Nature Photography

The term Nature Photography refers to a large genre of photography that deals with natural occurring elements and the great outdoors.

Some subjects of Nature Photography would be Wildlife and animals, flowers, trees or plants, spiders, snakes and insects, landscapes, seascapes and other land formations. Photographic views can range from extreme macro photography or closeups to large panoramic triptych style photographs. Unlike documentary photography and Fine Art Photography which deal with a subject matter or artist point of view, Nature Photography usually aim to be more aesthetically pleasing. Nature Photography tries to express the beauty of its subject through color, depth and perspective.

Nature Photography is a very broad term and so contains many subcategories. Some of the more popular categories and subjects are Wildlife, Landscapes, Seascapes, Plants and many more.

Wildlife photography deals with the animal kingdom, from elephants to dung beetles, Salmon to Sharks, Penguins to Pot Bellied Pigs. Wildlife photographers try to catch their subjects in their natural habitats and normal behavior.

Landscape Photography attempts to capture the grand nature of our surrounding. The subjects of landscape photographers are usually land masses, mountains and mountain ranges, sunsets and cloud formations, waterfalls and coastal vistas. The presence of humans are usually void from landscape photos in attempt to capture the raw beauty of a scene unhampered by mans hand.

Seascape Photography looks to capture the sea and its many faces. The presence of humans or animals in seascape photography is neither required nor prohibited. There are many beautiful panoramic views of the ocean with a whale or a boat present. Seascapes also are related to the beach scene category which would include beaches, water, coastline, tropical scenes and maybe a sunset.

Plant photography deals with all forms of plant life, from flowers to vegetables, from trees to moss. Plant photography usually deals with closeups, still shots and macro photography. Flowers and extreme closeups are a popular theme of plant photography.

Nature Photography is a large category unto its self as all the many sub categories could technically be termed Nature Photography as they clearly fall under the umbrella of Nature.

Some of the most famous Nature Photographers would be Ansel Adams who pioneered Landscape Photography with his amazing black and white photos of beautiful vistas around the United States. Another would be Galen Rowell who was a photojournalist and became famous for his beautiful landscape photography. Other names would include William Henry Jackson, Eliot Porter, David Muench and Philip Hyde to name a few.

Nature is still the most popular category of photography today. Whether Nature pictures are taken professionally or by the vacationing amateur, the category of Nature Photography goes on strong and is here to stay.

How To Start A Photography Business – Knowing When You’re Really Ready And Knowing Other Differences

Here’s a question: How do you know when you’re ready to start a photography business? Answer: When you ‘know’ that you ‘know’ (the doublespeak is for emphasis) the difference between your artistic photography skills and your understanding of business. Knowing the difference makes the difference between success and failure when you start any type of business, for that matter.

Tip #1

Think about it, the art of taking pictures is getting easier and easier – especially with the advancement of technology. Digital technology has made photography so easy that it appears that everybody and their brothers and their sisters are photographers! Such ease makes photography a very popular attraction and very compelling to start a photo biz.

But, what many budding photographers fail to realize and take seriously is that: Business is Business. Whether selling teddy bears, cell phones or photography, the business principles are the same. And they are basic and simple (not easy – simple). Successful photographers aren’t necessarily the most skilled. They understand and practice the basic and simple principles of running a photography business. They also don’t confuse the quality of their photography with the need to plan, market and operate their photography business.

Don’t be confused! You must consistently produce top-notch quality products and photographic services. Constantly improving your skills is critical. So is the learning and consistent practice of business principles. If you don’t consistently practice the necessary business principles, budding photographers that do know the difference and practice the principles will get the customers and the business that should be yours. If you fail to practice the principles you will fail at your photography business attempts. Period. You will be another charter member of the ‘starving artist’ club! There’s a reason why they’re ‘starving!’

Once you do start a picture-taking business, every day that you’re in business there’s opportunity to grow and prosper, and the chance to stagnate and fail. Your being clear on the difference between photography practices and business practices determine the success of your photography business more than your photographic skills and talents. Be sure to spend as much time developing your photography skills as you do your business (marketing, self-promotion activities, for example) skills and you will find success.

