Professional Wildlife Photographer Lilly Goga Discusses the Biggest Challenges Facing Modern Photographers
Our photos are getting more views than ever these days, with the opportunity to share them with friends and followers around the globe through photo sharing sites like Flickr and via social media. Social channels like Instagram are really pushing the bar forward on professional and amateur photography, and it can seem like everyone’s photo posts are getting professional help these days.
Whether you are picking up a camera for the first time, or you are a seasoned pro, check out these tips and tweaks that can help you overcome some of the major challenges to modern photography, courtesy of professional wildlife photographer and alumni of the New York Film Academy Lilly Goga.
Digital Screens — We’ve all gotten used to digital cameras that show us the photo we just took immediately. However, judging your final image from the small LCD screen of your phone or camera doesn’t give you the best view of what the final product will capture. That’s why Lilly Goga states it’s best to take a bunch of photos of your subject, to review on a larger, color-calibrated screen later. This way, you will see things you missed in the field. Or, if you can bring your laptop with you on a shoot, that can help you improve your shots in the moment.
Shadows — As photographers we’re always looking for the light, but when you are taking photos outside, you’ll have to contend with harsh shadows, especially if you are photographing human subjects. To help minimize this harsh effect, Lilly Goga suggests shooting in aperture-priority and apply flash exposure compensation. This will help fill those shadows more naturally.
Improving your flash use — Nothing can ruin a quality photo quicker than shooting inside with a flash, which can make your photos look bleached out with hard shadows. A better option is using a flashgun, which you can aim upwards or to the side, to allow the light to bounce back down, diffusing on or around your subject. Or, consider adding a flash diffuser.
Finding your sweet spot — Every lens has its own sweet spot, which produces the clearest, best images. To learn what aperture your lens works best at, Lilly Goga advises you use a tripod to shoot a detailed object and then use your central focus point to focus on the object. Take a new shot for each aperture, stop and compare your results! Most lenses will be “sweetest” between f/8 and f/11. The sharpness of your images will decrease as you move away from your lens’ best one.
Resizing images for the web — When you snap the perfect shot, you might not have in mind where or how you are going to use the photo. If it’s for online use, what’s the best way to reduce image size without losing picture quality? Once you’ve uploaded your photos into Photoshop, save the photo as a JPEG and set the quality to 70%, with the image size the longest side’s desired dimension. You can also save copyright and contact information as metadata in the file.
Competition — Whether you are starting a professional photography career, looking to jump start your social media engagement, or taking photos as a hobby, there’s a lot of competition out there. While the sheer number of great photos you can find in online image searches and social media can be overwhelming, you can also use that information to become a better photographer. Start looking at the photos that pass your feed each day with a detailed eye. What makes them engaging, professional, and sharable? Use this information to create your own content that you believe will rank well, differentiation is a major key with such fierce competition.
Lilly Goga’s Final Thoughts
The above are the most common challenges that modern photographers will face throughout their pursuit of the perfect photo. Each of these challenges can be overcome with the help of Lilly Goga’s insight, if you actively practice these tactics your portfolio will continue to turn out fantastic photos.