Stuck at home again. Cue the anguish of photographers everywhere, as they view the bleak prospects of another period of confinement and the denial of so much of the creative stimulus that brings us joy.
But fear not! It is said that in every crisis, there is an opportunity, so here is my five-point plan for making the most of this enforced homestay.
Food, Glorious Food
Food photography is a no-brainer for the snapper stuck at home. Colourful and exciting ingredients matched to a sturdy tripod, good lighting, minimum ISO and a slow shutter speed can produce very satisfying results.
Confinement is a clear invitation to expand your photographic reach. If you have a garden and a lens of 200mm or more, you are well equipped to capture winter birds and other visitors.
If you can’t go outside, go macro! Your home is full of objects (or even insects) deserving of a close-up. All you need to get going is a lens with a focal length of more than 100mm and a tripod. Add some extension tubes or macro filters and you have an inexpensive entry into a world of creative possibilities. Small really is beautiful!
Impove Your Skills
Once you’ve exhausted the myriad camera and lens reviews on YouTube, why not check out some of the excellent tutorials from the site’s photo-meisters?
Gavin Hoey and his stablemate Mark Wallace on the Adorama channel are always excellent. The work of Lindsay Adler and Terry White is awesome too.
I pay particular attention to the output from Anthony Morganti and “The Angry Photographer” and admire the creativity and insight of many of the photographers featured on the B&H learning channel.
Perhaps new Photoshop innovations, Lightroom editing tips, three-point lighting techniques, flash ideas and a deeper understanding of the requirements of product and landscape photography are among the ways that you too could improve your skill set.
Check and Clean Your Equipment
If, like me, you’ve got lots of camera equipment, scattered in plastic containers, then now is the time to check what works and what doesn’t.
Check the power output of your rechargeable batteries and your bags, straps and harnesses for possible fraying.
Your camera sensor might need a deep clean too. In most circumstances, the “smear circles of death” rarely come to light—but when they do, it’s already too late. (See photos.)
You cannot rely on your camera’s in-built sensor-cleaning mechanism. Instead, take a photo of the sky at a narrow aperture (F16 – 22) and examine it closely. If necessary, push your de-hazing tool towards its maximum for a sensor health-check in all its gory detail!
This pandemic allows you to concentrate on how you want to develop your photography in the future.
Review your website. Does it have the look and feel that will satisfy new clients? Does it highlight your best work? Does your website fully represent your identity as a photographer? Are there photos that should be removed and new images that could be added?
Equally, look again at your business cards. Are they in need of a refresh?
Review your presence on social media. Some photographers may need to be dragged screaming and kicking to the pages of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter—but they are now indispensable to your positive brand communication.
What do your social media accounts say about your work and your attitude to your craft? How can you increase your “reasons to speak” on social media, so that your images and content appear more frequently and attract a more enthusiastic response? What are you doing to distinguish yourself online from other photographers? Do you have the skills, the charm, the energy and the wit to sustain a YouTube channel?
With people dying, businesses failing and people losing their jobs, it might seem tone-deaf to be thinking about investing in new equipment.
That said, if you can afford it, go ahead and indulge your gear-a-holism!
Give a capacity-boost to your computer. Take advantage of post-holiday sales to get new software applications, an SSD card perhaps or the greater processing power you need for the year.
For your Skype, Zoom or Bluejeans video meetings, use a Camlink HDMI plug and play gizmo to connect your DSLR and mirrorless camera to your computer.
Yes, the Camlink is expensive and hard to find. And yes, you could stick with a webcam. Nevertheless, you already know that your camera offers superior image quality than most webcams and the Camlink, so much better than cheaper alternatives, is a worthy investment and will surely prove to be a useful addition to your online marketing.
Use this time to itemize all of your photo inventory—cameras, lenses, speedlights, flash triggers, batteries and assorted accessories. Locate the original boxes and receipts for all of your gear. This will give you an accurate view of what you own, what you wish to acquire and what you might want to sell.
Last but not least, stay safe and well.
About the Author:
Nigel Smith is the founder of network67photography.
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