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5 Reasons why you should do landscape photography

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Pretty much everyone now has a camera in some way, shape or form. Here are 5 good reasons you should be giving landscape photography a try.

1. Get’s you into the Great Outdoors.

You can not do landscape photography sat on your couch. It gets you out of the house, into interesting locations and promotes a more active lifestyle. There is virtually no downside to this and your overall wellbeing will be increased. One of my favourite things in the world is getting home after a day out shooting landscape photography, listening to some great music, then sitting down and post processing your images. If you do this with a friend, it is even better.

2. Landscape photography is easy.

Let me explain. Anyone can give landscape photography a try. It’s just so accessible. Head out the door with your smart phone in hand and start shooting what you see. You don’t need to worry about adding light like flashes or reflectors, you don’t need tripods and filters to get great shots and cityscapes work just as well as landscapes. There are also plenty of locations where you can grab great shots just by sticking your camera out the window of your car.

3. It’s Hard

Whilst it is very accessible, mastering it can take an entire lifetime. There are technical aspects that must be learned like compositions rules, camera settings and the exposure triangle. To take your images even further you need an artistic vision to tell a story. It is all about the story. Always.

It is also really hard getting up at 4am to catch a sunrise. Plus climbing up a mountain is no picnic, although, you do often have one at the top.

However when you take on these challenges you will be rewarded with great images and a deep sense of satisfaction that will keep you wanting more. It does not hurt to be lucky either, especially when it comes to the weather.

4. Understand light

Doing landscape photography will increase your understanding of light and exposure very quickly. That will benefit your photography as a whole. It gets you thinking about sunrises, sunsets, golden hours, contrast, shadows, highlights, mid tones, backlighting and front lighting.

The light on your subject is as important as the subject itself and understanding how to best use the light to tell your story will really take your images to the next level.

5. Attention

Creating landscape photographs is an excellent way to draw attention to yourself and build a social media following around your work. Pretty much everyone loves to look at a beautiful landscape and quality images quickly gain attention. This is particularly true if you focus down onto capturing great images of your local area. People will quickly identify with the subjects in your pictures which can create an opportunity to sell your work and gain commissions if you are good enough.

Finally, a warning:

If you catch the bug you will never be able to look at a nice landscape again without thinking about how you could capture it in an image. You will permanently be looking at weather forecasts, cloud cover, tidal times, sunset times and your desire for gear will be unlikely to reduce.

Also, stay safe, apply some common sense to the places you visit and remember there is no photograph worth risking your life for.

For me landscape photography makes me so happy that, if it went unchecked, I would spend all my time doing it and would probably forget to speak to anyone ever again in my life.

Please subscribe to the YouTube channel and leave a comment down below and let me know what you love about landscape photography.

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Why You Should Invest in Your Photography

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Understand the ROI and you will never look back.

First and foremost I believe very strongly that photography is an art. Like all artistic ventures it is a skill that requires careful nurturing and encouragement to allow it to blossom into something magical that people will love and appreciate. Skills however are so often hungry beasts that require feeding over and over again and there is an associated cost to this.

This cost is not necessarily a monetary one though. Many would argue that your time is more valuable than money and indeed this is often the case. Photography has a reputation for being expensive though, so let us first take a look at that.

When making a purchase it is important to balance your needs and requirements with your budget. This is particularly the case when buying your first proper camera system. For example, it would be pointless buying a top-of-the-range professional DSLR when you will be only shooting off a few frames on a weekend. On the other hand you should buy a system that gives you room to improve and grow, you do not want to feel the need to upgrade too soon after the initial purchase. There is a third caveat however, that is the desire to buy the best item possible. My method of dealing with this, in all walks of life, has always been to buy the item that is just one notch up from what I can actually afford. Whilst this does not seem like sound financial advice it will ensure your happiness. Were you to buy the item that is slap bang within your budget it will likely result in a feeling of regret that you did not stretch a bit and plump for the better item. Most of the time there will be cut backs you can make elsewhere in your life. Eating is only semi-important compared to drinking water; we all have to suffer for our art right?

