your photographic style should not be determined by fear of trying new things. “Scared” is not a style.

Never apologize or make excuses for your work. We are rarely as good or bad as we think we are.

Work with your personality, not against it. It’s OK to be shy in your sessions. Learn to make it work for you.

Shoot what intimidates you. Seek out the subjects/sessions that are hardest for you. That’s how we grow.

When in doubt, simplify.

There is only photographic rule that should never be broken: respect your subjects.

You can either build your business by having a unique style – or by being the cheapest. Which sounds more fun?

Don’t worry that you aren’t creative enough. Express yourself deeply and allow your work to be what it is.

Perfectionism and high standards are not the same thing. Perfectionism is ego with a dash of self-doubt.

Nobody but you can make your photographs. If you don’t do it, no one will, and those moments will be lost.

A portrait session is a beautiful dance between photographer and subject; if either doesn’t participate, it’s just a recital.

Photograph according to your own artistic compass, and gain the clients who value it. Never apologize for your style.

If at first you don’t succeed, you probably need a light meter.

You do not need the latest and greatest gear. It’s an expensive distraction. Learn to effectively use what you have.

Know your technique so you can forget about it. Luck is nice, but a terrifying thing to rely on.

A successful portrait is a side effect of a strong human connection. What are you giving for your subjects to respond to?

Sharpness is overrated. There’s a place for a gentle, subtle print. Eyelashes do not have to look like weapons.

Every time you photograph someone, you tell them, “You’re important enough to remember.” Make the most of it.

There is perfection in imperfection. Don’t be afraid to show character and experience in your subject’s faces.

Your technique should never upstage your subject. It should enhance the image, not take over.

Photographers need to be photographed. It teaches us empathy for our subjects. It isn’t easy to be in front of the lens.

There is no such thing as bad light. There is only light that is used badly.

It matters little how great your portraits are if your clients don’t have fun. The session should be its own reward.

A great portrait is a side effect of a strong human connection. Be a person first, a photographer second.

It does not matter how good your post processing is if you start with a badly lit image! Good lighting is KEY.

Everything you need to know about lighting can be learned from your catchlights and shadows. You must know how to read them!

Soph and Grandma B

Soph and Grandma B

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28 responses

5 12 2009
geordie

you are hitting deep with these. i wonder if my therapist is selling my file.

it was just three minutes ago i was agonizing over an email to a client asking for money.

5 12 2009
reader

This list is like a cool drink in a hot day.
Thanks!

5 12 2009
uberVU - social comments

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by geordiespeake: i practically cried reading these tips for photographers. http://bit.ly/83MEYq

5 12 2009
Diana Foster

Thanks so much! Met you on Clickinmom’s!

6 12 2009
Simon

So much wisdom in so few words…this should be required reading for all photo students. Fantastic stuff Cheryl, thanks very much!

6 12 2009
Elizabeth

Awesome! Found this through CM!

6 12 2009
Stacie

I’ve been sitting here, overwhelmed with holiday pictures I am uninspired by, and this post is, well, a gentle kick in the pants.

6 12 2009
warren

i don’t get tired of your fotos or your words. i’ll keep coming back. thanks!

7 12 2009
Patti

Another post worth its weight in photographic gold. Thank you.

7 12 2009
Matty Aces » Channing Johnson Photography

[…] I was a guest at Matt and Colleen’s wedding, but I’m glad I was invited to hang out with the boys before the ceremony. We even got in some rounds of Wii Tennis before heading to the church. The talented Connie Miller did the heavy lifting on this one though. You can see the ladies getting ready and the rest of her beautiful record of the day here. […]

7 12 2009
Oleksandr Photography

Very good!

7 12 2009
jeanette

“Every time you photograph someone, you tell them, “You’re important enough to remember.” Make the most of it.”

Posted on facebook about this too. all good advice, but this one gave me chills.

8 12 2009
bleachusd

Wow. I found your blog this morning via Deb Schwedhelm and my goodness. I’m subscribing and soaking in every ounce of inspiration.

I tweeted the line, “Every time you photograph someone, ‘You tell them, you’re important enough to remember.’ Make the most of it.” I linked to your Twitter… everyone should read that. Wow.

8 12 2009
Jeanette Verster

“Every time you photograph someone, you tell them, “You’re important enough to remember.” ” WOW!! Love that statement! I think I’m going to use it 🙂

8 12 2009
erin

oh i needed to read that…
i need to write it down in my journal and read it again each time i’m doubting myself.

taking these little words of wisdom and applying them to all aspects of creativity.
so yummy.

9 12 2009
cheryljacobs

Glad you’re all enjoying this post. OK, I’ve had many requests to elaborate on the “you’re important enough to remember” post, so I’ll do that one first. Coming soon.

– CJ

10 12 2009
Sue

I need to learn about reading ‘catchlights and shadows’.
Thank you for this great list of photo tips.

11 12 2009
Daisy

I stopped in a few days ago and read this, and I just had to come back and comment. I am suddenly in the process of re-thinking so many things – how I’ve presented myself thus far, the style I’ve been going for, everything on my website…..I’m not so sure I’ve been all that honest. This was eye-opening and it’s given me great encouragement to really be myself and look at photo sessions in a whole new light. Thank you thank you.

12 12 2009
Tony

I am just falling into photography at the moment and find this type of material invaluable and inspirational. Most of these are above my head but I have a sense they are gems, so I went to Amazon to look up your books in the hope of more elaboration… no results… why not??

You seem to be able to write well enough to me, you have important things to say, maybe consider it. Regardless, great blog, thanks for sharing.

14 12 2009
cheryljacobs

Tony, thanks for the comment. I’ve actually been working intermittently on a book project for a few years. At some point, I’ll actually finish it!

17 12 2009
Jody

Cheryl, your advice to photographers on ILP was one of the first posts I read and has been very inspirational. I believe your “tips” (they are so much more than tips) make me a better photographer and make me WANT to be a better photographer. There are so many things that stand out in this post, but I was a little confused by this…

“Everything you need to know about lighting can be learned from your catchlights and shadows. You must know how to read them!”

I understand the catchlights (I think) but I would love to hear more about the shadows.

21 12 2009
es-squared

“There is no such thing as bad light. There is only light that is used badly.” This is an inspiring quote, love it!

7 01 2010
Atwood

Thank you for post this useful article. Hope that you will continue doing good article similar to this. I will be one of your frequent visitor.

9 02 2010
estellevisagie

Hi there, great advice, thanks! Since you asked about particular points we’d like expanded in more depth…
– Everything you need to know about lighting can be learned from your catchlights and shadows. You must know how to read them
-There is no such thing as bad light. There is only light that is used badly.
– If at first you don’t succeed, you probably need a light meter.

Which are all along the same theme: light. Clearly I’m struggling with light at the moment, and how to make the best of what’s available on any given day!

10 02 2010
Kym

Love everything you write. You certainly have a way with words and making people think a little deeper. I would love you to expound more on the lighting tips. I especially was intrigued by the shadows and catch lights one. Can’t wait to hear more details on your wonderful pointers!

2 04 2010
Tom K.

You are one smart human being. Your words are as great as your pictures……..and that’s saying something.

13 09 2012
Dress-up « poppyandposey365

[…] as the wise words of Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai, in a post she made on her blog a few years ago (this won’t be the first time I quote this lovely […]

24 09 2014
Photo tips from Cheryl Jacobs - part 2 - a photography link from simple_iso_v4

[…] Photo tips from Cheryl Jacobs – part 2 […]

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