Creating Epic Photography: Lessons from #PhotoWeekLive

September 21, 2013 § 3 Comments

Epic (Borknagar album)

Epic (Borknagar album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As photographers we always want that epic image. It’s the image that will stand out from the crowd, set in motion our legacy, and capture our clients in awe. Well, what is an epic image? How can we produce and aim for the image that will encompass all the aspects we seek? According to photographer Benjamin Von Wong, whom I have grown to admire, an epic image is one that examines a story and then excels to make that story better through imagery. It does not matter the niche of photography you fall in because all photographers are engaged in creating epic images. Seme of Von Wong’s favorites included Jason Lee. Jim Greenberg, Quin Miller, Seth Casteel, Joey L., Matt Malloy, and Martin Kilmas. For me I can add to this list Scott Robert Lim from L.A. All of these photographers, today known by many, started their careers with many mistakes and an agenda of having the ability to shoot photographs.

So what goes in to telling a better story? Von Wong says you need a story, location, model, clothing, concept, and technique. Online groups, sites such as urban exploring, social media, and Google earth are great ways to help find epic locations. Just remember someone always knows someone that can and wants to help. There are a number of ways to help you find models, and this will be part of next weeks post on Building a Strong Portfolio. But one key tool offer by Von Wong is to research specialty organizations. Just like you, they are artist and love to showcase their abilities. Like Von Wong, I am a self-taught photographer. The web has so many resources to learn different techniques. You can check blogs, YouTube, DIY Photography, Flickr, SLR Lounge.  Check specific brands such as Canon and Nikon. This list could go on and on but you have to take the initiative to make that initial search. Do you have certain photographers whose work you admire? Read their blogs and see how they are growing and changing.

When you begin reaching out to people to collaborate with you, remember they are people. As Wong advises, people are selfish. They will want to know how helping you are going to benefit them. Therefore, when you first reach out, make sure you talk to them in a way that appreciates and acknowledges their craft. Also note, you can’t just get an acknowledgment to help from someone and then never talk to them again until the day of the shoot. Doing so will lead to an increased chance of them not showing up. The key is to get them involved, have an ongoing active exchange of ideas and processes that directly link back to the project you will be working on.

Once all of your components are together, the only thing you have to then worry about is not screwing it up. Don’t be a jerk to your team. Give people the images you say your are going to give them. Practice, and never stop practicing. Most importantly, if you are trying something new, Von Wong could not stress enough the importance of not trying your new material with your clients prior to testing and perfecting it first. If you learn anything is photography it is that great experiences will go a long way, however once your clients have that one bad experience it will never get away from you.

To follow Von Wong on twitter you find him at @thevongwong


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