@Dahul speaking at Cato – Aril 22, 2010

Yesterday Darren was asked to speak to some photography students at The Center of Arts and Technology – CATO. Lucky me was able to join him for this and give my own two cents to the class (which literally was only two cents). Not to poke too much fun of him, but it’s Darren and he’s quirky, and yet in my opinion (and I say this with no money behind it), he ROCKED it. I didn’t expect him to be much of the lecturing type, but I ended up more fascinated listening to his little speech to the students than I have in any of my own university classes.

The experience was cool – classroom full of students, a really awesome instructor, a couple of Macs (which, of course, we forgot all of the power cords (etc) for), Darren, myself and just over two hours. In short, Darren basically spoke to the students about his experience as a photographer and how he started. I ended up taking some notes out of my own interest and wanted to share a few.

(Oh, and again, these are just some cool points Darren brought up that stood out to me during his talk. None of this is meant to be black and white, just things I found helpful for my own photography.)

Your client is more important than you think! When a client contacts you and wants you to do their photos (for whatever event), it’s up to you to produce the image they want. This is not about your portfolio or about becoming an artist; this is about presenting the client with the images they want. This doesn’t mean you can’t be artsy (after all, they’ve seen your work and they like what you do), it’s just important to first meet the client’s needs.

The relationship you build with your client and the images you produce to them are what will either get you your next gig or not. Really, your ass is on the line; your success is entirely in their hands. Make your first priority to fulfill exactly what the client wants, make your second priority your own artistic shots that will hopefully wow the client and give them even more than what they were expecting. If they like what you give them, they are going to pass your name along (self explanatory from there – more clients, more shoots, more money to expand your photography and plan out your own self-inspired shoots).

Are we cool? Cool.

Tech tech tech tech…
I find myself too often focusing on the technical aspects of a shoot – what is my shutter speed at?, where’s my f/stop?, do I need to fiddle more with the strobes?, and so on… The tech stuff is great as you can produce quality images but I’ve found for myself that when I focus too much on this stuff, I lose the emotion in a shot. When it all comes down to it, it’s not about presenting the crispest image with the perfect exposure; it is about how the photo makes one feel. Who cares if the photo is a bit blurry; you’ll find more life in the photo. Focus on the composition of the image, not the technical stuff. Throw your camera in P for awhile and click, click, click!

This goes along with equipment, too. Most of us don’t have the money to invest in strobes or new lenses. Stick with what you’ve got and know everything there is to know about that lens. Zoom with your feet. Get out some flashlights. Use one of those sun blocker thingies that go in your window as a reflector. It will add to the mood of your photos.

You actually do not want to be the best photographer in the world because if you are, then what?

There is sooo much more to learn out there. Just because your inner circle of close friends and family constantly oodle and awdle over your work does not mean you actually are that great. Listen to their feedback but then judge your own work. You should not be striving to be the best photographer in ‘x’ location or however big you want to be. Take photos because you love to take photos. Do it as your hobby and do it better than everyone else. Your hobby is what you are passionate about. At the end of the day it won’t matter how many more gigs you have booked, you’ll simply be content that you were able to get out and shoot passionately. Focus first on your passion and secondly on how your hobby will, in turn, pay the bills.

If you love your work and want to scale it on a bigger picture, kick it down and judge it, otherwise, I say just run with it and enjoy what you do.

– [k]thomas