Compliment vs Reality – Tip #2

Most budding photographers have this experience: a good friend, family member or neighbor sees a photograph and ‘raves’ how good it looks and how ‘valuable’ it ‘should’ be! Somewhere in their raving they proclaim, “you should sell that, you’ll probably make a lot of money!” Red flag warning! What is given as a compliment of your photograph is instantly translated to your having a “diamond” that you can sell and that will change your ‘status’ in life. Here’s a test: the next time you receive such a ‘compliment,’ do this: thank them and then ask them how much are they willing to pay you for the photo? I promise you that the same ‘expert’ that just raved about your valuable artwork will pass on the ‘opportunity’ to grab up your ‘valuable’ artistic photo. In the photography business value is determined by other criteria than a compliment or two. Knowing the difference contributes to your success in business.

Develop your knowledge and skill and your confidence as a photographer will dramatically increase. Likewise with business: develop and practice basic business principles and your confidence as a successful professional photographer will dramatically increase. I promise.

Research Builds Confidence – Tip #3

Do your research. Go online and read the available research on the business of photography. Read before you buy. Online research is just a click away. Take your time. Take advantage of free and easily available information online. If you choose to buy something offered, determine what goals you want to accomplish and ask yourself will what you’re buying help you to really meet your goals. Avoid the resources that promise and guarantee you that you can make $200 – $300 a day overnight – for obvious reasons. Also, there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know!” There is information that you do not know now. But, isn’t information that is unknowable or impossible to find out – they’re just unknown to you at this time. Do your research. Besides, if they’re for sale, how “secret” can they be? Do your research

In the business of photography, it is more profitable to specialize. Specialization (also referred to as your “photography niche”) is how your customers will find you. Another development of technology is how customers – those who can afford and are willing to spend money for photography – find the photography that they buy. They look for something specific (in photographer speak that means “photography niche”). Go online and do a search on “photography niche” and take advantage of the information available. Remember, read before you buy; there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know;” and great photography does not sell itself. In the world of business, nothing does.

For business purposes, go online and do a search on different business topics that you want more information about. For example, do a search for “photography marketing” or “marketing for photographers” or “amateur photography tips” or “how to sell photos online” or “how to start a photography business” etc. etc. Read before you buy.

Know And Start Where You Are And Be ‘Sincere’ – Tip #4

Start where you are with the equipment that you have. If you don’t have a photography studio don’t take on photography jobs that require a studio. Don’t be all things to all people – remember, specialize (research “photography niche” – you’ll be head and shoulders above the majority of your competition). If you feel that you have to purchase equipment to take on a job – that’s a red flag that you’re not ready, yet. In successful photography, the profit is in the “photography niche” and your understanding of that simple difference.

Doing your research will prepare you for one of the biggest challenges most photographers have – pricing. The challenge of knowing exactly what to charge stops most of us in our tracks. It shouldn’t! Do your research. Search “photography pricing,” for example. The information is available and most of it is free. Remember, read before you buy.

In my opinion, there really is no one criteria needed to start a profitable photo business. However, my experience has convinced me that self-confidence is the most significant asset a photographer in business can possess. You develop that self-confidence by knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know – and being crystal clear on the difference. Confidence is gained by knowing the necessary criteria needed and knowing that you possess the knowledge and skills to consistently accomplish tasks in a satisfactory manner.

Research, develop and practice both your photography knowledge and skills as well as your photography business knowledge and skills.

Finally, when vaudevillian, George Burns, was asked what was the secret to his successful career, he responded – “sincerity, be sincere – even if you have to fake it!”

Don’t Allow Film Photography to Fade Away

Photography is embedded in our lives, from birth to death, and at every stage in between. Even those of us with little interest in photography have most probably carried photographs in our wallets, and hung them on our walls or placed them on a work desk, and personally snapped a few shots. Since the advent of digital photography, we have been taking more photos, and using them for an increased range of activities, especially the wider sharing of images with others. Today, photographs are so common that they can almost escape our notice.

Photography first entered the lives of the general public in 1888, when George Eastman invented and marketed his original Kodak camera. It was a very simple box that came pre-loaded with a 100-exposure roll of film. Once used, the whole camera was sent back to Kodak, where it was reloaded and returned to the customer, while the first roll of film underwent processing.

The simplicity of the camera and film processing made photography accessible to millions of casual amateurs who had no professional training, technical expertise, or aesthetic ability. Eastman’s marketing campaign deliberately featured women and children operating his camera, along with the slogan, “you press the button; we do the rest.”

