Development of a photographer (my early years of 2012-13)

by James, 4. March 2017

I think it is important that people know who I am, because you hire the person behind the camera to get the results you want.

This is maybe an interesting post for anyone wanting to know how good a photographer I am. And I hope to write this so that you get some insight into my photographical development.

I used to do a lot of press photography, and sometimes even used whatever I had to hand, sometimes a 2 megapixel Sony Ericsson mobile phone (only in good light), because you use what you have and the shot doesn’t always have to be perfect.

So, about my development as a photographer:

Firstly a shot from 2012:

Simon WilliamsBenjamin , Lucy Schimt and Simon Williams at Simon’s then Gallery: Pop-up Art Gallery.

Simon now runs The Ballery.

I did a lot of photography there back then for my Artists in Berlin project, which is still running, if somewhat slightly less regularly than back then.

Back then I just took photos for fun. There was always the element of quality, such as the photo had to reach a certain sharpness but it was not the main focus. I had my fair share of out of focus shots and other technical issues that lead to less than ideal photos. Now, it is a given that my photos are perfectly in focus. This took time and some equipment upgrades, but mainly time and some curiosity.

Back then I used to greatly enjoy meeting a lot of fun artists, getting to know a lot of people, taking lots of fun photos of the events and having a great night doing what I like to do.

Now, although I still do the same sort of thing, the scale is just different, and I do it professionally. I can tell you that the feeling after a film festival is awesome. I can put it like Edward Norton describes Fight Club in the film Fight Club. He says that after Fight Club the volume seems turned down on everything else. It makes me understand each time that this is my calling. The people are great. I’m surrounded by people, who are creating their visions, creating great films and receiving their awards and it is my job to capture the moment they get that award. That said, the other photography events are also great fun and good work.

This is one example from the latest film festival in London. I posted about it already, but check out their page here or click on the photo.

London Film Festival 2017 (177 von 537)

Before doing big events I went through a lot of learning. I am still learning. Now though I am more focussed on the business aspects for what I currently do.

My mistakes back then in 2012:

I did not make sure I knew everything there was to know about my equipment. The actual equipment was not the best, but I look back and some shots were stunning. I just did not know why. What good is it to expect great results if you don’t know how to create them every time? It sounds obvious, but I see the same thing every day (almost), same mistakes made by people, who are good, but once they hit a certain situation, they get stuck.

My learning curve. Slow, sometimes with some frustrating mistakes, but also full of interesting adventures, such as the day I took this shot of this tiger cub.

I knew nothing about F-stops, depth of field and ISO. It was a sunny day and I was developing my eye for photography, not my techical know-how. Great photo, but I did not know why it worked technically. If you are photographing, learn the basics so you don’t miss the shot. If are having trouble, youtube is your friend. There is a video for every issue, including why you need to hire that wedding photographer, and even some on how to tell if he is good.

In all truth, I think I miss the excitement for such shots sometimes. Nowadays I would know everything and would be focussed on the composition of the shot. In the end, I can say I don’t have time for visiting zoos and wildlife parks, but if I did, I would bring the camera.beautiful tiger cub

Back then I had my trusty D90. I loved that camera. I had a Tamron 18-270mm mega-zoom. This was not the greatest kit, but I had an awesome time with it.

I had various kit over the years, starting my DSLR life with a Nikon D60, then a big upgrade to the D90, still an awesome camera for it’s time, the D7000, which caused me a lot of problems, and now I use the D750. (On a side-note, never ever buy the display model, even if you get a discount. Get an untouched camera. I made the mistake, due to budget and desire, of buying the display model of the D7000 and had to send it off for repair twice. Now it works great, but it cost me a lot of time and doubt.)

So, onward with the story.

Around 2013 I was still learning a lot about light and editing and my friend, DJ Al Exx asked me if I could come take some photos of him in his flat. This is one of the shots I did back then.

There is a lot to be said about learning by doing and this is a shot I took back then but cannot tell you anymore how I did it, except that there was some photoshop involved, some patience too. I have the original shot somewhere, but have not looked it up.
Alex Keyboard

And around that time I started photographing various people for Mila (who no longer exist in Germany), a start-up with a good idea, basically a fore-runner to Fixando and Askcharlie.

I met an excellent trainer and health coach, Robin Kerstin and did some shots like this one. Robin was a star. He held this pose for about 30 seconds. I would be happy if I could hold that position for 5 seconds. Check him out.
das ist power

But that was then. What else was I up to before I really started out in the photography game?

Practising and working with artists for the above mentioned Artists in Berlin Project.

This is a shot of Harvey Rabbit during a shoot for her clown page (currently not online).

Harvey Rabbit

Back then I even went down the colour-key path.
Armando dark edit

So, there is a nice introduction to my photography in 2012-2013.

There is plenty more where this came from, but this is for another day.

I’d like to introduce you to my later work and challenges too, including Nikon issues, in case you want to buy a Nikon. Top brand, top company, but a few issues that they should have been open about.

What else would I like to tell you about the development and what you can do to avoid my mistakes?

My biggest mistake from back then was not finding someone, who could take the time to tell me what I was doing wrong and how to correct it and then send me off to play until I got it right. If you need some tips, or if you have a problem you cannot solve, ask me. But please try to work out your issue first.

My second mistake was not considering that the most important factor in photography is light and that a good photograph may need a lot more light hitting the camera’s sensor than you think. As a rough guide I tell people that your camera needs 3 times more light than your eye. This might mean using external flashes, either on camera, or where it gets really fun, off-camera-flash.

There will be a post on this sometime soon too.