We've all been there. Whether you're a photographer, creative or just someone who wants to understand what the heck your photographer is doing, we've all heard something about photography (and the photographer).
Every time I think I've heard it all, the universe serves me another photography myth. So, I'm here to put all of my favorite myths on blast and get some clarity on why us photographers do what we do when taking your photos.
Overcast Days are No Good for Photos
This is one of the most common things I hear, and while clouds get a bad rep I think it's time cloudy days are recognized for the wonderful things they can do (aside from collect water).
Have you ever had your window open at home and it's just so bright that the light almost blinds you? What happens when you lift up a white bed sheet against that uberly bright light? The idea here is that the white bed sheet acts as a diffuser to that super overpowering light coming from your window, and gives you a nice even light all around. You'll have even light and no harsh shadows.
Think of the clouds as the sun's bed sheets. The clouds cover up most of the bright sunlight, but give a diffused light over any surface including your faces. Try it out next time it's an overcast day!
In order to get nice portraits, we have to take them in really pretty places.
When shooing portraits, of course I look for pretty locations that have interesting features that will photograph well as a backdrop, but not all backdrops have to be flowers and open field. It can be rustic, it can be industrial, and it can be to the untrained eye...a bit "ugly". So, the next time your photographer suggests an unconventional location such as a busy street, a walk around a neighborhood, or a dirt path at the park. Try it out. You might be surprised how these images can come out with such a "ugly" location.
In this shot, I had my friend Brittney stand against an ugly gray brick wall next to a broken wooden fence and a string of leaves in an alley. The colors actually popped out nicely and it made an interesting and unconventional shot.
All light is created equal. (You need flash!)
So, this one is tricky! While some photographers swear by using flash, others (like myself) don't necessarily use it as often or at all. *Insert Natural Light Photography*
I'm what you call primarily a natural light photographer. I live for ambient light which basically means I don't use flash (often!) unless I absolutely need to. However, this is not because I'm against flash or those who use flash in their photography; this just means it's not my particular style. Natural light photographers use natural light from a window or door, open shade, or we reflect light to light our subjects (you!) to get a good photo.
There are ways to use flash to emulate the look of natural light, which is what I prefer to do when I choose to use it. But if you're not sure how to or new to flash photography, what you'll probably get is a super bright image of whatever it is in front and pitch black in the background of the image. This is called direct flash.
Honestly, flash photography deserves it's own blog post, I'm going to leave it at that for now. (But stay tuned for a full post on flash photography because that's a whole 'nother moster. You can sign-up for my mailing list to stay updated when that'll be! Scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up!)
Don't take the photo in the shade. Take it out here in the bright sun.
Going back to the idea of cloudy days, shooting in open shade means no harsh shadows. Harsh shadows on faces are typically not very attractive, and caused by standing in the bright sun with the sun right above your subject's heads. Although, there are ways to shoot in the bright sun at high noon, it's easier and often more complimenting when you stand in the shade or diffuse the light.
All photo printers are the same.
Printing your photos means you really like them. Like, it means you're willing to see them hung up or given to someone you care about. Many people see their photos on the computer screen and want to print them either at home or just any printing lab at the nearest printing place without thinking about the quality they are getting. And while to some it all looks the same, but you my friend, you are not that person. You know what great quality is and to that, I high-five you! My guess is that you either get your photos printed on your own, and you wonder why the photo doesn't quite look like it does on the computer screen. That, or you don't know why some of the colors are a bit off.
As a low-key lover of printing random photos at various photo labs just to test out their printers, I'm here to tell you that not all printers are created equal and so your photos don't have to be poorly printed. If you love printing out photos on your own, great! Power to you! But can I give you a suggestion?
Test out a few printing labs (walk-in labs or online labs) before committing a whole gallery or all your vacation photos and blowing off all your money. Just select a few to start, have them print them, and see which place does your photo justice best. Double-points if it comes out exactly like what you see on your computer screen! It's all about trial and error.
Blurry photos are trash.
Ha! This one is a lot of fun. Okay, so you know when you see photography that has a bunch of blur and you think to yourself "I don't get it. Didn't the photographer see that it was blurry?"
To answer this, I have two different answers for you:
1) No, they didn't notice it was blurry. Good thing you pointed it out. ;)
2) Yes, the photo is blurry, but it was on purpose.
While this has a lot to do with artistic style, there are photographers who love to incorporate motion blur, still blur, or just blur using a flash. I sometimes play with all three and some. I always suggest taking your photos (blurry ones included) and see how they turn out before tossing them all out. I'm a big advocate for keeping your photos in camera and deleting the ones you don't want or like once they're uploaded on the computer and on a bigger screen to make a more confident decision.
You need a big camera to be a professional (and lots of gear).
This one makes me laugh sometimes. Of course, almost every photographer starting out would love to have all the big fancy cameras and shiny lenses, but the reality is that most don't start out with them nor do they need to. As a professional, we get the chance to study our craft of photography, master, and hone in on our skills using the equipment we have. To be quite honest, when you can master your craft, you'll notice that the better photographer you are means you can work under any circumstance. Mastering your craft doesn't mean you're the best; it means constantly learning and growing your expertise in your field. So, when I hear someone say that they're not a professional photographer because the lack of their equipment, I tell them that what matters most is that they know how to use their equipment to provide professional quality images and experiences.
What are some other myths you've heard? Not sure if it's a myth or just have a photography question? Email me or comment below, I'm so curious what other photography myths there are!
I am a...
Los Angeles native.