Snapshot photography became a national craze within a few years, and by 1898, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million roll-film cameras had passed through the hands of amateur users.

Early snapshots were made for purely personal reasons. Typical subjects included important events such as weddings and other less formal family gatherings, holidays and leisure activities, and to capture the transitory appearance of children, pets, and prized possessions such as cars and houses. Images were reproduced as small prints, and a member of the family often arranged the photographs as narrative sequences in albums.

In the early part of the twentieth century, serious amateur photographers started to promote photography as a fine art where – unlike snapshot photography – the photographer demonstrated aesthetic sensibility and technical expertise. This goal was successfully attained, and photography became elevated to an art form.

It didn’t take long for the tide to turn (as it always does), and certainly by the 1950s, the qualities of the snapshot started to become adopted by professional photographers for their honesty, energy, and spontaneity. Grainy, blurred, tilted horizons, erratic framing, and black and white all became an acceptable route to capturing the moment. By the late 1990s, the snapshot finally achieved the status of modern folk art.

These two broad schools of photography produce a dichotomy in camera design and development. For the snap-shooters, cameras remained little changed (technically) from the original, while serious photographers opted for more complex tools that offered far greater precision.

From the mid 1970s, electronics started to take a grip on camera design, and this made improved photographic performance available to the casual photographer, without the need for technical knowledge. However, the biggest step-change emerged and began to dominate around the millennium: the digital camera.

Digital photography was revolutionary because it eliminated the costs and delays inherent with film cameras. It also expanded the options for viewing, editing and sharing pictures, and accordingly the range of uses to which they could be put. Other developments such as the increased ownership of personal computers, and growth of the Internet both supported the benefits and expansion of digital photography.

Today, camera phones are the major photographic device, and social media the foremost manner in which our snap-shots are put to use. While most photography, as in its early days, is largely a point-and-shoot capture of our daily lives, the underlying social behaviours have altered significantly.

For at least the first hundred years of photography, the family was at the heart of our activities. Cameras were usually owned by families, and used to the benefit of that family. While all members may have been participants in the capture of a photograph, one particular person was usually the custodian of the family album. The cost of photography made every shot valuable, and the duds that never made the pages of the family album were still retained.

By contrast, today individuals own cameras, and almost everyone under a certain age has one. Our social circles have changed: we tend to have a far larger pool of more casual acquaintances, and fragmented families. The zero cost of photography means high numbers of shot are taken, but the ease of deletion makes the permanence of images more ethereal.

It is these changes that bring me to the point of this article; to voice the concern that we are creating a historical void where information and details about an era risk being lost. I personally have gaps in the pictorial record of my life that start from the time I too turned to digital photography. Of course I could print my photos, to make them more tangible, and put them in an album, but I don’t: it’s not part of the digital ethos to recreate the limitations that contributed to the demise of film.

Equally, the increased automation of camera technology and accessibility of image manipulation conspire to erode the need for technical expertise, and aesthetic sensibility (at the moment of exposure) that underpinned photography as an art form. Indeed, the only significant recent resurgence in aesthetic film photography – Lomography – champions the abandonment of forethought, rules and knowledge.

I am not advocating that film photography should be fine art: the snap shot is as worthy an approach as it ever was. Neither am I trying to assert that digital photography does not demand skill, nor its images qualify as an art form. My concerned is that yet another skill – photography using unforgiving film – will become lost in a world where we increasingly rely on technology to do our thinking for us. The situation is little different to saying that just because we have calculators, we should forget how to do mental arithmetic. Equally, the craft of compiling a narrative photo album is at risk of loss, in favour of viewing a jumble of images on the tiny screen of a mobile phone, which travels with us in a world where it is continually exposed to the hazards of damage and theft.

In summary, the key difference between digital and film photography is that the former often ends with a click, while the latter merely begins with the clunk of a shutter. If you are on the cusp of a decision to explore or return to film photography, my advice is take the plunge and give it a go. Film photography is an engaging hobby, even if it’s only snapshot style. Its images are more enduring, and have an increased likelihood of surviving the passage of years. When all said and done, photography is merely a process for freezing time, and capturing memories so they can be recalled and enjoyed over and over again, throughout our whole lives.