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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> Seem to be stuck in a rut, how to improve?
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05/01/2013 05:32:08 PM · #1
Some of you probably already know that I am running a portrait business. I think my stuff is coming out good but I feel as if I am not moving forward much. I try experimenting with poses and lighting but I want to improve and am never happy with how my stuff is coming out. Thoughts? Suggestions? What can I do that will help me improve?

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05/01/2013 05:41:12 PM · #2
I would say try some different poses and backdrops/backgrounds
05/01/2013 05:41:26 PM · #3
If your clients are satisfied, why would you want to change? You are the only one who looks at all of your jobs as a gallery, everyone else sees only their own series (and a few demos), and for them the pictures are fresh and unique.

I think the changes which happen organically and unconsciously will be better than those you force simply for the sake of introducing change.

Keep experimenting, but don't forget what works for your clients now ... and maybe avoid looking at any of your old pictures taken more recently than six months or so; perhaps any change will be more noticable that way.
05/01/2013 05:42:09 PM · #4
Originally posted by cowboy221977:

I would say try some different poses and backdrops/backgrounds


eta: Thats all I can come up with..

Try shooting outdoors
05/01/2013 05:47:56 PM · #5
i think one of the best practices you can employ is to look for the kind of pictures you admire and try to see if you can pay them some homage. I try to throw myself into different styles as a constant practice. i think thats a great starting point - or midpoint when in a rut.

Message edited by author 2013-05-01 17:49:11.
05/01/2013 06:28:48 PM · #6
Well I do a bunch of location stuff, just need to keep plugging away. I am redoing my home studio as well and will get some new backdrops soon, just gotta figure out what to get in my budget. Keep shooting and learning I just always think I do good work but know it van be improved so I am never happy... of course I don't let my clients know that :)
05/01/2013 06:46:04 PM · #7
I find it amusing that I have a couple of photographers that have requested to learn from me. Both photography and the editing. I suppose there is always that chain of people better than you that you learn from and those less experienced learning from you. Must be doing something right but I have to check myself to be sure I don't get an ego and remember I am still learning and always can improve.
05/01/2013 07:12:48 PM · #8
Since I know you have been following the creative Live feed, check out the next one in mid May on creative lighting. It seems to me your studio stuff could use a bit more edge in your lighting. or that could just be my perspective because that is what I am working on.
05/01/2013 07:52:11 PM · #9
Find an image that someone else did that is something that you want to try artistically. Reverse engineer the shot. Figure out what they did, with lighting, lens selection, aperture, post processing, etc, and recreate the shot.
05/01/2013 08:33:59 PM · #10
Your stuff looks great to me. I suspect you are continuing to improve more than you realize.
05/01/2013 08:47:12 PM · #11
I know nothing about this business, but your examples tell me you are on your own road. There will always be ruts. I enjoy your originality.
05/01/2013 09:51:07 PM · #12
What Tim said. And keeping it organic. Change for change's sake is rarely successful. I also think that dissatisfaction with one's work is just a sign that we're still growing, learning, etc.
05/01/2013 09:53:24 PM · #13
Originally posted by MinsoPhoto:

I am redoing my home studio as well and will get some new backdrops soon, just gotta figure out what to get in my budget.

In this thread some DPC members announced they have a new business selling backdrops and such -- DPC members get a discount for the next couple of months ...
05/01/2013 10:41:14 PM · #14
Web 2 and 4 are pretty amazing - keep doing what you do
05/01/2013 11:05:03 PM · #15
It's funny to see this question from you, as I feel that you have grown and developed and improved with every photo I've seen. I think Brennan might be on track with the lighting suggestion, but, speaking for myself, maybe that's just because I've grown accustomed to seeing over-the-top dramatic lighting and expect that to be the natural progression. Determination is the motor. Motor on, buddy.
05/02/2013 04:57:55 AM · #16
ok, the following is more logistical/practical than an answer to breaking out of a rut. it's more about how to own the road you're on.

practice, practice, practice. when someone hires you, do what they want you to do. and after you know you've done it, tell them that you're working on something new and would like their help. if they're willing, push yourself to do something new (it really helps if you have a clue about the "something new" ahead of time and aren't just winging it.).

and if you want to do something new, find a couple willing models that will trade-for-prints. when you have some known downtime, schedule a shoot to practice "something new", or to just practice.

the key is not having a killer portfolio. the key is having a solid repertoire of skills and offerings so that you consistently produce whatever a client is looking for: natural light, one-light, two-light, x-light, indoor, outdoor, environmental, studio - whatever.

also practice setting up and breaking down. be as efficient as possible. the quicker you are with the grunt side of the work, the more time you can spend on the people side of the job. that way, you can focus on making the shoot an experience for the client. whether it is a 2-hour senior session or a 15-minute corporate headshot, being able to get to the shooting part and past the fidgeting part is critical. once you're shooting, well, that's where the magic of connectivity and vision happens.

and, like pointed out before, as long as the client's like what they're paying for, you'll be fine.
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