Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Photography - How to succeed part IV

This is the final part on being a success as a photographer. In past articles I talked about working with clients, providing them with what they want and equipment choices. This week I am going to discuss some more tools and training. I am going to assume you are working digitally.

The worst thing you will ever say as a photographer is “I will fix it in Photoshop.” I wish every time a photographer said this they would get a shocked by their camera – ZAP! Yes Photoshop is a great tool, but it should be used to enhance a good photograph. Removal of stray hairs or getting rid of blemishes are good uses for it.

You notice I said Photoshop. There are several other good programs that you can also use such as Gimp or Paintshop. The challenge with these programs is when the need comes to share your work or get training your options will be limited. What does come down to is the need for a good program to process your images.

The next question I get is, “what plug-ins do I need?” Plug-ins are add-ons to Photoshop that automate or add features. None are needed. You can achieve what you need to do in most cases without them. Some are nice to have as you have revenues and time becomes more valuable. If you must spend some money, I suggest looking at a sharpening tool and a skin softener. You can download trials from every good vendor. It is a matter of tasted as to which works best for you.

Learn to create or find actions to do your work. Actions are an automated series of steps that Photoshop will follow very quickly. I have about 4 that I use daily which I have created. They are typically 15 to 20 steps long. What would take me 15 minutes to do manually, the action does in a minute. For example I use an action to take a two page album spread and cut it in two to images, adjusting the image for the gutter (area where pages come together) so the spread looks good when the book is opened.

If you can’t write them, look on-line for them using your favorite search engine. One good site is atncentral.com - Lots of free actions. Even if you don’t use them, you can see how they are constructed and learn some things about Photoshop. Assign the ones you use to function keys to save time running them. You can even use these in batch processes to do a hundred images at once.

Get some training on Photoshop. Attend classes, read magazines or even on-line. Lots of good free videos are available on YouTube. Photoshop is very powerful and some basic training will go a long way.

The one tool you should get is a tablet, such as those by Wacom. They make a $80 small tablet that does everything a photographer needs – the Bamboo. It will save you huge amounts of time once get used to using it. Later you may wish to upgrade to a large one, but I have both and have found the small one is as good or possibly better for my photo work.

The other big time saver I cannot stress enough. Learn the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop. I cannot stress enough how much time this will save you. It doesn’t take long. Here’s how to do it quickly. Each time you go to click on a tool or menu item. Look at the short cut and then use it instead of clicking. The items you use a lot you will learn in a very shot time.

Once again I’ve gotten long winded here. Feel free to drop me a line with questions. For those in the Phoenix area I do teach retouching with Photoshop.

Orcatek Photography - Phoenix, Arizona

No comments: