Are you relatively new to photography? Don’t be shy, everyone was at one point. Lucky for you, an industry lifer works among us at Resource—photographer Douglas Sonders has shot everything from editorial portraits to VR content, and travels over 100k miles a year on assignment. Ask him anything here—we can keep you anonymous, just be sure to tell us what genre of photography you work in.
(The following was written and answered by Douglas Sonders.)
How do you stay motivated to practice ‘real’ photography?
It’s funny; I think we all know there are a bunch of people who call themselves “photographers,” but only shoot with a smartphone and post on Instagram or Facebook. But you know what? I’m ok with that. Just because someone isn’t shooting with a Phase One medium format or Nikon D800, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy their own form of visual and creative expression. As a professional, I also enjoy low-res social media “photography” platforms such as Instagram. It keeps me shooting. And just because I don’t carry around an SLR or the newest mirrorless Sony camera everywhere I go, doesn’t mean I will stop taking photos and sharing them.
One of my favorite college professors told me that one of the best ways to keep your creative gears turning is to continue taking photos. I can keep myself in the creative photography mindset when I’m not on professional jobs by shooting with my smartphone during of my day-to-day life. There’s no shame in it. Even though the photos are less than 10 megapixels, I’m still able to visualize things like framing, color, contrast and tonality. And the more I keep these things fresh in my mind, the better I will be when I’m on a paid shoot.
How do you overcome the difficulties of low-light and indoor photography?
If you find yourself shooting a lot of low-light or indoor photography, you may want to consider a faster lens. While every lens has a different maximum aperture rating, one with a f/2.8 or wider (by “wider” I mean a smaller number such as 2.0 or 1.8) maximum f-stop means you can let more light travel through to your film/sensor. This gives you the flexibility to shoot with a faster shutter speed (less unwanted motion blur) or lower ISO (less pixel noise). However, faster lenses have a tendency to cost more, but are nonetheless worth their weight in gold. When I used to shoot concerts, for example, I never used a lens that wasn’t capable of at least a f/2.8 opening. Also, a lens with an image stabilization option is totally worth it, too.
Additionally, you can invest in stabilizers such as tripods and monopods. Shooting in low-light sometimes means shooting slower than optimal shutter speeds, which prevents your images from being underexposed. But this also creates the risk of your photos looking soft if you shoot handheld at shutter speeds slower than about 1/50 of a second. Unless you have super steady hands, that is.
Lastly, it’s important to learn about your camera’s ISO or film speed settings. The higher the ISO setting, the better it is at absorbing light, but the more grain or noise you’ll see in your photos. Some cameras are better at handling higher ISO speeds than others, and some camera bodies have a higher max ISO rating, meaning they will perform better in low-light scenarios.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2015 “Future Issue” of Resource Magazine. Visit the Resource Mag Shop to pick up a copy.