How to Stop Making Excuses

“I can’t find a location to shoot”
“No one wants to model for me”
“The weather is bad outside”
“I’ve got school work to do”
“I don’t know what to shoot”
Do these sentences sound familiar? If you’ve found yourself saying or thinking at least one of these, you are making excuses and you need to stop !

Within my first year of moving to Canada I was able to establish myself as a photographer ready for business. I had a decent following on Instagram and Tumblr, a growing client base, and all the support I could get from family and friends.

As the weather got colder and the school work got heated, I found myself making excuses as to why I cannot shoot. For weeks i didn’t pick up my camera. I could feel the pressure. People thought I had quit, others though I was just lazy. My boyfriend, at the time tried his best to motivate me but there wasn’t any improvement. I kept on making excuses. At times, I’d lie to myself and say I’m practicing my Photoshop skills. But how can I really practice Photoshop without having any new material to work with.

Finding models, discovering a good location, having the right gear, deepening on the weather, adjusting your schedule, and coming up with ideas/concepts are 6 key obstacles you have to overcome. I’m going to help you!

IDEAS/CONCEPTS

The first thing you need to realize is that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). No matter how unique you think an idea may be, there is going to be a duplicate. It all depends on your perspective and your approach.
  •  They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. Find a photographer who you admire and copy imitate their work in your own way 😉
  • Make a mood board.  Join Pintrest or Tumblr, and gather together a couple of pictures that have similar colors, themes, aesthetic, styling, or lighting, then watch the ideas flow.
PicsArt
I created this mood board by searching “flowers and men” on Google for a shoot I had with a DIY flower wall titled REACH.

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For the full photoset of REACH got to my website

  • Ask friends and family. Even if you think they aren’t as creative as you are. they’re bound to have ideas that you can tap into.
  • Look at your previous pictures. By doing this, you’ll notice a pattern, you’d know what works best for you!
  • Attend a photowalk. A photowalk is when a bunch of photographers and a couple of models meet up at a location and shoot. The advantage here is you’re already provided with models, and a location. All you have to do is shoot!IMG_5911

    A picture I took at the 6tour photowalk

MODELS 

During the summer of 2013, I went through a model drought, I had shot all the people within my friendship circle. I’d never shot a ‘real’ model before so didn’t know how to contact their kind. I decided to use my social media accounts to my advantage.
  • On Tumblr, I inputed #toronto & #mississauga into the search engine to see all the accounts that reside within the Toronto area. I found a couple of people that I wanted to shoot with and sent them each a similar message. I sent 11 messages and only 3 responded. I eventually shot 2 of them.

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Elaine.

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Dakota.

  • Instagram is similar to that of Tumblr, use the location services to search for people within your area that you would like to shoot. Don’t be scared to send them a message. Even if they read your message and don’t reply, don’t fret. They will come looking for you later on. Trust me. On September 15th 2014, I messaged this makeup artist (she’s quite popular on Youtube) if she wanted to do a collab. 2 years later and many amazing shoots later she replies, “Hey hun, how many models will I be working with?” It was funny then because she didn’t fit my vision anymore. I had moved on to bigger things. 
  • Post a tweet on Twitter requesting for models to help build your portfolio. Everyone loves free pictures so you’re in luck!
 

LOCATION

 
Please, never overthink this. A good photographer can make any location work. If you’re constantly relying on a ‘cool’ background, it would seem like you’re trying to compensate for something. All you have to do is focus on the mood, the colors, the props, the lighting, and the proximity.
  • Explore your surroundings, find spots that fit or even juxtapose your vision.

IMG_0884-Recovered.jpg

I shot the ‘Headwrap Series’ at Erindale Park, Mississauga. I found out about this location by simply walking around my school.

  • Ask around. People know things.
  • Studio space. If you have the extra cash to spend, why not shoot in a studio? For those who live in Toronto, there are many affordable studios.

WEATHER

In a country like Canada where we can have 4 seasons in a day it’s hard, but making the best out of every situation is key. A client asked if I could organize her pre – birthday shoot in the next 2 days. The weather on that day was cloudy and raining. Therefore, not enough lighting for clear and crisp shots. We shot indoors regardless.
 

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She titled it, ReBirth

  • Plan: check the weather reports. It may not be 100% accurate but it gives you an idea. Always have a back up just in case
  • Practice shooting in different seasons, weather conditions, and temperatures to expand your skills.

 

TIMING

During the school year, I shoot less because my education is the priority, but I make it work. How?
  • I queue my posts. Before the school year starts I shoot as much as I can then scheduled the posts on Tumblr per week or every other day. That way, it seems like I’m shooting constantly and going to classes as well. It’s a win- win! After all, we are trying to be consistent and relevant.
  • I call it the Handbag Trick. Just as a woman doesn’t go anywhere without a handbag/purse, so should you with your camera. You’re going to get groceries? Take your camera and shoot flowers or produce. You’re on your way to class? Take your camera along and shoot some candids. You’re bored in your room? Shoot objects within your reach. This would help you practise your editing skills as well as allow you narrow down the niche you’d love to pursue.

 

GEAR 

If you know me, you know I hate using the in-built camera flash. It’s too harsh and unflattering on the skin. I had to shoot an event at night in my schools pub and I didn’t have an external flash at the time. The Blind Duck Pub at UTM is dark, has high ceilings, and black painted walls. Here’s what you could do in a situation like this:
  • Ask around. You should be friends with a couple of photographers who would be willing to lend you their equipment. Just make sure you return it immediately you’re done and in good condition!
  • Rent equipment. There are many places you can rent photography equipment per day or per hour’
  • Invest. Buy the equipment you need. You’re going to use it many times over and in no time, you’d the money back.
I understand that making excuses is easier but it’s a temporary state of mind that can lead to a permanent blockage.
The more excuses you give as to why you can’t shoot, the harder it will be for you to shoot! So get out there and shoot!
Talk to me raindrops, what was the most ridiculous excuse you gave as to why you can’t shoot?
Until next time!

Enem Odeh 🌸

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