Photographers! This is one thing you could be doing that you probably don't that will help you get better at your craft.
It doesn't matter if you consider yourself highly professional, an amateur, a hobbyist or some other label for someone who uses a camera; yoou need to get yourself in front of a camera at some stage. It teaches you all sorts of crazy stuff you never knew before and can help yu hone your skills. Over the past few years I have had the great priviledge to shoot some of my competition (don't worry it was wwith a camera I promise), as well, I have been on the other side of the camera myself despite the fact I hate being in photos. Why would I subject myself to this? Because it makes me a better photographer. Here are a few of the ways it does so...
Put yourself in their shoes
From start to finish a photoshoot can be quite taxing for all involved, but for the model it is totally different to what you experience as a photographer. As a photographer it could almost be said we tend to hide from the limelight a lot of the time. I personally know that I hate having my photo taken, but that this is based on the whole stand there and smile mentality I have had since being a child where all my photos were staged family affairs, and I was forced against my will to stand next to one of my stinky brothers pretending I liked them for the sake of the family photo album.
Here is the thing, for many people this is what they associate being in photos with, another common scenario is that of people who have only ever had thier images taken by a school photographer. Cattle herded through a never ending line students who get an image taken in around 3 seconds, where they are told to smile, blinded and moved on.
No muss, no fuss: Confidence for the non-confident
I should also mention that due to my weight and how I percieve how I look, that I tend to use my camera as a little bit of a shield. From my point of view when I am holding the camera the focus is not on me, it is on my camera and so that fear of being judged dissipates. By comparison, when I am the model it narrows in that the focus really is all on me, imagine how self-concious your clients feel when they are being photographed! It certainly opens your eyes to the best ways to speak to people so that they become less self-concious and enjoy thier time in front of the camera as much as possible. Compassion is key here, by putting yourself in the shoes of a model you see things from a different perspective. Obviously when you are posing people you know it looks good, but do you know what it feels like? Often the most natural of poses do not feel naatural at all, how could you know this if you've never done it yourself? One of the best and easiest ways to gain confidence in something is practice. That means if you are having trouble with anything in your own shoots from talking with your clients to make them comfortable or posing them so that they look their best.
Discover yourself and who you are as a photographer
Sometimes we are so focussed on who our clients are and what they want that we forget that our input is just as important in the process of creating imaginative portraiture. We can get a bit lost in the job of being a photographer rather than the art of being a photographer. Having your own shoot allows you to think about what it it that is important for you, what you want to portray and who you are as a person.
Finding someone to take images of you or even doing self portraits gives you an outlet where the final images are uniquely you! Use the process to find inspiration for your clients shoots so you can give them something unique too!
I truely believe that one of the greatest ways we can grow as photographers is to explore self-portraiture and having shoots done by other photographers, not only can it allow you a freedom of expression rarely found in your average shoot, but it allows you to journey into unknown lands of imagination, experiment and create something visually exciting, or just see what others are doing which can help you see where you might need some improvement, especially if you have become a little stagnant.
All of the images in todays post are of photographers who see the value of having images of themselves both as a documentation of them as people but also to learn and improve n all th things mentioned in this article.
You can check them out at
Cassandra Rolls Harper Avery Photography
Sanna Van Zoelen SVZ Photography
Christiaan Gough (who also takes images for us) Ellipsis
I am sure I have missed plenty of points on why photographers should have images taken, so if you have one that you think is important that I missed please share it with us in the comments below.