Self Assignments Can Result in Amazing Photos
It’s easy to see photographers shooting cool stories and thinking, “How do I get those assignments?” The best way is to simply photograph what you want; the benefits of this are numerous. I can’t emphasize enough how vital it is and how fun it can be to photograph what you want. It provides practice so when an assignment does come your way, you’ll be better prepared for it. Another benefit is that you won’t have a deadline so you can photograph your assignment as long as you’d like and focus on quality images. A tremendous benefit of the self assignment is that there’s potential for you to have unfettered access.
At big events or stories, it’s not uncommon to be surrounded by other photographers also trying to capture amazing images. The camaraderie can be nice but things can get pretty intense when you’re shoulder to shoulder with a pool of other photographers. By going to smaller events you immediately enhance your chances of making compelling images.
If you keep an eye on local events you should come across some interesting local happenings that would make excellent photo opportunities. It’s also worth looking at fun events in your state, and beyond, in order to find a unique subject or festival. Also important is that whenever your photographing and talking with others, remember to keep your ears open for some other potential events and/or photo subjects.
Toward the end of last summer, I noticed that the annual Bear River Fest was going to take place in Petoskey, MI, about an hour and a half from where I live. Since we’re on the topic of locating events to photograph, I must mention the importance of making sure the event you’re considering is not cancelled. The Bear River Fest was a go so I made the trip. Before a photo shoot I naturally think about possible photos I’d like to get but one also needs to remember to be flexible in any photo shoot. Going in to a photo shoot with a balance of ideas and flexibility is a good place to be in.
One of my goals was to make at least one portrait and to also use a slow shutter speed with my telephoto lens. Aside from that I was just excited to make some images of paddlers. There were a fair number of spectators at the event but there was a lot of room and there were some fantastic places to photograph so it was a definite win.
It was an outstanding event that far exceeded my expectations. Sometimes, when an event becomes larger and larger, it becomes more difficult to gain access. This was a newer event though so I was able to walk where I wanted, respecting others of course, and find many good angles. Everyone was extremely friendly and since it was a laid back group, I was able to talk with some of the paddlers and make their portrait.
Find something interesting that will allow you to make interesting and unique images, embrace it and have fun.