In this post, I will teach you how to become a professional photographer.
Existing pro-photographers will not tell you this, but there are only 3 steps to become one. It’s not easy, but if you are determined you can do it.
At the end of this post, you should be able to shoot photos like these. Trust me. :)
Step 1. Buy a DSLR.
That is pretty obvious. To shoot photos, you need a camera, more specifically a DSLR (Digital Simple-Lens Reflex) camera. That is what all professionals use.
The rule of the thumb is that the bigger the camera, the more professional you look. If you carry a point-and-shoot or compact camera in the streets, most people will think that either you are a tourist or a pervert trying to take girl photos. They will sneer at you & go – “Duh! Don’t you dare take my photo!”
However, if you carry a DSLR (Digital Singular-Lens Reflex) camera, most people would go like – “Wow! That’s a very nice camera! You must be a pro-photographer!”
There’s no point being humble, so let me assure you that I have a massive knowledge of DSLRs. Take a look at this list:
- Nikon D90
- Nikon D700
- Nikon D300S
- Nikon D3000
- Nikon D5000
- Nikon D3100
- Nikon D5100
- Nikon D7000
- Canon 550D
- Canon EOS 60D
- Canon EOS 1100D
- Canon EOS 600D
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II
- Nikon D800 (soon)
- Nikon D4 (soon)
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III (soon)
These are just a few of the cameras whose reviews I have thoroughly read.
APS-C or Full-Frame?
There exists two types of DSLR (Digital Standard-Lens Reflex) sensors – APS-C and Full-Frame. It doesn’t matter which one you buy as long as the body is huge. It all depends on your budget, but bigger is better. Lenses do not matter as well, because all you need is a big zoom lens. Something like the 18-200mm will be enough, as recommended by camera legend Ken Stonewell.
How many megapixels do you need? Once again, more is better. That's the first thing anyone will ask you - "how many megapixels is your camera?" To be a professional photographer, you need more than 20 megapixels. Because 12 MP and lower are for point-&-shoots. If you ever meet someone who's camera is less than 20 MP, then consider that person as an amateur.
Did you know that the best camera ... in the world ... is in fact a phone! Yes, the 41MP Nokia 808 Pureview!
Canon or Nikon?
Canon is the best. Period.
Between Canon & Nikon, there is absolutely no doubt that Canon is by far the best at making printers. If you need a printer, buy a Canon.
But if you need a proper camera, buy a Nikon. All the professional photographers use Nikon because it’s cooler and you get nicer straps. Nothing to do with being better at low-light, mind you.
Step 2. Take a self-portrait in the mirror.
After buying your DSLR (Digital Single-Line Reflex) camera, you need to show to the world that you are a capable photographer. & the best way to do this is to take a photo of yourself in the mirror using your camera.
The reason why you see so many people on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter having such profile pictures is because shooting yourself is very hard.
Well, you see, inside your DSLR (Digital Single-Light Reflex) camera, there exists a mirror. And if you have seen Inception, you know that when two mirrors face each other, a paradoxical situation occurs – the light goes back and forth, back and forth until infinity. It’s like a photon travelling on a Möbius strip. The light cannot reach the sensor.
& that is why you have to use manual mode. 99.9% of the time, there’s no need to use manual mode when shooting photos. Existing pro-photogs tend to perpetuate a myth that to become a pro photographer, you must shoot in manual mode. They are completely wrong. The reason why you bought an expensive DSLR (Digital Single-Lance Reflex) camera is because it has a much better Auto-Focus than everything else. The camera knows best. Why should you complicate your lives? Just point and shoot.
However, in this particular case, you have to use manual mode to avoid this mirror to infinity situation.
& while you are at it, here are some tips you need to take into account:
- While you can make someone else take a photo of you holding your camera, that is not recommended. That’s what n00bs do. You should be able to use your own camera.
- You should not be looking at the screen, but rather position your eye on the viewfinder.
- Only half of your face should be visible.
- Do not use flash at night. Use it only during the day.
- Learn about the Rule of the Thirds and then position the lens right in the middle of the frame.
- The appropriate distance should be between 200-300mm from the mirror.
After having taken a photo of yourself in the mirror, what you need to do next is to make this photo your default profile picture EVERYWHERE – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google+, 500px, DeviantArt, MySpace, Hi5, etc.
Once you do that, everyone will know that you are a professional photographer.
Step 3. Open a Facebook page - <username> Photography.
If you have a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflect) camera, you need to showcase your photos somewhere. You could use a website which will be barely visited. Or upload to Flickr and be forgotten. But none of these provides what you get from Facebook – Likes.
