Up for Discussion – Photographing With a Friend
Today I have another guest blogger, Dee, from the blog Dee Gee’s Photography, and the subject today is about photographing with friends, or finding someone to go out and take photos with. It can be a hard thing to do or find, you have to be able to work together in some way. It has to be an equal relationship so that it works for both of you. Dee has some great ideas of how it should work and how to make it good for both.
Photographing With a Friend
One of the best things about being part of a pair of photographers is that you always get to go out shooting with a friend. There are a lot of pros and a few cons to this, plus a few things to bear in mind. It also proves the point that it’s not the camera that makes the difference, it’s the person behind the lens that makes an image. We’ve come back, time and time again with such different images from the same locations at the same times.
On the plus side, it’s great to have someone to motivate you to get up in the dark, on cold mornings, when bed and sleep are so wonderfully attractive, to make the most of the dawn twilight and golden hour. In a way it’s like having a buddy to do morning jogs with- when someone else is relying on you to be there, you are much less likely to find a reason not to go. No matter what time of day, you are more likely to get out there and just do it when you have someone to do it with.
You get instant feedback when you take a friend, especially one who can see what you are trying to achieve. In a way you also get to see the scene in front of you from someone else’s eyes because you’ll both frame the scene differently. Different things will stand out as focal points for you and you get moments of “oh I never thought of that!” all of which feeds into a richer experience and a wider range of images than you might have shot on your own. From our experience, we still surprise each other with our different points of view and we’ve been photographing together for years.
Another good thing about photographing with a friend is you learn so much faster. It is nice to be able to double check with someone else about technical points because we are all good at remembering some things better than others and your friend probably has different strengths to you. In our case, Gee is far more knowledgeable about landscapes and I’ve got more experience with portraits and detail images. We swap that knowledge back and forth all the time and improve our skills constantly.
If there are any negatives to watch out for it’s being careful that one of you doesn’t dominate the session without allowing the other any input. This can sometimes happen when one photographer is much more experienced than the other or because of personality type. At its worst, this sort of session just turns into an opportunity for the dominant photographer to lord it over the other.
Here are some hints and tips to bear in mind when you are photographing with a friend.
Say “Yes”- unless your friend is suggesting you scale a cliff in the dark or something ridiculously dangerous, just say ‘yes’ and give their ideas a go. The worst that could happen is you’ll get bad images and you’ll have learnt something. It may be that the only thing you’ll learn is that you can’t take that particular shot that particular way, but that’s still a step closer to working out how you can take that image you have in mind. Saying ‘yes’ also helps spark new and exciting ideas, just like brainstorming. Creatively, that brainstorming, positive vibe works wonders for your images.
Work with constructive feedback- this means find something positive about your friends work and making helpful suggestions for them to try. Nobody wins if you simply shut your friend down and tell them they are doing it wrong without giving them any hints or clues about how to do it right. If you are much more experienced than your friend cut them some slack and remember what it was like when you were a learner. It doesn’t help if you overwhelm your less experienced friend with too much information at once, but let them learn at their own pace and go with what they are comfortable with. At the end of the day, this is supposed to be enjoyable and it won’t be for your less experienced friend if you make them feel inadequate.
Be open to suggestion- if you aren’t willing to learn then there’s no point photographing with a friend. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. It’s how we all learn and it’s the best way to be surprised by your own ingenuity. If you have someone with a lot of experience willing to show the ropes then soak in as much as you can and do what they suggest. Push yourself and be willing to make mistakes. We all make them and we all end up better photographers for learning how to fix them.
Gee and I have both been keen photographers for years, but we decided a year ago to get really serious about it and push ourselves to be the best we could be. We happen to have complementary skills that have served us well in teaching each other. Gee is naturally a technical thinker. He knows how to use the camera to its fullest and has taught me a lot about the relationships between the f stops, shutter speeds and ISO. My strengths have always been in the emotional connection with the image and the story it tells. I don’t think either of us would have enjoyed this journey half as much if we didn’t have each other to bounce off.
In the end, images capture a moment in time. There’s something special about having someone with you when you capture that moment because, between you and your friend, that image will always tell a thousand words.
I hope you will all help me thank Dee for the wonderful post, thank you Dee. Here is a gallery with lots of photos from Dee and Gee.