On October 29, 2016, I hosted the fourth part in an ongoing series of photography workshops, cleverly disguised as meetups. Our title for this fourth meetup, as I love creating themes, prompts and names for everything I do was, “Photorgiest.” As our photography meetup was during Halloween weekend, we wanted to do an ode to “Poltergeist” in our event name. The first three workshops I hosted of this kind, were exclusive to Nomadness Travel Tribe and took place in May, June and November of 2015. My partner Wayne Gowdie and I decided to make the meetups public so that anyone could participate going forward. Though, we are commissioned to host events exclusive to groups, sometimes we like to host our own to the general public.
A few years back, I started joining a lot of interest groups on various social media platforms. I’m a very proactive person and when I noticed an onslaught of “bad” images being posted by friends and acquaintances of their world travels, my soul couldn’t take it anymore. The network of people I know from various industries and interest groups travel everywhere, including to places that don’t even exist anymore. Yet their photo albums were filled with blurry, poorly composed and grainy images with some weird looking instagram filter on top of it. My solution!?
Host photography meetups, where I could also give one on one attention, tips and shooting exercises to anyone who wanted it. If others just wanted to take pretty pictures, they could. But anyone who had questions or needed direction, I would give it. Wayne and I wanted them to have tools and a reference on how to improve their photographic eye and visual storytelling skills.
Attendees are told that the best camera to have, is the one they have with them. So whether they had a smartphone, a dumb phone, a DSLR, a film camera or point & shoot, they were welcomed. Our hope was that the meetups would give attendees practice and inspiration so that all of their future photos could be even more impactful, purposeful and pretty.
Our meetups are “moving meetups.” We tend to pick numerous locations and ranging from four hours to twelve hours, we travel around the city exploring and shooting street photography, landscapes, art and more. For this particular meetup we started at Battery Park, moved to South Street Seaport, then we found a “secret” location that I’m not willing to share. Next, we walked to the City Hall area…stopping along the way to take pictures. After that, we headed through Chinatown and stopped for lunch in Little Italy. After lunch it was the Village and Washington Square Park. This particular meetup started at 12:30pm and final attendees left around 6:00pm. According to Gary of “Catch G If You Can,” we walked about 11 miles. But that was only through lunch time.
PLAY WITH YOUR CAMERA SETTINGS
One of the first things I did was play with the camera settings on a friend’s Nikon point and shoot. She stated she wasn’t quite sure how to work her camera and so we went through the various auto settings such as portrait, nature, macro and more shooting the same thing from the same angle. We would then review the images and note the differences that happened on each setting. My advice to her was until she was familiar with the settings, she should continue doing that as practice. Also, some of the auto settings gave her easy answers. If she was shooting a landscape, she could pick that option. If she was shooting a portrait, she could choose that option. With her point and shoot, the options were limited and so I showed her the various auto settings on my camera as well.
Shooting in manual settings is great but most beginning photographers won’t know how or won’t feel comfortable doing as such. Therefore, its MORE THAN OK, to use the various auto settings on your camera too. Exhaust all your options, use them until you feel you’ve mastered them and then begin to move to manual!
WHAT IS THE STORY YOU WANT TO TELL
One of my friends asked me how did I decide what I wanted to shoot. With the growth of digital cameras, it has become easier to simply shoot a TON of pictures and delete the ones you don’t want later. For me, I don’t like having to shoot 500 images, upload them all on my computer or external hard drives, only to delete half of them anyway. I try to shoot with intention and impact before I even click the shutter. Besides thinking of composition and angles, I ask myself, “What is the story that I’m trying to tell?”
I asked my friend what type of blog posts would her new website cover and when she post her travel albums online, what message is she trying to get across? Asking yourselves these questions will help you seek out the moments you want to capture or aid in the process of creating them, if they aren’t candid photos. Knowing you may want to tell the story of “Battery Park – In One Day,” you would know you’d need a few wide angle landscape shots, some macro detailed shots of moments, a few street photography shots of everyday people as they hustle and bustle to Wall Street or to board the boat to the Statue of Liberty. I told her she could look for patterns, colors and textures too. But knowing the story, the intent and the tone of what she wants to convey, could very well give her focus on what to shoot!
CONSIDER A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Sometimes when I’m all out of ideas or I can’t make an image work the right way, if I’m shooting a landmark or something, I walk all around it to see it from different angles. I also remember to look up or to look down. I also will physically squat down too. Your own height can influence the direction of your photos. One attendee, David was notorious for getting so many interesting angles by constantly changing his perspective. I took lots of photos of how David was taking photos!
PLAY WITH YOUR SHUTTER SPEED FOR MOTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Gary asked a few of us for tips on how to shoot pictures in motion. One of the things that I loved about this moment is that first, a few people gave tips. Then, my friend Rosie and I served as “jumping” models so that Gary and then almost all the photographers began practicing motion photos while playing with shutter speed. As you are shooting candids, street photography or travel photos, sometimes you may only have one opportunity to get the perfect photo. Prior to traveling and if your itinerary allows when you are traveling, be sure to play with your shutter speed for your photos that are in motion. Or you know, attend photography workshop meetups for on hands training!
If the term “shutter speed” is new to you, along with aperture and iso, go watch Shameless Mya explain the difference between them as she demonstrates each.
A few other tips, before I wrap up.
- Resize your images before posting them online. If you shoot high resolution photos, which I recommend, use programs like Lightroom to resize your photos down to a manageable size. It makes it easier for loading but it also helps to protect your work. Anyone who has access ot your raw high-resolution photos can do things much easier than if they have access to lower resolution photos that are still clear and gorgeous online. I posted a high-resolution photo and years ago a reader found a beauty shop in London that had converted that image into a billboard advertising their services. (Also remember watermarks can be removed but websites like DigiMarc might be of use to you.
- As much as you can, when hosting outdoor photography meetups and workshops, try to stay away from tourist areas if you can help it, unless that is the focus. I doubt we’d ever shoot at Battery Park again because the people going to see the Status of Liberty and all the vendors trying to sell tickets was just way too much. Its ok to go to crowded areas, especially if you’re trying to get some great street photography shoots. But the really really cliche ones….spare yourself the headache, since you’re traveling in a Wolf Pack armed with cameras.
As it is important to me to offer value, build community and have fun, one thing I loved was this feedback left by some of our attendees.
“I had such a great time today getting to know all of you. Honestly the greatest group of people I’ve met in so long! I will definitely join in future meet ups! Keep an eye out for some pics after I edit a little. Thanks Wayne for thinking of me on the invite.” – Dave C.
“It was such a fun day with a really cool group of people!! Thanks Nicole for inviting me! I look forward to doing it again. Will post pictures as soon as I figure out how to get them sized correctly and not in high resolution as Sheena LaShay taught me!” – Leslie F.
“Can I first say, everyone is just awesome….. Sheena thanks for inviting me and also giving me personalized attention! Outside of some great tips I got to spend some time walking and enjoying the scenery…… good times with good ppl.” – Nona B., Life Coach
WHAT TO DO NEXT
- Check out my select Photography Portfolio
- Read “Becoming a Stronger Photographer – A Lesson with Strawberries”
- Follow Me on Instagram. I love posting my latest photos on there.
- Read “Photography for Beginners – Digital Photography Books”
- View some of my Photo Albums on Facebook
- Read Blographer Part One, Part Two and Part Three
- Watch Shameless Mya explain ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed
- Read “Photography Tips for Beginners”
- Read “Youtube Photographers to Follow”
- Read “If You See No Light, Let It Shine From Within”