Unconventional (adj): not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed.
I have watched my fair share of photography YouTube videos along with reading probably a hundred of posts and forums about photography advice. Things start to get repetitive and predictable, and you hear the same few ‘rules’ over and over. Though everybody has their own unique photography style, it seems like most photographers tend to have the same processes and the same conventional standards (i.e. “You can’t get great photos without shooting on RAW“, “You need to get on your computer and use lightroom“, “You need these 5 lenses to be a paid photographer“). The more I started to read and watch, the more I realized a few things I practice and believe aren’t exactly conventional when it comes to being a photographer. I am so incredibly fascinated about learning what other people do and what processes work for them. While I think it’s important to constantly seek growth and learn new things, I think it is also important to stay true to yourself and to not be fearful of breaking a few rules. Try different things, listen to different opinions, and find what works best for you!
I wanted to share three of my unconventional photography habits and my three things I believe you don’t need to produce beautiful photographs to be proud of. I hope you can find my tips insightful or interesting at the very least:
1. Y O U D O N ‘ T N E E D T O S H O O T I N ‘RAW’ T O C R E A T E G R E A T C O N T E N T
I decided to put this tip first because I know it is probably the most controversial/disagreed with statement. A friend asked me this week if I shoot in RAW, and I think she was shocked when I firmly said no. I do understand the importance and value of shooting in RAW. I understand that it helps you get the most out of your camera, provides more information about your photos, and that it assists in the editing process. I completely and entirely understand the benefits of shooting in RAW, and I can see why the majority of photographers do choose to shoot in RAW over JPEG. However, I do not shoot in RAW. For me personally, getting photos back to clients super quickly is a incredibly important thing for me. I try to get all edited photos back to my clients in less than 24 hours. I upload my photos in my car immediately after the shoot (I discuss this a bit more in #2), then I go straight to editing them. RAW takes a lot more time for me, and I am just more comfortable using JPEG. RAW also slows the camera down as well. Additionally, RAW photos take up a ton of room/space. I take hundreds, if not thousands, of photos every single week, so I don’t really want huge, huge files taking up a ton of room. Most of my clients are looking for portraits to use on social media and graduation cards, so those files do not need to be super huge. If I was shooting something that was going to be blown up huge or printed very largely, I would definitely use RAW to get the largest, highest quality photo. However, for social media posts/graduation card photos, JPEG photos totally work quality and size wise. Lastly, I feel satisfied with my JPEG photos. Do I have a lot to still learn and a lot to improve on? Of course. However, I feel content with the process I have now- it works for me! I definitely think I will eventually transition to shooting in only RAW, but for now, I am fine with solely using JPEG. I have tried both ways, and I find that the results don’t look significantly different in my eyes. If you don’t feel comfortable shooting in RAW, you definitely don’t have to! There is a ton of pressure to only shoot in RAW, but I personally believe that you can get beautiful images from shooting JPEG as well. Photography, at the end of the day, comes down to personal preference and what works for you.
2. Y O U D O N ‘ T H A V E T O E D I T F R O M Y O U R C O M P U T E R
I think this is something that may surprise most people- but I do not edit any photos on my computer. I have a MacBook Air with the Adobe Creative Suite, but editing photos on my computer just doesn’t feel right for me personally. I prefer to edit all of my photos from my ipad and phone. I start by uploading all of the photos from the shoot on my ipad with this little lifesaver. By the time I get back home, all the photos are downloaded and ready to edit. I start by ‘favoriting’ the photos I like best along with deleting any that may be blurry or unusable. I get onto the lightroom app and start my favorite part- editing! When I am done editing, I upload straight to google drive. Quick, simple, easy. When I am out with friends or family and want my photo immediately after taking it, I use my little portable uploader and plug it straight into my phone. If you are an on-the-go photographer type like me, you definitely need a portable uploader in your life ASAP. I give them as gifts all the time, and they are $30 well spent. These may not be the most ‘quote on quote’ professional methods of processing photos, but I find that they work for me and are incredibly efficient and quick.
3. Y O U D O N ‘ T N E E D A T O N O F E Q U I P M E N T / L E N S E S
Guess how many lenses I own. Take a wild guess, my friends. One. I own one single lens, and it is the only one I use when I shoot. I feel like there is this pressure to own a billion different lenses and a ton of equipment. Is there anything wrong with having more than one lens? Absolutely not. You can definitely take a variety of photos and develop a beautiful portfolio with only one lens. I like using just one lens because it really keeps my collection of photos consistent and cohesive. I have had a ton of friends ask me about which lens they should purchase as a first lens. I think you really have to reflect on what it is you want to take photos and what your budget/style is. For me personally, I take a variety of photos from portraits, fashion, food, and travel. However, I mostly take portraits, so a portrait lens was really the best pick for me personally. I find that my portrait lens also works wonderfully for the other categories I like to shoot. I get asked pretty often if I plan on purchasing another lens in the near future. The answer to that would be not at this moment. I honestly do not have any plans to purchase another lens in the near future, and I am okay with that. Don’t feel pressured to spend thousands and thousands on a bunch of expensive cameras and lenses. You just need one camera and one lens, especially when you are first delving into the world of photography. In addition to lenses, I also don’t believe you need to purchase a ton of fancy equipment. I do not own a flash or fancy lighting tools, which has been something that has helped pushed me in my pursuit of photography. Using minimal equipment has taught me to make the most out of what I own and to solve problems creatively. You can always purchase additional equipment and lenses in the future, but I genuinely believe you don’t necessarily need all of those things to make a business of photography or be a ‘photographer’. Even if you don’t own a camera or a lens, I am a strong believer that you can even take a beautiful photo with you iphone! I think it really comes down to confidence, your personal creativity, and of course, practice.
These tips/habits definitely may not work for everyone, but I wanted to touch on a few popular topics that I do get asked about pretty often regarding photography and the process itself. I think it is incredibly important to find what works for you and to never give up in the pursuit of whatever it is you are passionate about. My favorite thing about photography is that it’s a constant learning process.
P.S. Let me know if you have unconventional photography tips/if there are any photography rules you break!