Time. Considering the small amount we actually exist in the world what more a precious commodity is there? It is important to understand yourself and decide where you want to invest your time. I realised sometime ago that I had did not really watch TV anymore (apart from when the mighty Middlesbrough Football Club are on). This was not a conscious decision but i had simply started investing my time elsewhere; in my family, my business, my writing and my personal photography projects. This extra commitment to personal projects has undoubtedly made me a better photographer over the years as I indulged in so many areas of photography, learning my craft and honing my skills. Challenging yourself in this way is a sound investment of your time and the return will be clear to see when you track the improvement in the images you are capturing.

Here are 5 reasons why you should start a photography project. https://www.firstmanphotography.com/blog/5-reasons-photography-project

The most rewarding feeling and biggest improvement in your photography will come when you combine the two and invest both time and money into your craft. This does not necessarily mean buying more new gear either. Every year my friend and I take a photography trip somewhere and spend a few days capturing beautiful landscapes, the local wildlife and generally indulging our passion for photography. We try to travel fairly cheaply and camping is an excellent way to stay connected to the landscapes we are staying in and ensure we are up with plenty of time to catch the sunrise. You can read about the most recent trip here, although our sunrise shot was thwarted by total cloud cover. We both captured some beautiful images throughout the trip though so a full return on our investment was realised. We are both now hooked on this type of investment and our 2016 trip to Western Scotland is already planned. Plans for 2017 are already underway and we are looking at our biggest investment yet with a trip to the remote Island of St Kildas.

Now to return to the title question; why you should invest in your photography? The easy answer is it will make you a better photographer. Going deeper though it will make you a more interesting person, it will expand your horizons, it will make you happy, it will give you a purpose and a positive direction and it will leave you with an ever expanding portfolio of images that you can share and people want to see. The next time someone asks you, "what did you do last night?"  the answer will not just be “I watched TV.”

Check out Lyle McCalmont at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mclyle/

5 Reasons to Take on a Photography Project

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Start a photography project today.

Whether you are starting out or a seasoned shooter, everyone should take on a photography project at some stage in their lives. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Find some direction.

Photographers of any level know it is easy to get stuck in a rut where you feel uninspired with the photographs you are creating. There are a couple of sure fire ways to break free of this. Firstly, look at other peoples work. This is easy to do but may only have short term effects. The second more effective option, albeit more difficult, is to take on a photography project. The theme and content of your project is entirely up to you but starting with a clear and defined focus will give you the direction you need to break free of the rut. Your project could be a 365 project with a common theme running through it, a 50 in 50 project where you take 50 portraits of strangers using a 50mm lens, you could shoot a landscapes in every county in your country. The options are endless and you can go as big or as small as you see fit. Going small is particularly good if you are armed with a macro lens. Check out Eddie the Bugman. My current photography project is called Water Drop Wednesday. Check it out here - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography

2. Improve your photography.

Use the opportunity of shooting your project to improve your skills. If you are just starting out then aim to get out of auto mode and capture proper exposure. Check out my free eBook Understanding Exposure that will help you along with this - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/ebook Get used to visualising a shot before looking through the viewfinder and think about the composition. Before pressing the shutter button, take notice of the edge of your frame and the background behind your subject. As your project continues try to apply lessons you have learned from previous shots and apply them to your latest picture. Try to make every photograph better than the one before. Throughout the project, look back over your previous images; you are bound to see an improvement as the project has progressed, this serves as a very good motivator along the way.

3. Build a social media following.

When I embarked on my first 365 project it was purely a personal project but many photographers will use a photography project to help build a following on social media. In this age where everyone is shooting pictures, creating something special to stand out is a must and a focused photography project can very much fit the bill. My 365 was a family project so I originally only shared it with family and friends through Flickr. The project very quickly became a documentary of the year with a short description that accompanied each shot detailing a notable or amusing part of the day. Family and friends became avid followers and quickly began adding to the comments enhancing the overall documentary aspect of the project. Admittedly my family and friends were a biased audience but they came back day after day; the same principle applies to building a public following. If you have a clear idea that people can understand they will soon begin to engage. They will feed into the work, enhancing the project and your experience of it. High quality images, posted on a regular basis are key alongside some good quality engagement. For example, if someone leaves a comment like 'Awesome shot', do not just reply 'thanks'. This effectively ends the conversation so instead, share a little piece of info, show some insight or ask that person a question. You might be surprised just how many people respond to this positively. Follow me on Instagram.

