4 Essential Tips For Learning Professional Photography

February 25, 2021

Get insight and essential tips for learning professional photography from becoming more familiar with flash to bringing a spare camera and lens, in this expert article contributed by Jonathan Goldberg, a professional photographer on Bidvine.

4 Essentials Tips For Learning Professional Photography

1. Learn Flash

Certain situations will enable photographers to utilise natural light. However, knowledge and experience with flash is still essential because location lighting is almost always unpredictable.

Start With What You're Familiar With

Purchase the same make of flash as the camera that you’re using, as that should make one of the more complex areas within SLR photography a little easier to grasp. 

Practice with the camera on whichever mode you are most familiar with:

  • Programme
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Manual

If you then use the flash on TTL mode (through the lens metering) it will work out a very accurate rendering by auto-selecting the light power. However, you will need to learn how to add or subtract camera exposure in response to the lightness of pictures appearing in the LCD. This is one of the most common and readily accessible functions to use and master.

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg Photography

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg Photography

Angle The Flash Towards The Ceiling

The second tip that I would focus on is to avoid aiming flash directly at your subject. When shooting indoors one can almost always attain a far softer and less harsh light by angling the flash towards the ceiling with the white card (within the flash) extended. This will give the added benefit of not blinding your subjects. This tip works particularly well for events.

Experiment With a Lighting Stand

When shooting portraits with flash, photographers can experiment further by mounting their dedicated flashguns on a stand, with a white umbrella positioned in front of the light. You may require an extra device mounted on the camera hot shoe in order for the camera and flash to communicate. The added advantage of this type of directional light is that it creates interesting shadows, drama or other moods. It’s not as daunting as it may at first look, especially when working with TTL lighting (automatically calculated by the camera).

As with most things, the benefits will come with learning through experience. 

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2. Practise, Practice, Practice

The best way to improve your lighting skills as a photographer is through experience. Practice on a model. Usually, a friend or family member will be only too happy to help in exchange for some portraits of themselves. 

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg Photography

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg Photography

Choose a location that inspires you and explore that with your companion. I remember a shot with a friend at a heritage cemetery in West London. Our collaboration provided us with a great way of exploring a wonderful local landmark through photography, while also providing me with an opportunity to put theory into action by trialling out different lighting techniques.

The fact that I was working with a model also provided me with a greater knowledge of how best to position and communicate poses for the best photos.   

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3. Arrive Early

It pays to arrive early. You'll get an opportunity to get a feel of the location. This can inspire ideas about backdrops, lighting and where to shoot before the client arrives. That way you can feel confident throughout the photoshoot and capture high-quality pictures.

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg Photography

4. Bring Spare Equipment

Always carry a spare camera body to a job, and at least two lenses. It's these kinds of professional habits which separate keen amateurs from professionals. Although cameras have become increasingly more reliable, they are still prone to electronic faults or accidental damage from time to time. 

Carry spare batteries too, and I’m speaking from experience. I arrived at a recent job with inadequate juice in the only camera battery that I took to a half-day event job. I was aware of my battery life dwindling all afternoon, hoping desperately that I had captured most of the action. However mid-way through the visit of an eminent ambassador disaster struck and I got caught short. Fortunately, a fellow photographer was on hand to lend me his Sony, but as a Canon set, I wasn't as familiar with the functions so I didn’t perform to the best of my ability.

Jonathan Goldberg


Jonathan Goldberg Photographer

Jonathan Goldberg is a London-based photographer. He works creatively shooting portraits for editorial, commercial, and private clients. As well as the social aspects of working with people, Jonathan enjoys the challenge of adding his creative touch and professionalism to all jobs that come his way. In between commissions, he is committed to telling personal stories with his camera, such as that of an off-grid community that was published in the National Geographic.

Interested in booking Jonathan for a photoshoot? Click here to visit Jonathan's Bidvine profile.

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