If you want to be a good photographer, there are many skills to learn and master. After all, that’s what makes photography so interesting. Over time, we all start finding our own style and niche, but there are some essential skills that every good photographer needs to have. Evan Ranft suggests four of them in his latest video, so let’s see if you agree – and if you have them.
1. Making people look good
I think that this is a skill that not all photographers need since some of us don’t take photos of people. However, it’s a good skill to have. And after all, many genres do revolve around photographing people.
Making people look good is a skill in itself, and it depends a lot on the relationship you build with your model. Taking a good photo of someone doesn’t mean just snapping photos, but capturing the essence of the person in them. And to do this, you’ll have to build a rapport with your model and see their inner beauty rather than just the outer one.
Evan roughly divides this into two major categories. The first one is making selections – you should learn to choose the best photos where your models look the way they do in person. You need to ask yourself if the photo is capturing their essence and if it’s flattering.
The second category is managing a photoshoot. This means that you shouldn’t overdo it and micro-manage when directing if you want to get more natural results and have your model feel comfortable.
Understanding composition is the core to what people call “having a photographic eye.” It comes more easily to some people, and for others, it takes some time to practice it. But the good news is – you can master it by practicing.
You can study art theory and study other photographers’ work. There are a bunch of YouTube videos, blogs, and books on composition, too. Look at some photos and break down why they look good or bad. When you take photos yourself, try several different angles and compositions, and cross-reference your photos with reference images.
Understanding color is another skill that’s absolutely essential. Thankfully, it can also be learned and cultivated just like composition. You can look up different color palettes and combinations. Look for colors in other photographers’ work and see how and if they work together. I strongly suggest learning the basics of color theory. When it comes to editing, you can apply Lightroom presets and then go to the Develop module to see what exactly has been changed to give photos certain look. Understanding color is also important for black and white photography, so it’s definitely something you want to master.
4. Expressing emotions
The fourth essential skill of photographers is the ability to make people feel something with their images. You should be able to capture the emotion of other people if you photograph them, but also convey emotions with your shots even when there are no people in them.
So, how do you do this? There are a million ways, really. One suggestion from Evan is to “live your life in a way that allows you to showcase these feelings.” For example, sadness will inspire you to create images that convey this emotion. Still, I hope that you don’t feel sad all the time! If you just want this emotion in your images and you’re perfectly happy, you can always get inspired by music, movies, or books that have the same mood or convey the emotion you want to convey in your shots. If you ask me, listening to Leonard Cohen, Jason Molina, or Jeff Buckley will always get you there.
Would you agree with Evan that these are the four skills a good photographer needs to have? Do you have them and would you add anything else to the list?
[The Secret Skills Photographers Can’t Ignore | Evan Ranft]