The Like system is an incredibly important tool for gauging a professional photographer. The more Likes you have, the better your photos are. It’s as simple as that. Doesn’t matter if someone criticises your photos, even if it gets 1 Like, it means your photo is great.
Which is why you need a Facebook Photography Page. Now, what about the name before Photography? Well, there are several trends, each to his own:
- <username> Photography. The most generic ones.
- <exotic name> Photography. Like Mystical Photography, Creative Photography, etc.
- <photography-related term> Photography. Like Bokeh Photography, Aperture Photography, etc.
The current trend is the latter, whereby the technical terms employed in photography are used.
- Depth of Field
- Shutter speed
- Focal length
- White balance
Let me clear this once for all – you do not need to know these things. Old-school photographers will tell you that you need to learn these. That’s largely unnecessary. That’s why you bought an expensive Nikon camera – it already knows all these things. Why bother?
& then you have Photoshop.
Once again, the professional photographers will tell you that they hardly use Photoshop. & that everything they shoot is due to the magic of their DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Relax) cameras. SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) they call it. That’s a myth, don’t fall for that. What it actually means is that “I covered my Photoshop tracks very well by preserving the EXIF.”
Everyone uses Photoshop. Photoshop is the only way to get the best results out of your photos. In fact, post-processing makes shooting effortless – it doesn’t matter if you get bad shots, you can always tweak them.
In fact, the most popular type of photography on Facebook is HDR (High Dynamic Range). People absolutely love bright colours, excessive saturation and noise grain. & HDR is the one technique you will need to learn if you want to have the best landscape photos. People are bored with normal photos. The more surreal it looks, the better it is.
The second technique you should definitely know is bokeh photography. Bokeh is the stunning blur as seen above. People absolutely love bokeh because it's something that cannot be seen by normal human vision. & the best thing about bokeh photography is that you don't even need a subject! Anything that is blurred = great bokeh!
If you are uploading on Facebook, chances are that someone will eventually accuse you of stealing photos because they are too good to be your own. What you need to do from Day 1 is add watermarks to your photos. Usually it’s something like <username> Photography © 2012.
But to be more professional, you should add the date and time it was shot, so that no one can contradict you – remember that Facebook doesn’t have EXIF! <username> Photography © 20:21:25 01/04/2012.
- Buy a DSLR.
- Take a self-portrait in the mirror.
- Open a Facebook page - <username> Photography.
Now that you’ve done all these things, you’ll find out that you still don’t get the recognition you deserve. Only a few hundred people liked your Page. So how to break through the mass of competing photographers?
Now, I’m going to reveal to you the plain secret of the pro-photogs, something they will never ever tell you…
Step 4 (Bonus). Organise a Facebook Photoshoot Competition
It’s as simple as that. Think of it – girls on Facebook love to have their photos taken. & as a photographer, you need models. & this is the easiest way to get free models. A win-win situation.
Organise a photo competition whereby girls upload their photos. The person whose photo gets the most Likes wins a free photoshoot from you. And you can get popular overnight as girls will Like your Page to upload their photos and guys will Like the Page to admire the photos. & through the viral nature of social networking, there is no easier way to get more members.
Once you achieve the critical level of popularity, someone who sees your profile picture with your DSLR (Digital Single-Layer Reflex) camera and your Page will immediately hire you.
Existing professional photographers will tell you that shooting people isn’t easy. You need to equip your DSLR (Digital Sealed-Lens Reflex) camera with prime lenses and filters, have a studio with specific kind of lighting, have several kinds of flashes and metering equipment, have a makeup artist, etc.
They couldn’t be more wrong. You don’t need all of these. You don’t need makeup, filters or special lighting. What you need to achieve is the intense gritty feel of natural human skin. The sweat rolling down in the sun while having the model pose with her natural duck-face. The photo has to convey reality, using only natural light. & everything else can be done on Photoshop.
All you need to be a fashion photographer in the budding fashion industry of Mauritius is a camera and a model.
Recap – How to become a professional photographer:
1. Buy a DSLR.
2. Take a self-portrait in the mirror.
3. Open a Facebook page - <username> Photography.
4. Organise a Facebook Photoshoot Competition
Easy isn’t it. With DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Rolex) cameras being more accessible, more people can become pro photographers. & that is why so many existing photographers are feeling the heat and slandering the works of art of emerging photographers. So here’s my advice to budding photographers:
- Don’t bother about people criticising your photos – they know nothing.
- Trust your camera – it knows best. No need to learn more.
- Always promote your work. Upload daily to Facebook.
- Always use HDR if possible.
- Don’t buy new equipment. It’s useless. The kit lens is all you need.
- Buy Nikon.
Dear readers, if you have anything to share to our upcoming pro photographers, feel free to do so! :D