Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tips on discovering your Self-Assignment


Brainstorm to begin the process of identifying and researching your potential self-assignment.

- Make a list of people, places, events or themes you enjoy photographing. Take a look at your shots from the past few months. Note any recurring themes or subjects.

- Don't overlook good visual possibilities around you. Think about family members or friends with interesting hobbies, skills or sports. My students have developed self-assignment from wood workers, skate boarders, music teachers, bike shops, a kite makers and even Civil War re-enactment actors. Checkout local crafts fairs, music festivals or other events on the web or the newspapers.

- Move past the fear of approaching strangers if they could make interesting subjects. I find if you have genuine curiosity about a person's passion they will be more than happy to be photographed.

- Narrow your list to two or three different self-assignments.
Develop "contact notes" That should include your subjects phone numbers, e-mails locations.

Contact your potential subjects consider the following questions:

1. What kind of access can you have? The more time you can spend with your assignment the better the images will be.

2. What are the lighting conditions? Working in good light will allow you to focus on capturing good images.

3. What are the visual possibilities? Are you planning on a simple portrait or is it possible to capture a series of photos?

These questions will help identify your best visual options.

Its always a good idea to let your subject know your building a portfolio and you’d be happy to share photos with them.

So get out there and start shooting! If you’re a professional you’ll find a rekindled passion and if you an amateur you’ll see you’re shooting skills take off.

Here’s a few more of my self-assignment examples.

I was teaching a Photo Workshop in Nashville took a few hours off to test some new light set-ups. I talked with my friend Brennin Hunt who is a Nashville songwriter and performer when I asked if I could do a few test shots he quickly told me he needed some updated promo photography for his manager. To find out more about this amazing songwriter and performer click here.

After the shoot with Brennin we went to the famous Martin’s BBQ in Nolenvilles for some tasty pork sandwiches. Once I entered this local favorite I knew I had to do a few shots.

While on an assignment in Taos New Mexico I took the day off and visited a few local galleries I found Metier Weaving in Dixon south of Taos. I asked the owner if I could capture her while she was working, she agreed, I got a nice available light portrait. Whether I’m working or not I always carry at least one camera with a single lens.

This article, graphics and photography are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. Text, graphics and photos by Mike McLean

1 comment:

raydetwiler said...

You should blog more often :)
Good post!