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There is a term that has annoyed me for many years now. That term is Natural Light Photographer. It’s been obscured by the idea of an available light photographer. But the natural light photographer is the most pretentious smoke and mirrors talk I’ve ever heard. Lighting is easier to use these days than it has ever been. A lot of high-powered flashes have constant lights built into them. You can use either one for your needs. But the Natural Light Photographer is one who often captures instead of creates. These days, anyone can capture: not many can create in-camera with little effort.
If you consider yourself a natural light photographer, I implore you to try something new. Here are several ideas:
- Portrait photographers: Use a flash with high-speed sync and TTL. Don’t just rely on LEDs. Shoot and pose your subject.
- Street photographers: Use a flash for your street photography.
- Landscape photographers: Try light painting on a landscape.
- Food photographers: Put a flash against a window, and bounce the flash output against it. It will look like you’re photographing with daylight.
- Journalists: Don’t do it in Photoshop or Lightroom.
More importantly, I feel that when we use a flash, we create something with a specific imprint that’s unique to us. It’s harder for someone to duplicate the same shot unless they have the exact same setup. And what’s really important now is developing authenticity and unique perspectives. I refuse the idea that all art and creativity are just recycling other ideas. That can’t be totally true. Can it be influenced by them? Sure. But there are loads of combinations that can work in some way or another.
Does that mean natural light photographers can’t do something unique? Of course not. But most photographers simply push the shutter button and don’t make anything unique. The point here is that you should create something that makes people wonder. They shouldn’t have seen that shot where else.
More importantly, we need to move away from gaining traction and fame on Instagram or Tik Tok. That may mean actually moving out of the social media world. So, where else can you look to get your work seen?
- Flickr: It seems like there’s been a bit of a revival in this year.
- Tumblr: I’ve been going there to find a ton of inspiration lately.
- Behance: Always a big one for us.
- Photography Blogs: We’re huge on featuring new artists. In the past, we’ve gotten folks some big breaks too.
Beyond this, I think finding a way to cut through all the noise is by actual networking. So how do you do that? Send an email. Schedule a coffee or dinner meeting. Don’t forget about snail mail and sending prints. But don’t just send prints: make them functional so that others end up remembering about you. Maybe send wall art?
Yes, we’ve gone a tangent from talking about being a natural light photographer. But it’s all tied together. We need to stop capturing and start creating. Creating images is something that gives us far better success in the long run.