We’ve decided to have a chat with expert photographer Chad Naujoks, who has been working in the photography industry for over 15 years. In this interview Chad gives us some helpful photography tips and also advises new photographers in the market about how to start up.
Beginners and start up photographers
1. What’s one of the first things that a start-up photographer should do?
I believe that a start-up photographer who’s just getting into photography (not into the business) should sit down with some of their prints and analyze what they like most and least of their work. It’s important not to compare your work to that of other photographers but at the same time you should figure out what you admire and what you dislike. Figure out if it’s the subject, the composition, the lighting or the colors. Once you have an idea of what works for your photographs, go out and shoot more. Try different things with composition, lighting and color and then do it all over again! You will quickly find the style and subjects you prefer to shoot and you can focus on that specific area going forward.
2. What are the 3 top equipment pieces that a newbie photographer should own?
-Well a Camera for one! If you’re just starting out and getting into things for the first time, you should probably pick up a bridge camera (a camera with a built in zoom lens). Once you’ve got a bridge camera you should learn how to use it and familiarize yourself with the settings and how they work.
-The next item would be a flash that works well with your camera. Perhaps purchase the ones that you can take off and use off from your camera. There are so many things that you can do with a flash gun which will help you learn a lot of different things in photography.
-Lastly, I would suggest investing in a good backpack for your camera or a sturdy tripod! Either of those would be the thing to go after.
3. Are there any useful tips you could give to newbie photographers who are on a budget?
The main thing here is to remember that you should not buy a camera because you think it will make you a better photographer. If you’re on a budget and you really want a DSLR, make sure you choose a system you can use for a while. Reason being that once you buy good lenses for the system, you’ll be stuck with it for a while (unless you are no longer on a budget and can afford to switch all your lenses out!). As I’ve mentioned in the previous question, I would get a good bridge camera and learn how to operate all the settings so that I can push the camera to the limits! Just a side note- I still keep a bridge camera in my truck at all times in case an opportunity arises, also I prefer not to keep a LOT of expensive gear in my truck.
4. How can start-up photographers gain recognition and what’s the best way to market themselves?
I would have to say start a portfolio, both online and print – there are a lot of different websites out there that can help you start an online portfolio. Create a print portfolio so that you can showcase your work to other people/ clients when meeting them. With regard to marketing make use of social media, be it Facebook or Instagram. Get out there, post often and post a variety of subjects and styles. Interact with other photographers by commenting on photos that you like. Don’t comment on posts you don’t like, no one wants to be negative, right?!
5. What is the best way to build a portfolio and what’s the most important thing to remember when creating a portfolio?
The best way, I believe, to build a portfolio is to look through all of your images and choose the ones that you think are the best. Thereafter, ask others to give you an opinion of the images and illuminate the least favorite ones. As you take more photos compare them to the ones that are in your portfolio and see which stand out more. If the newer photos are better than either replace the existing images or add them to your portfolio. Your portfolio will eventually grow and showcase you style and your best work.
6. How do you get models to be comfortable around you so that they can perform to the best of their ability?
Never touch a model. That is my first rule! If they’re on set with an escort or friend let the friend/ escort be the one who fix their hair or wardrobe. It’s also important to be personable with the model and talk them through the shoot. Learn more about them and joke around so that they’re more comfortable. This will create a relaxed environment and it will allow them to perform much better!
7. Apart from taking good pictures what are some of the other important skills that a photographer should develop?
People skills. Hands down. You have to know how to work well with people and get them to do what you want and how you want, without being overbearing and rude. For example, getting a full wedding party in the right place at the right time takes talent. Also, being able to discuss a photo-shoot with a model and getting them to see your idea and ensure that the shot is great takes people skills. As a photographer you’re required to be able to talk to people, even if it’s to ask for permission to shoot an old Silo on a farm in the middle of nowhere, you will have to talk to the owner of the property and get a property release.
8. How do you find inspiration to ensure that every shoot is unique?
This can be tough! Usually I talk with the model and we discuss everything at our first shoot. We usually do something normal, like a black background or white or what not. It’s during the first shoot that we figure out the ideas that we would like to try based on the things that we talk about. We then set up another time to get those other shoots.
9. Can you explain what manual mode is and would you recommend shooting in it?
Manual Mode allows you as the photographer to control the shutter speed and the aperture. The last option is the ISO which you can control in any mode or you can choose to leave it on.
I always recommend getting to know your settings and shooting in manual mode. This allows you to learn how the changes make a difference in your photos. Depth of Field, Lighter, Darker, catching speed like a bird in flight or letting water flow by while you take the shot making it look like fog or clouds. Knowing what settings work in different situations allows you to control your camera much better in any mode!
10. What is your personal favorite camera and what camera do you think is great for new photographers?
My personal favorite camera is just about any Nikon. I have always shot Nikon for digital, although I have shot with Canon for film before switching to Digital in 2001.
I currently shoot with the D800 and have ordered a D850. It has been the best camera I have shot with ever. Another great camera is the D5 but I would rather have the resolution for prints than the speed. The D850 gets all of the good pieces of the D5 with the resolution higher than that of the D800.
11. If you could go back in time to when you started out as a photographer, what’s something you wish you knew?
I think that if I knew what new gear was coming out I wouldn’t have spent money on new bodies. I would’ve paid more attention to my lenses and lighting gear. Also, I would tell myself to learn how to work with people and how to talk with people so that life wouldn’t be so difficult getting started! Whatever you do, don’t worry about what people say about your work, don’t pay attention to the naysayers, or the resolution chasers, or the gear junkies. Enjoy it, move forward and challenge yourself.