4. To Challenge yourself.

This is an important one that should have veins running through everything  you do. When things get to the point of being easy it is likely that your learning will have ceased and real progress will have halted. It is not always immediately obvious when we get to this point as it often creeps up on us silently when we become more comfortable. If you have time to watch 10 episodes of Breaking Bad back to back, I would suggest you might be there. You can avoid this plateau though by continually pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and driving your own progress and growth. Get up out of your chair right now and go and capture an image. I guarantee there is a good shot within two minutes of where you are right now.

5. It is Fun.

Depending on the challenge you have set yourself a photography project can often be tough, but it will also be fun. I often think, when I am shooting, is there anything else I would rather be doing right now? The answer is always no. Especially when i am shooting with friends or collaborating with interesting people. Taking on a photo project is a lot like playing a video game (when I had time to play video games). You progress through many levels and pick up skills and knowledge along the way as you get better and better. Sometimes you might falter and have to re-do a level which will be frustrating and challenging. Eventually you fight through and get to end where you will feel a massive sense of achievement for what you have completed. Unlike a video game though you will be left with something to hold on to and you will have created some art that you will be proud of. The boost to your portfolio will be proof that you have not wasted your time and you will know the well constructed and thought out project was all worth it. Like a video game though, the sense of achievement will last for about two minutes; you will immediately starting thinking about the next one. Start a photography project today and you'll be hooked.

Take On a 365 Project

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365 Project - Photography Ideas

365 project. Words that will quite happily roll off the tongue. In the hands of a photographer these words can become something very different. Demanding, emotional, challenging, tiring and hopefully in the end, rewarding. Let me explain.

The 365 project is not complex. You take one photograph everyday for a year. That's it. Although the idea is simple the execution can become truly testing when the burden of maintaining a creative edge solidly for one year eventually sinks in.

For me creativity comes in waves. There are times when everything goes right, the ideas flow, you feel the magic happen and the work seems to create itself. On other occasions you have no idea how you ever came up with your previous work and you can taste the bitterness of your inadequacy. We each have our own ways of dealing with this feeling and sometimes it is brief and on other occasions it is not so. I was stuck in a particularly bad rut when I decided to set myself a challenge large enough to haul me out of the mire and change the way I work. I knew it had to be a 365 project.

The next decision was my subject. I knew I wanted to create quality images that were more than simple snap shots. I knew the images and eventual series had to tell a story of the year. I realised with my first child about to be born my time was going to become limited. It quickly became obvious what, or who, my subject would be.

The project started mere minutes after my daughter was born when the midwife placed her on the scales and suggested I might want to take a shot. Not one to miss an opportunity, I gathered myself from the events that had just occurred and took my iPhone out and grabbed the first shot. I never thought I would include any images taken on the iPhone but the shot was solid and my hand was steady enough to capture the shot, including the birth weight on the scales.

Although I embarked on my 365 project purely as a personal challenge, many photographers will use them to build a following on social media. In this age where everyone is shooting pictures, creating something special to stand out is a must and a 365 project can very much fit the bill. My 365 project was a based one project so I originally only shared it with family and friends through Flickr. The project very quickly became a documentary of the first year with a short description that accompanied each shot detailing a notable or amusing part of the day. The family and friends became avid followers and quickly began adding to the comments enhancing the overall documentary aspect of the project. Admittedly my family and friends were a biased audience but they came back day after day; the same principle applies to building a public following.

During the year the project almost became another member of our family. It was something that needed caring for, maintaining and required daily feeding. The nagging feeling of constant responsibility was prominent in my mind and this was only amplified by the following it had generated. I placed a large amount of pressure on myself to ensure I got each shot but now any failure would be shared by many others, I would be letting people down if I failed. Although at times it felt like a chore I had to remind myself that these challenging moments were the reason I took on the project in the first place. In the end I completed the 365 project without a missed day and it was in no small part by taking support from my followers and some creative inspiration from my wife, who's keen eye is scattered throughout the project.

My daughter is older now and looking back through the 365 project is magical. Coupled with the descriptions and comments that accompanied the shots they form a story of her first year that, in my opinion, a video could never compete with. My goal was to come out of the other end of the 365 project as a better photographer and a better storyteller. I hope this happened but most of all I took great satisfaction in the successful completion and I feel I have created something that my family will cherish for generations to come.

That only leaves the question, would I ever do another one? My wife asked me the same question a short time ago. I replied with certainty, "no way, never". She said, "I'm pregnant".