This SA Photographer With 270K Instagram Followers Will Teach What You Need To Know
We got all the tips and tricks from Craig Howes, a photographer and filmmaker with a massive Instagram following and the MH May Photo Finish Guy (check out his stuff in the latest issue of Men’s Health Magazine, on sale now). He turned a passion and hobby into a career and he’s here to tell you can how you can too. Or if you just want to take a better photo for the ‘gram to make your ex pine for you, that’s fine too.
Before you take your first shot, however, we need to do some mythbusting. “Don’t think buying a good camera will make you a better photographer”, warns Craig. Similarly, don’t make the mistake of thinking photography is easy. “I spent years learning the trade, it’s a huge amount of effort and dedication. Never stop trying to learn.”
Before you can shoot, you need to look at your camera and make an adjustment that will help you later. Trust us. “Always shoot your images in RAW because you can edit them better,” says Craig.
The first rule of any photography? “Light. Find it and wait for it to glow. The rule of thumb is to shoot in Golden Hour. It’s been said so many times. But it really makes a huge difference.”
This might be the first rule of photography, but there is no one single rule for all photography; you need to look at every thing you shoot in isolation and adapt accordingly. In every moment, you are surrounded by a whole host of things to capture; landscapes, people, food, culture or architecture. The decision of what you choose to capture is yours to make. Each of these disciplines require their own set of skills, but if you have the will and put in the time, you can master all of them.
“Honestly I feel like the best photos are taken by the guys who can shoot everything,” says Craig. “Not to mention the flare you get when you start mixing elements like people and landscapes.”
These are Craig’s tips for shooting landscape, people and wildlife:
Right Place, Right Time: “It’s all about getting to the right place at the right time. You need to hike, climb, crawl, jump fences, whatever it takes to get to that perfect spot.”
Patience: “Don’t rush a landscape picture. Absorb the environment, feel it and appreciate it, then capture it”.
Related: Master Instagram in a Snap
Scale: Adding a person to a landscape allows for showing scale. This is the kind of flare Craig means when he talks about mixing different elements; landscape and people.
Angles: Shooting people from different angles completely changes the “feel” of the person. Think back to those film study lessons in high school where your English teacher spoke about a single shot for 10 minutes. There is some truth to this; a low angle does give the viewer a sense of powerlessness whereas the bird’s eye view places the viewer in a god-like position etc.
Light: “Look for interesting light, shadows and backgrounds.”
Related: How To Look Better In Photos
Lens: Get a decent lens. “I like to shoot street photography on a 70 - 200mm f2.8 because it is far enough to catch candid moments. Then, I like to shoot fashion on a 50mm f1.4, because it is close enough to allow me to interact with the models and draw their personality out and through the image.”
Luck: “Wildlife is really tricky, it comes down a lot to luck and being able to capture that moment that sometimes appears for a split second.”
Equipment: Probably more than any other type of photography, you need good equipment on top of luck and skill, according to Craig.
Dedication: “I know the really good wildlife photographers spend days, sometimes even months, on end following animals to get that perfect shot in the perfect light. There is a huge amount of patience required.”
Related: The 5 Best Adventures In South Africa's Wildest Places That You Have To Try This Year
Once you’ve taken your shot, you need to edit it. No, not photoshopping and contorting a body to look like a Barbie, but basic tweaking and adjusting; it makes the world of difference. “Editing is hugely important – if you want to be a serious photographer you need to learn to edit in Lightroom or Photoshop,” advises Craig.
“Try find a consistent editing style so that when someone sees your picture, they know straight away that it’s yours.”
The above are editing do’s, but of course there are editing don’ts that you should avoid at all costs. “Don’t try to edit too much, don’t push the colours too hard and definitely don’t add HDR looking effects like clarity.”
And that’s it. Save, upload and watch the likes start rolling in. Or get your photos developed and put them in a photo album to bring out at a family braai. Or just keep a folder full of your favourite moments and memories. Whatever it is, at least now you can capture it best.
Check out the May issue of Men’s Health for more tips on turning your hobby into your money-maker as well as tons of other useful tips.
Or get a copy online, here.
See more of Craig's work on Instagram: @craighowes
*Photographs in article: Craig Howes